In this edition of "Interview with a Hosemaster" I answer questions submitted by loyal HoseMaster of Wine readers. If you have any questions for the HoseMaster, please be sure and include them in your comments and you may be included in the next edition! If your question is selected you may receive two tickets to the next Wine Bloggers Conference, or their equivalent cash value of Not One Thin Dime.
What does it feel like to have one of the least successful blogs in America?
I don't know, ask TheWineWhore.
How does one measure success in wine blogging? That's a bar that's set lower than a midget teabagging Glenn Beck. Put all the readers of all the wine blogs on any given day together and what would you have? The lowest percentile of the SAT's. Factor in the reality that 75% of every blog's readers are other bloggers, and, basically, the whole wine blog world is like the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, a whole bunch of loudmouths trying to shout over each other, only less dressy. Which brings up another thing--I know it's hard to think about, but, basically, when you're reading any blogger's words, whether it's the HoseMaster or Steve Heimoff or Tom Wark, you have to imagine that they wrote those posts in their underwear, which would explain the stains. My point is, we are all little fish in a little puddle, the kind your poodle makes on the kitchen floor when he's happy, and the notion that one can measure success on that scale is a little like trying to measure the atomic weight of farts. In more ways than one.
And who starts a wine blog thinking about success? Every wine blogger knows there's no monetary reward in blogging. You'd make more cash standing by a freeway exit with a sign that says, "Homeless Wine Blogger--Any Attention Welcome!" Most bloggers just seek praise, and lots of it. Praise for their discerning palate, praise for their agility with words, praise for their originality of thought. And a lot of that is forthcoming. From other bloggers who expect it in return. The wine blog world is one big praise orgy--you stick it in another blog while one is being slipped into yours and everybody leaves with that wonderful feeling of having just been screwed. Which further explains the stains.
But to answer the original question, I love having an unsuccessful wine blog. The successful ones mostly suck.
What are your least favorite wine appellations?
As I do with people, I try to find the best in every wine. And every appellation produces the occasional interesting wine just like every blue moon there's an original thought on WannabeWino. But since you asked...
Temecula Temecula is the poster city for the Save Our Pierce's Disease Foundation. Who the hell buys these wines? Drunk Millienials out wine tasting on the weekend, I imagine. Temecula isn't a wine growing region, it's an amusement park for the brain damaged. Has any wine publication ever done an article like "Temecula: Wine's Best Kept Secret," or "Temecula: Tuscany Without the Scores?" Is there a restaurant north of San Diego County with a Temecula section on its wine list? That wants to sell wine? There are more than 50 wineries there now! Fifty! Man, it's like Yankee Stadium urinals. Tasting room in Temecula
Lodi I go to ZAP every year. I love Zinfandel, and I'm always on the lookout for producers new to me. I search the ZAP program for names I'm not familiar with and when I find one, the next thing I check is its appellation. If it's Lodi I avoid it like hot oil wrestling on "The Biggest Loser." Yeah, I know, there are lots of old vines in Lodi! I know, I've seen them, they all have court-ordered Do Not Resuscitate affidavits. Palm Springs has lots of old people, Scottsdale has lots of old people, Miami Beach has lots of old people--old living things go where it's too goddamned hot for healthy, vigorous things. Lodi Zins are more baked than a Humboldt State College reunion.
Wachau OK, I'm ignorant, but it's like I just ate asparagus and peed into a Riesling bottle.
What do you do with all the free wine samples?
In 18 months of doing two incarnations of HoseMaster of Wine I have received a total of four bottles. I take this as flattery. Wineries send samples to professional reviewers whose scores may affect their sales in a positive manner. To counteract any lukewarm reviews, they send samples to bloggers they know have little experience, proven sycophantic behavior, and the vanity to feel flattered at gifts of free plonk. It doesn't matter what the blogger says about the wine, no one cares, especially if you know something about wine. Wineries just want to be mentioned, to be ubiquitous, to see their name mentioned as often as Paris Hilton or Angelina Jolie or Jesus H. Christ. They call this marketing. Wineries pay marketing people obscene amounts of money to come up with lists of the dullest and most pathetic wine bloggers, and then they send them each a couple of bottles of wine, watch their Google Alerts fill their Inbox, and then sit back and watch sales inch downward. Hell, the wine isn't selling anyway, might as well give it away, then convince yourself you're marketing your brand. The music industry ruined payola for everybody, there are hardly any wine critics on the take, unless you count free trips, helicopter rides, lavish dinners, fake friendship and free balloon animals as payola (pish-tosh, it simply has to be that way), so what road is left to wineries but seeking reviews from unqualified and inexperienced reviewers? Make better wines? Nah. Too much like work.
Remember, if you have a question for the HoseMaster, aside from questions of taste, please submit them in a comment. Perhaps you'll be featured in another edition of "Interview With A HoseMaster!"
After 19 years as a Sommelier in Los Angeles, twice named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers' Association, I moved to Sonoma County to explore the other aspects of the wine business. I've spent, OK wasted, 35 years learning about and teaching about and swallowing wine. I am also a judge at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition--so I can spit like a rabid llama. I know more about wine than David Sedaris and I'm funnier than James Laube. Stay tuned for an informed but jaded view of everything wine and everything else.
I'm living proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
What the Critics Are Saying About HoseMaster of Wine
"If you want a great hoot and howl moment or two...go read the HoseMaster's year-end reflections...that guy is without a doubt the funniest SOB in the blog-world...and thank him for having the brains and balls to target his laser of laughter on anybody...HoseMaster for President...HoseMaster for Blogger of the Year...although he would be the first to say the bar is so damn low for that award, he should win it every year..." --Robert Parker
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity."
"Please let this guy write the scripts for Saturday Night Live which has gotten so lame...his newest "wisdom" is worth an Emmy....I wonder if he is the genius behind all those Hitler/Parker,etc. clips? No one else is remotely as funny or as talented.And the wine world sure needs someone to poke fun at all the nonsense and phoney/baloney unsufferable crap out there."
"Washam uses his own blog, HoseMaster of Wine, to skewer the industry in general and wine blogs in particular. If your mouse scoots to your browser's close box while reading a wine blog, Washam may be the blogger for you."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"...that guy Hosemaster has real talent...if you ask me sign him up for Comedy Central...he's the funniest guy since Adam Carolla's hilarious book...IN 50 YEARS WE WILL ALL BE CHICKS..."
"Ron Washam, former sommelier, is easily the most bitingly funny blogger/wine writer that we have ever come across. He is an equal opportunity crusader who pillories big wineries and amateur bloggers alike, as well as everything and everyone in between...One needs a sense of humor and a tolerance for earthiness to enjoy reading The Hosemaster. We must have both because this guy deserves a wider audience, in our humble opinion." --Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
"In my opinion, and that of many others, his blog is one of the best. And in terms of satirical or parodic wine blogs, it has no peer. Ron’s alert eye catches every pretense and skewers it with laugh out loud mercilessness."
"This site should carry a warning label. It's sort of a Dave Barry/George Carlin approach to wine. The Hosemaster (real name Ron Washam) skewers fellow bloggers and industry savants with glee, while offering hilarious wine guides such as his Honest Guide to Grapes..."
--Paul Gregutt, Seattle Times
"Washam is a skilled wine judge (I have judged with him) who is willing to judge wine double blind, in public. To my knowledge, Parker does not do this and never has. So Ron's credentials are in place, and so is his sense of the absurd."
--Dan Berger, VintageExperiences
"...I consider Ron a very talented writer and I’ve long been an admirer of his scathing wit..."
"And if any free sites think they can conquer the world, there’s always the Hosemaster to take ‘em down a notch."
--Tyler Colman "Dr. Vino"
"Those of you who know Ron either love or hate him, because he throws jabs like a punch drunk boxer, and we’re all in the firing line. He’ll throw them if he hates you, and he’ll throw them if he loves you. He’s a satirist of exceptional quality."
--Jo Diaz "Juicy Tales by Jo Diaz"
"I must say you are an idiot. I've never liked you. I have no idea why people find you funny."