“…any food product that feels compelled to tell you it’s natural in all likelihood is not.”—-Michael Pollan
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Every January the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) throw a tasting in my honor at Fort Mason in San Francisco. I'm honored that they do this for me, I don't see myself as worthy of the honor, I'm just a humble blogger who is frequently given accolades, awards, free trips, free wine and inexplicable admiration from an industry that deeply admires sycophants. The theme of this year's ZAP tasting in my honor was "Alder Zin You Can Drink," and, as I do every year, I agreed to allow others in the industry, as well as every day people, to attend. I don't have to do this, but I feel that wine is best when it's shared, and, besides, it's really lonely being the best blogger in the country.
There were fewer wineries this year, which I was not happy about and someone will pay, believe me, but the good news is that it meant I only had 740 wines to taste so I'd have an extra hour to come home and post pretty pictures on my blog. I'd really like to post pictures of kitties, I love kitties, especially in ribbons, but that wouldn't be right so I post trite photos by Andy Katz--get it? Katz? I post pictures of Katz! And you wonder why I win wine blog awards!
I was honored by the 220 or so wineries who chose to pour me wine at ZAP. Part of the enjoyment I get out of this annual event (last year's theme was "We All Live in a Yarrow Submarine") is the time I get to spend with all my many friends that produce Zinfandel all over the state, and even the world! People even come from Italy and South Africa to pour wines for me, hoping for a coveted 9.5 to 10 score, which I only give to 40% of the wines I taste so they are really going against the odds. This year I was honored to spend 11 seconds talking to Joel Peterson, the heroic producer and founder of Ravenswood, 8 seconds tasting with Larry Turley, and a full 15 seconds reveling in the stories of Kent Rosenblum. Did you know he's a veterinarian? When Dr. Rosenblum tells you you're a horse's ass for claiming you can taste and rate 740 wines in a day, you know he knows what he's talking about!
I was also asked to moderate a panel about Zinfandel and Social Media the Friday before the ZAP tasting. I am often asked to sit on panels because I'm the most respected wine blogger in the country and I can answer many questions that prospective bloggers constantly ask. For example, I am often asked what has made my blog so successful. It's not that big a secret. What makes Vornography so successful is that most people can't tell the difference between being prolific and being good. Choose prolific. And, always, they want to know how to get wineries to send them free samples. Here's where my journalism background comes in handy. Puff pieces. Wineries love puff pieces about themselves and I do that better than anyone else blogging today. You can't go wrong writing fluff, being a fluffer, about a winery owner fulfilling a dream. They eat it up, they post it on their website, they tweet about it, and they send me every release of wine they ever produce hoping I'll flatter them again. It's essentially like taking candy from trust fund babies.
Tasting 740 wines in six hours is no big deal, but, obviously I'm not superhuman enough to also take tasting notes. That would be ludicrous and, frankly, arrogant. Besides, no one reads tasting notes, tasting notes are just filler, like the white stuff in Twinkies, it's just there to distract you from what really matters, the delicious cake outsides. And it's all Zinfandel anyway. You already know what Zinfandel tastes like, it tastes kind of like berries. All you need to know is what I think about the wines as reflected in my scores. You already know my taste in wine, you've been faithfully following my blog for more than six years now, and if you're new here, well, take it from all of my regular longtime readers, my scores are valid and meaningful and come from my astonishing seven years of experience tasting wines. You can tell how valid my scores are by all the winery people kissing my butt in the comments section. I list the 740 wines grouped by my vague scores in such a way that it enlightens you as to which Zinfandels are worth your hard-earned money. The ones at the top. They tasted the best. Trust me.
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
"...With sometimes crude analogies and occasional droppings of f-bombs, Washam cleverly uses satire to expose the underbelly of the wine business. It's often hilarious stuff as long as you're not the one being lampooned. Washam takes no prisoners in skewering all that is silly, stupid, frustrating and pretentious about wine, and his favorite targets are other bloggers and writers. No one is immune."
--Linda Murphy in "Vineyard and Winery Management"
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity." --JancisRobinson.com
"As serious as the world of wine is, it does allow time for humor. Each Monday and Thursday, Ron Washam customarily posts a commentary on his needling wine blog HoseMaster of Wine. Washam, a former sommelier and comedy writer – he might say they are closely related – is the most opinionated, humorous and ribald observer in the wine world. His body of work is irreverent and remorseless. It’s almost always satire and parody, though he occasionally drifts into straight commentary, sometimes even with tasting notes. This past year, one of his posts was named the best of the year in the Wine Blog Awards. His success has spawned several imitations, which in their awkwardness show just how difficult satire is."
--Mike Dunne, Sacramento Bee
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/21/6089630/dunne-on-wine-wine-blogs-and-bloggers.html#storylink=cpy
"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
"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."
--Reign of Terroir
Robert (Joseph) was/is funny unlike HoseMaster who wasn't/isn't.