Longtime readers will notice that I have removed my surname from the title of my blog. I think it's time. I'm a one-name brand in the wine business if there ever was one, like Liza is on Broadway, or Sting in the music world, or Shamu in the world of water and drowning people. When I call upon the finest wineries in California, many of which you won't have heard of, at least not until I write about them in Wine Enthusiast and make their reputations, I usually just say, "It's STEVE!," and that's enough. They know who that is. I often see myself referred to as just plain Steve in my favorite wine blogs. That's always how 1WineDoody refers to me and he's my bbffILF (best blog friend...well, you know the rest). If it's good enough for him, it's good enough for us. So from now on, I'm just STEVE!
I've just learned that I have won the coveted "Best Writing on a Wine Blog" Award. The awards haven't been announced yet officially, but all the balloting has been done and the judges have made their final decisions, so I think it's safe to say that I'm the winner. I don't think my thank you is the least bit premature. What I'd like to do is thank you, my readers, for voting for me and recognizing what I think is ridiculously apparent. STEVE! is the finest writing on a wine blog. And by that I don't mean the most creative, though I am still chuckling at my whimsical parody of "Les Cages Aux Folles" starring Robert Parker and Marvin Shanken--that was clearly inspired. I just mean the best. However, in all fairness, I don't think it's the fault of the other four nominees that they were up against a writer of my ability and stature. It's just bad luck. I admire the work of all four of my fellow nominees, though I've never read any of their blogs. Paul Gregutt and I both write for Wine Enthusiast and I can vouch for the fact that it's not his fault he's assigned to the borderline appellations of our northern neighbors. It's just simple logic. He didn't write an indispensable wine book like "STEVE'S! Indispensable Wine Book: Interviews I Granted California's Finest Winemakers." And none of the other nominees has written a definitive guide like my "STEVE'S! Definitive Guide to the Russian River: The Appellation I Made Famous." I like Paul, I like what he's done with the wines of Washington State and the abilities God gave him. I think he has a bright future in music. I just want to humbly thank everyone who voted for me for the now prestigious Wine Blog Awards.
For those of you who read my blog and think that all it takes is monumental talent to do what I do, a justifiable opinion to be sure, let me just say that it also takes hard work and dedication. Having the most successful and interesting wine blog isn't a matter of luck. My work days revolve around my paying job as wine critic for Wine Enthusiast. This is a very powerful job. Yes, I've heard the jokes going around about the Wine Enthusiast. Which is better, the circulation of the Wine Enthusiast, or the circulation of Dick Cheney? Well, Cheney ain't dead yet. Not that funny. I spend hours every day tasting the wines and assigning them numbers, using a specially designed Magic 8 Ball. It's only after those ratings are done that I am able to think about my award-winning blog STEVE! How do I talk about the burning subjects in the wine world in a way my readers will be able to understand? Will I be able to work in secret messages to my bbffILF? How do I generate comments?
I'll let you in on a little secret. The last question is an easy one for me. Longtime readers who read STEVE! carefully may have noticed that whenever I have a couple of posts in a row that receive a measly amount of comments, I find a new way to talk about one of three subjects guaranteed to generate participation. I churn out another column on the 100 Point Scale. Or I write a piece about the diminishing influence of Robert Parker. Or I can always post about wine bloggers--that's a surefire way to get comments. The genius lies in making each tired old subject seem fresh. It's like squeezing lemon juice on week-old fish. Once my readers swallow it, eventually they'll spit something out. This information might come in handy for the rest of you bloggers. Absolutely no subject generates comments from wine bloggers like wine blogging--they love to talk about themselves because it's the one subject they know. Well, that and the basic emptiness of existence.
I'll be off to give the keynote address at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla where I'll also be accepting my "Best Writing on a Wine Blog" award. I'm honored. If you had asked me two years ago if wine blogs would have any impact on the wine industry I'd have said, No, I don't think so. What's changed since then?
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."