Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tom Wark's Sermontation

A blog set inside the world of wine public relations--where the media, the culture and I are different words for the same thing.


1. The BP oil spill is exactly like the Three Tier Distribution System. In the brief history of the United States, a history unlike the history of any other country because no other country borders Mexico and Canada at the same time, the BP oil spill is the worst ecological catastrophe ever seen. Similarly, the Three Tier Distribution System sucks too. All of us bear some responsibility for the BP disaster. We insist on using fossil fuels to power our vehicles, heat our homes, run the gigantic Google servers that bring you this important, pioneering blog, and blow leaves from our driveways. If there were no demand for oil, there would have been no BP disaster. I imagine you hadn't thought of that. Compare that to the Three Tier Distribution system as it now stands in this great country that borders both Canada and Mexico, where, by the way, there are no Three Tier Distribution Systems even though, supposedly, they are countries more backwards than the United States. Perhaps all of us bear some responsibility for the Three Tier Distribution System as well. We allow it to exist when we know it's wrong. So just as we need to clean up the oil in the Gulf of Mexico, we need to eradicate the oily mess that is the Three Tier Distribution system. The oil companies own our government just as the liquor distributors own our state legislatures. It's time we take them back, return government to the people it belongs to, the ignorant masses. I predict that the Three Tier Distribution System will be dismantled about the same time we give up our cars and squeegee all the seagulls clean.

2. The rise of wine bloggers is like the rise of oil from the ocean floor. Wine bloggers have changed the wine environment in similar ways to how the oil from the Deepwater well has changed the Gulf of Mexico. Where once there were clear waters and smooth sailing, now there's all sorts of crap floating around. When I invented wine blogging several years ago, and created the Wine Blog Awards, I confess I didn't know how important it would be to the wine business. I could not have foreseen how important I would become. Now, just as the Deepwater well has sprung a leak spewing unfathomable amounts of goo and crude from one location that has spread all over the Gulf of Mexico, so has wine blogging spread all over the world. And despite the efforts of many to try and stop the wellspring of bloggers, nothing has worked. Just as thousands of gallons of oil emerge from Deepwater every day, so hundreds of new wine bloggers emerge, unleashed from the bounds of traditional media just as the oil has been unleashed without the use of traditional wells, and with much the same results. The waters of the wine business will never be the same. And even when the flood of wine bloggers is capped, if it's capped, the effect will be felt for generations. Just like the BP disaster, we have yet to see whether it's a good thing or not.

3. Wineries had better learn to embrace Social Media in the ways I tell them to or they face their own BP disaster. Just as British Petroleum had all the resources to avoid a catastrophe like the one in the Gulf of Mexico, a catastrophe that has brought them to the edge of financial ruin, so do wineries have the resources to hire a person for Social Media. Those that do not face the same dire consequences as BP--their names besmirched, their company boycotted and despised, and huge profits for their executives. I advise my winery clients, who will remain anonymous because that's what they hired me to do, to use wine bloggers and Twitter and FaceBook even if it means they divert resources from vineyard management and cleanliness. The only thing that matters about wine is how it's promoted. Had BP had the foresight and planning to promote their oil spill in a positive light, the company would be in fine shape. What if BP had mounted a campaign to emphasize that the Deepwater spill brings oil discovery to the people? The people who walk the beach, the people who fish the Gulf waters, the people who are birdwatchers. Would people still be as outraged? What if BP had blamed Al Qaeda? Just carefully insinuated through a series of carefully orchestrated Tweets and FaceBook quotes that it was Osama bin Laden working with a team of divers trained at a school in Florida who were responsible for the spill? Suddenly the whole country would be rallying to help the poor folks at BP. Rudy Giuliani would be giving inspirational speeches and Bruce Springsteen would write a song, "I'm Gonna Miss Tuna, Miss Tuna, How's About We Plug Your Well." Wineries need to use Social Media in the same way corporate giants use FOX news, and, believe me, bloggers are more than eager to oblige. The ones who aren't already marketing people (aka, Wine Blog Award Winners) are for sale, and cheap. It behooves wineries to spend their money where it should be spent, on marketing. If you're paying a winemaker more than you're paying your marketing people, you're making a terrible mistake. Wineries that make that mistake will end up with the kind of disaster on their hands that BP has.

4. Traditional wine writers are going the way of marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. A few will survive, those that are able to withstand the most oily residue, like Jay McInerny who has had years of hair gel as practice, but most will perish under the wave of noxious slime that is wine bloggers. This is just how it goes, get over it. The landscape changes, and what changes it the most is natural disaster. And so it is with the wine business. No one could have foreseen that winery owners would have to move from kissing the diamond-tipped drill bits of James Laube and Robert Parker to greasing the palms of a giant school of wine blogging barracuda, but that's just how it goes. All wine bloggers are wine writers because I say so. And so wine writing has much in common with the Gulf of Mexico.

We're going to miss them both.


Chuck said...


Given the deep level of piscesit incest between Jacky Fisher and Mohammed Reza Shah, all true sons of BP, like Tony Hayward, are know as Shans. So with a toot from Lilibet de Fart Hayward’s Bob went three sheets in the wind, i.e. a fit hit the shan-tail.

Thomas said...


You make me fear the day that you choose to skewer me.

Also, you have my permission to zap Chuck's comment.

I'll be off the Internet for a few days hence--who knows, maybe forever! Hope Tom pipes up on this entry...and I'll check back on Monday.

Anonymous said...

I've been busy hailing the rise of the blogger and bringing down the three tier system. Did something happen in the Gulf of Mexico while I was doing the real important work?

Tom Wark

Arthur said...

I thought you were sick?

Samantha Dugan said...

Um, I think I love you. Lots my shit on this one Love. Um, Tom I adore you but this was freaking hilarious.

abc said...

Have you recovered from the flu?

My verification word is squido--now I'll be back to thinking about the psychic octopus.

Chuck said...

After perusing this delightful site, far be it from me to skewer such an endangered species as a thinking being. In general my family has limited itself to skewering royalty. Family motto:


See Maltravers crest at

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Chuck,

OK, welcome aboard, I guess. If you want to be the Professor Irwin Corey of HoseMaster, be my guest. Thanks for adding to the nonsense.


Never fear the HoseMaster skewer. It's for your own good, like trepanning. Enjoy your time away from the evil Internet--don't worry, sadly it will be here when you get back.


Really? You've been hailing bloggers and badmouthing the three tier system? Amazing. Just a lucky guess on my part.

Aren't you sorry now you disqualified yourself for a Poodle?

(I thought I may as well keep beating on my latest drum.)

My Gorgeous Samantha,

You make me blush. Or is that the flu? Either way, thanks. One day I'll take an hour and tell you everything that's wrong with this post. But I'm thrilled when I make you laugh.

All I really like was "Sermontation." Once I had the name, I had the piece.

Samantha Dugan said...

Lost, lost my shit....who's blushing now? Don't want to hear what you think is wrong with this post but I would however LOVE to spend an hour with you sometime....just sayin'

Marcia Macomber said...

Likely my fave: "No one could have foreseen that winery owners would have to move from kissing the diamond-tipped drill bits of James Laube and Robert Parker to greasing the palms of a giant school of wine blogging barracuda, but that's just how it goes."

I think that's classic Wark verbiage. Perhaps you're right though: The title says it all.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Don't worry, Baby, I love you lost! I think that's a typo.


I think I spent more time worrying about the title than the actual post. But I knew it when it came to me.

I just can't believe Tom hasn't posted a link to it on Sermontation!

Marcia Macomber said...


I believe if you format your request for the linkback to Tom in the same manner as his topic today you may get the desired results.

After all, today's sermon is about actually asking for the sale. You'll have to spell it out!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Marcia Darling,

Damn! You're a marketing genius. I'm off to Sermontation now to do as you suggest.

I'm sure Tom will love it.

Kathy said...

I'm really tired, it's really late. I was about to hit the hay and thought I'd check and see if the fat guy was gone or you were.
So now I'm still tired, its still really late and I am laughing all the way to the bed.
And you're right, of course, sometimes it only takes one word. But I laughed at an awful lot of the extra ones.
Thanks for sweet dreams.

D J R-S said...

I had a hard time moving past the well-lubricated babe in the picture ...between that, & the thought that Canada & Mexico could have joined hands across California, as it were, & had a border with each other...(& my 95 year old dad arguing incoherently with his caretaker nurse in the next room when the apnea wakes him up every few hours, too, I must admit) I don't think I'm getting much sleep tonight...
(captcha: mingsgar...Flash Gordon's ter?)

Ron Washam said...

Dear Kathy,

Glad I could send you to sleep with a smile. Not usually my strong point.

It's always hardest to parody someone you know and like. I'm sure that if I weren't friends with Tom, at least I used to be friends with Tom, this would have been a lot more vicious. I've been thinking about lampooning Tom for months, but was never happy with anything I could come up with subjectwise. BP seemed perfect; and once that was in my head, and then the title, it was pretty easy because my evil HoseMaster twin had been rehearsing it for a long time.

Yeah, I know, who cares? But thank you for the kind words.

D J,

Not sleepy? Go read Catavino.

El Jefe said...

I enjoy this blog for its wicked satire (though this post didn't have nearly enough spelling misteaks), but what I really enjoy is the capcha fun! It gives me such an "inache".

Alfonso Cevola said...

This post kept refreshing and these are the kaptcha words they gave me:

I am so jealous of your kaptcha words...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

El Jefe,

Stop lurking and start commenting! Sheesh. I've got more silent bystanders than an Oakland riot.


What's amazing is you used every one of those words in your recent post! I especially liked, "hypitie the fool who doesn't like Sicilian wines!"

CabFrancoPhile said...

This is a bit off topic, but I have to ask. Ron, did you make the blog just to spite the world? It's clearly the work of a comedic mastermind, and naturally I assumed you were somehow behind it. The following quote about a $5 Aussie Cab has your fingerprints on it, I just know it:

"The Black Swan rivals some top-notch wines at many wineries I have had the pleasure of visiting."

Alfonso Cevola said...


you arawiz

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Cab Franco,

Wow! That just might be the worst blog since WineHarlots. It sure reads like a put-on. What's really scary is how much it reads like about 300 wine blogs out there who review more expensive wines, but just as poorly and inarticulately. I'd thank you for bringing it to my attention, but I'm not sure I'll ever be able to erase it from my memory. Chelsie, if you're out there, GET HELP!!

Charlie Olken said...

I'm back. Great way to start the day.

I also predict the death of winewriting. It will happen in the year 2313 when we will all transmit our thoughts over as yet-to-be-invented brain waves from transmitters inserted in our brains at birth. Marvin Shanken will own the rights to the WineBrain Network.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Charlie,

Welcome back.

Having to use brain waves for wine writing will definitely eliminate bloggers, who mostly lack the basic equipment.