Thursday, March 21, 2013

Why I Should Quit


It’s not that I don’t have a zillion ideas. For example, I was about to write a post entitled, “Women in Wine—It’s the Perfect Marinade!” Oh, I got ideas alright. “Marketing to Millennials—Treat Them Like Ducks and Don’t Talk Down to Them.” I didn’t say they were all great ideas. I thought I’d write a piece about Natural and Authentic Sex. It’s strikingly similar to Natural and Authentic Wine—you finish just to get it over with. See, there are ideas everywhere. Ideas aren’t my problem. I almost wrote a piece about how there’s a serious lack of humor in wine writing, only Meg Houston Maker already did that at Palate Press and proved it. When I sit down to write for HoseMaster of Wine™, I’m never stuck for ideas. I wrote a parody of “The Walking Dead” that featured Robert Parker, James Laube and Antonio Galloni (as Pope Francis.) Who else would write that? Andrew Jeffords? Evan Dawson? Some other Genius of Dull? No, only me. I got ideas. I have enough ideas for twenty more years of Hosemaster of Wine™. What I don’t have when I sit down in front of the blank screen and blinking cursor to write this crap is motivation.

There hasn’t been a moment in the four years I’ve been publishing as the HoseMaster that I haven’t wondered why I bother. There are so many other things I could be doing. Insulting the grammar on homeless people’s cardboard signs. Getting a really nice fake tan by soaking in orange wines. Building an ark for the coming Climate Change Apocalypse from Styrofoam shippers. I could be doing any of those things right now, activities I’d actually enjoy, but instead I’m sitting at this crummy IKEA desk in front of my circa 1998 computer in my Wine Spectator pajamas (all you have to do is open them up and a dick jumps out) trying to make people laugh. I must be nuts. It’s not worth it.

I’ve been trying to get a “real” job in the wine business for the past few years. “Real” jobs are like what Alice Feiring calls “Real” wines—basically, they're mythical. They might be out there, but they’re buried in amphorae. I have an impressive résumé, if I do say so myself, but no one wants to hire me. Despite the fact that for three years I bought the wines for Air Rwanda (“Ron Washam is Hutu trust when it comes to wine.”) Not to mention that I have two Beard Awards to my credit—one for Outstanding Wine Professional with a Donkey, the other Beard Award the prestigious Julia Child Award for Most Often Drunk on the Job. How can an employer not be impressed? It’s crazy, you would think wineries would be banging down my wife to get to me, but that’s just not the case. Truth be known, my résumé arrives, they do a Google search, HoseMaster of Wine™ pops up, bang, I’m in the flush pile next to the guy whose résumé is printed on oily rags and stuffed in a beer bottle.

Yes, I’ve been offered a couple of jobs. I could have been one of the flunkies assigned to carry Jancis Robinson’s litter (her royal carriage, not less famous MW’s). Natalie MacLean took that job. I nearly took the Senior Gondola Gum Removing Specialist position at Sterling Vineyards. And then I almost accepted a one night gig as Sommelier at Senator Mitch McConnell’s annual “Last Suppah” re-enactment, until I found out they pooled tips. After thirty-five years in the wine business, those were the best I could do.

I’m sure this stupid blog has ruined whatever crappy reputation I once had. And for what? Fame? I confess, it’s very strange how often I run into people who have heard of the HoseMaster of Wine.™ It’s disconcerting and discomforting for me. I’m a private person. I’m not on Twitter. Twitter is to conversation what fortune cookies are to literature. I’m sure most of you have checked and found that I don’t have a FaceBook page. Why do I need FaceBook? I have nothing to share. And any idiotic website that turns “friend” into a verb, well, it can go whore itself. I don’t even know what Pinterest is. I thought it was a mattress for wacko playwrights, but it turns out that’s wrong. I tried to order a Queen Size Pinterest with vibrating Mamets, but they were out. Someone asked me if I’d seen Instagram and I told them I didn’t watch porn that featured women over 60. Now Instateen, that I might be interested in. I guess my point is, I am not the least bit interested in Social Media. I like to connect with people the good old-fashioned way—staring at them intently when they’re just trying to have a quiet drink. Antisocial Media, now we’re talking. Count me in.

When I began writing HoseMaster of Wine™, I naively thought that people wanted to laugh about wine and the wine business, and that it would be fun to be a part of that. I guess it is, at times. But satire is meant to be edgy, meant to slash and burn, not tickle and wink. It requires a measure of fearlessness and a large dose of skepticism and truth-telling. Wineries, restaurants, the wine press, bloggers, wine marketers, all tend to be allergic to all of that. For the most part, when they’re selling wine they’re selling the Romance of Wine. It’s the Romance of Wine that’s responsible for the ridiculous and overblown wine descriptions that defy meaning and sense. Those descriptions are love letters to wine, filled with the smitten writer’s attempts to stretch his meager vocabulary and express his beloved’s beauty and appeal. They're as embarrassing as old love letters. It’s the Romance of Wine that fuels the wrongheaded and disingenuous “Natural” wine movement. Is it coincidence that a desire for wines declared “natural” and “authentic” and “real” comes at a moment in time when we’ve nearly ruined our planet with our wastefulness and selfishness? The Romantics worshipped Nature. We trashed it, but can feel better about ourselves if our wines are “natural.” The Romance of Wine fuels the Millennials’ desire for the "stories" behind wines. I used to like them before bedtime, too. At least that’s what I keep hearing that Millennials want. So what’s the story behind “Skinnygirl,” the hottest new brand on the planet? Good old corporate greed, our era’s usual story, that’s what. I find it interesting that they want the story behind a wine, not the truth behind a wine. And that’s exactly what they get.

Romance always trumps satire. I’m OK with that. I’ve always just loved wine, and I have always loved romance. I keep my loves for both separate. Every generation discovers wine, falls in love with wine, romances wine, thinks that what they’re feeling about wine cannot possibly have been felt by generations older, thinks that they are exceptions to all the rules of sales and marketing of wine because their generation is different, has newer and better tools to work with, and the keen insight born of those tools. It’s the very eau de vie of comedy. It occasionally warrants scorn, but most often laughter.

The Romance of Wine is for tasting rooms, sales and marketing meetings, repetitious feature articles in interchangeable wine publications, sommeliers peddling their infatuations instead of satisfying clients, adjective-laden hyperbole masquerading as information, and suckers who think a story is worth an additional $40/bottle. It’s not really what being a wine lover is about. Just enjoy wine, just love wine, don’t waste too much time on the Romance of wine. Romance will break your heart, love is what endures.

But, truly, I need to quit this blog and get a Real, Natural, Authentic job.


57 comments:

Joe Roberts, CSW said...

Dude, you quit and come back more often than Shatner and Lance Armstrong combined...

Just go on "hiatus" and then unleash the literary skewer whenever you feel the urge. Insert your own passing-gas analogy here.

Anyway, we'll be waiting patiently!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

iWineDoody,
Don't forget Barbra and Cher. I fancy myself more a chanteuse than a steroid freak--or Lance Armstrong, for that matter.

I'm not quitting yet, just feeling the urge...

And the post is just about frustration and random thoughts. So, gibberish. Thanks for wading through it.

Quizicat said...

Have you thought of getting a blog job with Parker? He apparently pays 360k, plus all the points you can think. Not that bad. You could then pine for the days of free natural blogs.

Marcia Macomber said...

I wanna see the “Women in Wine—It’s the Perfect Marinade!” article! Oh, those 'women in wine' stories have driven me batty for years with that lead-in. Now if the women really were in the wine you'd have a lot more material.

Don't feel obliged to post every Monday and Thursday unless you want to.

Brian Loring - Loring Wine Company said...

Dude!

I'd hire you, but I'm afraid we'd just sit around all day trying to out pun each other. And I'm sure I'd lose... who can top shit like "Instateen"?

If I can dream, how AWESOME would it be for you to sign on to do reviews (and commentary) for Wine Advocate? As strange as it may sound - I think you and Uncle Bob both see through the Real Natural Authentic crap that drives the industry these days. I bet it'd be a surprisingly good fit.

If Bob's out there reading - please consider it!! Read Ron's reviews of our wines. Fantastic.

-- Brian Loring
-- Loring Wine Company

David Pierson said...

Getting a tan in orange wines?? Can I join you?? I'm sure you have cases of the stuff.. has there ever been anything more ludicrous foisted on a gullible public in a long while??

Eric V. Orange said...

Hose, Hose, Hose....

I'm with doody, call it hiatus.
Take a break, leave us hanging....

Wish I could hire you...maybe someday if my site is successful....

I'm liking the dots...........

All the best my friend. Chin up!

EVO

Charlie Olken said...

Here is what I suggest. Have several of us write guest pieces.

After a few weeks of natural, authentic, real crap, you will feel so bad about what is appearing here that you will come back refreshed and ready to satirize those who think they can write comedy, but are writing agonizingly miserable imitations.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Quizicat,
I turned down the Parker job. No hooker allowance.

Marcia Love,
I hate those manufactured stories too, and every time I saw one about "Women In Wine" I'd think, I wonder if onions and garlic would make them better.

Posting twice a week is a challenge, but I need that sort of deadline or I'll procrastinate and publish about once a month. Essentially, I get tired of my own voice, and then I think everyone else is tired of it too. Then I write a stupid post like this.

Brian,
There ain't enough time in the world to write 500 reviews a month like the ones I wrote of your wines. But, hey, maybe if Parker just sues me someone would hire me!

David,
You mean aside from the war in Iraq? Which reminds me, in the odd way my mind works, that every time I hear about orange wines I am reminded of Agent Orange. Only Agent Orange had fewer side effects.

Eric,
And speaking of Orange...

Your site isn't successful? Man, how do you define success? Oh, probably that money thing...

Yeah, ellipses are cool... Ask Parker...

Puff Daddy,
A long time ago, you may recall, I tried to get my peanut gallery to write chapters of "The MS Conspiracy." No takers. Hence, reruns. "Best of HoseMaster," despite being an oxymoron, has helped.

I guess I'll have Lo Hai Qu post more often. Works for 1WineDoody. And she's funnier than I am. Lo, I mean, not Joe.

george kaplan said...

That'll be the day. It's just a little Spring Fever, Pilgrim. Look at it this way. Women in Wine, the perfect marinade, could become" To Serve Woman" an entire cookbook. Take a break, visit some Farmer's Market), think of some other Beard awards you could win.

Dean Tudor said...

Ron, get a job with a legal firm specializing in wine defamation and lawsuits, fraud, etc -- like TWA and Galloni right now...

You're good at this stuff, cutting edge reality in the wine world. You could actually nail the suckers, both plaintiffs and defendants...

I think it is a fab job and would pay more than the $300K Galloni was hauling in...

If I say anything more, you might be sued for repeating the libel...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

George,
Damon Knight, right? "To Serve Man?" Classic science fiction short story. Hadn't thought about that for years.

And I've got more Beards than a sackful of mussels.

Dean,
I think everyone gulped at the 300K Galloni number. Who quits that job?

Maybe I could work for Don Cornwell's law firm, Children of the Cornwell. (Way too inside a joke.)

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
Oh I have a job for you...you might not love the stirrups, or the uniform though. As you know I adore the piece you write when I can actually hear your voice, your beloved Ron voice, so I loved this piece almost as much as I love you.

Thomas said...

"blog job with Parker"

Would anyone like to guess on my misreading of that one?

Ron,

Forget the Beard Award. I won it a long time ago, but it did nothing for my beard.

Now you know why I blog less than is humanly impossible. In fact, I was going to make a blog entry two or three days ago, and right up to yesterday, but each time I got started, I had the feeling that I was simultaneously whining and calling attention to me, me, me, not to mention that what I have to say matters only to me, me, me--which I suppose is the nature of blogging.

In any case, I've had many jobs in the wine business. If you want one of my cast-offs, just let me know.

Eric Orange hasn't made it big on the Internet YET! I am shocked.

I like Charlie's idea. If anything, it will remove your need to think about writing a blog, as our contributions would certainly kill this blog forever.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
I have no idea what this piece is about. I just sat down and started writing about, well, nothing in particular. I almost didn't post it, and kind of wish I hadn't, but it's fine. I hope it has some laughter in it, amid all the self-pity and obvious neediness. Every so often I feel the need to step out from behind the HoseMaster curtain. Then I scurry back behind it before anyone can see me for the fraud I really am.

But that's the best job offer I've had in a long time. I don't mind the stirrups, it's the spurs that leave marks.

Thomas,
It must have been four years ago that I wrote of the Poodle Award category "Best Single Subject Blog" that every wine blog has the same single subject--the blogger.

It's about Voice, isn't it? One returns to a blog because the Voice behind the blog is interesting or challenging or odd or funny. I truly see my work here as simply exercises in Voice, a sort of batting practice, and I enjoy those exercises. I often dislike the results (actually, I always dislike the results), but it's fun to get in the cage and swing the bat a couple of times a week.

The problem with Charlie's idea, aside from it being Charlie's idea, is everyone here has their own blog. And they're too busy killing off their own blogs to help me kill HoseMaster.

Samantha Dugan said...

Dunno Kid, a very wise man I used to know told me that exposing yourself like that, being honest about the way you're feeling, well he told me it was courageous...I happen to trust him and agree.

Bob Hunnicutt said...

I had a real job once. Not all they're cracked up to be. Some of those ppl -- what do you call them... bosses -- expect you to be there at eight o'clock -- in the morning!

gabe said...

Ron,

Like anyone on this comment thread, I read your writings because I think you're smart and interesting. I disagree with you sometimes, but I wouldn't go so far as to say you are wrong. And I won't say you are wrong about romance being a story written in a marketing room.

But I work at a winery where we harvest grapes with horses. Sometimes in the fall, I'll watch them pull a cart full of buckets up a hill, watch the valley extend for miles. Sometimes my wife will come visit, and we'll drink pinot gris on a patio and watch the sunset.

I won't argue with you about whether or not the romance in wine is real. It's like arguing about whether or not God is real - people believe what they want to believe, and no argument will change their mind. But if you don't see the romance in wine, then I'm not surprised you have trouble finding the motivation to write about it.

Wine is the most romantic inanimate object I've ever known. I've spent my life with it, poured my blood sweat and tears into it. I don't mind a little ribbing - that's why I like ya! - but you will never convince me the romance isn't real, because I feel it every day. If you need to rediscover your inspiration, maybe you should look for the romance in wine. You'll be surprised by what you find.

David Fish said...

HMW,
You could make it on the guest-speaker circuit!

I think that many wineries and/or wine regions would pay to have you host a "roast" and skewer wineries and personalities that need a little deflating.

I can help you do that in Willamette Valley if you are so inclined....

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Samantha,
It can be courageous. It is when you do it. It ain't always that brave. Few as brave as you.

Bob,
You've got a point. Plus, they want you to have showered and shaved. Like that's gonna happen.

Gabe,
Thanks for the thoughtful remarks. I've had a romance with wine for a very long time, as long as you've been alive. But romance is personal, I think. Love is the more public face of it.

I am weary of wineries, especially very large ones, who go on and on about their love of the land, and their passion, and their vision, and blah, blah, blah. It's like endless Cruise Ship commercials that only fools believe. Don't tell me about it, just show me. Make great wine, speak articulately about it, have some fun with it, be excited about it, and that's all I need.

But every winery can do as they please. Obviously. I just tune them out. That blather tarnishes my romance with wine, it doesn't enhance it.

I lack motivation not because I'm no longer in love with wine, but because I am, and even more deeply. And when you love wine, all the disingenuous marketing (not at all like your lovely story), all the overblown descriptors and phony categories, all the pretense and bogus authority, wears you down, steps on your hope (and if you've ever had your hope stepped on, you know it hurts). If anything kills my motivation, it's all of that.

Guys like you, though, give me great hope. Thanks for that.

David,
I'm a disappointment in person. I can write comedy, but the gift of delivering it is not my greatest gift. But I am way overdue to visit the Williamette Valley again! Such a wonderful place.

wineknurd said...

I don't have a blog Ron, and I am here.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Wineknurd,
I appreciate that, and all of your clever contributions. I'm glad you became part of the HoseMaster Peanut Gallery. If you ever want to guest blog, you know where to find me. Behind the curtain.

Thomas said...

Gabe, you really harvest wine with horses? Don't they have trouble gripping the grape picking sheers?

Anyway, I didn't realize this thread was going to become as serious as it has.

I know exactly what Ron is talking about (of course, he paid me to say that).

Today, I spent a few minutes with someone who works in wine sales. It didn't take the person more than five minutes to make sure that I knew that he was taking the MW within the next few days--or was it the MS...I tuned out at that point. Or maybe I tuned out even before that, like when he rambled on about his truth as if it were THE truth.

Sure, there's romance, but there's also a hell of a lot of misguided ego, pompous nonsense, and big dick syndrome connected to wine. On top of that, few in the business have a sense of the absurd...which likely is because they are afraid to address their ego, pomposity, and small dick.

Charlie Olken said...

Jose says " A long time ago, you may recall, I tried to get my peanut gallery to write chapters of "The MS Conspiracy." No takers. Hence, reruns."

Not sure I follow the logic here, but if you will bring the MS conspiracy back to life, I will do my best to add a chapter without wrecking the whole thing. Can we bring Larry back to life? I mean, it happens all the time (just say it was his evil twin--The Emporer with no "nosmia".

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Charlie,
Wait, you're looking for logic here? You must be in the wrong place.

No, my logic was that since I don't have any ghostwriters, and I get weary of the constant drag of producing wine satire, I began to post reruns from my Library of Brilliance. That's HoseMaster logic--not your everyday kind of logic.

I have undying affection for two of my many characters--Avril Cadavril and Larry Anosmia MS. (Though I'm developing a fondness for Lo Hai Qu.) I'm not sure I can resurrect the old MS Conspiracy--I never did know where I was going with that. And my wife often asks about poor, probably kidnapped, Avril (in Dial MW for Murder), but I seem to have stepped away from those for the moment. I did have a pretty good notion of where Dial MW was going, but the journey was getting awfully long.

Larry, as you recall, resurfaced as head of the charitable group Sommeliers Without Borders. He's slippery and sleazy, which is why I like him. He'll be back.

And if I do return to one of the Pulp Fiction Classics, I'm holding you to that promise to contribute.

The Sommeliere said...

Hose, you are the only voice of reason in the whole freakin' incestuous world of wine. OK, maybe not reason,but sense? If you quit, who would I have to "lurve" (as Van Morrison so aptly pronounced) in the whole wine world.

We NEED you. Don't crap out on us.
Or you can always write a book!

Daniel said...

Hose,
I only found your blog a year ago or so, and it has given me a great excuse to not work for a few minutes once or twice a week...like I need an excuse.

I have been drinking and selling wine for nearly 20 years (ok, drinking it much longer, going back to the Saskatoon Berry wine from college, homemade by a buddies 'Canadian' girlfriends dad...man did all that sugar hurt our heads.), and there are so many wind bags in this business that need deflating equally. You must carry on or it will be up to hacks like me. and I don't have time for a blog, nor the silver tongue( fingers?), heck, I can barely get dinner ready in time...I've got three kids under 10. hence the drinking...
and I'm addicted to "..."

Happy Friday from the City of Destiny, the sun is out, for the next few minutes at least, and the Alto Adige PG is cold (enough)...


Ron Washam, HMW said...

Marlene,
You're too kind, Love. Though I thought "lurve" was from "Annie Hall." No matter, I lurve you too.

It is an incestuous world, but I think that's what makes it funny. It's also an unforgiving and far too self-absorbed world, something I find very annoying. We promote wine in ways that bring value to ourselves as wine people. It's always about Us, in the end.

Oh, I'll quit eventually. I'm overdue. I'm actually trying to fight the urge just to see if I can work through it--it's a test. As for a book--unlikely. I can barely do this twice a week.

That said, it's heartening to have such kind responses, though it does make the whole post look like I'm trolling for flattery. Deep down, I must have been.

Daniel,
Again, too kind. And, honestly, I wish I didn't have time for a blog. Save me a lot of existential angst. And maybe I could make something of myself.

gabe said...

Well Ron, I hope you make it out to the Willamette Valley soon, I would love to show you around. You might have have to suspend your disbelief of natural winemaking, romance, and maybe even gruner veltliner. But I promise the wines are excellent.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Gabe,
I hope so too. Though you've got me all wrong. I'm not anti any of those things--though I take the stance for satiric purposes. I say this every few months--I'm not the HoseMaster, he's just a character I play.

I think it's all semantics--which is what marketing is so often about. There isn't one way to make great wine. "Natural" is often (not always, but very often) used to imply "superior." That's hogwash, and the simple way to tell is blind tasting. Take the "romance" out of it. If you're not using the word "natural" to imply "better," then what is it being used for? Honesty? Please.

The purpose of wine, I think, is pleasure. However a winemaker delivers that pleasure to me, and I'm picky and well-informed, I'm fine with. When you think about it, saying you're a "natural" winemaker is very limiting, and probably misleading. Why bother? You're a winemaker. Period. If you're actually a star, you don't need the word "porn" in front of it either.

As for Gruner, well, I don't HATE it so much as I don't care about it. Sort of like college basketball.

David Rossi said...

Hose,

Got a couple ideas:

Let's team up and do a Kings of Comedy tour, but we will serve the audience wine(this way I will get some laughs). I started as a stand up comedian 25 years ago, and now I make wine. Not sure what is worse drunks in a club telling me I suck or critics scoring me.

Let's launch a new wine brand together. I'll make it and you can write a bad review of it and we will put that on the front label. We'll call it Don't Buy this Wine. Probably be bigger than Gallo by next year.

Think about it

David Rossi


Thomas said...

David Rossi, I thought your name was Steve. How's Marty?

Seriously...stand up comedy...hence the question: are you related?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

David,
Standup to winemaker? Wow. Going from one tank to another. It seems the world is littered with former standup comics. But I'll say this, it takes guts to get up in front of a bunch of drunks and try and make them laugh. A lot easier to deal with wine critics. You don't have to stand up.

I can't say I've had your wines, David. We should do something about that. And, you know, I always thought a smart winery that got a lousy score for a wine they actually think is great should proudly stick a "WINE SPECTATOR 84 POINTS" label on the wine. Any good retailer could make that wine fly.

As for Kings of Comedy--aren't those guys mostly dead?

Thomas,
Hello Dere! You're thinking of the always hilarious Carlo Rossi.

gabe said...

I've got to be honest, it always drives me crazy that you write about natural winemakers thinking they are superior. I know a lot of people who are trying to make natural wines, and none of them do it to be superior. If anything, it puts you at a competitive disadvantage, because you have less security from spoilage organisms.

I'm not sure where you came up with this idea that winemakers who don't use enzymes and concentrators think think they're superior, but guys using tons of fancy new oak and charging ridiculous amounts of money are just simple humble winemakers, but I think it is inherently flawed. Actually, I do know exactly which wine writer allowed you to come up with that idea. But thats not the point. The point is that natural winemaking and romance and all of that stuff are about making something pure and unadulterated. Their's no sense of superiority, just a winemaking philosophy.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Gabe,
I respect what you do at your winery. I've never tasted your wines, but I do understand the risks involved in the way you guys choose to make your wines. I admire risk-takers in every artistic endeavor. And your winery wouldn't do it if you didn't think it made for a better wine.

But I always feel that the folks involved in "natural" wine, however you choose to define that (and, really, the other wines are unnatural, or depilatoried?), are too much like Vegans, or Born Again Christians. There's a terrible stink of superiority. It starts with Alice Feiring, but it's all over the place. Am I the only one who feels this way?

But maybe it's the people who write about "natural" wines, and not the winemakers themselves, who offend me. I'm willing to go with that. You're a cool guy, Gabe, thoughtful and passionate, not at all arrogant. So I apologize, Gabe. I'll save my scorn for the media fools and leave winemakers alone. That seems fair--as if the HoseMaster was interested in fair.

gabe said...

Thanks Ron, I appreciate that. You're not so bad yourself :)

I promise it's not as dogmatic in the cellar as it is online. That's why I would love to show you around the Valley, so you can see it first hand. Yes, there are some crappy winemakers who use the term "natural winemaking" as an excuse to be lazy. But there are also some people who are making wine in humble settings with old equipment, and doing it in a very stripped down way. To accuse those people of doing it as marketing strategy seems to miss the point.

The analogy I always use is my wife. She's a midwife, and is always trying to have a natural, beautiful birth. But she is also a nurse, and has saved lives on the c-section table. You do what you have to do to get the best outcome possible. I may wax poetic about natural wine, but I spent the past week doing filtrations and lab tests.

But trying to create something natural and pure is always my goal. It's not marketing, and it's definitely not because I'm a better winemaker than anyone. It's because I care so much, because I care too much. Because I'll tell my boss why adding 3% red wine to a rose is ok, but adding 5% goes against my winemaking philosophy. And it's why I'll spend my saturday mornings talking to you about it :)

The wines I help make are quite literally a part of who I am, and I would much rather they be a cloudy and imperfect than be polished and expensive. Not because those wines are better, but because that is a better reflection of who I am.

Sorry to get so deep into this. But you have a way of instigating great discussions on your blog, so I blame you.

gabe said...

p.s.
feel free to keep making fun of natural winemakers. the more seriously i take myself, the more i need someone like you to make fun of me. otherwise i'll start a 'natural winemakers without borders' program

Thomas said...

Gabe:

There many who use the word "natural" to imply that the rest is unnatural. It is a dumb claim because, taken to its essence, except for spontaneous fermentation, nothing in winemaking is "natural."

If I may speak for the Hosemaster (he can delete me if he chooses to be a power-hungry blogger) I think his objection, as well as the objection of others, has more to do with the way so-called "natural" is marketed.

As for the many writers who beat the drum loudly, I was taught long ago to "write what you know." Others seem to disregard that age-old admonition.

Louis Calli said...

Ron,

I have an idea. We could start our own insulting company. Consulting is so passe. Besides, people would pay us to tell them how much they suck anyway, so the term is accurate.

We all know that if you don't know the answer, the answer is Malbec. So, that's what we do. We go around telling people to make Malbec, and show them charts and shit and use words like tour de force and millenial and hashtag. We'll make pie charts out of actual pies. We'll impress them with our liquid marketing savvy and our combined years of telling people to fuck off and buy malbec because bordeaux is for narcissistic douche bags and is secretly all made by walmart at a facility in needles california.

After being crowned kings of wine marketing we'll start some kind of bogus wine expert ponzi scheme involving DTC full barrels of bulk Languedoc juice stolen from JCB's sex dungeon.

And that's when we open the worlds first topless tasting room.

I think I'm on to something here. You in or what?

gabe said...

Thomas,
I would say the opposite of natural winemaking is intervention. Whether it means adding yeast, enzymes, or fining agents, or wineries putting wines through concentrators, cross-flow filters, or reverse osmosis. When you make a wine without any of that, it is different. I won't say it's better, I'll just say it's different.
As for the marketing aspect of it, I'm sure people in other aspects of the industry have to deal with that a lot more than I do. I don't really worry about that stuff, I just make wine and trust people like you all to tell the story.
But it does seem ironic that people who write about wine for a national audience feel no sense of responsibility in their role controlling the message, even though you're the ones repeating it over and over. Meanwhile people who actually make wine that way are described as a bunch of arrogant jerks, even though we're just regular folks trying to do one cool thing in our silly little lives.
Sorry, I'm 3/4 of the way though a bottle, I hope that came out ok.

David Rossi said...

Ron,
My 2011's will be coming out in a couple months and I'll get you some to taste.

Kings of Comdedy-Bernie Mac is dead, DL Hughly and Cedric the Entertainer might as well be dead, and Steve Harvey is doing Family Feud so he wishes he was dead.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Gabe,
Sorry for the late response, I was at the Rhone Rangers tasting all day yesterday reaffirming my dislike of orange wines.

Have no fear, I will continue to make fun of everything that attracts my attention and I find foolish. It's my nature, and I enjoy the conversations it starts here in the comments section. It's is my notion of satire that it be "natural," created without any sort of modern intervention. It's just so much better that way.

I admire your candor, Gabe. Thanks for hanging around here with us crusty old-timers.

Thomas,
Man, I think I'll start being a power-hungry blogger. Sounds like my kind of fun. I'm gonna delete that ColoradoWinePress guy next time he shows up! And then, eventually, I'll just shut down the comments section altogether and publish poetry instead.

Louis,
So you don't think that the last four years I've been the HoseMaster Insulting Company? It's funny, people who like me say I wrtie satire and comedy, people who don't say I'm snarky and insulting. I'm two, two, two mints in one.

I don't like Malbec that much. But I think your idea might work in a backward South American country.

David,
That's a very generous offer. I'd love to taste the Fulcrum wines.

I thought DL Hughley was dead, but then I saw he's on the next "Dancing with the Stars." So he's not dead, but his agent must be. Cedric the Entertainer changed his name to Cedric the Janitor.

Charlie Olken said...

Gabe, now matter how one slices it, the makers of "natural wines", and I bet that we can find some kind of manipulation in your wines at some point on the process, do things like calling the others "intervnetionists", "manipulators" and say things like cross-flow filters with a certain sneer on their lips as if those things were the work of the devil.

Wine is wine. Short of some process that is bad for the planet or for the people drinking the wine, there is nothing in winemaking that is inherently bad except bad wine.

No process, no alcohol level, no vineyard yield is bad or good until the wine is tasted.

That is why the "natural wine" movement makes many of us crazy--because it is not about the wine in the bottle.

John M. Kelly said...

Google Reader is going away and it took a week for The Old Reader to import my feeds, so I got here late.

Ron - less writing, more drinking. Shoot me a text if you get over this side of the hill sometime and we'll do some of the latter.

I've decided to stop writing anything of remote interest to anyone but me in my blog. Writing is so passe.

I downloaded the Vine app for my phone. It was not what I expected. But it's the future of social media. Ask anyone - they'll tell you.

Six second snippets of video are SO much easier to produce than (ugh) writing stuff down. And the best part? - you don't have to actually know anything at all! Or have any sort of talent whatsoever! That's why I'm there now with all the other cool kids.

Thomas said...

John:

Been wondering where you've been. Now I know that you are busy being educated in six-second spurts. Cool. Imagine how much one can learn in 24 hours of that!

Gabe:

Yes indeed, as Charlie pointed out, the fact that you use the word "intervention" as the opposite of "natural" winemaking is a problem for some of us.

Where does "natural" end and "intervention" begin?

Is pruning grapevines as a means to manage crop a natural way for grapes to grow?

Since they are cultivated (and even hybrids) and not native grapevines, is cultivation a form of intervention?

Is wine produced from cultivated grapes more natural than wine produced in the field from wild grapes?

Some people believe that the grapevines have to be own-rooted for the wine to be truly natural. How about that?

I suppose orange could be the natural color of white wine, but I believe that may be why the art and science of winemaking have been perfected over the centuries.

Don't get me wrong: I prefer minimal handling in winemaking. I just don't believe that what is done to produce wine is natural under any circumstance.

If we want to talk about petro-chemistry and all that stuff, we likely agree 100% in that area. I don't believe applying petro chemicals to farming or food production is much of a good thing--and I am so glad that I no longer grow grapes.

gabe said...

ok, you guys made your point. people who try to make wine without fining agents and expensive equipment are a bunch of elitists who think they are better than everyone else, and liars because they can't pass a purity test. meanwhile, guys who complain about them on the internet are intelligent and insightful truth tellers. let's just say i disagree

Unknown said...

Ron, was nice to meet you and your wife yesterday at the RR event. Thanks for stopping by (after I yelled at you of course). Ryan-Fields Family Wines

Charlie Olken said...

Someone yelled at Ron?

Must have been the first time.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Gabe,
I told you not to argue with these crusty old farts. They're always right. I'm the voice of reason.

Charlie,
I stupidly wore a name tag at Rhone Rangers.

Ryan,
Thanks for the kind words about HoseMaster at the Rhone Rangers. Maybe I'll see you in Lodi one day--though I'll probably be dead.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

John,
I haven't been in your neck of the county in a while. I'm due. I'll give you fair warning when I'm coming so you can hide.

Thomas said...

Gabe:

I knew we'd get you to see the light...

OK. Next!

gabe said...

the three of you should start a website called grumpy old winos. between you, you could probably drive the entire wine industry crazy. thanks for the fun debate. unfiltered reds forever!

Lily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka said...

Dear Ron,

This is one of the more comfortable pieces I've read here. As in, it reads as at peace with itself in tone, even if thinking through a subject that implies some uncertainty. I find that interesting. The humor blooms in it with ease.

Always glad to hear your voice.
Elaine

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Elaine,
Thank you. Every so often I decide to abandon the usual comedy or satire I amateurishly practice on HoseMaster and write about what's on my confused and twisted mind. These are hardly polished pieces, but perhaps that's more of an accurate reflection of how I think.

Though, in hindsight, I wish I'd chosen a different title.

It's also lovely to hear from you. I hope all is well in your peripatetic life.

Samantha Dugan said...

Starting to feel like Wine Blog Award season...yay, I for one cannot wait.

The Sommeliere said...

Ron, I voted for you for the best Wine Blobber. Don't you dare go and quit on us!

Cris Whetstone said...

Ron, do not feel the need to publish so often and so scheduled. Write when it hits you and let is slide when it doesn't. If that means 3 this week and none the next then so be it.

I still agree with you about the whole natural wine thing as I've pointed out in other comments sections. The problem for the believers is that they cannot define no matter how hard they try an unnatural wine. This leaves them in the position of being battlers of windmills. I find it hard for anyone who really understands what wine is and what it is about can convince themselves that there are "natural wines".

Maybe in some remote forest of the Caucasus Mountains long long ago a vine of morphology long since forgotten felled some ripe grapes passed over by all mammals, birds and insects of the forest into a depression in a rock. These grapes somewhat still avoided scrutiny of the hungry fauna of the forest and somehow fermented without bacterial infection or any other 'flaws'. Unfortunately this wine is nothing like what man created and made for many years after with all of his unnatural processes which have existed since the invention of man made wine.