Monday, April 12, 2010

A Visit to Bowie Teak Winery on Pritchard Hill

When he was just a teenager breaking into homes and surreptitiously licking the labels of rare Napa Valley Cabernets--oh, that first lick of Far Niente, the embossed label, the way it aroused his tongue and spoke of money, its intimations of grand wine country homes, trophy wives and ultimate disappointment--Bowie (Boo) Teak dreamed of one day charging $200 for a bottle of wine with his name on it. Boo and I sat down recently at his spectacular winery on Pritchard Hill to talk about his journey, his life, his love for wine, and the breathtaking vanity it takes to pursue such a dream. (I guess it's here I should briefly confess that Mr. Teak bought me lunch, provided me with samples of his wine and kissed me on the lips without my permission, which made it all the sweeter.)

If you're a man with Erectile Dysfunction, or maybe it runs in your family (usually on the mother's side), you owe a tip of your, well, hat to Boo Teak. Mr. Teak made his fortune curing men with E.D. with an invention he came up with after reading about Michel Rolland. Here's Boo's brief explanation from his famous website, Limpipedia, "It occurred to me that the cure for E.D. was a simple combination of Rolland's micro-oxygenation techniques and those pressurized aerosol cans they use to inflate flat tires. That's how my famous 'Boner in a Can' was born." Boner in a Can has gone on to sell millions and millions of units. "I always say business is tough," Teak told me, "but not when you make it hard."

As Teak's fortune grew, he was really able to pursue his passion for fine wine. "I'd licked the labels of the finest wines in the world, but I wanted more. I knew there was more to wine than just flashy labels, I just didn't know what it was. Then a friend of mine introduced me to a corkscrew. At first I thought it was just another way to cure E.D., but, frankly, I'd had better luck with an ah-so. In fact, I was often called an ah-so, but that's another story. When my friend showed me how to remove the cork and taste the stuff inside, I was mortified. What was in the bottle tasted so much better than what was on the bottle. Except for the Far Niente."

On a trip to Napa Valley, Boo visited some of the fanciest estates and was smitten. "Here were all of these wealthy people, people like me, people who had made their fortunes making sure people got screwed, living in showplace homes, living in shrines they had built to themselves, like the Pharaohs, and making wine. I knew I had to do the same. Only I wanted to make the absolute best Cabernet Sauvignon in California, and money was no object--especially when it came to pricing."
Wineries along Hwy 29 in Napa Valley

I took a quick break from my interview with Boo to see how his crew was doing detailing my car, which wasn't really a big deal seeing as how no one had ever been in the passenger seat, unless you count my girlfriend, who's inflatable and stain-resistant. The view from Teak's mansion atop Pritchard Hill is astonishing. He looks down on Bryant Family (but then, who doesn't?), Colgin, Ovid and David Arthur (the widower of the late Bea Arthur--at least I think she's dead, she may just be on cable). His home has 38 bedrooms, one for every degree of Brix he picks his Cabernet Sauvignon at. It also boasts a state-of-the-art movie theater, an indoor ski jump, and a microwave oven that seats eight comfortably. But it's the wine that's the focus at Boo Teak Winery, and nothing has been spared in the quest to make Napa's finest red.

Teak purchased 350 acres on Pritchard Hill, 20 of which he planted to the classic Bordeaux varieties--Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Glennbec. The Glennbec adds acid and bitterness to the blend, but left to stand on its own it's absolute crap. David Aboo, Napa's most famous vineyard consultant, was brought in to plant the vineyard and wreak ecological havoc. ("There was some creepy little endangered salamander on the property," Teak told me, "but once we got rid of all the ground water the slimy little things disappeared--kind of like how the print media wine critics are vanishing.") Then Teak convinced famed Napa winemaker Helen Whirlybird to take on the task of nearly bankrupting him building a winery. Michel Rolland was the final piece of the Boo Teak Winery puzzle. "I felt I owed Michel something for his inspiration for Boner in a Can. Plus he's super-expensive and that adds to the price of each bottle, something I think all of us in Napa aspire to." In 2007, the fifty unemployed Master Sommeliers Teak had employed finished hand-digging his cave. "First time these pinheads had ever done an honest day's work." And, now, the first vintage of Boo Teak Winery's Cabernet Sauvignon has been released. A tribute to his E.D. business, it's called "Privates Reserve."

In my capacity as the acknowledged finest wine blogger alive, I sat down with Mr. Teak and tasted his 2007 Privates Reserve alongside many of Napa Valley's finest Cabernets, among them Harlan Estate, Spottswoode and Tudal (perhaps more widely know for its sheep, the ubiquitous Tudal ewe). By the end of the tasting it was clear that the Boo Teak Privates Reserve was the finest red wine I had ever tasted in my life for free. Mr. Teak has achieved what he set out to achieve as a young boy with severe emotional issues. He has a wine with his name on it that sells for $200 a bottle. Dreams do come true.


Charlie Olken said...

I have been to those wineries pictured in the article, but what you did not tell us is that they are all part of the Boo Teak collection.

I have done some research on this, and it turns out that there are more Boo Teak wineries than Huckleberry Jackson wineries. By the way, the one thing that Boo does not yet have is a horse. He does collect trees, however. Oak, ash, maple and alder are his favorites.

Marcia Macomber said...

OMG, a HMW new classic! Particularly this fine gem: "A tribute to his E.D. business, it's called 'Privates Reserve.'"

Nothin' can be finer than a Hosemaster one liner on a dreary, rainy Monday morning!

Ron Washam said...

Charlie and Marcia,

I've rendered everyone speechless with this vague and pointless piece, and I'm damned proud of it.

No, Charlie, Boo doesn't have a horse, but he does own several bloggers.

Marcia, thank you. Just thank you.


This illuminating posting sheds light on the numerous winery erections in the Napa Valley over the past couple of decades.
I know I've heard numerous Napa vintners mention their self importance, though with the drawl some of them have, it may have been a comment about "impotence."
If Bowie purchases one of the Burgundian "Louis" domaines, he can double his pleasure and make a Beauner-in-a-Bottle. Double Magnums would be a huge Jerobeauner-in-a-Bottle, while those demi bouteilles are Shortfils (not to be confused with Sildenafil)...
And isn't it ironic that "Teak" is a hard wood?


Samantha Dugan said...

Who says wine blogs are not informative?! You mean to tell me there are glorious flavors to be had beyond the label licking? Well no wonder I failed my MS exam. Pretty sure I have been using boner in a can wrong too...

Puff Daddy said...

Be careful with that stuff, Sam. It has many good uses, including starching shirts and making tomato plants grow straight but it is not dog food. Read the label. It is Boner In A Can, not Bone In A Case.

Samantha Dugan said...

Okay got it, read the label don't lick the label....yeah I was doing it wrong.

winebookgirl said...

Charles wins best comment with:By the way, the one thing that Boo does not yet have is a horse. He does collect trees, however. Oak, ash, maple and alder are his favorites.

Charlie Olken said...

"abc" must be really smart. Want to do my PR? Maybe I'll write a book.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Welcome back! I missed you! Don't let Charlie sweet talk you--he tries to horn in on all my gorgeous girls.


Yes, she is smart, and lovely. I wish she would publish your book--I'd maybe get a free copy!

Charlie Olken said...

Ron --> "Yes, she is smart, and lovely. I wish she would publish your book--I'd maybe get a free copy!"

I dunno about a Free copy, but I can get it for you wholesale. And stay tuned, the established pub date for the book is Oct 1, but I hope to see it sooner than that.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Six months! Six more months before your new book is published? Is it being mimeographed?

I, for one, can't wait to read it. Can I get an autographed copy signed "Puff Daddy?"

Let me know when it's out and I'll put a link on my blog to where folks can purchase it.

Book Daddy said...

Yes, the book business is a slow and elaborate process of editing, formatting, correcting, etc. This book is especially complex because of the number of wineries covered and all the details about them that have to be included, because it has long essays about each grape and because it will discuss each AVA and the significant wineries in them. It will have more maps than most wine books because of the attention paid to wine geography. The mapmaker is not happy with me because of all the detail that she has to fit on the maps in a book that is clearly not an atlas.

There is even a section on what to read when one is not reading the book. I tried to put in a section on blogs and the computer started to overheat so I had to abandon it.

But, ultimately I did fool the computer. I called it the section "Trees and Dudes and Other Typists"--so now that subchapter will now appear.

NO, don't ask.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Book Daddy,

That's quite the project. It's interesting that you would include a section on wine blogs. I wonder why. I think it is generous of you, and all of us bloggers have come to recognize your generosity of spirit. But I would think it would definitely be out of date by the time it gets to publication, or that it is a section that very quickly will become dated.

I believe I was deleted from that section when I took a "hiatus," which everyone believed was a suicide note. Or wished was a suicide not. I would have argued that I don't belong anyway, so I'm fine with that. But I will be interested to read your take on this whole blogging business, and who you think has an actual future as a professional wine critic (we already know 1WineDude is one).

Or will professional wine critics go the way of chimney sweeps?

No matter, I'm eager to read it. And everything else you have to say, my friend.

BoSox Daddy said...

The original manuscript was submitted last August. I was told yesterday that it is about to go to "pages", which, means that I cannot no longer make significant changes to the book.

Between wineries going bust and bloggists going funky, I have been up to my ears in changes.

I was given "last call" yesterday so if things change again, as they will, some details will be out of date.

And unless I miss my guess, your friend "abc" will have something to do with the book. Anybody who joins me in wearing a Red Sox hat to A's and Giants games is automatically my friend as well.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Puff Daddy,

Don't worry, 90% of my jokes are out of date.

Nosh Gnostic said...

Mr. Teak will be unhappy to learn that his E.D. product may be obsolete. Viagra now is available in liquid form - it is now possible for a guy to literally pour himself a stiff one.