Thursday, July 1, 2010

What I Learned About Blogging in Walla Walla


I learned so much at the Wine Bloggers Conference, and I had this totally original idea to list the Top Ten Things I Learned! It just came to me. I swear, I don't know where it came from. Maybe I'm channeling one of the many geniuses I met in Walla Walla. You would not believe how many geniuses were there. Steve Heimoff was there (he's like a SuperGenius! He sounds just like Stephen Hawking! Not the physicist, just some guy named Stephen, hawking.), Lettie Teague was there (she's such a genius she writes for the Wall Street Journal, which is a newspaper just for geniuses and doesn't even have comic strips!), Andrea Robinson was there (she's such a genius she's got these wine glasses that make wine taste so good you think you're drinking out of Riedel instead of a Riedel ripoff! Wow, how smart is that?), there were geniuses everywhere! I haven't met that many really, really smart people since I applied at the DMV. I learned so much about blogging, and I'm really excited to share it with you. I know a lot of you couldn't really afford to go to the WBC, so I'm hoping these insights will be helpful. I wouldn't have been able to go either if I hadn't sold all of those samples wineries have sent me the past six months. Oh, don't worry, wineries, I'll still post tasting notes on the wines! I'm not stupid. I wrote down all the back labels and I'll go from there. It will be just like I actually tasted them. Anyway, here are the Top Ten Things I Learned at the WBC!

1. To be a good wine blogger, you not only have to learn about wine, you also have to learn how to write! Not sure I signed up for this. Isn't it enough that I know a little bit about wine and took typing in high school? Those seem like solid wine blogger credentials to me. Now it turns out I have to find my "voice." I don't even know what that means. People can't hear me on this blog. I don't need a voice. I have Twitter. Which is like vuvuzelas--if you played them with your asshole.

2. Just reviewing wines doesn't make for a good wine blog. Then why do they give an award to Best Reviews on a Wine Blog? I'm going to go with this lesson, but I still think people are really interested in my reviews. And why wouldn't they be? Nobody knows more about Wines under Eight Dollars than me. I think the problem is bloggers who talk about really expensive wine and about wines from grapes nobody has heard of, like Mourvedre. Who the hell has heard of Mourvedre? Wasn't that the guy who created "Jeopardy"'s real first name? What turns people off is talking about great wines. Come on, people, let's stick to what wine bloggers do best--recommending reliably mediocre wine!

3. I'm really famous. Everywhere I went around the hotel, people knew me. It's like I had a name tag. Oh.

4. There were wine writers before Robert Parker. Apparently, this is true. But most of them were British and white and had a hairy wah and a huge Johnson. But they are the past and we are the future, and somehow we're supposed to feel good about this.

5. Marketing people are really nice, but you can't trust them. This is kind of hard to believe. All the ones at the conference were really, really nice to me and only said good things about my blog and how good I am at matching wines with reality TV shows, which is something I thought of myself and is really way more clever than matching wine with music or old movies. Like with "Biggest Loser" I said you should drink K-J Vintner's Select Chardonnay because it's really fat and hopeless. And why wouldn't I trust marketing people when it's marketing people who gave the Best Writing on a Wine Blog to marketing people who write fluff about wineries and wines they represent and are major sponsors of the WBC and also sponsor the European Wine Blog Conference (where I hear the girls go topless!)? That seems fine to me. Theirs really was the Best Blog. And it's not just a blog, it's paid advertising! It's a blogger ideal. I guess they mean don't trust marketing people who don't have a blog.

6. Bloggers don't like criticism. That's what so great about blogging. We're all nice to each other. It's like we all have the same defective gene. Except that HoseMaster guy. But I'm guessing he's just mad about his hairy wah. Plus, I hear he's been in prison for identity theft. He stole Hitler's.

7. Publish as often as possible. I kind of knew this anyway, but it's good to have it reinforced. Content needs to be slapped together as quickly and as often as possible. It's quantity not quality. With enough quantity, quality will come. We know this from Harlequin Romances and Cook's Champagne and Orson Welles. So don't sweat the facts, don't worry about originality, just crank it out. Whew. This one I can do.

8. Walla Walla is the Lady GaGa of wine regions. I made this up, but it's really catchy. Walla Walla=GaGa. And there are so many other similarities. Lots of fancy packaging with basically nothing inside. And next year we won't be talking about either one of them.

9. Speed tasting wines and posting about them is fascinating and educational. For example, I learned that most red wines taste exactly the same. Kind of like spit does. And that tasting notes are best when written quickly because you can just use the same words over and over and nobody really notices. For fun, I often write descriptions, and then shuffle the descriptions and the wines so they don't match! Know what. It's hard to tell the difference. And it turns out that's what most wine bloggers do! Now they tell me. That's how you know you have good tasting notes, they're interchangeable. This is liberating and should cut the time I spend on my blog in half, so I'll have five extra minutes to read Catavino and thrill at the prose.

10. Credentials can be fabricated. This is the most important thing I learned at the WBC. Your readers know a lot less than you do, so knowing what you're talking about is irrelevant. It's that you say stuff often and with a unique voice. So now I'm going to be the Selma Diamond of wine bloggers! And if someone stops by your blog and does happen to know more than you, you can delete their comments. But how likely is that? With a stunning dearth of talent, just look around, wine bloggers don't get comments.


a-nun-ee-mouse said...

oh oh oh
and did you know that the Hospees doo Rown started out as a Veeyownyay festival?
and that there are 22 varietals grown in the Rown valley?
and that the Caucasians is where wine making started?
and that you're not supposed to smell the cork at a restaurant?
and and and....

Samantha Dugan said...

Okay I have not even read this post yet but I think Charlie must take back my First Worst Picture Award. You win....dude. Gonna go read now.

Thomas said...

I don't often say this out loud--This Post Made Me Laugh Out Loud.

Oddly, I twice had the #10 experience--me being the one who knew more than the blogger and me being the one whose comment never made it to the blog, but the original post was amended based on my information.

Each time, the blogger who did it to me was among the so-called top bloggers. That was when I began to become suspicious about this blogging gambit. And Tom Wark wonders about my curmudgeonness...

AC said...

dude, those are some awesome tightie whities. I bet they'd look like Madonna's wedding gown on Lady Gaga

Anonymous said...

If that is you in the photo, I have to know - what kind of food and how much to get those attractive chocolate pancake nipples? Are you Luciano Pavrotti's twin we keep hearing about? I understand that, unlike your bro who sang tenor, that you sing soprano because you lost your nuts inside your belly fat and you can't dig them out. I was at the conference and I didn't see you. Were you hiding as a reputable reporter under poodle clothing?

Dave said...

Is that the love child of Osama Bin Laden and Paul Prudhomme on steroids or maybe just McHappy Meals?

Charlie Olken said...


I am not convinced that Ron has taken the title of Worst Picture in a Blog. After all, both his and yours are big tubs of goo.


I like your ideas for monetizing your blog. Sell the samples. I wonder if newletters can do that as well?

Anonymous said...

Peeps should quit kissing the smooth baby rumpus of Tom Wark. He is suffering from short man syndrome and hates fat girls.

winebookgirl said...

Yet you used no content from my emails?
I suppose I should thank you for that.

I'd talk about the school bus experience but prefer to think about Paul Gregutt taking us to a really great bar.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Gang,

All the yahoos that went to OOPS seem to have posted a Top Ten things they learned post. Alfonso Cevola called my attention to it, and I took it from there. I thought it was appropriate to do the same without having been present, which, having read several of them, wasn't apparently necessary. They all just said the same inane thing. "I learned that I should write for myself." Might as well, Poodles, that's what you are doing.

Glad it made you laugh out loud, Thomas. Thanks for that.

I think it's interesting, and also heartening, that no one cares that Catavino won for Best Writing when it is so transparently fixed. Oh well, I guess that's just controversial in my small mind.

Anonymous the XXXIV, short man's disease is rampant among bloggers. Tom Wark is a nice guy that I relentlessly harangue because he can't stop being a marketing guy and surrender to being truthful and transparent. As for fat girls, well, are you one? I aspire to be, but am sadly deficient in at least two categories.

Amy Love,

What happens in our emails, stays in our emails.

Wilma said...

Funniest blog post I've read in ages. Thanks for making me crack up on a mundane Thursday night.

Samantha Dugan said...

Fat Girl checking in and for the record Tom Wark likes me just fine. Ron My Love I had to laugh through this post because the conference read throughout the blog world just like a sample cycle....everyone writing about the same crap at the same time.

If people got something out of it I think it is all good but I have to say I am so with you on the Best Writing Award deal, total scam...and here I thought Chronic Negress was a joke. Now I see she was merely a "fluffer". Ah well as long as someone got off, in this case it was the cats making the money by telling people how to make money. Talk about Circle Jerks.

There are a few people that I happen to like that went and had a blast, (one of which just kind of took me to task and called me, ouch) and if people had a great time, learned about Lady Gaga wines and came away feeling like they got something out of it...well, shit I am happy for them. I adore you!

Thomas said...


Are they still doing that "speed tasting note" thing at the conference?
Truly idiotic, but a perfect example of honing quantity over quality.

And yes, I recognize the Catavino scam, but it's so obvious I couldn't believe that it wasn't a joke on everyone.

verification is: dedlyaps, as in new Apple apps that kill?

PaulG said...

I have no comment on the Catavino award, as I was one of the bridesmaid also-rans (and Heimoff looked much cuter in his pink tutu)... but you failed to mention the flaming pasties that were clearly the Friday night highlight, if not the Best of Show. And abc did herself proud at jgb - she's got her own permanent barstool for life. See ya next time Hoseman...

Anonymous said...


There's no money in Truthful and Transparent.

Tom Wark...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hi Kim (aka Wilma),

So sweet of you to comment. Thank you so much. Glad it made you laugh.

My Gorgeous Samantha,

What's interesting, of course, is that Walla Walla puts on a big show for the bloggers, rolls out the red carpet that is covered in Stain Guard for Poodle Protection, opens all their best wines, and then the Poodles go home and write about, what else, themselves! Look out, Virginia, you're next.

I love you!


The Catavino whitewash hasn't been mentioned at all, except by me. Which, honestly, is good. It shows how little the world cares about the Poodles, how little value the awards have.


I told STEVE! he wuz robbed, and I'll tell you the same. You wuz robbed! That said, it's pretty damned funny the way you wuz robbed. Thugs from Iberia picking your pocket. And we all know the award belonged to ChronicNegress. Man, I wish I'd thought of that moniker. I wonder if she'll trade me for HoseMaster.

I doubt you'll see me at OOPS. But one day we'll meet and I'll borrow Amy's Memorial Barstool. And I am not surprised at her doing herself proud, though I am surprised at her doing herself.


I was so bored yesterday I watched part of STEVE!'s keynote address and he emphasized being transparent and being careful around marketing people and wineries. Which I found funny considering that many of the bloggers there dream of getting hired as marketers, or being overwhelmed by samples from marketing departments. You're right, as always, my friend, there's no money in Truthfulness and Transparency. Unless you're a stripper.

wild walla walla wine woman said...

Gregutt may have been robbed, but he wouldn't have been there to accept the WBC poodle collar anyway and the presenters knew that. So, they chose to give the diamond studded collar to the poodle who came the furthest. Besides, didn't they have awards to give out at the Waitsburg Wine Bloggers Conference? Gregutt, were you stone walling or just stoned?

Now I totally get why Wark won't look or barely talk to me. Oh well, who needs him when I have three of the only men in the world I can trust - Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia.

Charlie Olken said...

I object. Anything short of transparent and truthful in winewriting is unacceptable and is not only grist for the Hosemaster, it should be considered as something we would not want to step in, will not support and will expose at every turn.

Screw the sellouts. Call them out at every turn. And if they cannot make money honestly, then the world should dump on them in the manner they deserve.

Anonymous said...

Ron Washam, HMW said...


STEVE! would have gladly accepted the award. Don't, pardon the expression, dog Paul. He had the sense to stay away. Last year the Poodles were in Sonoma, near where I live, and I didn't even think about attending. Of course, I'd probably get stoned. And I don't mean on wacky tobaccky.

I'm surprised Tom wouldn't talk to you. Did you forget to address him as "Your Highness?" He's touchy about that.


I'm with you. The whole Poodle voting process was intentionally opaque and misleading. It's small potatoes, but still annoying. Catavino winning for Best Writing? Only if you use the same kind of officiating as the World Wrestling Federation.

Essentially, OOPS was all about creating a nation of wine blogger sellouts. Who can get the most ads on their blogs? Who can get a job working for a winery while promoting their mass-produced swill? However, I don't care, I just love it for satirical purposes. You can smell the sellouts. The distinct aroma of Poodle poo follows them around.

Anonymous Arthur,

Not sure what that link is about except a Poodle realizing his own foolishness at speed tasting in Walla GaGa. Now he'll just get a bunch of hits he doesn't deserve.

Don't go there, folks, nothing there to see. Keep movin'.

Kathy said...

Watch out Poodles.
You just got nominated for Vintners Hall of Fame. (well, for Alder's list).

1WineDude said...

Arf! Arf! Arf!

Thomas said...


I don't think that the poodle realized his own foolishness--all he realized is that he should taste wine more than once before proclaiming it is a 97--that makes it a 91!

What he doesn't realize is that speed tasting is the antithesis of wine tasting or sensory evaluation. What he also didn't realize is that such wines as the one he blogged about are produced to appeal on the initial attack, get your attention and then hope to keep you focused on what was, rather than to focus on what is--a syrupy concoction that has the life span of a caterpillar--if only it had the characteristic of a caterpillar and could become a beautiful butterfly.

1WineDude said...

Thomas - somewhat ironically, during one of the WBC dinners we actually tasted wine made from caterpillars ( )...

Sip with Me! said...

Voia voila. It's almost as if you were there! Your words about talent equating with lack of comments make me sad. Hope you're feeling less bitter about it all next year, I'm honestly looking forward to putting this topic to bed — it's very tired.

Anonymous said...

Hose Master,

After nearly 2 years of trying to make sense of the idiotic world of wine related social media, twitter, and wine blogs I've stumbled in here. In a feeble attempt to not sound like one of your meek blogger kiss-asses, your blog has given me hope. While most wine-blogs read like they were written by an inebriated 3rd grade girl with a speech impediment trying to bribe her mother for another free drink your predilection for poking people in the eye while generally giving accurate information is inspiring.

Oh, and your fan club of bloggers cracks me up. They continue to bow before you after you've kicked them in the nuts. hilarious!!!

Unfortunately, your work has just made me realize that quality content is possible. Damn it! I was ready to give up.

Thomas said...


It's a good thing he used "highly sterile equipment."

I do hope no one tasted cat pee from this wine--that would be disgusting.

Sip with Me! said...

And Samantha, see I'm sad about Ron's bitter take too. I'm an equal opportunity feeler and look forward to not hearing about those silly awards again till next year when they overlook you both again. :)

Samantha Dugan said...

Just thinking the word bitter is an unwise choice. Implies that we are upset because we were not included. We could have shelled out the bones and gone but at least for me, I just had no interest in going. Like I told you over on my blog, those kind of things are what I do all day every day....what would make me want to do that on my off time?! See what I mean?

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Wow! I love that in the article the wine connoisseurs who tasted the caterpillar wine said it tasted a little bit like pinot grigio. I think I've had that pinot grigio.

What goes with that wine? Raid?

Tamara Tamara Tamara,

I sometimes think you haven't a clue. Unlike you, I write my blog simply to entertain myself and to exercise my tired old comedy bones. I don't want awards. I've got a wall full of awards, and they don't mean much to me. This topic might be tired to you, and you're entitled to your opinion, but you're one of the bloggers who posted a Top 10 List about OOPS. And one of those heavily into self-promotion, and social media. That's not tired?

Aside from that, I wrote the post in character--ostensibly the fat guy at the top of the post, but as imagined by another character, the HoseMaster. Maybe he's bitter. I'm not bitter. I've been calling the Poodles bogus for several years, and not because I don't get nominated. The WBC was designed to be a Circle Jerk wrapped in a drunkfest and by all accounts it succeeded. God knows I went to dozens of similar events in my years as a sommelier. But in the company of far more knowledgeable and experienced folks--and far better drinkers, as well.

Perhaps others see this post as a bitter take. Maybe you're the only one courageous enough to say so. Perhaps I'm completely wrong about my own motivations. Yeah, and Catavino has the Best Writing on a Wine Blog.


I'm not sure why you posted anonymously. I'd be happy to plug your blog, if you're still doing it. Thanks for all the undeserved praise. Imagine how good I'll be when I'm not dealing with tired subjects!

There is quality content on wine blogs. If you don't read the blogs on my small blog roll, you should. These are talented and interesting and knowledgeable people, or they bribe me, or a little of both.

What got me started was the sanctimoniousness and lack of writing skills on wine blogs. Is Twitter the new standard of journalism? My mother taught high school English and the stuff that's out there would have left her hopeless and bereft. So I just started having fun with it. It's been amazing the response I've received, both positive and negative. And your note definitely brightened a lousy day in my life. Thanks. And don't be shy about revealing your true identity. It's very liberating.

Thomas said...


and anyone else interested.

One reason that you won't find me attending a blogger's convention is that I can't imagine anything more stultifying than listening to the personal pronoun for three straight days.

Sip with Me! said...

Samantha, bitter may perhaps be a bad choice of words, but what other impression is left when people harp on so negatively about something from which they were excluded. If you really didn't care, you wouldn't have waxed on about them. You know how much I love and respect you, but your actions ring bells for me, that's all.

Ron, you are actually my idol and you're true to form in calling me out as clueless, I will deny it though anywhere but here, k? As for my blog, yes it's true, it's not all written for myself. I am new to this genre (wine writing, not freelance writing) and I'm sure that shows to someone as seasoned with salt as you are. I've committed myself to a certain mission and am trying to maintain a certain amount of integrity with that, I am also trying to stay true to myself at the same time; it is a precarious balance at best. Ultimately I permitted myself to doing branching out and writing for myself and have looked back every moment since. It's not easy to throw yourself out there to be called clueless or just ignored (crickets on my daring post today). And for the record, I might have been the first to post the Top 10 list, everyone just copied me. Ron, I'm not courageous, just thinking you're beating a dead horse here a and Catavino will always have the best writing on a blog.

Sip with Me! said...

Btw, I'm a fantastic drinkers, at least give me a chance and don't pre-judge me there and will you ever forgive my shameless self-promotion? And my next confession, I am very tired.

Thomas said...


Maybe you can see now why blogging gets so negative a view from some of us. Promotion itself isn't shameless. What's shameless is when it is wrapped in a package that claims the opposite goal.

A blogger supposedly represents what's great about this so-called social media thingy--you know, it's a community; it's taking wine writing away from the stuffy snobs who worked to get there and giving it to the "drink, therefore I know" crowd; it's liberating us from the bombardment of unintelligible prose to speedy prose; most of all, it's anti-hype, truth, justice, get the point.

Is that why Catavino won?

Samantha Dugan said...

Thank you. Poor Tamara's "bells are ringing" and I am blue in the face. I was not going to say another word, no sense in trying to un-stick what is in someone's head but....excluded?! That actually made me laugh out loud. I was cornered by my beloved Mr. Wark three times about attending....before the nominations were handed out, (that counts as an invite right?) and I told him each time that it was not gonna happen. Not excluded, chose not to go long before the seeing that Ron and Alfonso were cut from the nomination list, (which is where I think you are getting hung up Tamara). I will however agree with Ms. Tamara about one thing, this is getting really tired and now it's beginning to sound like those New Jersey Housewives, "They make fun of us but it's only because they're jealous" okay.
For the record I think my post on the conference was not at all negative, not to the attendees....I pointed out the Catavino thing but never cracked on the people that went and got something from it. If you are reading anything more than that then I think you are trying to.

winebookgirl said...

As much as I adore you, the bar stool is mine. Happy to have you next to me though.


Ron Washam said...


First of all, I'd like to apologize for my tone with you. It was inappropriate and far too harsh. I've had a very difficult week, on a personal level, the kind of week that reminds me that the wine business is just a playground and that there are adults out there in the other rooms doing adult work. I took my sadness and anger out on you. You didn't deserve it. I'd like you to accept my apology.

If I'm actually your idol, I don't know whether to say thanks, or I'm sorry.

Harping on a subject is one of the great tools in the comedy tool belt. I often use a nasty aside to make a point, but it's repetition that's useful to make a point stick. Every marketing person recognizes that. I might agree that Catavino has the best writing on a Marketing Blog. But at least concede the point that it is at the very least unseemly, and most certainly intellectually dishonest, to accept an award from a ceremony you're sponsoring. Anyone with the least amount of integrity would have not allowed themselves to be nominated much less accept the award. I just come at it from a satirical point of view because it's what I do. I've looked at Catavino once. It's edited to death and lifeless as a crash test dummy. But my opinion doesn't count. Except here.

When you've been in the business as long as I have, and Thomas, and Samantha, affairs like the WBC are old hat. I certainly remember the thrill of the first few I attended, the camaraderie, the feeling of self-importance, the drinking and flirting. Good for you that you were able to enjoy all of that. It's fun. And then it's not. It's why so few professionals attended and left it to the wide-eyed bloggers and newbies. For us, it would have been just another day at the office.

If it gets under your skin to be called clueless or to be ignored, well, you're in for lots of misery. You should see my mail. You have to develop a very thick skin if you want to perform in public. If you don't, they'll wear you down and beat you to death. Whatever your mission is, Tamara, I wouldn't anticipate a wine blog accomplishing much. A handful of the thousands of bloggers have gotten a job or recognition or money from blogging. Those are stupendously horrible odds. Doing the blog for the pleasure of finding your voice, for the community that can accompany it (I've somehow been extraordinarily lucky on that count--don't really know why), and finding joy in that, well, that's the real joy.

As Thomas so eloquently points out, trying to fool your audience, insulting their intelligence, won't work. Not in the long run. Writing and marketing are two different skills. Pick one. Stick with it. Engage your bulletproof shield. Go get 'em.

Charlie Olken said...

I am headed up to Portland next week for a few days of R & R, and I looked in on some of the blogs that Tamara mentions on her blog roll. Some interesting stuff that I don't normally see, but so much of it, even the best of them, are like blogs everywhere. Lots of self-promotion and not a lot of directly usable information.

I don't read Catavino. Can't. But I do read this blog and Sam Sans for good writing that is about wine, and I read Heimoff, Alder, Wark, Doc Vino and Asimov every day. Sometimes they have topics that interest me and sometimes they dont.

Sometimes WineDoodie and Good Grape grab me and rope me in. But, if good writing that interests, challenges, enlightens, entertains is the standard, then the blogosphere is no different from the Safeway wine shelves. You have to know your onions to pick a good one because there is so much generic, dull plonk out there.

Sip with Me! said...

Samantha, sorry for the confusion. I meant excluded from the awards, not the event. No one needed an invitation from Tom Wark to attend. On another note, "Tom Wark" were actually the first words my son read to me this week from over my shoulder as I was reading his blog. Very sweet.

Ron, let me clear something else up, because being clear and conveying my point in a comment stream seems to be something of a challenge for me as of late. I was being entirely sarcastic when I said Catavino will always have the best writing on a blog and I'm in complete agreement with you 100% - perhaps I should have included more smiley faces.

Thank you for both your thoughtful response and your apology, which was entirely unnecessary but appreciated nonetheless. Your tone was more honest than harsh and your message an important one for me to hear. I'm not pretending to be anything else and my readers (all 2 of them) know what they get from me is always real. As for thick skin, I get that. I'm more of a freelance rejectee than a writer anyway. I'm still finding my voice in the wine community, but you're a brave man and the way you remain true to form no matter what the backlash, is a great example to any person, (writer or poodle). Thanks for the encouragement and advice and hope you enjoy the long weekend.

Ron Washam said...


I love Portland. I've only been there twice, but loved it both times.

I'm flattered that anyone reads my junk, but especially flattered when someone I admire reads it. Thanks for that. I spend an awful lot of time alone, in front of a blinking cursor, trying to make folks laugh at this business. I ask myself every day, why? Haven't found an answer. I think just to surprise myself. The inside of my head is a scary place.


I am casually bashed all over the blogosphere, which is how I know I'm being read. I never react to the criticism. If you dish it out, you have to be prepared to take it. And I consider the sources. There is, honestly, so little actual talent in the blog world, that the sniping makes me laugh. And I also tend to get more praise than jeers, so I'm OK with all of it. I pretty much don't believe either.

More and more the wine blog world is breaking up into little cliques. They spend most of their time patting each other on the back, writing "Great post!" to each other, and actually believing that what they're doing is useful and interesting. It's not. But it makes them happy, and it makes them feel important, and they can pretend their opinions and thoughts matter. I KNOW mine don't matter. Sadly, if I only had two readers, I'd still do this.

I save my admiration for the small handful of bloggers I wish I were as talented as. This is a small list. Samantha, for her passion and unique voice. She might need polish, but there's more raw talent there than I've ever had. Alfonso Cevola has brilliant moments. He says more original things in one post than most say in a year. AND, and this is a big AND, he actually knows what he's talking about (as does Samantha). As journalists, I admire STEVE! and Paul Gregutt. They have style and charm and wit and well-earned authority. Thomas has his own way with words and I admire the preciseness and command he displays, as well as his thoughtfulness. And, hell, I wish Charlie would write a blog because he is a damned fine writer. After that, no offense to anyone, I don't see much I admire. Admittedly, I don't spend much time reading wine blogs. If anyone knows of someone I haven't mentioned who possesses real talent and voice, please let me know.

OK, I'm done. Happy Fourth of July to everyone. We are truly blessed to live in a country so devoted to freedom of expression.

Charlie Olken said...


The check is in the mail--along with the Pastis. Better you than me.

It astounds me to hear anyone describe me as a good writer. I struggle to write. Sure, I have plenty of snarky opinions, but if I tried to write like you or Sam, or with the volume that STEVE! can generate, I would fall flat on my derriere.

But, you must be biased for some reason. I see where you nominated me for the Vintners Hall of Fame, and I am a worse vintner than I am a writer.

Still, you get two checks this week. And I thought Amy was supposed to be doing my PR. I guess I have to wait for the book to come out. It's a race between the blog and the book at this point.

It's 4th of July weekend. I am going to throw out all the leftover Chinese and cook a big double brisket Texas style (slowly over two days) and drink copious quantities of American wine--because STEVE! told me to.

Samantha Dugan said...

Awe c'mon Charlie Baby drink your Pastis. If it helps imagine someone running their fingers through your hair while the sweet elixir passes your lips. Warm hands holding your strong jaw as you swallow. A loving face looking back at you, nodding and telling you, "it's okay. You've done it. It's all over now". It might help and if Ron is busy that day I can stand in.
Happy 4th Sir Charles...I adore you.

Thomas said...

On the 4th, I shall finish a 5th...

winebookgirl said...

Just spent some time in Portland and environs tasting and eating. Email if you want recs.

What about the Red Sox game?


Charlie Olken said...

OMG,Sam. That's bloody hilarious. Perfect buildup. Perfect timing. Then, wham. The punch (in the gut) line.

I love it.

Charlie Olken said...

" Ron
What about the Red Sox game?

-A "

You cannot miss this one. As it turns out by amazing coincidence, Amy and I have tickets in the same section, in the same row.

And, at this writing, I have an extra ticket. Wed, July 21 A's vs Red Sox. Day game.Come and watch me suffer. The Sox never win when I go to games.

Ron Washam said...


Someone jokingly nominated me for the Vintners Hall of Fame, Poodle Wing. That's funny. But, Charlie, I think you belong in there one day for CGCW. If Three Puffs isn't a famous wine expression in California, I don't know what is. No matter how much you hate "puffs."

No, thanks on the Pastis. I don't hate it, but I don't like it either.

As for baseball, sure, why not! I love baseball. Your Sox seem cursed with the injury bug this year, which doesn't bode well. But it's a long season. Count me in. We'll make arrangements away from here. Thanks.

Arthur said...

I'll gladly drive down to Signal Hill and have that pastis with Sam.
Or, Sam, you can bring that bottle up here and we can have it in my vineyard while we count sharpshooters in the traps.

Samantha Dugan said...

Thanks kid! Finally someone that wants to have a goddamn drink with me!

Ron Washam said...


There are a few sharpshooters from Walla Walla in my vineyard too. I can see their scopes reflecting the sun.

Pastis Isn't Me Daddy said...

Now, now, Samantha. It is not you, it is the Pastis. Arthur is just taken advantage of the fact that anise-flavored anythings make me gag.

Besides, what a deal. He wants you to count bugs with him. Frankly, I don't trust him. Bugs?

Arthur said...


Always, Ma'am. You and Irene can hang out and chat and I'll do the counting.


As long as their bullets are not coated with X. fastitdiosa, you should be fine. Especially if they shoot like they type...


You still have a gag reflex at your age? ;)
I was hoping to utilize Sam's discerning eye to make sure I am not misidentifying those suckers.

Thomas said...

Well, I still have a gag reflex, and after reading these comments, I find that it works just fine...

Kathy said...

OK, I searched, maybe not enough. But why don't I see any bloggers titillated by Lettie?
(They should have invited Will Lyons, he's a writer I'd be proud to have in my stable.)

ryan said...

Please point me to the fluff that we so called write about. Also where we write about our clients?

We are not sponsors of the WBC, though we founded and organize the EWBC to help bloggers do a better job of blogging. If you come you will see that we spend the conference teaching bloggers how to do research and fact checking, something that you might want to check out.

We do marketing, and social media consulting to make a living but we also keep that very separate from when we write about Iberian wine and food culture. We do not write about our clients.

Gabriella Opaz said...

To add to Ryan's comment, I think it's important to recognize that Catavino Marketing and are not the same creature. Though under the same umbrella, and run by Ryan and I, the award was for - a website founded in 2005 for Iberian wine. This same site has been nominated in previous years for an award, well before we were asked on as judges for this year's edition.

The judging we did partake in this year for the Wine Blog Awards was strictly for 2 categories, neither of which included our names, or the names of our clients.

To clarify, we do not financially have any stake in the WBA, we did not have any sway in categories involving us or any of our clients, and beyond all else, we are dedicated to honesty, transparency and full disclosure.

We believe in helping the wine blogging community at large, and therefore, we feel its imperative to lead by example. We do our research, admit our faults and do not slander our fellow wine bloggers.

We work hard for whatever recognition we have received, and whether or not you feel it was deserved, please recognize that there was zero foul play in its presentation.

Ron Washam said...

Ryan and Gabriella,

Oh my, I've awakened the sleeping giants.

For the bloggers who were nominated and didn't win a Poodle, let's make it clear. The WBC is about marketing wine, and not about wine writing and reviewing. The judges, as far as they've revealed themselves, are in the marketing business and judge accordingly. Which wine blogs serve the wineries, some of which are your clients, and how do we bring them recognition? Awards work. I guess I'd be happy if the Poodles would admit they're meant to be more like the CLIOs and not at all like the Pulitzer.

As a friend of mine pointed out to me, journalism is undermined just as much by the appearance of conflict of interest as it is by actual conflict of interest. I don't see Steve Heimoff calling his blog "Wine Enthusiast's Steve Heimoff", and not just because they might not let him. And winning a Poodle for your blog is certainly a tool you'll use to attract more clients to your business. You'd be foolish not to use it that way.

You're dedicated to honesty, transparency and full disclosure and you just now admitted you were judges? It's unimportant whether you judged your own category, you should have graciously stepped aside, as Tom Wark did. It's certainly not necessary to do so, but when the entire group of judges is anonymous and then it turns out some of the judges win awards, well, kids, that stinks. For Heimoff and Paul Gregutt and even the Chronic Negress, that stinks. Just imagine the scandal if the Poodles weren't so trivial. Imagine a Nobel Prize judge winning for Literature even if he's judging for Chemistry. Wouldn't happen. They might be political awards, but they have integrity.

This is, in fact, a perfect display of leading by example. Can I be a judge next year? I want to win! Hey, I know judges, they are going to vote for other judges.

And, finally, fact checkers, it's libel I practice here, not slander. Teach the bloggers you so graciously teach to be fearless, to have opinions that stimulate rather than euthanize, to laugh at themselves. It's a tough world outside of the sandbox we call the wine business. There's always an asshole like HoseMaster making fun of you when you're just doing your best to succeed at something you're not good at. Get used to it.

And never get down in the mud with the guy who's slinging it.

Fluffernut Daddy said...

From my standpoint, you started to go downhill when you nominated me for the Vintners Hall of Fame. Now, look what's happened.

You are backing the wrong horses. Need to get back to the winners' table with some kind words for fluff and Siberian wines.

The magic word today is: gonesain. Gee, I hope not.

Joe said...

I figured all those top ten lists would be a softball for you. Glad you came out to play.

For the record, Army Worm Wine does not taste like Pinot Grigio. It tastes like Pinot Gris.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Joe,

I wonder why Dr. Vino, or someone else, isn't commenting on the impropriety of the Poodle awards. Sure, Parker's flunkies take freebies and everyone's all over Parker. The Poodles give awards to the judges and no one says a word. Says volumes about the credibility of bloggers. They certainly learned to be uncritical in Walla Walla. Probably too busy barking at the mirror.

Actually, I was thinking it didn't smell like pinot gris, but more like its oceanic cousin amber gris.

I didn't check. Did you do a Top 10 Walla Walla GaGa list?

Arthur said...

(sniff sniff)
sweet, earthy with notes of petrol... dead dolphin... and whale vomit
That be the Nantucket-grown amber gris, arrrrgh!
Hmm, the idea of amber gris vaguely reminiscent of the final scene of "Let's Go To Proison".

ryan said...

Your right "And never get down in the mud with the guy who's slinging it."

but oh well

as for judging, No judge knew any other judge. so to claim that being a judge somehow influenced anything is just wrong. Yes maybe we shouldn't have voted in 2 categories, but we felt that our knowledge of the wineblogging world would be valued. Either way we're happy to give you our poodle, since you seem to covet them so much.

"You're dedicated to honesty, transparency and full disclosure and you just now admitted you were judges?" No again please do some fact checking, after we were told we could, we did tell people we were judges for the categories we did not take part in. But I guess you still see no value in fact checking, rather than just making false claims to fit your arguements.

"Which wine blogs serve the wineries, some of which are your clients, and how do we bring them recognition? Awards work. I guess I'd be happy if the Poodles would admit they're meant to be more like the CLIOs and not at all like the Pulitzer."

Not even sure what you mean here. The WBA's have never claimed to be like the Pulitzers, nor tried to play that role.

I still see no way that we influenced or caused a conflict of interest. We were not aware of any judge till after the event, we are not sponsors of anything you claimed we were and we are in the end very happy that people we still don't know the names of took the time to read our site and see some value in it. As did the where we are not judges, nor affiliated or influencing, paying or bribing. This year they must have decided to drop their standards though according to your take on our site.

Please continue to sling your mud, and raise hell all you want. Just take a second to do a little research so as not to give the collective wineblogging community a negative sheen as people who claim we're all amateurs gain ammo for their cause.

So please now tell us we're wrong, bad people who are doing nothing morally right and then continue on your rampage against all other injustices and blogging crimes. Sling away...I'm going to go create a new award, with gilded poodles for the prizes and the requirements for entry that you are my friend.

Joe said...

Sadly, I feel the "top ten list" has jumped the shark, so I didn't go that route. Sorry to not cotton to your reindeer games.

With all due respect to the nuances of Amber Gris, Army Worm Wine actually smelled like pumpkin guts, and I drank a whole glass because I:

1) Am a middle child and crave attention and the approval of others (textbook poodle behavior)

2) Will succumb to peer pressure, except when it comes to making top-ten lists

On another note, I think your credential is too short. Can you change your name to "Her Majesty's Royal Hosemaster of Wine", thus upping your stock with post-credential "HMRHMW"? Or, perhaps you have a British doppelganger who already holds this prestigious moniker...

Charlie Olken said...

I have given this little tiff a great deal of thought, and I have concluded that what you need is a MISSION STATEMENT.

A Mission Statement will clarify once and for all why this blog exists and what its purpose in life is.

And because I am very good at writing Mission Statements, I have drafted one for you. I admit up front that it has somethings in common with the Mission Statement I just drafted for STEVE!, but then, you have so much in common with him.

So here is my draft. And, oh lord, please do not let me be misunderstood.

–This blog exists because I enjoy writing it. Its mission is to entertain me first and you second. I know a thing or two about wine. I have a thought or two about wine. I have a big pen. My name is STEVE!. (That is where you will insert "His or Her Majesty's Royal Hosemaster of Wine). I put it at the top of my blog because this is my blog. At the end of the day, if I have had some fun talking to you about wine and you have had some fun reading what I talk about, then this blog has fulfilled its mission. It’s not any more complicated than that. Have a nice day and come back tomorrow for more. Don't let the swinging door hit your poodle in the ass as you exit.

I added that last bit especially for you, Your Majesty.

Arthur said...


That should read:

"By Appointment to Her Majesty The Queeen Hosemaster of Wine"

Joe said...


BAHMQHMW does have a ring to it. For grins, let's add a "doctor" before and an "esquire" at the end:

Dr. BAHMQHMW, esq., MD

okay, this is getting ridiculous

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Thanks for the civilized debate. Please don't forget my role here at HoseMaster. I play the time-honored part of the Fool. The Fool's role is to speak truth to power and make fun of the vain and greedy and pompous. All while trying to make everyone laugh, even those being belittled. You are more than welcome to join the enormous ranks of those who detest me--Alice Feiring, Ken Payton, Alder Yarrow, those Corks and Afghans people... But I'll just continue to play the Fool.

Instead of debating small points, I'd like to pose two questions that all 8 people who read HoseMaster can answer for themselves.

In responsible wine blogging is the appearance of impropriety important?

Is there another award anywhere that has been given to one of the judges of the awards?

Those questions sum up my

Good luck to you and your wife, Ryan. I certainly wish no one any ill will, and even after winning and judging awards, we're all just a bunch of no ones.

Joe and Arthur,

If we're going to bastardize my esteemed initials, I prefer HMWILF.


I'm not sharing anything with STEVE! And the only Mission Statement that everyone who reads HoseMaster wants to see is, "This blog will self-destruct in ten seconds."

Thomas said...

Ron, that's not a mission, that's a prayer--by some.

looks like an actor named Gary is following you around--word was snesse.

Arthur Esteban Franciso Maria Conchita Alonzo Conception de Corazon de Jesus de la Vina Przebinda, MD, PhD, PDQ, ret. said...

I agree, Joe

AEFMCACCJ VP, MD, PhD, PDQ, ret. said...

(This blog theme dishonors my ancestors)

Arthur Esteban Franciso Maria Conchita Alonzo Conception de Corazon de Jesus de la Vina Przebinda, MD, PhD, PDQ, ret.

2011 WBA Judge Daddy said...

I volunteer.

I hereby toss my hat in the ring to be a judge in next year's WBA.

I am the perfect candidate. I know a thing or two about wine. I have no idea who Catavino is. I don't have a blog. I have a big mouth. I can read. Name me eleven other people who are more independent, more outspoken and judgmental, more used to putting bad wine and bad back labels in their places.

I am perfect for the job and I hereby volunteer. Anybody else here not have a blog but willing to cowtow to Siberian wines? Step right up. Maybe we can go as a group.

Ron Washam said...

Charlie, and everyone else who's still hanging around my tired post,

I just read through all 71 comments and can't make sense of them. It could be the horrific flu I'm suffering from which may have caused me to hallucinate that Ryan and Gabriella are right and that it was Puff Daddy that gave them the award for Best Writing even though he's never read the blog and his seeing-eye dog just pooped in my foyer.

So, everybody, give me a day or two to get over my horrific case of Poodle fever, which is related to Swine Flu only it makes me chase cars.

Kathy said...

I know you are sick and tired but could you please post something so I don't have to look at the fat picture? I thank you in advance.
As a non - but potential - blogger and former judge, editor and sometimes rejected commentator, I have a lot more to say but won't.
So, good night, sleep tight and don't let the blog bugs bite.

Ron Washam said...


I love my fat guy photo. I may just leave him there permanently. No, actually, I'm sick of looking at him too.

I do wish you would say more, but it's probably best that you don't. In the long run it's all just a hill of beans. Beans, man, that's the last thing I need.

Samantha Dugan said...

I don't know, the Goo Guy is kind of working for me. I have perversions beyond my anise adoration so it seems.

Arthur said...


It sucks to have a flu in the summer...

Take two of anything and call me in the morning.

Samantha Dugan said...

What summer? It's like 58 here right now. But it does however break my heart that you are not feeling well Ron. Get better you adorable man you. I miss your voice and the laughter along with the conversation it inspires.
A million tiny kisses
Where ever you may need them

Bill Klapp said...

Don't any of you recognize the guy in the photo? Why, it's The Wine Advocate's very own Dr. Big Jay Miller, taken when he was younger, lighter and frankly, much more attractive...

AC said...

Ok, so I have been otherwise busy- Who is this Tamara you all were talking about?


Ron Washam said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Day Two of my nasty virus and I'm spouting like the BP oil well. Not feeling particularly funny. Runny, maybe, not funny. So, the usual. Thanks for the sweet thoughts and kisses.


Welcome to the ol' HoseMaster's asylum. I don't know Dr. Jay, but didn't he play for the 76er's? This guy looks just a little out of shape.


Tamara is the lovely woman who has a blog named, and posts here as, Sip With Me. She also posts on virtually every blog in existence, so I'm not feeling all that special. Tis the way of the Poodle, Grasshopper.

Arthur said...

This post made the top 3 of's blog round up!

Ryan O'Connell said...

I've already nominated this comment thread for Best Fighting in a Wine Blog Comment Section for the 2011 Wine Blog Awards. I hear 2011 is going to be a really good vintage for flaming comments. Undervalued by Parker.

Anonymous said...

What the hell do poodles have to do with anything? Seriously, I'm like totally confused.

Jo Diaz said...

Now I'm wishing I had gone, and followed you the entire time...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Spume, aka Wolfgang,

Spoken like an Irish setter.

Here at HoseMaster Central I refer to wine bloggers as Poodles, as in the blurb under the title of my blog. Yeah, I know, it makes no sense, which is kind of my specialty.

And thanks for reminding me that the rest of the world could not care less about what goes on here.


Oh, oft-mentioned friend of STEVE!, you never want to follow me around at a bloggers conference. They mostly aim for my back.

Jason Phelps said...


I thought I would seize on something you wrote and ask a question to clarify. You have a wall full of awards but they don't mean much. Really?

I find that hard to believe.

Aren't the memories of the fun you had doing whatever it was that you ended up winning an award for meaningful?

You must have met people through those activities that you cherish and care about. So I must protest. The awards do mean something, but the right kind of something, a personal something that isn't just about the medal or the award on the wall.

You had me laughing again!