Monday, October 10, 2016

My Favorite Year--With a Short Break

My Roederer Award--What the Hell is it?

I've had a rather memorable year. It began with speaking at the Napa Valley Wine Writers' Symposium in February. My speech wasn't memorable, but meeting Hugh Johnson was on my pail list, and I was also privileged to meet Jane Anson and Karen MacNeil, as well as befriend the lovely Lana Bortolot and, circuitously, meet Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW. Lisa asked me to write for the new Wine Advocate site, which has been fun, and has exposed me to many new readers. And, of course, I won a Louis Roederer Wine Writing Award, of which I am incredibly proud. One last time, I acknowledge my debt to Tim Atkin MW, who has tirelessly, and often foolishly, been my influential advocate. In terms of writing, it's been my best year.

Now, as I did last October, I'm going to take a brief break. Not that anyone will notice. We're all busy rubbernecking at the train wreck that is our democracy. It's my birthday on Thursday, and I'm going to take a couple of weeks off from writing this nonsense. I found last year that the brief hiatus really helped recharge the comedic batteries.

I do have a simple request. I never lack for ideas. I have long list of ideas for HoseMaster of Wine™, three of which might be worth something. But if there's a subject, or a person, that you'd like to see me lampoon here, I'd love to hear about it. I am not fishing for comments. There was a time early in my blogging career where comments were a measure for me of my success. No longer. I'm genuinely interested in what bugs you about wine, about the wine business, about the personalities who dominate wine writing, even what bugs you about me. Is there some issue you'd like me to tackle? Do you want me to continue "Wine Critics in Hell?" I think I've got one more Trump piece in me, but now every jackass is doing Trump, maybe I should abstain. I'm simply curious what folks think. I always write what I want, and I never pander to my audience, but I do wonder what you think.

You can bet I'll have very few common taters now...

I'll be back in a Monday or two. Keep an eye on the place. Yeah, I know, I'll miss you, too.


Mike Dunne said...

Happy Birthday! Once in a while I see something that could trigger one of lampoons. Now I'll see if I can find or remember any of them and pass them on. Enjoy your break.

James Biddle said...

Enjoy your recharging.

Maybe tie ("Wine engineered, with no grapes or fermentation") to its baby brother of mega-pre-fab-industrial wine.

AmitiesJerome said...

Dear Hose,

I hope you have a wonderful birthday and a fantastic vacation! I recently visited Norway and found its scenery to be dramatic and breathtakingly beautiful, the historic sites truly interesting, its food tasty and fresh, and its use of Coravin in better restaurants to pour great wines by the glass far beyond anything I have seen here in the USA. Highly recommended!

I would love to see you lampoon some distributor giants. Their slavery to "brands" with absurd names like Cupcake, Prisoner, and European country auto decals is embarrassing. And some of their "leaders" remind me more of Donald Trump than anyone remotely appreciative of fine wine.

Just my few cents....

Unknown said...

Hosemaster, Happy birthday and enjoy your time off. Please do continue Wine Critics in Hell, which needs to be staged at some time. And any parallels between Alice in Wonderland and wine are always appreciated, especially when done in rhyme.

Mark Rader said...

Hey, Ron. Enjoy the respite with the beautiful Kathleen. Someday you should enjoy a holiday with the woman you love---or was that the wrong thing to say? Oh my!!


Unknown said...

Well have a Happy, Hose. Always good to get one more birthday, it beats the alternative. I'm a consumer, not a wine pro, so you may not agree with my perspective. Personally, I'm fed up with Napa. VERY high wine tasting fees, high levels of arrogance (it's 12:15; you can come back at 1:00 for a full tasting), extremely high wine prices. No sense of 'we appreciate you buying our wines' anymore. My new filter: if the winery doesn't make me feel welcome, and if the tasting fee is above $30, I don't support them. I schedule annual trips to Walla Walla every fall, they have wonderful wines at reasonable prices and they are thrilled to have a consumer walk in the door. Just one man's humble opinion. Steve Pinzon

Brian Baker said...

Congratulations on the award!and Happy Birthday
And to liberally borrow from the boys and girls at Needham Advertising during the 70's, "you deserve a break today"--enjoy your respite
Your mirthful lampooning of our day to day is one way I keep my sanity
and agreed with Mr. Biddle, go after the wingnuts at AVA wine

David Larsen said...


On a different but related subject to your request for ideas, if you would ask your secretary to format your posts using shorter lines they would be easier to read.
Looking forward to another year of laughs and congrats on your well deserved recognition!

Unknown said...

I always look forward to your sharp comments on these self important wine critics.
It gives me a laugh each time you take a shot at them.
Keep it up Hose, you are the best.
Enjoy your well deserved time away from the keyboard, recharge the batteries and return to us with fresh eyes and a stinging wit!
I hope you know that the recognition you got from Roederer is a testament to your talent for writing about what you've loved for years, and, keeps you interested in shaking up the " establishment ".

Rocky Volcanics said...

I still owe you lunch, so let me know when you want to have it. I might even join you.

Linda M

Unknown said...

Every installment of Wine Critics in Hell is always eagerly awaited.

I like the idea of lampooning huge commodity brands, industrial swill and virtual crap off the bulk market. Although it fails to tick the box of insulting the "engaged industry reader", I reckon there's lots of fun kindling to be found for that fire.

Though to be on message, anything with an over inflated sense of gravitas fits the bill. It's the wine industry. The fruit hangs low.

Many Happy Returns x

Aaron said...

Happy Birthday! What a well deserved break for you, enjoy it!

I think I'd love to see a lampoon of the wine/beer folks towards ciders. Or at least, the Angry Orchard ciders of the world, with the revelation that is the new Craft Ciders (and Mead!). I think there's something very funny in there somewhere. Perhaps bring in the Wine Critics in Hell into it. Hmm... :)

Unknown said...

congrats on all your success, i hope you enjoy your vacation. I also wanted to thank you for providing some laughs during harvest for another vintage. You providing the perfect balance of comic relief and 'can't stop thinking about wine' that is sincerely appreciated during harvest.

you should definitely keep writing 'Wine Critics in Hell'. You should also continue 'Through the Looking Glass', 'Larry Ansomnia MS', and bring back 'Lo-Hai-Qu, Millennial Wine Drinker'. Making fun of more millennials in general is probably a good idea.

As for people in the wine business that I would like to see lampooned..I thought you would never ask! I can go on for hours! "Winemakers" who spend most of their time on sales trips and restaurants visits while their "assistant" does all the winemaking. "Natural" winemakers who spend 15-minutes a year in the vineyard and brag about how they only work with organic grapes. Sommeliers who want to tell you the best way to make make wine, but don't know the difference between tartaric acid and lysergic acid. Restaurants that don't serve local wines. $15 glass pours. Jackson Family buying the biggest amount of Western land since the Louisiana Purchase. Every vintage being the 'vintage of the century'.

Finally, you should lampoon people like me. Young winemaker who think they are re-inventing the wheel because they harvest a week earlier than their neighbors. Winemakers who shit-talk the industry and then wonder why nobody buys our wine. Winemakers that screw something up and then act like they did it on purpose to add "complexity". Winemakers acting like their job is more important than making a Frosty at the local Wendy's.

Sorry about the rant, but you kind of asked for it. I think we stumbled upon why I'm such a loyal reader. Thanks for another vintage of excellent wine satire.

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,

First of all, I would like to send you all my love and wishes that you have a wonderful birthday. You are our gift most of the time so you taking a little time off is hardly too much to ask. You've had one hell of a year My Love and I am just one of the crowd that is so very happy for you.
Enjoy your time away. I will be right here waiting for you.
I love you!

PS, I always remember your age and birthday as it reminds me of giving up one love for another and giving up cigarettes as a birthday gift for you....once again you giving me a bigger gift than I can ever repay. 4 years now Honey, never looked back. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Charlie Olken said...

It occurred to me that Sam could start a "giving up" competition based on words from the Hosemaster.

So, I plan to give up sommeliers. Not real sommeliers but those twenty-something pretenders with wine lists that exist only to prove that they don't like any wine that anyone has ever heard of.

I was going to give up on winewriters as well. Never really met one I liked--except Jim Laube who played first base on my softball team. But then I realized that I am not ready to follow Heimoff into oblivion.

So, enjoy your rest. At my age, I take on every afternoon. And come on back.

As for things I would like to see, they would start with more grape descriptions, go on to your unfinished mysteries, include at least one more Trump or two and possibly include a column on locker room banter in wineries. I want to hear more about voluptuous wines.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

All I ever wanted as a gift from you was for you to quit smoking. Honestly, I was completely surprised, and completely thrilled, that you gave me your health as a gift. Has it been four years? Wow. I'm so proud of you. It was a selfish request, Love. I want to outlive you, and though I'm 19 years older, cigarettes are a great equalizer. Your gift may be the greatest gift I've ever been given, it's certainly the one I'm proudest of. Live forever, Samantha, the world is a better place when you're in it.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Common Taters,

Many thanks for all the birthday wishes, and suggestions. I like quite a few of them. Charlie, I think the locker room banter about wine is a damned fine idea. Gabe, you really need your own blog, man, you have wonderful rants in you. You could be the next Randall Grahm, though Randall Grahm is busy being the next Randall Grahm.

I suspect Lo Hai Qu may return when Trump departs. I have one or two Trump posts left in me, I think. Whenever Lo tries to speak, Trump interrupts. I guess that makes sense. I could stage a debate between them...Now there's a good idea. I'm enjoying "Wine Critics in Hell," so I'm sure that will continue. After that, well, I have no idea what's going to happen.

I'm here in Cambria with my wife and the dogs. Loafing. Thanks to everyone who actually cares about what I do here. I've been at this for a very long time. It's hard work, and a constant challenge, but you make it worth it. You indulge my self-indulgence, and I am forever grateful.

See you soon.

Justin at Domaine of the Bee said...

Hi Ron,

Happy Birthday - I trust you have a nice bottle or two lined up?

My biggest bugbear is with 'icon' wines (and indeed whiskies, vodkas and modern conceptual art). As the price rises, the reasons-to-buy get more and more ridiculous. (Triple-filtered through charcoal, quadruple-filtered through manuka charcoal, quintuple-filtered....etc fined using virgins tears etc). Penfolds glass ampoule possibly the most laughable example.

I had a go myself at this tendency a while ago - I'll send you if you like - and I'd love to see you ace it.



John Logan said...

How about lampooning The Wine Advocate for their involvement in the sake scandal?

Jim Caudill said...

Wines to serve on the Trump bus, and to the rest of us if God forbid he gets elected.

Unknown said...

Not sure if suggesting I start a blog is a compliment or an insult, but I'll pretend you meant it as a compliment. Anyway, I would love to be the next Randall Graham, but I'm trying to do it by making high-quality, interesting wines at affordable prices. It seems like the best way to emulate the guy who brought me "Big House Red" and "Cardinal Zin" when I was 25 and just learning about wine. Speaking of which, I've got another vintage in the bottle and ready for you. I'll get them out to you before the end of the year. I can't promise that they're great, but I think you'll be pleased by the progress

Thomas said...

I've been visiting on Lopez Island in San Juan County, WA for the past few days, and just got to sign onto the Intergnat.

Here's a happy belated an here's an idea for your blog: write something about Gruner Veltliner--once each week.

Unknown said...

Apart from knocking some of the wind out of that ridiculously bade, puffed-up anorak you might research the connection between Stanley Unwin's Unwinese and sommelier / oeneologue lingo:

One was clearly a precursor of the other.


Unknown said...

Happy belated birthday! As you have actively encouraged us to discuss what bugs us, I´m going to make the most of it and have a quick rant. It irritates the hell out of me that in the past five years many of my fellow winemakers have become dedicated followers of fashion - this may be nothing new in California, but I expected the Spanish to be a little less fickle. First it was extraction that the Inquisition would have been proud of, now nobody is making wine over 12%..... or using destalkers..... or pumps..... or sulphur..... or any other kind of oenological product. If you believed the spiel, Laffort should have gone out of business 6 months ago. Apparently all grapes are now foot-trodden, destalked by hand and transferred to the amphoras (stainless steel tanks went out with the destalkers) by vestal virgins. Winemakers are all pirates (myself included) but do they have to be so damn shallow?! Rant over!