Monday, January 30, 2017

New Wineries to Watch Fail

There are too many fucking wineries. Why do we need so many wineries? Really. All of you who are planning to start a winery some day, or your own label, DON’T! You’re not that good at making wine. I know you think you are, but you’re not. Sorry. Somebody had to tell you. The world does not need your take on single-vineyard, own-rooted Mondeuse. No one cares about your dedication to rescuing obscure varieties from the trash heap. Wow, you discovered Abouriou! Goody for you. Just leave it where it is. Let it go. Walk away. You’re not an artisan. Really. You’re not. Winemaking is not an art. Sculpture is an art. Ballet is an art. Balloon animals—art! Winemaking is an art about as much as vacuuming is an art. It may seem creative to the person doing it, but, really, it’s just about attachments and sucking. How is it an art? You take grapes, ferment them, stay out of the way (minimal intervention is how all the great wines are made, right?), do a bunch of lab work and the bottle the stuff. If that’s art, then so is cooking meth. At least people who are lousy at cooking meth eventually blow themselves sky high. Man, if only every new lousy winemaker did the same.

I’m not just talking about California here. The whole damn world has too many goddam wineries. STOP! Just stop. It’s getting ridiculous. Who’s going to buy all this crap? Yes, sure, there are a lot more stupid sommeliers than ever before, but not THAT many. Importers! Stop bringing in more and more wineries from Corsica, or the Canary Islands, or any other foreign countries like Idaho. We don’t want them. Really. Listan Prieto? No! Alicante Bouschet? Why? Don’t make me choose. Listan vs. Ali? Not exactly heavyweights.

So why not start eliminating wineries? Every wine publication has an article every year with a title like, “New Wineries to Watch.” Fuck. I hate those articles. Look back at those articles from five or ten years ago. Those wineries were not worth watching! I have enough wineries to watch. I can’t find the time to drink the wines from wineries with track records hundreds of years old. I don’t want any New Wineries to Watch. Know what I want? New Wineries to Watch Fail! That’s an article I want to read. I go to wine tastings. I taste wines from lots of new wineries. Most of them should fail! Really. I mean it. And everyone knows it. They don’t have a damned clue how to make good wine. So who told them they could? Oh, but winemaking is an art, and art has room for everything! No, it fucking doesn’t. Your wine isn’t Rembrandt, it’s Dogs Playing Poker. Stop opening new wineries! Start a brew pub, or a make cider, just like all the other idiots. Just not wine. Please.

I took the time to select a few new wineries that should be eliminated. Every big project begins with a few small steps. With a little effort and a lot of determination, in just a few years we will have a more manageable wine scene. Fewer wineries equals better wines. Here are a few of the wineries I’d like to see fail. This is just the first cut. Let’s see how cleanly we can make it.

Champagne En Les Derrières
Just what the world needs. Another Grower Champagne. For the love of God, stop bringing in more Grower Champagnes. There’s too many already! Look, I’m as sick of all the Grandes Marques as you are. Mumm, Moët, Zeppo, Gummo, Chico… And what about Veuve Clicquot? Is there a worse Champagne? It’s like drinking sparkling Lemon Pledge. Or lightly flavored fart water. So, yes, bring on the Grower Champagnes. But there are enough here already! More than enough! How different are they really? Not very. Oh yes, for years this Domaine sold their grapes to the top Champagne houses, but now you can taste the wines they make for themselves! I don’t want to. Really. I don’t. Just because a guy used to sell his oats to make Cheerios doesn’t mean I want to taste his breakfast. Champagnes are hard to tell apart. We don’t need a hundred of them, any more than we need a hundred different waffles. Let’s hope that Champagne En Les Derrières will be a New Winery to Watch Fail!

A Donkey, A Goat, A Chimp, and A Stoat
Fuck. No more wineries that sound like the beginning of a joke. And, really, seriously, no more domestic wineries making Natural Wines. We don’t even know what that is! Nobody knows. It’s buried beneath all the goddam shit from lactating cows. Let’s be clear. Natural wines are not better wines. And we don’t need any more! I’m not kidding. We really don’t. You just got out of UC Davis, you can barely make bulk wine, and now you’re going to show the world what wine should taste like? Bury it in the ground like qvevri other asshole. And stop telling me it’s better for the planet. Or for my health. That’s stupid. Sulfites won’t kill you. Gum arabic won’t kill you. Nothing added to wine will kill you. The goddam alcohol will kill you! Lower alcohols don’t help! It’s like eating only small orders of McDonald’s french fries to lose weight. And better for the planet? Listen, do me a favor. Stop driving hundreds of miles to tend those natural, organic vineyards in your gas guzzling, piece of shit Ford F-150. Please, don’t ship me yet another fucked-up, faulty, Natural Wine from the Jura on a refrigerated container ship spewing endless pollutants into the ocean, that’s dropped off in a harbor, trucked in another climate-ruining vehicle to a warehouse, that is then featured in the newsletter of the local “Feel Better About Yourself” wine bar for the local wine bozo to order by the glass. Enough. It’s a charade. Nothing about wine is natural. Humans make it! Fuck. So let’s see if A Donkey, A Goat, A Chimp and A Stoat can be our New Winery to Watch Fail!

Prick Family Vineyards
Just what the world needs. Another $200 Cabernet. Well, it’s actually a $40 Cabernet that sells for $200, but you get the idea. When Rich Prick, and his wife Lady Ima, decided to move to Napa Valley and start yet another cult winery, they had dreams of being the next Harlan Estate. Which is like moving to Hollywood to be the next Rudolph Valentino—you’re eighty years too late, for fuck’s sake. Who’s buying ridiculously expensive Napa Valley Cabernet? Sommeliers with daddy issues? The ones who have seven different Cakebread Cabernets on their list and still wet the bed? Nobody wants expensive Napa Cabernet anymore. And there’s too freakin’ many of them as it is! There are too many Rich Pricks in the wine world, we don’t need any more. What’s next? The founder of Tesla making $200 Elon Muscadet? Amazon’s founder making fucking Mencia that’s $250 under the Jeff Bierzos label? Christ, like the FaceBook CEO says, there’s a Zucker berg every minute. I’m sick of it. I hope every Cabernet over $200 fails, but let’s start with the new Prick Family. Though, damn the luck, I think they’re serving it at most of the White House dinners.


cellarguy said...

Now this is the genuine article. Nice to see someone name the 300lb gorilla in the room. However the article is dated, you must have written it 2 weeks ago...It's now who need another $300 Napa Cabernet? After all there are now so MANY MORE 100 point perfect wines that the price just continues to have to go up in cost!!!

Edward said...

Very well said!
People were giving me funny faces as I read it and giggled at almost every sentence.

Francly Speaking said...

'Prick Family Vineyards' I wet myself!... another rule - if you sell your 'Estate' or 'Brand' you cannot make any wine or invent another brand for four generations... fair?

Unknown said...

I must take issue with this. Vacuuming is my creative outlet!

Rocky Volcanics said...

One of your finest efforts. I'm with ya.

Zzzz said...

The mid group reminds me a lot of an imported wine shop in Barcelona who everyone made a big deal about their delivering wine by bicycle to addresses in the city. Thankfully someone pointed out the bullshit in that as it had to arrive to Barcelona on something not-bicycle that was contributing to Barcelona's massive air pollution problem.


Mark Rader said...

I'm a little discouraged by this, Hose. Why, I'm fixing to start my own winery here in Port Ludlow, reasoning that if a little rain is good, a ton of rain can only be great. I'm calling it Chateau Hosemaster, we're going to raise, harvest, and vint Gallo grapes. Don't have a winemaker yet, but I know a fellow who's got a friend who heard about a Serb by the name of Etaoin Shrdlu who wants to make wines. Right now he installs storm doors but he's going to be joining me as my winemaker. How can we miss?

Unknown said...

What a mind you have. This is the BEST yet!
Prick Family Vineyards, I almost peed my jammy pants when I saw that!!!

Daniel said...

What about the long shuttered prohibition winery that suddenly finds new life as a 'brand'? And then a vintage later you notice the Cabernet isn't from California, its from Chile, and the Chardonnay is French but they still want it in the CA set...

Isn't Alicante Bouschet a drag queen? Maybe that' just my mind wandering.


Aaron said...

Ah yes indeed, the Prick Family Vineyards. Ugh. Please, not another one.

I definitely take your points, however there are some not-so-known grapes that deserve to be rescued, if only because your family lived there for generations and you want to preserve a part of the local culture. But I get that's not (as) much part of your post. Stop freaking declaring it the new hotness so that 1/2 of California re-grafts it onto their vines and in 3 years can start making mediocre copies of it, and by then there's some other new thing that's come in from some corner of Italy or Hungary or Sicily or wherever.


"Isn't Alicante Bouschet a drag queen?" ROFLMA, thank you, that was hilariously amazing.

Amy said...

This is one of your greatest posts EVER. Even though I think you're talking about me. Laughing while I cry...What the HoseMaster does best.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Common Taters,
Just a rant. There's that old chestnut that says, "It's easy to make wine, it's hard to sell wine." Now that I seem to be an Influencer (winning a Roederer seems to have gotten me on endless email marketing bullshit lists--are marketing people as talentless as it seems?) I am inundated (well, for me) with press about new wines and emerging regions. Wow. It's endless. I have no idea if the wines are any good, and I don't care. Just stop. It's sad, honestly, really sad. It's like going to a food court at a mall where there are 40 chain restaurants and saying, "I know, I'll open a restaurant!"

No, Darling, I'm not talking about you. Am I?

Aaron said...

You should have a standard form reply saying you'll gladly accept any wine mailed to you, but you promise only to skewer the worst of the crap and dump the rest down the sink.

Problem is you'll probably just get cases of indifferent to crappy wine that you just really don't want to have to bother with.

Unknown said...

Mrs. Prick's name is classic...

Anonymous said...

Sadly I am in a position working in a large wine shop where I'm asked to actually sell those shotput weighted bombastic Cabs to the occasional customer with cash coming out of every pocket and orifice. If I had any moral compass I would do my best to steer them away, but they want their BIG ASS 99 PT NAPA CAB and nothing else will

Unknown said...

"Please, don’t ship me yet another fucked-up, faulty, Natural Wine from the Jura on a refrigerated container ship spewing endless pollutants into the ocean, that’s dropped off in a harbor, trucked in another climate-ruining vehicle to a warehouse, that is then featured in the newsletter of the local “Feel Better About Yourself” wine bar for the local wine bozo to order by the glass. Enough. It’s a charade."

This is why you're the worlds best wine writer.

obillo said...

Yes, Alicante Bouschet IS a drag queen--and Gruner Veltliner is n Austrian ski bum.

GEMwine said...

Yep definitely too many Rich Prick estates with edifice complex, but that Elon Muscadet could be electifying.

Aaron said...

Sell him on those expensive Hermitage, although of course they don't score 99 points *sigh*

Carl Giavanti said...

It's bubble time. Pity the fools and clueless when the next recession arrives.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Gang,
World's best wine writer here. (Thanks, Gabe, for the alternate truth of that statement.)

I sometimes wonder if the wine world needs fewer Rich Prick Cabernets, or fewer natural wines, or just fewer wines in general. Or all of the above. And then I realize it isn't the proliferation of wine labels that offends me, it's the hype and the lies and the stupidity of marketing that offends me. Before I've even tasted a wine, I'm made aware of the category it's a part of, and told that I'm supposed to judge it appropriately. Everyone just trying to sell wines based on everything but actual quality and taste. Marketing used to just sell scores, now it sells philosophies and guilt and fake sincerity.

Well, I'm old school. I think that if looks like shit, sounds like shit, smells like shit, it's shit.

Prince of Pinot said...

This is the funniest piece of writingon wineries I have EVER read - I laughed out loud over and over again. My wife was ready to call the paramedics. I wish I had the balls to write this kind of stuff!

Julie Pedroncelli St. John said...

your wine's not Rembrandt its Dogs Playing Poker-OMG that one made me weak. Mr. Washam you're the best!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Prince of Pinot,
The wine world does not need more sycophants and do-gooders, more junket junkies and freeloaders. What a miserable bunch of pretenders. It doesn't take balls to do what I do, it only takes frustration and anger. Wine is one of my great loves. That so many idiots, knaves and liars share it with me makes me nuts.

Aw, shucks, you're making me rosé.

Paul Wagner said...

Wait! Rembrandt didn't paint those dogs playing poker? Oh man, I overpaid for those...


Unknown said...

But seriously, I think you should try my wines. I AM a great winemaker. Can I have your address, I'll send you some.

Unknown said...

So where is the sweet spot dude?

roberta rinaldi said...

You took the words right out of my head--too many fucking wineries. Let's add the stupidity of "celebrity wines". I couldn't tell you how pissed off I was when Brad and Angie made a rosé. Why not use their money to spotlight Provençal producers who could use a break? Dumb shits.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

No, he didn't paint those. All the money was in Elvis on velvet.

If you go to my About Page you can find my email address and PM me. I'm always interested in tasting wine from someone new who reads my blog. You do read it, right?

Dude, I'm just a satirist. I must have struck some nerves, because I'm getting triple the page views of what I normally get. I have to write this garbage once a week, and when I sat down last week to write, what was on my fevered mind was how many stupid wines there are on the planet. Were there always? I don't recall this many when I began in the biz back around the invention of the cork. I began to type, and this rant just appeared. It's a true enough expression of how I feel these days. If I talk just one sommelier or rich guy out of starting a winery, I will have succeeded.

Amen, Sister! I wonder if Brangelina rose is now going to come in two separate half-bottles.

Unknown said...

You're ON FIRE, Mr W! Really great stuff at a time when we all really need something to laugh at.

(I would have suggested that you shift your aim away from the wine industry for a while and direct it at the clowns who are now in charge of the two great English-speaking nations on either side of the Atlantic (and I don't mean Ireland or Canada), but sadly they are way, way beyond satire.

(The image of Trump and May hand in hand, with Bannon in the background somewhere and Farage and Johnson and le Pen and Wilders singing the chorus was the kind of stuff Carl Hiassen and Kurt Vonnegut and Hunter Thompson would all have thought over the top after a night of dropping every chemical brain scrambler known to science.)

See what you've done to me Mr W? I was feeling quite calm before I read your little effort... Now I'm feeling decidedly ranty

Unknown said...

One of the besteveryetwritten. My tasting group (whatever, eyeroll, we do cool stuff) was split down the middle about whether you've gone too far into anger and cynicism, but I say NON!!! And I think anyone giving your stuff a careful read would agree. There's truth, always. And humor, always. The natural wine stuff- I SWEAR, as a buyer, I could read allthedaylong forevs.
Thanks for the guffaws.
Oh, and possibly little known fact? The Mireval estate was making BONKERS rosé long before the Perrins and Brangie got there. It's a 350-some year old chateau, with evidently insane acoustics as many rock bands have recorded stuff there. (See: Sting's "Bring on the Night" tour doc). Those Hollywood upstarts changed the bottle and hiked the price for shizzle, but the wine was in the US and lovely for at least a decade or even two before. Bottle was BDX shaped, had that Mireval wreath more prominent on the white label & went by the name "Pink Floyd" because they also recorded there. When people carp about Brangie, I just say- "well they wouldn't take all their dough and by a BAD vineyard, would they???"
Big ups from the Glamptons, where the Napa struggle gets REAL.

Marcia Macomber said...

Oh, man, do we ever need the levity after 10 days of hell! Thank you. Ron, you've been saving up "$200 Elon Muscadet" until just the right moment for a couple of years, haven't you? That was classic (among several other classics).

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Your praise for my satiric rant means a great deal to me. Thank you. I don't think I'll be tackling too much in the political realm--there are so many better at it than I. But Trump is a satirist'sp wet dream, which automatically makes him everyone else's nightmare. As ever, it's humor and satire that helps us sleep a little better at night. Thank you for the kind words, and thank you for chiming in.

I love that your tasting group discusses the HoseMaster. Satire is, by definition, in great part about anger and cynicism. It can make a lot of people uncomfortable, and it's not everyone's cup of tea. A satirist cannot care about the reactions of individual people, so I don't. I did know about Miraval before Brangelina, but was unaware of its rock band connection. By coincidence, Pink Floyd is my name for my penis.

I threw this piece together and expected it to just be another post. Instead, it has blown up. I'm astonished. You just never know. And, no, Elon Muscadet just appeared in my head as I was writing this piece. I don't have the patience to save jokes. I also don't have enough jokes.

Keith Fergel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Why is it that every Napa Valley enologist has to have his/her own label or brand of wine? Isn't it enough they get to make wine for some wealthy bastard and be praised by poor bastards who think they can taste, critique and write about wine?

No! These people need to have their own label cluttering the warehouse, wine shop, grocery store shelf or wine list.

Could we please, then, have a law insisting these winemaker brands be of superior quality? I've tasted a lot of these and can't say very many are an endorsement of someone's winemaking acumen. Many are more like a warning for prospective vanity-winemakers to look elsewhere for expertise. And they all cost north of triple-digits, because, according to the marketing drivel, they "only made 200 3-bottle cases." Try pouring scarcity into a wine glass!
The Hosemaster is right (as usual): too many fucking wineries.
But guess what?
There are too many beer brands and ciders are coming out of the woodwork.
So, all y'all: stop it.

Charlie Olken said...

Well, since it's my job to help the world tell all those 100 case lots apart from each other even though no one can buy them, and as one winery said the other day, "I don't care that you did not like our limited selection Pinot because it's already sold out", I do think this article "blew up" because you tapped into a very rich topic that we all face.

So, congrats. And the next time I see you, I will pour you a blind tasting of three-digit Napa Cabs no one has ever heard of and then serve you lunch. I am betting that you eat it even if the wines suck--which only a few of them will.

Aaron said...


As far as the cider goes...depends on your perspective. There are a small number of crappy, national ciders, a few decent to good large regional verging on national ciders, and then a ton of ciders that might never make it out of the cider house except by people who drive up and buy them. Or might be a highly local sales.

The problem is many folks think a few crappy national ciders are enough. Hell no. The top cider is just as deserving as beer to be distributed, and some of them rival a great wine in complexity and skill needed to grow and ferment it.

Sadly it's more expensive than beer. 100% apple juice from good orchards, or even better rarer cider apples is not cheap. But so worth it. If you're ever around LA area somehow get in touch with me, I'd be HAPPY to show you why it's important to have such variety of ciders.

Unknown said...

A new moniker/subtitle...Vaccum hosemaster of wine? I needed depends for this piece.

Unknown said...

As someone who just started not 1 but 2, count them 2 new brands NASTY WOMAN WINES and Project M Wines with over 30 years of combined wine industry experience between my husband/business partner and I this hit close to home. I laughed. I cried. And I quickly started looking for a full time job.

Meg Murray
Nasty Woman & Founder

Unknown said...

LOVE this article, now write one about the dumb ass public who insist on buying cheap mass produced crap and get influenced by the stupid media who keep telling them that good wine doesn't need to cost the earth even though in the UK most of the price is taken up with tax!

I've done a few video rants on my You Tube channel but nothing as good as this

hickcity said...

More satire about the bitter fruit of marketing, from the under appreciated mind of Bill Hicks:

Unknown said...

Wholeheartedly agree with the Napa Cabernet situation! Enough already!

Unknown said...

As a viticulturist with 30 years experience, I wish to add that I am particularly pissed off with the wankers who will buy wine grapes, turn in into yellow or purple cat piss with much SO2, tannins, acids and shit added; to then market it as super duper terroir.

All winemakers are frauds. Wine in NOT MADE, it is GROWN.