Friday, December 25, 2009

How to make Fulkerson's Red Zeppelin at home!

You can make your own Fulkerson's Red Zeppelin with Welch's grape juice, some 170 proof White Mountain Magic from the neighbor's still, and a blow o' Reddi Whip to get it down. Wow, is it awful. Surpassingly awful. I think I'll bottle some and submit it to the Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator, just to see if their scale goes below 50 points.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Next year's party, "Cayucapalooza: Wet Zeppelin II" will be a five day event - August 11-15 - ranging from Seventh Heaven Vineyard to Hoppe's Garden Bistro and the Old Cayucos Tavern.

Our old friends the Dancing Cage of Impossible Hotness and Donald-Elvis will of course be there, as will Dario Rosa and Dread Zeppelin: except this time you'll get to see them. We have several surprises in store for you that don't involve getting a concussion, unless you get in my way.

We will not be having any events at the Borracho Vortex, er, Vet's Hall, so we'll have more resources available for musicians and of course our Cal Poly Wine & Viticulture scholarship.

Mark your calendar . . . you do have a 2010 calendar, don't you?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Out on the tiles!

Cropped ZZ Top or Blues Brother?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Seventh Heaven Vineyard

In declining order, we have planted Pinot Noir clones 777, 667, 115, and, er, 666, all on 1103P: a total of 500 vines on two experimental lots; the upper, at 450'+, is the larger. This is first leaf and just trellised; next year we'll make a bit of pink, and leave some clusters to see what kind of ripeness we get. Fun, eh?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to party in Las Vegas

In Las Vegas with Denise Dee and Jennifer Cook of the Highwood Ave. Adjunct Drinking Club, and Sonny Barton and Chris Hammond of RockNRoll Wine. Yes, I am wearing a Queers shirt.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wet Zeppelin Massacre: Altamont-By-The-Sea!

(At left, Jennifer K. behind Jake's 'security' mask)

By now, even most of the people who missed Wet Zeppelin know that I was encouraged by local law enforcement to shut the party down just before midnight: Dread Zeppelin never played at all! The venue had hired the security guards, one of whom got drunk and staggered off leaving the back door unguarded, to the delight of a parking lot full of thirsty yahoos who got into the wine supply with stunning results. People were driving into public buildings, jumping off the pier at low tide, and climbing on the peaked roof of the Vets Hall. There were fights outside, drunken jealous husbands invading the women's room and throwing chairs at the walls, and hammered punks moshing and jumping onstage repeatedly until the musicians kicked them off bleeding. The owner of the Old Cayucos Tavern said that she had never seen that many ambulances, fire trucks and police cars in town before. In other words, it was a huge success. Oh yes, the bands were awesome, and we raised thousands for the Wine & Viticulture scholarship, but we'll have more about that in later posts. We're still reviewing the video evidence with our attorneys, ahem. Actually . . . there's been nothing in the papers . . . just as well, eh?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Another "Red Zeppelin" imitator?

It's getting more frequent, it seems. I'm sure the owner of this Washington State winery hears a lot of jokes about his name: Jim Page. But how he got the idea that he could call a wine Red Zeppelin when I've had the trademark and used it continually for over eighteen years, I don't know. Maybe he's an attorney with a bad attitude, or perhaps he doesn't own a computer. We'll find out.
UPDATE: "We only made two barrels, and we're sold out." Yeah, you are.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Brown goods don't make it?

Just an ice tea. At the Galley, Morro Bay CA

Friday, September 18, 2009

One week to go!

Since serious planning for this event started in February, it's gratifying and exciting to realize that it's less than 170 hours away - and with winery and vineyard making their own demands, not to mention family, friends and fans, the additional time and thought required to deal with unassembled dancing cages, efficient wine dispensing equipment, radical venue decoration, colorful handouts, security considerations, and shuffling Elvis impersonators and other (dare I say real? - no, I don't) rock stars amongst hotel rooms, I think I'll sit down for a minute and write a blog post. Wasn't that fun?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wet Zeppelin Video

Courtesy of the mighty Tortelvis, twenty seconds

of the finest Cayucos wine and cheese!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Musicans at Wet Zeppelin!

With the perhaps timely demise of the Flying Mambos (surfers put guitars down, pick up bongs and fly to Sumatra) we can breathe slightly easier . . . we have a wealth of incredibly talented musicians, and only one party to feature them at! That means that everyone else can do one more song. We also have the awesome Taco Temple as our protein concessionaire, serving from 6ish until the food runs out . . .

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Our last three wild winery events have been birthday parties limited to a couple of hundred invitees, but now it's time to go big. As there's a burgeoning Wine and Viticulture major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, we thought that we would make our next event a scholarship benefit for deserving students, to be selected by Stillman in consultation with faculty. Please donate generously, or at least as much as you would spend if you had to pay for the wine that you'll drink! We're also looking for volunteers to help with checking people in, designing and building sets and decorations, and helping Stillman manage the musicians. Well, maybe not the last one.

To offer help or find out more, email or call him at 805-550-6492. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Brief History of A Dozen Years of Partying, part 1

This is what started it all. Possibly worth re-reading, even if you were a recipient . . .

April 21, 1997

Stillman Brown

Your Name
Somewhere Out There
Our Mailing List

Dear Friend, (insert actual name here if person is really important)

We know you get a lot of mail from wineries and wine-related businesses, and most of it is junk. So many points, so little wine, so give us your credit card number. Well, this would have been one of those letters, if only we had any sense . . . the wineries and wine shops that do that sort of thing seem to make money at it. But who needs money?

This is an exclusive invitation to attend a major historical event. In the tradition of the humane, selfless aristocrats of the European Renaissance, men and women of honor who, inspired by their holy faith, bequeathed subsequent generations of humanity some of the greatest works of art the world has ever beheld, we have commissioned a painting. The artist is a heretofore unknown genius; and the subject is the defining cultural and religious event of the twentieth century, which was not fully recognized until recently.

At 6 P.M. on Friday, May 2, 1997, at the London Wine Bar at 415 Sansome Street in downtown San Francisco, California, we will unveil for the first time a painting by Robert Cochran, “The Death Of Elvis Presley.” We hope that you will be able to attend.


(sign here if hand is steady enough)

Stillman Brown
Jory Winery

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

WET ZEPPELIN band lineup expands!

As you can plainly see from our poster above (once your eyes adjust to the flames) we have recruited several more phenomenal musical acts for Wet Zeppelin. We're also seeking set designers, who will doubtless tell us that our idea for launching the Cayucos Veterans Hall into the Pacific Ocean at the end of the party is perhaps overly ambitious. Fine - what's YOUR idea?!?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Twitter attacks Blog, defended by Godzilla!

Just in case you're not following me on Twitter, here are some of my recent hits. Warning: may induce ADD in just about everyone.

In North Carolina, I just saw a roadside establishment named "Midget's Grooming Station." I was happy to see the apostrophe!
I didn't know "Hang down your head, Noam Chomsky" was a traditional Yiddish folk tune.
2007 Tudor Tondre PN best wine I've had from this vineyard!
Okay, the moment of respectful silence is over. What's the difference between Michael Jackson and a Disney movie?
A Disney movie can still touch children.
Apparently Elvis was beating the hell out of Michael Jackson, until Jesus calmed him down.
Off to the Warped tour with Luke. Not much mourning of MJ today, I suspect.
I've seen 9 count 'em 9 people my age or more here, but I've only looked at a thousand or so! "Warped" tour, Ventura - Punk by the Pacific
Never goes into the first mosh pit - especially when somebody threw a full garbage can into it.
What kind of old school punk band has a keyboard player anyway?
Mosh pit! Made it out alive, the only man over 25.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bad Corks

Long time consumers of my swill, doubtless numbering into the millions, may have noted that I haven't used what are disingenuously known as "natural" corks in quite a while. (I call the people who offer them "mold salesmen.") The last straw on this flying monkey's back was the 20+% TCA rate in the "natural" Suncorks used on my 2000 Jory Winery "Lock Vineyard" Paso Robles Syrah. I have used Neocorks for several years with complete satisfaction. They're the ones that have a foamlike core exposed at either end, and a solid, often colored, on the surface that touches the interior of the bottle's neck. I often put flying Zeppelins on the outside, unless the supplier wants more money for the printing than they do for the corks themselves. Of course, my complete satisfaction is not the wine bartenders, as putting a Neocork back into the bottle is not easy, especially if the wine has been bottled recently. Neocorks cost about the same as inexpensive 'natural' corks.
I'm also a big fan of screwcaps, particularly the 7-layer Alvis type (they have a tin liner on the bottom, as opposed to exposed white foam) though the surface area that's sealed is only that of the very top of the bottle, a narrow ring, which is vulnerable to a blow or a long period of overpressure, such as when pallets of wine are stacked four high. The screwcap/bottle combination costs a bit more than the cork-finished type.
My Stillman wines use Diam "corks" which are made from a very finely ground 'corkburger' that is purged with supercritical CO2 which removes the TCA compounds, and then 'glued' together with some foodie-happy compounds. They work perfectly, though they look cheap. They're not.
The worst closure, in my not so humble opinion, is the so-called 1+1, which consists of visibly irregular small chunks of corkburger, glued together with corkdust, with a thin disk of solid cork at each end. The center sections of these corks very frequently have enough TCA that you can smell it just by breaking the corks open and applying one half-cork to each nostril. The thin discs at each end are usually permeated within a year or so, allowing the TCA in the corkburger to contaminate the wine.
Guess which cork is most commonly used in inexpensive plonk?

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Ladies, gentlemen, and fruit flies, we have contracted with Bill Gaines Audio of San Luis Obispo to provide a state-of-the-art, Hammer-Of-The-Gods sound system for Wet Zeppelin. While we will provide complimentary earplugs for those of you who require perfect hearing in order to still-hunt monkeys in the forest primeval, we will not be turning the amps up to 11; we just want very high quality sound. Also note the presence of a few bands you may not have heard of, but be assured of their musical quality and entertainment value. And, yes, the Dancing Cage of Love will make another appearance this year.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wine Critics and Ethics? LMAO

Today's Wall Street Journal has a piece on the free trips taken by writers for Robert Parker's 'Wine Advocate' at: Apparently one writer, after a trip to a continent that dare not speak its name (Ba-a-a-a-a-a!) proceeded to give the wines of the importer who hosted him an average score of 92, which seems rather high if you include the specimens of raisin soup unsaid continent is famous for.
To give a little background, Mr. Parker burst upon the scene many years ago in high dudgeon against the wine critics of the day, who he accused of being a pack of sticky-fingered shills. He then proceeded to careen wildly down the road in the manner of his professed idol, the notorious crank Ralph Nader, often either overpraising or scourging wineries - sometimes the same wineries, as in the unfortunate cases of Randall Grahm and Tim Mondavi. When he started a winery in Oregon with his brother-in-law, he solemnly promised never to review his own wines (such forbearance) but then proceeded to use the mailing list he had acquired as a critic to offer the wines to his subscribers; rather like Consumer Reports offering its own toasters. (An apt metaphor given the level of new oak in the wines.)
I am not really so quick to judge, having bought the late wine critic Jerry Mead, a fabulous mercenary, dinner on occasion; and I hesitantly admit to giving a discount to any wine critic that buys my swill by the case; the same discount I give my friends, family and fans when they do. I really should be more corrupting!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Finally bottled the White Zeppelin today!

So the White Zep has been screwed. Because I added a whiff of Velcorin, I can't try the wine until tomorrow (if you don't know, I'll tell you someday) but I'm really really really looking forward to it; I think it's the best white wine I've bottled in several years. Stay tooned!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Winemaker's Night Out

So in addition to hanging out with other winemakers and chefs, I know some musicians. Above, my pal Nemesis Enforcer of Sexy Time Explosion, backstage before the show. I sang a song with them ("Selfdestructo Bust" by Turbonegro), did an Iggy Pop stage dive and was crowd surfed to safety with nary a button popped from my vintage pink suit.
Punk rock ain't what it used to be.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

WET ZEPPELIN Sept. 25, 2009, Cayucos CA

Note the minor changes; the party is from 2 pm until 2 am, the donation is requested but undefined (an amount in dollars just below legal drinking age is proper, unless you want to wind up in the dancing cage with Mr. Bunnypants) and Sexy Time Explosion is replaced by Meth Leopard, a band that consists of the same musicians. We are auditioning musicians as I write!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hospice du Rhone 2009, part 2

Though I heard mutterings about the parochial focus of the seminars from people who weren't going to attend anyway, I was more than happy to see California in the spotlight at HdR this year; it's not as if it's going to happen on a regular basis. I'm a nasty critic, but to my ear only one speaker talked too much on stage, and only one prevaricated for commercial gain. That's nothing compared to what goes on at non-wine industry conferences! I thought Sashi Moorman from Stolpman Vineyards was this year's star, as he shoveled forth information on clone/vineyard trials that point the way to the future of Central Coast Syrah. We can all agree that there is 'too much Syrah' out there (there's too much of every varietal, if you count the Merde!) but Stolpman, which started out with high yields and mediocre wines, has accomplished a stunning transformation.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hospice du Rhone 2009, part 1

The world's most prestigious celebration of Rhone varietals, or America's at least, has now begun. The Syrah Shootout just ended, with 45 wines judged, of which the Stillman clone 877 came in 4th; the Four Vines One Tree Hill was first, which is not exactly hard to take as the owners and winemakers are good friends . . .

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

WET ZEPPELIN Sept. 25, 2009 in Cayucos CA

As some of you know, I like to throw parties; this will be the biggest in several years (since Black Velvet Voodoo in April '01, in fact!) and possibly the best. Some of the information is on the poster, shown above; to get a pdf of it for printing yourself, send me an email at Yes, you're invited.
This is the wildest winery party you'll ever attend, period. Next to the pier in beautiful Cayucos, California, an extravaganza of music and wine. The dress code? Impress, improvise, disguise. Think of a surfing Elvis, tikis in Vegas, and a Mardi Gras masquerade ball all rolled into one and served hot. Featuring our official band, the one and only Dread Zeppelin, the great Dario Rosa, the dangerous Sexy Time Explosion, and an open wine bar hosted by Red Zeppelin Winery! $20 donation benefits local surf and wine education charities.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Facebook won!

Well, you know the story; between my travels and my absurd ADD, both this blog and even MySpace updates have fallen off the tractor and into the weeds. I really oughta put up one more Wine and Roses picture, though . . .

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sioux City Wine and Roses

The lost member of the Lewis and Clark expedition?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Scene from a back road to Las Vegas

White Zeppelin

The 2008 White Zeppelin, a blend of 83+%Viognier with Roussanne Grenache Blanc, and Picpoul Blanc, is ready for bottling. But the label is not designed yet; as there are more people involved in the process than usual, and they are never all in the same room, it's draggin' on and on. Here is Version VI, it's not there for me.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wine bar joke

So this guy walks into a wine bar, and says “How about a nice White Zin?” The bartender, who is moonlighting as a sommelier (or is it the other way around?) offers him a dry Rosé, and lets him try a sip to see if he likes it. Well, the guy doesn’t like it, or the next wine, or the next one. Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Syrah, he hates ’em all. There’s a line of glasses on the bar in front of him with a little bit in each one. So what does the guy do? He pours them all into one glass and drinks it off. “Now that’s what I call wine,” he says, “I’d like a full bottle, please!”
The sommelier gives him a long look, and then reaches under the bar and presses a button. Out of the back room steps a huge man with hands the size of Grenache clusters. The sommelier points his finger at the door and says, “Wilhelm . . . show this gentleman a nice Yellow Cab.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The origin of the "Red Zeppelin" name.

My first Red Zeppelin wine was released in 1991, as I have noted in my previous post on the "False Zeppelin." The name is indeed a pun on the rock band, but it only arrived in my brain after a jetstream of consciousness derailed my train of thought (ha!) about another wine label. Many people seem to think that Bonny Doon was the first California winery to have silly labels. (In fact, Thomas Kruse in neighboring Gilroy was first.) The now-famous label above, first used on a 1984 California Rhone blend, wittily if a bit preciously relates the tale of the village of Chateauneuf du Pape's 1953 ordinance banning the landing of UFOs in local vineyards, the purported result of a cigar-shaped "flying saucer" scare. As something of a skeptic in these matters (I'll relate my Roswell tale another time) I considered the tale, and it seemed to me that the stereotypically excitable Frenchmen were suffering from postwar stress syndrome; indeed, unconsciously recalling an incident from the Great War. The Germans used rigid airships extensively in WW1, though the technology wasn't up to the mission. One large Zeppelin raid on London was hit by unexpected high winds (perhaps the then-undiscovered jetstream) that blew the dirigibles astray; some crashed in France, one was never found. The crash of a huge airship, filled with hydrogen gas and containing toxic metals, into a valuable vineyard just before harvest would be terrible indeed: explosions, mangled vines and twisted wreckage, the Germans stuffing their faces with Grenache . . . . I saw it all clearly, as through an overfined Marsanne. And then the name came to me: Red Zeppelin. As I was already interested in adding Rhone varietals to our lineup at Jory Winery, I knew I had the name for my new wine. As for the label design, Rick Tharp and I thought we would have a little fun; but that's a tale for later.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Wine goddesses shocked by Stillman's decrepit pedicure! Since remedied.

Some of my favorite Pinot Noirs from WOP.

2006 Tudor Balo Vyd, 92
2007 Kosta Browne - all 90+, the Amber Hill is maybe a 94.
2006 Skewis Bush Vyd, 91
2007 Nautilus (Kiwi), 91+
2007 Saintsbury Toyon, 93?
2006 Paraiso West Terrace, Smith vyd. 92
2006 Morgan Double L, 92.
2006 Pillow Road, 86
2006 Calcareous York Mtn, 88. 32 proof!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Looking for California

On a dark desert highway, why the grafitti? I had a fabulous time and made fabulous new contacts hanging out with my fabulous friends in fabulous Las Vegas, but I loved the drive home alone. Alone: in bad company, as my cousin Ambrose wrote.
Here, the Providence Mountains, with unprovidential foreground.

Parched, sir, simply parched; the Kelso Dunes. Is there a wine bar nearby, at the infamous hotel?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In the desert, I can't remember your name

So much for daily posting, eh? Well, the weekend before last the Siren and I went to LA to hang with our Santa Monica peoples (Van, Kelly and Brian, yes) and see Dread Zeppelin at the House of Blues. I learned two things; that if calamari tastes a bit off you should throw it out and not let your loved one eat it, and that a great band benefits from a great sound system. I'm really going to have to step up sonically the next time they do a show for me, which is Sunday, Aug. 16 in Cayucos.
Last weekend I did a wine bar in Apple Valley, (the excellent Casa de Vino) followed by a house party in Hendertucky, NV (aka Baja Vegas) followed by biz meetings in Lake Havasu, AZ (actually onshore, to my relief) followed by wine and brilliant blather in Cottonwood. Above, I embrace my bestest friend Elvis Kokopelli, wielding the first "Stillman" (a mixological monstrosity I had no tongue in the concoction of) ever seen or tasted within a hundred miles of Graceland Southwest, Rest Area 51, Sedona Arizona!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The 2007 Stillman Syrah, clone 877

Ladies, gentlemen and fruit flies, this, the second vintage of my awesome clone 877 Syrah from the mysterious Arroyo Seco appellation in Monterey has even more cool-climate pepper than its predecessor, along with a beautiful black-fruit palate, refined balance, and just enough tannic structure to remind you that it is not a Pinot Noir. (Although some Pinot Noirs selling for twice or thrice are apparently trying to be Syrah, ahem.) The wine is priced at $33 retail per bottle, however those of you intrepid enough to email or call me (, 805-550-6492) will find me ready to grant you wholesale pricing, assuming you don't want me to ship one bottle to your aunt in Sumatra.

The False Zeppelin

This label looks somewhat familiar, doesn't it? It's from a Finger Lakes, New York winery that started using this name in 1995, four years after I got national press and ratings for Jory Red Zeppelin, and two years after my wine got distribution in New York state. Somehow they came up with this idea all by themselves soon after; quite remarkable. (Kindly note that the US Navy Akron seen on their label was a Zeppelin design built by Goodyear; it met a bad end.) We, and our attorneys, have been in touch with them over the years, and it was understood that they would confine their presence to their home counties. In return for our being nice guys, they are now selling this over the internet, shipping to nine states, and confusing the heck out of anyone who searches for Red Zeppelin Wine. They claim that they only ship the wine as "Fulkerson's Zeppelin" outside New York, but that just shows me that they know they're full of, er, hydrogen sulfide?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Black Zeppelin review

The Beverage Tasting Institute, which conducts the World Wine Championships, to be seen at, has just rated the '05 Black Zeppelin - with a 92, which I think is about its average score so far, yawn. I liked the last line of their description: "amazing balance for its weight." It makes me think of W.C. Fields.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Food and wine, humbug!

I'm rather fond of garlic, but I don't think it belongs in guacamole. Especially not in nervous-Transylvanian-virgin quantities. Yet twice this week I've almost tasted the best avocados in the world (they come from Cayucos) only to Down Chip and palate-brokenly drift away, because of O.G. For that matter I don't care for Operation Ivy levels of jalapeno, and I'd rather spend an hour in a phone booth with Noam Chomsky than taste fresh cilantro.

Please note that none of these flavors go with wine.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Wine and football?

Though we have been tackled by the flu, the Siren and I are determined to go to fellow winemaker Steve Kroener's ( Super Bowl party in Paso Robles today, perhaps even in time to see the last two minutes of the game. Alexis's brother played 14 seasons in the NFL (center, Bears and Saints) during which she paid 14 seconds of attention to the game, and I stopped caring when Al Davis let go of Kenny Stabler, so we'll doubtless be paying more attention to the bar than the screen, and certainly dress to amuse the other guests.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why Elvis died for your sins

By now some of you know that a year or so ago I got TTB approval for a label featuring a painting I commissioned and own of Elvis Presley's ignominious end. The consequences of a wine-free lifestyle that included a whole lotta food and pills, the immoral of the story should be obvious. (Note the bottles of Red Zeppelin under the counter.) The wine itself is an alcoholic fraternal twin sister of the Black Zeppelin, and no slouch. I wish I had more than two or three cases left. For a better look with musical accompaniment, go to

The identical twins of Red Zeppelin

At the RockNRoll Wine event at LAX nightclub, in the Luxor in Las Vegas. It was as fun as it was loud!

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Road to Las Vegas

The experience of driving to Las Vegas is full of wonders, especially if you take the long way through Panamint and Death Valleys. When I found out yesterday that the Interstate was temporarily closed between the Giant Butt Thermometer and the Rusting Rollercoaster of Death (the landmarks of Baker and Primm, respectively) I took a third route, continuing east from Barstow and then taking desert roads through Kelso and Nipton. I only broke 100 mph twice.
At bottom, the tracks at the Kelso depot, looking west at sunset.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Family Hit and Run!

Italian Nut Job or Grand Theft Morro? Some little meth freak from the neighboring burg of Atrashcadero went on a wild ride yesterday in a yellow Mini Cooper (a.k.a. BMW Zero-series) that left him in the hands of the law; among other acts of genius, he sideswiped the Swamp Siren's Corolla at 100 mph on Highway 1 just north of Morro Bay. My sons John and Jake were also in her car, and today Jake replaced the driver-side mirror that was the only casualty. (Another reason to like narrow cars.) The CHP said the driver of the ugly little thing was on alcohol and drugs, though I'm guessing there wasn't any Syrah involved.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pink Zeppelin and Dario Rosa

The 2008 Pink Zeppelin is out of bottle shock, and how. Elvis knows its better than almost all the white wines out there. I'm having my first glass now!

Did I mention that it's Dario Rosa's birthday today? Three years ago in Denver, we drank a gallon of Pink Zeppelin (the 2005 vintage) and if we hadn't also been doing shots of absinthe and scotch we probably wouldn't have had hangovers at all.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

An evening in Cayucos

For my 50th birthday I rented the Passive-Aggressive Hippie Barn (not its real name) on Cayucos Creek Road, just north of town, hiring Dread Zeppelin to play (see photo at top of this page). The barn owner was 'a real trip' to deal with. As he's turning 55 today and throwing his own party, I plan on attending and being as disruptive as possible; maybe I'll bring the spear I'm going to use to keep the wild pigs out of the vineyard.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Atomic bomb vs. Zeppelin

I can't get over this picture from a book I got at the Atomic Testing Museum in Vegas last weekend. What the f@&! did they think was going to happen when they put an airship up near a nuclear explosion?!? Too funny.
Yes, I know it's a blimp, but I don't think a Zeppelin would have fared much better.


Elvis, the Siren, and Swilly Idle.

With musician Mike Young, also wearing leather pants and a silver jacket. Mine is Armani, though.


One of my very favorite events is Elvis Kokopelli's annual birthday party for Elvis Presley, held at Graceland Southwest in Sedona. I can't remember what Elvis and I were singing; probably something by Dread Zeppelin, whose lead singer Tortelvis has something of the same body type on display here. See

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2005 Black Zeppelin

This wine was relatively slow to open for at least a year after it was bottled (though it still won a stack of awards) but it's now showing dramatically well as soon as it's unscrewed. A sense of mistaken priorities on the part of one who will become nameless led to my being unable to access the primary vineyard (which I had planned the planting of) after the initial vintage, so until Red Zeppelin can plant its own vines this might be a one-off. Rare, powerful, and beautiful, and the label's not too bad either.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Inmates of the Asylum

Here I be with Alexis, and Don and Shirley Regole, (party animals native to Tucson) and again below, with Paula Woolsey, the Asylum's owner. I did the first winemaker dinner there in 2002, and am still allowed back.

The Asylum in Jerome, AZ

The culinary center of the blazing new Verde Valley, Arizona wine scene is the fantastic Asylum restaurant in Jerome where I had a long liquid dinner with owner Paula Woolsey. This is the Wild West wine frontier of America, and I played a bit of a role in the early days several years ago when I spent a lot of hang time at the first winery in the area, the late great Echo Canyon. Their first Syrahs showed that the area was capable of making world class wines, and now with Page Springs and Merkin established, and PlumpJack moving in, the Verde Valley has a bright ethanolic future.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The newest wine bar in Vegas, the SleezeNCheeze!

At a remote location in Baja Henderson Nevada, Flip Flop Frank and neighbors got a head start on Alexis and I, as at our earlier appointment (see the post below) we actually had to talk while others drank. We remedied this when we got to the SleezeNCheeze . . . . thanks Frank!

CES Blogger party in Vegas -

Here we see the Siren and I (with Marilyn) at the awesome CES blogger party, held at the thermonuclear on Flamingo just east of the Strip.
Of course we missed the wine library nut, Gary Vaynerchuk ( but we poured wine for the extremely well dressed LeVar Burton, who complimented my gold suit and my Black Zeppelin, and philologist Marina Orlova of who didn't blink when I mentioned pentanol and aldehydes.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bottling on Elvis' birthday, done!!!

147 cases of burning love; the 2007 Stillman Syrah, Arroyo Seco. Unfiltered, clone 877, cool climate, 2 year old French oak, minimalist label. I'll drag some with me to Vegas and Sedona for sampling, then leave it alone when bottle shock sets in late next week. It'll be fine by Valentine's Day, when I will unleash it on the novice lovers of White-Trash-By-The-Sea, also known as Cayucos, California.
Amateur lovers? Of course, just as New Year's Eve is for novice partiers.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What wine goes with wild boar?

For the moment, a Tudor Pinot Noir. But since the piggies are attacking my prospective grower's other crops (avocados, berries) I think I should be proactive. Yes, that's a real spear.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The complexity of winemaking -

To judge by this blog, my life is just one party after another. And that's true, though in between I have the pleasure of haranguing vineyard owners to plant what I want them to instead of what they think will sell five years from now, haggling with mendacious cork and label suppliers over wildly varying prices for the same type of product, dealing with lying wine salesmen without succumbing to enological Tourette's syndrome or just reaching for a spear, and other terroir du merde. Can't they understand that I'm an artist?

That's enough complaining for this year.

I'm really looking forward to the geek blogger party in Vegas on Friday, where I can answer my least favorite question, "So how did you become a winemaker?" with my favorite answer.
"I made the best damn pruno in San Quentin, bitch."

Band practice

Band practice