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