Friday, December 16, 2011

A partial explanation of bottle shock.

A variable slight reduction in aroma and light to moderate reduction in flavor caused by reaction of molecular S with remaining O2 dissolved in wine that occurs after bottling, and can be ameliorated by lowering dissolved 02 in wine to under 1 ppm before bottling, not adding large amounts of SO2 immediately prior to bottling, and not filtering. It's generally observed between 10 and 30 days after bottling. Effects not fully understood as perception is mainly subjective; it allegedly affects Pinot Noir more than other wines.

I went to Berkeley, not Davis. Somebody check with a 'real' winemaker!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


78% "Colossus of Rhones" aka Gill Vineyard.; 22% Secret Syrah (sorry)
17% alcohol by volume (yes, really). 111 cases bottled, $50/retail.

This clone 877 Syrah vineyard on the west side of Paso Robles was planted in 1998 and only yields 1-2 bottles per vine (aka tons/acre at 1,000 vines/acre). I instituted severe leaf thinning when I became the consultant last year, and delayed harvest until full flavor ripeness and seed lignification, which didn't occur until over 28 brix. Fear not, this is no flabby, sweet, baked raisin wine; the blackberry extract is fresh and extremely full and rich, and spices and oak emerge immediately, and the finish is very long without excess heat. Do NOT be ideo-enologically prejudiced against the high alcohol and youth; it shows fabulously and is at least my best red since the 2005 La Mort Du Roi (Elvis Died For Your Sins) "Hill of Graceland" Syrah. So far, opinions are rapturous from the handful of consumers, uber-winemakers, and unter-sommeliers that have tried it. But what do we know???

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nobody's perfect.

Colossus of Rhones, Gill Vineyard, West Paso.
4.1 acres clone 877 Syrah

Estimated yield 4 tons
Actual yield 3.9 tons

Target brix 28
Actual brix 28.0

(Indecent accuracy)

Friday, October 14, 2011


Actually, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Zinfandel. With bacon.

This is wine club only, needless to say.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Yes, that's a real picture of the prophet Mohammed with a Zeppelin

The prophet Mohammed, waking up on Satan's couch with a terrible hangover, saw the label of the wine he'd been drinking last night; something from the New World that Jesus's friend, that singer with the big hair, had sent down as an Easter present. "Contains BACON?!?" yelled Mohammed . . . and then it came back to him that he'd known that when he drank the third bottle. Hmmm . . . he'd better go see Moses about the kosher stuff, and then figure out how to get his own Halal wine made. What to call it? Infidel Zeppelin? Kevin Bacon Fatwa?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

So When's The Next Raging Party, Dude?

"and can my group play? We're a really tasty Steve Miller tribute band, and we rock the house!"

Well, this hasn't happened to me yet, though between the paint fumes and the brick stain of the new winery office / tasting room I'm not sure I'd notice. Until we have locks on the doors I'm not willing to put up any artwork worth more than $10, which is rather limiting. Of the $5,000 computer/cash register / massage therapist, I will say nothing except that if you buy something that expensive you perhaps should have a security system that goes with it. And we will also have wine, some of it of sufficiently stellar quality to make it rather expensive, and swanky and clever furniture and other items made from wine barrels.

I'm wondering if we can get a motion sensing device that dispenses meth directly into the nearest raccoon den? We still have a lot left over after our last white wine bottling, abalone shell scouring, and use as floor cleaner; you pick up the oddest things at law enforcement agency auctions.

(I didn't even know there was a "Panamint County" but they seemed happy to make the sale.)

Monday, August 1, 2011

A troll in the fog; tales of "Wet Zeppelin One"

A trollish person of uncertain origin* is telling tales about Wet Zeppelin I, the Cal Poly viticultural scholarship held on Sept. 25, 2009 at the Cayucos Veterans Hall, to anyone who will listen. I've only heard his nutty exaggerations and distortions secondhand; he seems to be claiming that anything named Wet Zeppelin is a drug fueled abomination that must be forbidden, or something of that nature. He has not been polite to persons unwilling to listen to his tale.

I've organized twelve events - birthday parties and scholarship fundraisers, none for profit - many with a 'Wet Zeppelin' name, in the past few years; this one was completely unique in one respect. The Lions Club contract for Veterans Hall rental includes a charge for uniformed security; the security is hired by the Lions Club, and was scheduled to arrive at 6 PM on the date of the event. No one showed, so I called the Lions Club. When they arrived 90 minutes later, I noticed that one of the three 'guards' was quite short, older than I, and did not seem alert.** (The other two were alert, but young and not imposing.) This person was apparently assigned the back door, where he proceeded to get drunk and chat up women; this was mentioned by several persons.

About an hour later, I and several others personally observed him stagger through the front foyer (where we were checking IDs, collecting donations, and wristbanding attendees by age) and out into the night. I found and informed the other two guards, who immediately both went out looking for him and did not return (without him) for at least thirty minutes. During this period and afterwards, dozens of unauthorized persons went in the back door, and came and went as they pleased. Some of these persons stole and presumably consumed wine, attacked performing musicians and authorized attendees, and generally made a mess. One person was injured, possibly while trying to get onstage, whereupon I contacted ambulance personnel and law enforcement, to whom I clearly outlined the situation and described the security breakdown. They recommended stopping the event and I did, at about 11:45. Neither I, nor any person associated with the event except by unauthorized attendance, was cited or questioned further that night or later in connection with this. I did hear rumors, but from the less credible of my wide circle of friends and acquaintances.
And finally, if someone thinks that a painting of the death of Elvis Presley is somehow in favor of the abuse of perscription pills, they'll believe anything.

*People are describing the troll as an old, rude, do-gooder.
** The little old 'guard' is apparently known as Sleepy Gonzales.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Too much time on the ephemeral Facebook (photos excepted) and not enough time posting here. There is in fact news: a probationary reconciliation with Red Zeppelin Winery in order to assemble a tasting room in Baja Cayucos; a new wine, the 2009 Stillman Red (no political humor, please) and of course the Infidel, which is related but not identical to the Stillman, in addition to having a jihad-worthy label. Preliminary artwork here.

Yes, that's Mohammed in Hades. He seems to have lost weight on a diet of bacon and wine.

Monday, May 23, 2011


The Chateau d'Abalone is here.
Our friends out at the Ocean Rose Abalone Farm, the largest producers of abalone in the US, are always experimenting with new recipes. I'm frequently a test subject, despite not being a foodie - perhaps it's because I bring wine to the "experiments" (parties). Perhaps the voice of the late great Bill Hoppe whispered in my ear, "make a wine that goes with abalone, Swill" or perhaps it was a coastal Gale, but I have. 80% Grenache Blanc, 19% Viognier, 1% Roussanne. All stainless, bone dry, and it's acidic instead of alcoholic. Citrus, cleanliness, richness. 75 cases made, email or call me to get some. You know how to find me, right?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011



Friday, April 1, 2011

Red Zeppelin Turns 20, Drops Dead

Today's the twentieth anniversary of the release of the first Red Zeppelin wine, a Rhone-ish blend with a label mocking Bonny Doon and Robert Parker. It's also the day that I leave Red Zeppelin Winery. (Not an April Fools joke, kids.)
I've already started Zeppelin Winery, and will of course continue with my other labels and some wild new projects (see below) and after an indecent interval will introduce Red Zeppelin Vineyard.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

20 Years of Red Zeppelins

It's been almost two decades since Rick Tharp, Dan Lewis and I pranked the most precious and most pretentious figures in the wide world of wine with the first Red Zeppelin; Rick is sadly no longer with us, and Dan is pseudo-peacefully retired somewhere between Sedona and Adobe Walls. Of our targets, the precious winemaker went on to produce lakes of grocery-store plonk, then sold the brands, and is now attempting to regain respect by going beyond biodynamic, though some of his new wines are actually pretty good. The pretentious critic has handed off the reviewing of California wine to a minion, as the pressure to award 101 points to a Paso Robles Grenache was apparently too much for him.

I'll have very big news about myself soon.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Prophets of the Zeppelins!

Jesus, Elvis and Mohammed: art in wine.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Only a witling would rate music or food on a 100 point scale." - Swilly Idle

California wineries say goodbye to Robert Parker's reviews, eh? He's done some of my friends great favors by favorably reviewing their wines, but he's a tool. Adios, pendejo.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rock Stars

Under the influence of Black Zeppelin are Ela Jaszczak (aka the Polish Rock Star) and Greglebert Torteldink of Pete The Butcher (aka Tortelvis of Dread Zeppelin). An absurd time was had by all. Where were you?

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Details, details.
I will bring a bottle of the best Mezcal in the world to the Kilt on Thursday. You get your signed bottle on the way OUT, hear?!?
Ela Jaszczak (just call her the Polish rock star, ok?) will be at the Full Moon on Friday. She plays, she sings, you listen. Buy her drinks.
The Dancing Cage of Love will be at STAX on Saturday. Admission is NOT guaranteed, kids.
Peace and love is here to stay, and now I can wake up and face the day
Happy happy happy all of the time, shock treatment now I'm doing fine

Band practice

Band practice