Stuff I Missed…

‘Twasn’t the most verbose year in Suburban Wino history.  Those who know what I’ve been up to the past year understand why I wasn’t left with gobs of time to sit in front of the computer and painstakingly craft (mostly) coherent posts.  However, that doesn’t mean that this year was devoid of exciting and interesting happenings in the world of wine.  More accurately, in MY world of wine.  Sure, it’s less relevant to the general wine-drinking public, but I’ve got an ego that needs to be stroked, so we’re gonna talk about me.  Okay, we’re not gonna talk about me, per se, but about stuff that I experienced in 2012.  Not sure what else to write about.  I don’t care about what James Suckling or Emilio Estevez experienced, and you shouldn’t either.  Maybe there’s something relevant here after all:

The Wine Business is…

…not at all less glamorous than I expected.  I’m not surprised it’s tough, because I know the climate and have known the people in it for a while.  Now, a grizzled veteran at one year’s experience, I have to say that it is (if I may paraphrase Denny Green) “what I thought it was”:  work.  Not a lot of sitting around, drinking wine, visiting exciting locales around the world.  More accurately, the wine business is- at least initially- hard, HARD work for very little pay, involving long hours, intense competition, aggression, a parade of disinterested and jaded buyers, and even further disinterested consumers who buy on scores, cute labels, and low prices (the latter, I suspect, perpetuated by the laziness of retailers, distributors, and the consumers themselves).  Brushing with a broad stroke here, of course, but wine is held in a much lower regard by so many than one gets swept into believing when dug into the blogging world.  In fact, I’ve had two rather sobering realizations during my short time in the trenches:

  1. 90% of the wine-consuming public DOES NOT GIVE A DAMN about wine as anything more than a means to get drunk.
  2. Fear of the unknown and unfamiliar is extraordinarily prevalent in the consumer world of wine-buying, and the comfort of a consistent experience drives buying behavior heavily.
When we are so passionate about something, we tend to not understand why others don’t share that passion.  We so badly want others to have the epiphany we once did; that “aha” moment when we took a sip of the wine that changed our view of the world forever.  But many (most) will never experience that, because they don’t have enough desire to allow the experience to occur.  Rather than lament those who will never have interest, I’ve enjoyed the zeal of the other 10%.  Those who love wine the way I do, eager novices, seasoned collectors, evangelical buyers, beverage managers, and total nerds… teaching them, learning from them, sharing incredible bottles with them… all of that has been completely satisfying.  I can’t say I’d have been able to meet those precious few without taking the leap into this endeavor.

based on summertime visits, at least.  They say it’s a cold, rainy, miserable place, but I’ve only experienced Portland and the Willamette Valley twice:  June of 2010 and August of 2012.  Beautiful, warm, and gloriously unspoiled (the suburbs of Portland don’t just seem to bleed and bleed into the country like they do in the massive sprawl of Atlanta).  Okay, the beach was cold, but I’m super-pale by nature anyway, and terrified of sharks, so I don’t need a hot beach.  There is good wine, great beer, lots of fresh produce, seafood, meats, and cheeses.  Houses in wine country are cheap.  The restaurant options in Portlandia are magical.  I got a fried pie filled with macaroni & cheese and bacon from a food truck.

There’s and ideal vibe:  city living, but small-city living, with wine country and plenty of access to wholesome ingredients for cooking.  It just seems right. Togel Hongkong Online

Downsides:  no NFL team.  But I could watch the Falcons at 10 AM and consistent get out of going to church.  Perhaps the schools are crappy.  Taxes might be bad.  Oh, and my wife grew up in Phoenix.  That’ll be a tough sell…

Former (and current) Atlantans make some wine…

Great to see pals Hardy (former Atlantan) and Matt (aka “Rowdy”, current Atlantan) release their first wines.  Good stuff will silly labels, and I wish them much success.  These two have showered extraordinary generosity upon me in many ways over the past few years, so I am eternally in their corner as they grow a business that is damn stinkin’ hard to make thrive.

Also excited for buddy Ed Thralls (former Atlantan) to release his first Pinot Noir from his new label,Thralls Family Cellars.  I tasted an early bottling (admittedly, while my palate was not its sharpest), and I expect big things.  Likewise, the Thralls have been wonderful and generous to me. kqxsmb Xổ số

Not necessarily making wine (that I know of), but proud to see another friend- Matt Mauldin (former Atlantan)- working with Joe Davis over at Arcadian in Santa Barbara County.  Maybe the seemingly even-keeled Matt can keep Joe in line a bit, but it could be tough.

The People Behind the Paycheck

When I cut myself out of the warm, comfortable womb of Air Conditioning Marketing nearly 3 1/2 years ago, I burst into the full-time world of wine distribution naked, cold, and naive.  I had bright eyes, big ideas, and a vision to turn the wine world on its ear.


Today- a grizzled, jaded, still-occasionally naked (and often naive) veteran of the Chardonnay-soaked trenches of “the business”- I’ve let my my evangelism dry up like a dream deferred.  It’s a little depressing, realizing that one must eventually make the luxury-segment-sales equivalent of Sophie’s Choice to survive: 

1.  Embrace evangelism and jockey the hip little producers, the esoteric finds, the neglected-but-delicious grape varieties, the obscurely exotic Eastern Bloc gems, and the “natural wine” screwballs.  Align with the people who are farmers and the cellar rats; folks who are toiling to turn grapes into wine, and doing so without swollen marketing budgets, PR firms, teams of consumer analysts, and healthy distribution networks.  By doing this, an individual experiences much of the mystery and intrigue of wine; transcending into a vision quest of myriad grape varieties and endless expressions of terroir

…Also, said individual declines into abject poverty.  People don’t want to buy that weird crap.  Go ‘merica.


2.  Sell out and pay the bills.  Shill overpriced “big time” grapes from “big time” regions onto status-sensitive wine drinkers with money to burn.  Wines with backstories like, “after Kensington Penniesworth III sold his grandfather’s monocle business for billions, his supermodel wife and he visited wine country, where they fell in love with wine.  They bought 8,000 acres from poor apple farmers to make expressive, world-class wines.”  Wines that are all pomp & circumstance.  Wines with big ratings.  Wines that stroke egos.  Why?  Because even though this bottle of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is $90 more than that bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, it has a heavier bottle, a deeper punt, and an edgier label.  It got 95 points from the Dubuque State Fair.  Also, my boss bought it at that steakhouse in Vegas with the F-you-money he won at the blackjack table when we attended the Tupperware convention in 2004, and he said it was the best, so it’s the best wine ever.  My boss said.  And he has lots of money and a flawless portfolio.  He does Crossfit.  And the Europeans make terrorist wine.  Go ‘merica.


It’s not so bad out there.  But I did decide that I needed to make a living.  I needed plump American kids.  I needed to splurge on that occasional date night at Long John Silvers with the wife.  A pampered spouse is a happy spouse.  “Extra side of tarter sauce, hon?  No sweat.  Thank 100% New French and American Oak for 22 months.”

The wine consuming public is incredibly diverse, opinionated, and stubborn.  There are the natural zealots who only want to buy wine based on the biodynamic calendar.  Conversely, there are suburban white-collar businessmen who are too stubborn to look beyond their Silver Oak-branded blinders.  And there are the retailers and restaurants who cater specifically to these- and other segments- almost exclusively.  Rarely, if ever, will one yield to the other.  They probably don’t even know each other exist.  And they should probably never attend the same wine tasting together.  This dichotomy represents the polar-opposites of the wine consumer spectrum.  And I’ve decided I’m happy to sell to both camps.

But one does not survive in wine sales by selling a few bottles of unfiltered Poulsard here and blockbuster Mt. Veeder there.  There are dozens of splinter groups within the subculture of wine consumers.  To name a few:


Old people who selectively ignore the laws of inflation as they pertain to beverage alcohol.  I know a jug of wine cost two-bits back in the day, but a quarter-sawbuck is not an outrageous price for a bottle these days.  I mean, it’s not as if the cost of the land to grow the grapes has increased in the past 50 years.  Or fuel prices, crucial to transport said wine from vineyard to (ironically) your local gas station.  Or glass.  Or corks.  Or taxes, tariffs, and duties. But please, take the case of $3.99 red.  I know its expensive, but my kids need new shoes, and you need the high percentage of formaldehyde in that bottle to preserve your liver.


ollege Guy with Overbearing Girlfriend.  He doesn’t want to be at the wine tasting.  Wine is for sissies.  But all it takes is one afternoon at the frat house sucking down a few too many Natty Light, which leads to the eventual hookup with the bartender at Wet Willie’s (“OMG.  She’s such a skank!”).  Now, he’s got a joint Facebook account.  And he’s going to get some culture.  Because Oprah was talking about how a man who drinks a half glass of wine a week is proven by an Oprah Show poll to be better husband material.  And she is NOT going back to that creep Bobby Masterson again.  So- buddy- at least act interested, and don’t spill that Pinot you’re trying to swirl onto her new Vineyard Vines loafers.  Remember:  one bottle of wine = 8.4 Natural Lights.  See you at Wet Willie’s later. vào Bong88

Yep, I’ve accepted that I will happily sell to every segment.  And I will appreciate the likes and dislikes of every segment.  Because, although some of us “wine folk” internally fight every instinct to tell you what to drink, what not to drink, what you’re missing, why you’re wrong, et cetera, the truth is that everyone is different.  And people like different things.  I think the first major step in a life of wine appreciation is knowing when to challenge people, and knowing when to just give them what they want.  Truthfully, if I really desire for a person to like wine more, I’d rather him have something I perceive as awful in a glass than nothing at all.  He will either hate it (and decide he hates wine in general forever), like it and drink that same wine forever, or- most hopefully- use this experience as a first toe dipped into the infinity pool. xoso mien bac