Thursday, February 28, 2008

Checking In...

For those tens of you who actually read my blog, my apologies. I know, I know...I've not been posting much lately. But at least I have a good excuse. I've been neck-deep in preparations for two major bottlings: 3,000cs. of Garretson wines and 3,000cs. of my new wine label, Francis Berwyn. We begin bottling tomorrow.

Anyone who's been involved in bottling wine can tell you: bottling sucks. With the exception of harvest, bottling is (for me at least) the most-stressful time for a winemaker. It's the last chance you have to get things right...or screw things up. And once the wine is in the bottle, that's it. There's no going back.

So please excuse the dearth of postings. I've been preoccupied. Next week sees the start of a whole LOT of travel...Arizona, Chicago, Las Vegas and throughout California, ending in March with a week in Atlanta. Rest assured my travels will provide more than enough blog fodder to fill these pages...and will surely cure your insomnia.


While you wait for my next, no doubt witty posting, go visit the fine folks at

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dutch Treat.

Last year one of our local banks merged with the financial monster, Rabobank. Overnight the familiar signage for Mid-State Bank had been replaced by blue and orange "Rabobank" signs. This change got me thinking...

What in the hell IS a 'Rabobank' exactly?

Turns out Rabobank is a Dutch concern. Founded in 1996, the name is an acronym of the two original partner banks, the Raiffeisen Bank and the Boerenleenbank. Cute, huh?

Nope. I don't think so, either.

While "Rabobank" is a bit less of a mouthful than The Raiffeisen Bank and the Boerenleenbank, the name itself doesn't exactly connote financial legitimacy. If anything, it brings to mind (at least to my mind) images that aren't exactly ligitimate at all.

Sound it out..."Rab-Oh-Bank". Say it fast and it sounds like "Rob-a-bank", doesn't it? I mean,
really, is that what these Dutchmen want us to do, rob their banks? Perhaps it's just a subliminal message they're sending us. They're the robbers.

Perhaps it's just that they happen to big big-time fans of the movie, Robocop? After all, the movie was directed Paul
Verhoeven. Sounds pretty Dutch to me. Maybe Paul's on the board of advisors?

Or could it be that Robobank answers to a power higher than the FSLIC? RabbiBank, perhaps?

Regardless, Rabobank is a terrible name for a financial institution, ain't it?

Studies have shown that logging on to is infinitely more rewarding than robbing banks.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Scary Movie.

So there I was a few nights ago, at home, watching the movie, "The Bounty". Remember this one? I hadn't seen this since it came out in 1984, and I have to say it's aged remarkably well. If you discount the Vangelis score (still hot from his 1981 "Chariots of Fire" soundtrack), there's a certain timelessness to this movie. It stars Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins, and has a great supporting cast that includes cinematic royalty (Sir Lawrence Olivier), soon-to-be box office boy toys (Liam Neeson and Daniel Day-Lewis), and a one-hit wonder (Tevaite Vernette).

"Mat," I can hear you saying, "who in the hell is Tevaite Vernette?" Ms. Vernette, dear reader, plays Mauatua, Fletcher Christian/Mel Gibson's love interest. Tahitian born and bred (and, I learned recently, still residing), she nailed the part of a native...probably because she was/is a Tahitian native. That and the fact that she apparently doesn't mind getting naked in front of a camera. Director Dino de Laurentis' folks discovered her on location, and cast her in the part. The movie database imdb lists "The Bounty" as her sole credit of her cinematic career.

Now I will freely admit that when the movie came out I was attracted to this young Tahitian lass. But with benefit of hindsight I can say that it wasn't so much that I thought she was cute in as much the fact that, when the movie came out, I was in my early twenties. That meant my, um, interest was held by any female who cavorted around semi-clothed...on-screen or off.

24 years later - my gawd! twenty four years! - and I did find that when watching "The Bounty" I was again drawn to Tevaite Vernette. Watching her though I found that my interest wasn't at all carnal. Rather, in watching her on screen, I was left with a nagging feeling that I had seen her somewhere else. I was a good two-thirds into the movie when it finally dawned on me: "Ohmigawd, she looks just like Tiger Woods, but with breasts!"

While the internet boasts scores of photos of Tiger, there are precious few photos to be found of Tevaite Vernette...less than 15, actually. This photo to the left is the best image I was able to find of her.

Compare this photo to this one of Tiger:

Again, the photo of Ms. Vernette is of poor quality, but I think you will see what I mean. They're awfully similar looking people.

If you happen to have photos of Tevaite Vernette (I also learned from the internet that she was featured in Playboy back around the release of "The Bounty"), send them my way. I'll add them to this post. Baring that, check out "The Bounty" next time it's on TV...and check out Tevaite. And then tell me that she doesn't look like Tiger Woods after a Renée Richards-like procedure.

It's creepy how much she looks like Tiger. Makes me wonder how her short game is?

And, hey, while you're putting around the internet, check out!"

Sunday, February 3, 2008

"Well, We've Never Heard of You, Either."

For those of you unfamiliar with what I do for a living, let me tell you: I'm a winemaker. That's right, my wife and I own a small winery on the Central Coast of California. Owning a winery might sound like a dream job, but let me tell you, the reality can oft-times be a nightmare. Don't get me wrong...I love what I do; however, it's just like any other job in that it's, well, a job.

One of the drawbacks to being a winery owner/winemaker is having to put up with wine snobs. You've probably come across the type...the kind that, if given half a chance, drones on and on about such subjects as what's better, left- or right-bank 1991 Bordeaux, the ageability of Chilean Chardonnay, etc., etc. The type of guy (they're almost
always guys) who probably got the shit kicked out of him every week in high school for being such a wonk.

I've little patience for pretentious wine snobs (unless of course, they're actually buying my wines), as evidenced by the fact that, some 11 years ago, we adopted as our winery slogan "Well, We've Never Heard of You Either." It's emblazoned on our t-shirts, posters, and (until recently) on our website. It pretty much sets the proper tone...and serves as a standard response to what is usually the first thing people say when they hear the words, "Garretson Wine Company."

Before we settled on, "Well, We've Never Heard of You Either.", I had auditioned a few other slogans...most of which were vetoed by my partner (a.k.a. 'my wife'). I'd like to share with you my Top 10:

10.) "If you're not completely satisfied...welcome to the real world."
"Why Pay Less?"
"The purchase of just one bottle of our wine each week can feed and clothe my children for an entire month!"
"It's supposed to taste like that."
"Your pathetic ignorance to these grape varieties is more than overcome to my total commitment to them."
"Better wines than you deserve."
"Celebrate a lifestyle that you'll never attain!"
"With perhaps the exceptions of rock stars, sports celebrities and just about anyone with a lot of money, chicks dig Garretson wine drinkers the most."
"Where quality is more than a slogan. It's a noun."
"I've suffered for my art. Now it's your turn."

While we've gone 11 years with one slogan, I'm always looking for one better. And I'm open to your ideas. Anyone? Bueller?

Here's a great slogan: "Click now on!"