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Who’s California’s hottest winemaker?

28 comments

We have wine competitions and restaurant competitions and wine list competitions and wine blog competitions and chef competitions and winemaker competitions and every kind of competition you can think of in the wine and food world. Now we have the U.S. Professional Wine Buyer’s Competition.

It’s a forum for marketers (wineries) to get their product, wine, “in front of top wine buyers from all over the nation,” which is the equivalent of giving a college pitching pheenom the chance to show his stuff to MLB scouts.

The winery pays the contest’s owners $75 per wine and gets to pour for buyers from the likes of PlumpJack (that’s Gavin Newsom’s company), the Ritz Carlton, Whole Foods and the Playboy Mansion. Landing a deal with any of them could be the difference, in this lousy economy, between making a profit or taking a loss.

Neat idea. I bet a ton of wineries will enter, thereby giving the competition’s owners a hefty profit. So I set about thinking, what segment of the wine and food industry doesn’t yet have a competition? Can I horn in on the competition bubble and grab my share of the booty? So my fertile little mind immediately comes up with an idea.

First, I figured, why not have a literal wine buyers’ competition? Take these frontline buyers and let ‘em do gladiatorial mortal combat with each other, maybe in a caged, UFC-style arena. After all, everybody always says that selling wine these days is a bloodbath. So let the actual buyers bash each other and draw blood!

But no. Not such a good idea. So herewith, I am announcing a new competition, of which I am sole owner and sponsor. Ladies and gents [drum roll], it’s….

America’s Hottest Winemaker Competition

in 2 divisons, male and female.

I don’t know if you realize, but there are some pretty good-looking winemakers out there. Think about it. Winemaking is a laborious job, physically-speaking, what with stomping through all those vineyards, dragging hoses, climbing ladders and scampering up to the top of a four-barrel pile to thief off a pour. Winemakers are forever driving their pickups into town to buy a clamp, and when they’re not making wine, they’re traveling all over the place selling it. As a result, many winemakers have lean, mean, muscled bodies (we’re talking about gals as well as guys). They’re tanned from time in the sun, with the ruddy look of farm kids. Which, actually, they are.

I never asked a good-looking winemaker if he/she was aware of his physical attractiveness and used it as a marketing plus, but, come on, can we talk? Happens all the time. I am envisioning a particular male winemaker right now whose face and body are used in print advertisements precisely because of his Hollywood good looks. We all know that good looks in politicians are almost a requirement. Mitt Romney tried to ride his square-jawed whiteboy cutsie-pie face all the way to the White House. Gavin Newsom was twice elected Mayor of San Francisco because he looks like a younger Mitt Romney (despite his addiction to hair gel). There is a certain female winemaker, also heavily used in print advertisements, who has one of the most toned bodies I’ve ever seen. It’s basic advertising 101: People would rather buy a product from someone who’s good-looking than from someone who’s ugly.

So let’s get to the bottom line: Who are the hottest winemakers out there? Inquiring minds wanna know.

Here are the contest rules:

- California only. As the competition grows, we’ll expand it to the West Coast, then the U.S., then the world!

- $1,000 per entry fee.

- Send a face and body picture (clothed, please) to me.

- I’ll line up some celebrity judges to give the thing buzz.

- We’ll put up a YouTube. If you don’t think we’ll get a billion views, you’re crazy. (And think of the P.R. for the winning winery!)

- There will be a talent portion and a swimsuit portion.

- The top twelve winners get to pose in the “Hottest Winemaker” calendar of 2011.

- No. 1 winners (male and female divisions) get the Mr./Ms. Hottie Trophy and the chance to audition for a leading T.V. series.

I’ll be posting updates, including deadlines, so keep watching this blog!

  1. Steve,

    Great idea – as soon as I have liposuction and a whole body/face lift, I’ll shoot you my photo.

    On a serious note – I entered my wines in last year’s “Pro Wine Buyer’s Competition.” 2008 was the first year they had it, again, with some big names as judges. My wines got gold medals and one of them was “the best Zin” of 2006. And do you know where this got me? Exactly, nowhere! I followed up with the judges, but got few responses and the ones I did get were like the cosolation prize on a TV game show “Thanks for playing, but even though we gave you a gold medal, we don’t remember and aren’t buying any wine right now…”

    I could also tell you about the infamous contest in southern California that takes place in a major city there (that is not Los Angeles) where I entered my wine – after the comp was over, I received an email note indicating that they had “misplaced” my wine, it wasn’t in the comp, and they had just found it, oh, so sorry. They sent my wine back and promised to refund my entry fee, but I am still waiting!

    So, my point is? Thank you for exposing these competitions for what they are – beauty contests! It’s a way to make money for the people sponsoring them. Disappointing, yes. Necessary for us small wine makers, sadly, yes – because we get exposure and can brag about all our gold medals. Wish there was a better way!

    Richard.

  2. This post cries out for some pictures (at least of the ads you so coyly mentioned).

  3. Wow, eerie coincidence. I was just about to announced the Hottest Wine Writer contest! However, my entry fee will be $5,000, to account for the fact I’m not likely to get a lot of entries, given that wine writing isn’t a laborious job, physically-speaking, what with all that sitting around eating elaborate winery-paid-for restaurant meals, not to mention all that time spent planted on their rear ends searching through Wikipedia doing “research.” Wine writers are forever driving their Ford Tauruses up to Napa for lunch meetings. About the most strenuous thing they do is accept another box of samples from the delivery guy, but most of them have a poorly paid (even more poorly paid than the writer himself) assistant who takes care of that. As a result, many winemakers have soft bodies (we’re talking about gals as well as guys). They’re white from time inside, with the pale look of nerds. Which, actually, they are.

    Bring on the entries!

  4. Pete, who do I make the check out to?

  5. Actually, I might have to disallow you entry, Steve. I’ve seen you. Either you aren’t taking advantage of those freebie meals, or you’re lifting your own boxes….

  6. I can think of several winemaker’s (from at least four continents) who would make good candidates for this competition… all of which would probably throttle me for mentioning their names. Sorry Steve.

  7. Kelly, that’s okay, I didn’t mention anyone either. But I will say this: Agoston Harazsthy would be on the top of my list, if he were still alive!

  8. LOL – you like the bad boys eh?

  9. Agoston was one of the good guys. It was his son, Arpad, who was bad. I never met Arpad.

  10. I thought Agoston was run out of California for money fraud and ended up being eaten by crocodiles in South America where he went to make Rum. I picture Colin Ferrell or Johnny Depp playing him in the movie…

  11. Steve – just rate ‘em all on the 100 point scale. No different than the other scores, right?

  12. I like the 100 points of hotness rating idea… I give those boobs a 92! or Nice pecs – 89 points!

    :-)

  13. Seriously? When I read “Who’s California’s hottest winemaker?”, I thought that perhaps you meant, “Who’s California’s most progressive, skilled, capable, up-and-coming winemaker(s)”. Instead, I am disappointed at the shallow and superficial nature of your article. you must be having writers block. This is the best that you could come up with? Well, I’ll let you boys play your silly game while I look for something more substantial to read.

  14. And Agoston was (rumored) to have been run out of Wisconsin for the same reason! Of course, he did find Sonoma slightly better for vinifera.

  15. Dude, some of my readers were offended. Glad you got the joke, as usual.

  16. Dear SKonold, sorry you didn’t get the parody.

  17. More like double entendre. Steve, hillarious article, yet so true. Too many comps + fees.

    If it weren’t for the $1k entry fee, eh maybe! lol

  18. Dear Steve,
    I got it. Still stupid. Boy humor, I guess.

  19. Can’t believe there weren’t more barbs about the Wine Buyers Competition. What are the odds that all the buyers will make it to the competition on time? How many no-shows? How many will say, “I know we have a competition today, but I had to go to three portfolio tastings yesterday. Can we reschedule?”. Flakiest. People. Ever.

  20. Wow Steve…. doesn’t promoting such a capitalistic idea run you into trouble with your political standing?
    Now if you told me all proceeds raised were going to be donated to the “save the smelt” campaign well I would understand!

  21. Muck Raker says:

    You are, of course, confusing the people with the title “Winemaker” with the person actually making the wine. “Winemakers” are actually marketing positions and the physical attractiveness factor is part of the unofficial hiring process. I know plenty of pretty boy winemakers who don’t have any idea what’s going on back at the winery, while somebody who doesn’t quite fit marketing’s idea of attractiveness is actually making those gold medal wines. There are of course the exceptions to this rule, but the figurehead winemaker is very real. How will your contest distinguish these categories?

  22. Steve, come visit me around September 1st, maybe 2pm, working on our non-shaded white concrete crush pad, and I’ll physically show you who the “hottest” winemaker is. I’ll be the one drowning in the California sun!

  23. Oded Shakked says:

    LOL! I am attaching a link to a pic of the only winemaker(s) I know. Clothing optional….
    http://www.theworldwidewine.com/wild_wine_yeast_cells.jpg

  24. Steve,

    Please don’t be like some “other people” and “genderfy wine.” You would have done better pitting Nor. Cal. against So. Cal., or left-handers Vs. Righties.

    Tastings like, “What Women Want Wine Competition,” are an abomination to an industry that has treated both genders very well over time.

    ~Steele

  25. Carter Thompson says:

    LOL @ Oded Shakked!

    Are you joking Oded? Wine isn’t made by winemakers? Say it isn’t so!!!

    I thought the people who talked about wine (metaphorically) and made the decisions on how many punchdowns a day should be done by their labor crew were metabolically converting the glucose and fructose to ethanol!!!

    Oded is right, show lots of nekkid pictures like that link.

  26. Love it! Can I steal your idea? I’ll do the hottest assistant winemakers! Or hottest cellar rats. All joking aside, great commentary. As always, I love your humor and viewpoint. Although, getting back to that calendar…..

  27. Doesn’t it all depend on their opinins on skin contact?

  28. Carter Thompson says:

    Well Simon, the opinion regarding the “skin contact” is a critical component of “winemaking”. You see, rubes like you and me don’t “get” the wine science, even if we actually have degrees in science! Winemakers have a specialized, more existential understanding of a higher science called “enology”. There they are able to prove that something worked without a representative control. I’ve heard that some “wine-makers” can even tell you what species of yeast conducted the fermentation of the juice, years after the wine was put into a bottle. Someday, I hope to be able to understand the “wine” but I just don’t “get” it. I had this interaction where I told this fella that I thought his wine was sulfide ridden and structurally reminiscent of water. I was told that I just don’t “understand” Pinot, dang I wish I was smarter!

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