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The Hosemaster’s take on STEVE!


This is an unusual posting for me, and I did it only after thinking about it all weekend.

A little background: I got an email on Friday from Ron Washam, whom many of you know as The HoseMaster of Wine. In my opinion, and that of many others, his blog is one of the best. And in terms of satirical or parodic wine blogs, it has no peer. Ron’s alert eye catches every pretense and skewers it with laugh out loud mercilessness. He’s never mean or vindictive, though, so even when you’re the object of his parody–which I am with some frequency–you don’t take it personally.

Below is the email he sent me. I asked Ron for permission to run it, and he said sure, go ahead. He didn’t even mind if I mentioned the specific blogs he called “parade[s] of mindlessness.”  But I decided to excise their names anyway. The “Poodle” to which Ron refers is a Wine Blog Awards nomination–which he, himself, was nominated for this year, for Best Writing. I hope he wins it; he should.

* * *

Hello Steve,

So I was stupidly wandering around the wine blogosphere, stupefied at the seemingly endless parade of mindlessness, at [excised] and [excised] and [excised], and too many other hopeless destinations to mention, when I realized what an oasis in the midst of that intellectual desert your blog is. So I wanted to write you a brief fan letter. I know you get your fair share of hate mail. I certainly do. But it’s always a pleasure on that rare occasion someone sends a note of appreciation, so I thought I’d pass that gift along.

It’s criminal that you’re not nominated for a Poodle. I made a point of mentioning that if I do win, it’s less meaningful because people like you are not nominated. You engage people thoughtfully and with great generosity and openness. There’s very little of that in blog land. So much is self-indulgent and emptyheaded (some would say HoseMaster is), which I guess means the blogosphere perfectly mimics reality. Your writing is crisp and articulate, and your voice is strong and clear and reasoned. All of that gives me great pleasure. Thank you.

And thank you for putting up with my occasional japes. I learned a while ago only to aim at the top bloggers, not the ones who think they’re the top bloggers, and I consider you the best. Consequently, my HoseMaster persona feels obliged to go after you now and then. That you take it with grace and laughter speaks volumes about your character. You should see the crap hurled at me by lesser folk.

Anyhow, I appreciate what you do over at STEVE! I know how much work it is to do that five times a week. But to do it at your level, well, that’s an amazing accomplishment.


* * *

Ron’s right about me getting a lot of hate mail, not so much directly as nasty sniping in the social media sphere; and while I’ve learned to develop a thick skin, and have realized that my visibility makes me a target, still, it sometimes gets to me. I’m also used to never getting praised when I’ve done something right, and always being yelled at when someone thinks I’ve done something wrong. So Ron’s email, which came out of nowhere, really moved me. It practically made me weep.

I didn’t get nominated for a Poodle because I didn’t pimp myself out–beg my readers (on my blog, Facebook and Twitter) to vote for me. I’m not capable of such undignified groveling. If I cared more than I do about getting a Wine Blog Awards nomination, I’d have worked for it; but I don’t. I’ve been nominated twice. Enough is enough. Time to move on.

Lord only knows, few fields of human endeavor lend themselves more easily to satire than wine writing. The language is florid to the point of orchidaceous. Some wine writers take themselves far too seriously. The career ambitiousness that lards the wine blogosphere is embarrassing. Content is often mere fluff. Poseurs and posturers abound. Amateurism runs amok. Ron Washam sees all this, and sees through it, and satirizes it with wit, originality and intelligence. When we laugh at his writing, we do so because we recognize its truth, and sometimes, the ridiculousness we see is our own image, reflected back at us, in the mirror Ron holds up to our faces.

So thank you, Ron Washam, not just for the nice things you said about my blog, but for making us laugh.

  1. I disagree with only one thing here: that you’re blog is the best, but only because I think Ron’s blog is the best. Yours however ranks way, way, way up there in my personal list, STEVE!

    what you wrote about not hearing much when you get it right really resonated with me, I lived that daily in the corporate world even at a fairly high level; it can get to you. It seems that whoever I contemplate hanging up the 1WD spurs, someone sends me an unexpected gesture of encouragement that keeps me plodding forward, so I also know what notes like Ron’s can mean. So thanks for sharing as this really resonated with me in a lot of ways.


  2. 1WineDude, if you ever hang up your spurs my posse will hunt you down!

  3. I hate Love-Ins. All of us patting each other on the back. But perhaps there is some truth here.

    I told you years back that your blog is the best out there, and it is that.

    Ron’s blog is something else again. It and Samantha Dugan’s, Sam Sans Dosage, are the best creative writing in the wine blogosphere, but it is no crime to be second best in that company.

    I know, when I grow up, I would like to be mentioned at the fringes of good wine blogging, but you all make that a big mountain to climb.

  4. Thanks Charlie. Sometimes amidst all the cynicism and carping a love-in is a good thing.

  5. Steve,

    Your blog was nominated for awards.


  6. You are on my Google Reader for a reason. There are few writers as worth my time, and occasionally to disagree with. And thanks for posting Ron’s note, though I don’t expect it will sink in to most of the sheeple that in real life we aren’t necessarily the characters we play on TV.

  7. This is going to ruin Ron’s cred.

    And I echo John’s point: It’s nice to read Ron’s note. I try to remind myself on occasion that most of our obsessing about wine is not nearly as important as it might seem, and producing quality content five days a week is a towering achievement.

    Thank you, Steve, for giving me a good reason to check out this site each day.

  8. Patrick Frank says:

    I hate Love-ins and cluster-f**ks as much as Charlie, so I will stick to facts. Steve’s blog is the most intellectually stimulating one out there on the subj. of wine. And I have a Ph.D. Not in wine.

  9. Orchidaceous?!?!?! For that word alone you deserve a best writing award from the Poodles. The Hosemaster of course is in a category all his own. But for us more ordinary mortals, yours is the blog we aspire to.

  10. agreed. yours is the most thought provoking wine blog on the net. keep up the good work

  11. I’m not much of a love fest guy either. I don’t lick boots very well, I’m not a PhD and I don’t play one on TV. That said, I think this is a nice opportunity to throw some love Steve’s way for this blog and his writing in general. I believe your blog posts and articles are compelling precisely because you are a writer who knows a great deal about wine and writes about it as opposed to a wine guy who writes about wine. Should you have chosen to write about history or politics or “runners in scoring position” it would be equally compelling and entertaining.

    Also, I would like to thank you for being so kind as to answer your readers questions, clarify your thoughts on a subject, or even give sympathy to knuckleheads (who shall go nameless) that bitch and complain about top scoring Cab release prices.

    I would imagine it can get rather old posting a great subject only to have people post a comment picking apart one of your sentances or just generally trying to show what wine Yodas they are. Very glad you sift through that and engage with the folks who actually add to the discussion. It’s a fun blog to read and I must admit I’ve learned a great deal from reading it. Thanks Steve!

  12. I am with Paul… If I could come up with something like “florid to the point of orchidaceous” I would probably shut up for the rest of my life in fear of screwing the next sentence up. I think my best effort so far was calling a winery owner a “member of the lucky sperm club”.

    From up in Healdsburg, the Romanian judge is raising a 9.5 point plackard to all!

  13. Steve, your’s is the only blog I read every day. I may not always agree with what you write, but I enjoy reading (and responding to) it. You put in a lot of work and it shows. Keep up the good work.

  14. I worry what all this praise will do to The HoseMaster. His ego must be larger than Jay Miller.

    Other than STEVE!, The HoseMaster is the only blog I make a point to check on a regular basis. It’s mainly just to see if he has any new pictures of scantily clad women up, but the writing isn’t bad either.

  15. Brian, did you mean “larger than Jay Miller’s ego” or just larger than Jay Miller?

  16. Jason Brumley says:

    I only send you negative things because I am ultimately not comfortable in my own skin and am, in fact, jealous of your inked skin.

  17. I like the hose master. There some that he doesn’t attack with nearly enough frequency or harshness. e.g.
    James Suckling
    Rajat Parr
    Alice Feiring
    Eric Asimov
    Richard Jennings
    Bartholomew Broadbent

  18. Dear Doc, some easy targets there. Not all of them, though.

  19. Dear Jason, come on down to Oakland and I’ll introduce you to the remarkable Philip Milic at Old Crow Tattoo!

  20. Steve,
    it’s not the ease of the target that matters, its the amount that they deserve it

  21. Doc,

    I am often sent emails suggesting targets for my so-called wit. I’ve taken lots of shots at Alice (I heard from several folks that she was very upset at my parody of her blog, “Ms. Feiring.”) as well as most of the folks you list. Though I have nothing against Broadbent, necessarily, or Asimov, though I’ve poked him a time or two. I completely agree with you that it’s not the ease of the target that matters. But you have your agenda, Doc, I have mine. And I use my real name.


    I know you know that my brief fan mail to you was heartfelt. I didn’t expect such kind words from you here, and, had I known this was what you had in mind, perhaps I might have demurred having you publish it. But, never mind that, thank you for the praise. Compliments are always nice, but we all agree that it’s the source that matters. In this case, your words are very high praise.

  22. Even though I don’t always agree with you Steve, yours is a blog I always read all the way through. Same goes for the Hosemaster. Being a struggling blogger myself, I won’t level much criticism at the rest of the blogosphere (glass houses?).

  23. It’s blogger bromance.

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