How many ways can you write about something you’ve covered for the last 17 years, without it becoming totally boring… for me, at least, if not also for you. They’re over there, she’s over here, this wine tasted like that (for me, who knows what it would taste like for you?), and they had food… lots of great food (that you can’t have, because you weren’t there). Without a recipe, it’s useless information.

So… I started with an agenda,. I decided I’d look for those idiosyncratic behaviors that I just love to write about. I could  add them to my Road Warrior Survival Guide story. Whenever Road Warrior is on my blog, it turns the day into a reading frenzy. Turns out, I didn’t have to go far for my very first item… A visual, to make the story even more fun.

All of a sudden, I noticed that the place was crawling with people wearing their wine around their necks… Big, bold wine glass necklaces. Grown men and women wearing their wine. For some unknown reason, though, men really outnumber woman with this one. Maybe it’s because women are already wearing their jewelry, and this contraption really clashes. Not sure, but that seems logical…

It amazes me that one minute great big burly men are cheering on their sports heroes in Parthenon-type arenas, and the next day they’re convinced by “free stuff” to wear a wine glass around their necks like it’s tres, tres chic, hands free.

To do what?

  • Shade your eyes from the sun?
  • Eat with both of your hands?
  • Use one to whistle to get your friends’ attention, while using the other to wave them on?

With a world full of stuff headed toward landfills, this item is just about as ridiculous as having two televisions in every room of one’s house. But, there they were, and that’s what was going through my mind, as everyone else was scurrying around to enjoy all the fabulous Sonoma County wines.

After that little interloper experience, off I went with a lighter, more adventurous soul, and decided that I’d rather give “Best Of” awards:

  • Best Celebrity ~ Hardy Wallace, the Murphy-Goode new social media personality. It was great to finally meet him, after all the hiring hoopla has settled and now he’s settling in. I can see that he will be a BFF, as the half year progresses for him in his new job, because he’s wide-eyed, not jaded by anything, and really open to all the new experiences he’s about to have. He reminds me of myself, about 17 years ago. He’s really refreshing.
  • Best Wine Marketer ~ Jeremy Baker, president and COO of Thomas George Estates. Jeremy is an easy talking guy, who’s also pretty savvy. when I said that I loved that he has three Viogniers, he immediately invited me to go to Thomas George to taste them over lunch.
  • Best Wine Blogger ~ Dwight Casimere (aka: Dwight the Wine Doctor) of The Times Weekly Newspaper, from Joliet, IL. It was he who struck up a conversation with Jose, asking him if he was a blogger. Jose turned that cred over to me, and they continued with a long conversation, while I was about 20 feet away, observing people for my next “Best Of.” He’s traveled the world, and interviewed the heavyweights.
  • Best Sense of Humor ~ Judd Wallenbrock, president and GM for Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estates. As Jose approached the Schlumberger table, Jim Morris (director of consumer sales and marketing) struck up a conversation with Jose, and before I knew what was happening, we found out that he’s the social media Sonoma Wine Guy. We talked about the social media things that Jose and I have going on. At that point, Judd just took a step backwards with an expression of, “Excuse me, I’m just the president.” He did it in such a playfully fun way, that it just made me laugh out loud… More than I did when I saw the man necklaces. Social media’s created it’s own inner network that can’t be denied.
  • Best Radio Personality ~ Mike Horn of CRN Digital Talk Radio. Mike and I go back to my Ironstone days (1998-2001), when I flew Mike and Chef Pierro to Ironstone Vineyards for the winery’s annual spring festival for the weekend. Jose and I palled around with them the entire time, as their transportation from winery to their lodging, and back-and-forth. It helped that Jose and I were formerly in radio. The bond was forged, and we’ve been close ever since, seeing each other here-there-and-everywhere through the years.
  • Best Wine of the Event ~ Viognier. Something happened to me on my way to enjoying red wine. If a winery had a Viognier, I was rinsing with a bit of water, using that water to cleanse my palate, and going back to tasting white wine. I don’t do this for any other cultivar. Remember, it was Jeremy Baker of Thomas George Estates that got my immediate attention, telling me that he has three Viogniers. I told him, “I’d love to taste each one side by side, to taste the nuances.” That’s when he suggested that I go to the winery. I had mentioned that I have a wine blog, and he immediately understood that went a bit deeper than the average festival goer.
  • Best Revelation ~ Bernier. While in Florida at the Florida Winefest, Jose and I met Stuart Bryan, national sales manager for Pride Mountain Vineyards. I really enjoyed his Viognier in April. It was gorgeous, and I found myself rinsing my glass – again, going from red to white – again. As I stood there, trying to get a handle on my behavior, I asked myself, “Could it really be that because my mother was born Bernier (rhymes with Viognier), I’m that attracted to a Viognier? Hum…
  • Best Promotional Item ~ Kendall-Jackson. Who doesn’t love postcards? And there, just sitting on the table, waiting for someone to take it away was this package. As I opened it this morning, to see what’s inside, I found six really beautiful post cards, which I can surely use to mail to people I care about… Each of a gorgeous vineyard scene. K-J’s got it going on.
  • Best Proprietor at the Event ~ Gary Buffo of Pure Luxury Transportation. Attendees not only arrive and park in a huge field of dust and hay, but also return to that location. This event’s parking is about as far away from the venue as you can get – among any events I’ve been to, and I’ve been to plenty all over the US. As a way of getting people from here to there, Pure Luxury brings out – what seems like – their entire fleet of buses (and some limos), and keeps things flowing for everyone. When we arrived, there was Gary, the proprietor of Pure Luxury, directing all traffic in as many directions as the buses could go. Unflaggingly, he just handed Jose and me tickets to the event, that he was making available to us (Jose’s his Webmaster), and then he went right back to business. Three hours later, there was Gary still at it, moving traffic so no-one had to wait for anything. He barely looked up, then returned to business. Jose made a comment to me about how Gary could be home today, on the weekend, but both he and his wife Jennifer (with her clipboard, the entire time) were doing due diligence.
  • Best Tent Image ~ Below. I’ve added a few images to it from my favorites of the day.