I’m definitely a nondrinker.  Haven’t touched the stuff since I was about 13.  Just not my thing.  Performing since then till present day in bars, and constantly around booze and your basic rock n roll lifestyle.  It’s always been unappetizing.   I spend a lot of time practicing yoga, martial arts, etc… and when I’m done, my system tells me what I want.  When I’m presented with food and dink, my body either says yes or no.  Thus alcohol, drugs, fast food, etc… all just smell a little poisonous to me.  Not “kill you” poison, but more like “not gonna help” poison.


On that note, I’m constantly surrounded by wine makers and fancy people.  Good looking, they smell like fancy, they look like fancy and they say things like “oak” and “fruity”.  Use big words like ???? …  I don’t even remember, I do know the words are much bigger than “remember”.

This weekend I did an awesome session gig at a winery.  I’ve told myself that I’m not going to deny myself of unique experiences.  Now that I’m around these great winemakers I want to share in their experience.  They’ve turned me onto some great bottles of wine that I’d never be able to get, afford, or anyone else at times… some of these don’t exist yet.

As an artist, I’m grateful to experience anything that someone else is passionate about.  If you paint… let’s see it.  Dance… I got the fever… wine… well, I’m in.

If it’s bad for me, I want it to be the best version, and this year has been a regular fancy-thon.

So I’m here… Cliff Lede Vineyards

Friggin nice place.  The owner is a huge music fan.  He names his wines after his favorite songs by his favorite bands (Pink Floyd, Zepplin, The Who).  He supports art and live performance to a degree that would make the most fanatical “all ages” kid look complacent towards their love of obscure rock.

The Crowd was older, gray hair on many of them.  They were yes… fancy.  Unlike the college kids and hipsters I usually see at live events.  In my own judgements I was a little skeptical when the talks of volume and keeping it down started.  Then we started playing.  Then they started listening… then they wanted more original music. Then I was blown away by the love and support for all the hard original rock that we were throwing at this crowd.  They loved it.  I was so overcome with the joy of playing we just put out more and more.  The Velvet Hour is the group.  Great guys, truly playing for the absolute love of playing.

After the show we were hanging out and making new friends.  They brought out some special wines scooped right from the barrels.  I’ve never been so honored to partake in something I don’t enjoy.

It was the nicest night this year. One of those night skies that every star was front and center. The kind that ignorant sky gazers like me look up and see what the hype’s all about.  I listened in on conversations about how that bright big one was really jupiter, and that I could see the milky way.  I didn’t see it.  Maybe I was looking right at it, I have no idea what I was looking for.  It was beautiful.

The sommelier brought out 3 bottles.  All a special treat.  I stood there listening to how much this meant to him to share these wines with us.  Pulled from the barrels, saved for years, and the last of its kind.  I really cared, as much as I didn’t.  He’s into it, it’s his thing, and special is special.  I equate it to sharing balut after some stick fighting.  Don’t care, I’ll partake.  It’s about the experience, the sharing.  I was part of the group, kind of.   Except for the drinking part.

Then, I realized I could spit it out.  Taste, spit, rinse, feel the subtle antiseptic burning strip my cheeks and teeth while I go straight to my head to find out if I can taste any oak or earthy undertones.  This was what I did.

The first wine was a…


I took my cues from the pros.  First swirl it around.  That’s kind of fun.  Now I know why the wine glass is shaped like that.  Good function.  Oh yeah.  It’s red.  that’s what swirling showed me.  

Then smell it.  Put your nose in the glass.  I guess it was fruity.  I liked how cool it was for my nose in the glass.  Like standing over a creek.  The movement of the liquid wafted up some hints of alcohol mixed with grapes.  That’s about as much as I gathered.  The adjectives they pros used were amazing.  They smelled things that didn’t even come close to the wine itself.  I saw the facility.  Spotless.  In no way would a vanilla bean or any mushrooms be able to get close to this wine.  Perhaps I would blow their minds by smelling colors and feelings?  na.   Thanks for the drink.

Then taste.  Swish it around.  Breath.  It was kind of cool, like something I wanted to try, but if I’d have found it on an island with the supermodel I was stranded with.  I would have handed it to her and asked, “is this safe to drink?”.  She would say no, and take it all for herself, thus betraying me.  That’s another story.

The second was

I call this one “get my hopes up”.  The hype was there.  Everyone gathering around.  oohing and aaahing.  Now I know how everyone feels when I’m sitting in horse stance holding my arms out really feeling the energy, or describing how amazing it was to get hit by a master.  What?  Getting hit can’t be good for you?  Well neither is drinking.  Let’s taste.

Swirl…. Red… again.  It was dark out, it wasn’t quite as gorgeous as the sky but it really spun around, seemed a bit thicker than the other one.

Smell… it even smelled thicker.  I do like the sound of people smelling wine.  The sound of the nose inside a glass.  That’s pretty pretty.  However, I don’t think there is a big market for wine listening rooms.

Taste.  It was thicker.  Felt smooth in my mouth, probably smooth going down.  All wines feel the same being spit out.  I do know that.  Ok… earthy, that’s a good one for it.  Not as burney after its gone.  The smoothness meant a little bland.  Like a lot of fine dining.  Definitely tasted safe.  Complex and safe like a great show on NPR.  Deep, powerful, and monotone in it’s delivery about a lot of information.  I can see how I would love this with some meat and potatoes.

The third wine… I just took their word for it… I was over it and just wanted to drive and listen to some music by this time.

I drove home that night educated a bit more about wine culture.  I like it.  The people are great, the food is great, the wine is supposed to be great.  I trust them on this.  I’m not trying to like it I’m not trying to not like it.  I just want to stay open to experience and really enjoy the great people in this business.  That’s the magic of all this… it can’t be that poisonous.