Visiting Hestan: More Money Than God, And A Pretty Tasty Cabernet, Too

Vinted on March 31, 2011 binned in California wine, crowd pleaser wines, kick-ass wines, on the road

The point when (or is that where… damn, I can never keep that straight) any normal person realizes that Stanley Cheng is loaded, and I mean God-calls-him-when-He-needs-a-loan loaded, probably comes pretty early during the course of meeting him; in my case, it came about ten minutes before I met him, while coasting up the lengthy, gated drive that marks the entrance to his newly-finished home and vineyard estate in the outskirts of Napa Valley.

It wasn’t the need for a security gate, the fact that he could actually afford a piece of land that spacious in Napa Valley, or even the fairy-tale mansion at the end of the drive that tipped me off to the Laurentian-abyss-level deep pockets; it turns out I’m too obtuse to pick up even those obvious clues.  In fact, at first I thought the house had to be a winery facility made up to look like a mansion, because it just seemed too big and gorgeous to really be someone’s home.

No, for me the moment came when I pulled up to the much sparser but still handsome building a little more than halfway between the gates and the mansion, thinking that it had to be Stanley’s house because it was about three times the size of my place.  Then I took a peep through the large glass doors and noticed that I wasn’t peering into an office building or a residence, but into a sort of garage / gymnasium.

That’s when it hit me that Stanley Cheng had more money than god…

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The (Worst-Kept) Secret: How I’m Able To Try Going Pro In The Wine Biz

Vinted on March 30, 2011 binned in going pro

Here’s a snippet of a fictional conversation between me and a wine writer. I use the term “fictional” because it’s not a word-for-word retelling, but (somewhat shockingly) it’s more-or-less a conversation I’ve had with several people in the wine biz in the past few months.

Me: Hey, good to see you again! How are things?

Wine Writer: Goodgoodgood.  Aren’t you quitting your day job? And your wife is okay with that? Really??

Me: Yeah, sort of; I’m leaving my IT career late Spring. My wife is great; in fact, she’s kind of my loudest cheerleader for chasing my dreams and–

WW (cutting me off): How are you making money, exactly?

I’m actually getting sick of these “conversations” (is it really a conversation if the other person only asks you about things that concern them?) – in fact, I might pre-record answers to play back the next time I find myself in one of those; better yet, I’ll get one of those Mr. T talking key-chains and randomly hit the buttons in response to those questions.  That would rock; I imagine it would go something like this:

Wine Writer: Aren’t you quitting your day job? Is your wife okay with that?

Me (holding up Mr. T key-chain): Please pose that question to my spokesperson [ presses button on key-chain ].

Mr. T key-chain: QUIT YOUR JIBBA-JABBA, FOOL!

If someone is going to pry into my life’s intimate details, I prefer that they at least ask about me or my family first and pretend to care about me on some personal level (lesson one about the new world of social media: you should actually try to be social).  As most any 1WD reader can tell you, I don’t know exactly how I’m going to be making a living yet – that’s basically what this series of blog posts is chronicling, so everyone will know those details very shortly after I do – but the truth is that I already have the single most important thing needed for chasing dreams (like switching careers or traveling the world):

It’s called Time.

And to get time, I needed to have money. Already

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Blogger Lew Bryson Brings The Smack-Down on PLCB Chair Patrick Stapleton In NPR Interview

Vinted on March 29, 2011 binned in PLCB, wine shipping

Yesterday, NPR.com posted one of the latest Radio Times episodes in which host Marty Moss-Coane interviews PLCB Chair Patrick Stapleton and anti-PLCB Blogger Lew Bryson.  The two face off for a short time, and Lew delivers a bit of a smack-down.  Several callers also mentioned that PA seems to have one of the most bizarre sets of alcohol sales and distribution laws that they’ve ever seen, and challenged several of Stapleton’s assumptions (hats off to ‘em!).  The interview triggered the recently-dormant anti-PLCB genes that I have oozing around in my DNA.

Personally, I was flabbergasted by some of the statements that came out of Stapleton’s mouth during this interview, because they demonstrate what feels like a rather serious lack of respect that the PLCB seems to have for its own customers; customers who, it seems, the PLCB would prefer don’t (or, perhaps, they assume aren’t intelligent enough to) refer to things that might give them a different view on PA wine sales than that being painted by the PLCB.  You know, pesky and irrelevant things, like facts.

My take on some of Stapleton’s statements from the interview are below after the jump, along with the podcast stream of the full NPR episode. I feel a rant coming on… you’ve been warned…

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