Do pot smokers drink less wine? I don’t. But am I your average cannabis consumer?

Above: cannabis grown on a private biodynamic farm in Sonoma, California. I spent the day yesterday in Sonoma county touring some of the damage from the wildfires.

Major-league wine blogger, marketer, and lobbyist Tom Wark is worried.

He’s concerned that legal recreational cannabis, which goes into effect in California in January 2018, will eclipse the sales of wine.

Earlier this week, he wrote that “cannabis is bad for wine.” He quotes a new and widely reported study whose authors claim that “alcoholic beverage sales fell by 15 percent following the introduction of medical marijuana laws in a number of states.”

And just today on his blog, he included “Cannabis and Wine” as one of the top 10 “wine stories” of 2017 (leave it to Tom, a blogger and writer I admire greatly, to nail it when it comes to listicles).

“Some [in the trade] like myself,” he wrote, “have been looking closely at the degree to which cannabis will cannibalize sales from the wine industry.” (Great parononmasia!)

Save for linguistics (a sine qua non tool in any self-respecting philologist’s gearbox), I’m not well versed in hard sciences like psephology. I can’t counter the results of studies like this one, which came to my attention via Tom’s blog (which I highly recommend to you btw, one of the best wine blogs out there).

But I can speak from personal experience. Like many in the industry (see this article by Eric Asimov for the New York Times), I don’t see cannabis as a threat to wine sales or consumption because pot smoking is already pervasive among grape growers, winemakers, and wine consumers. And it’s been that way for decades.

The fact that recreational cannabis will soon be available for retail purchase won’t change the robust cannabis culture that already exists across the United States — most vibrantly in California, where I grew up and where pot and wine are woven into the fabric of everyday consumption since the 1970s when I was a kid.

I’ve got news for white bread wine lovers: Americans love pot, they have for generations, and even though some Americans still associate it with sinfulness (like Tom, who calls it a “sin industry”), pot culture is an all-American tradition — from San Diego to Austin, from Portland to New York City, from Seattle to Boca Raton. The fact that it’s now becoming part of the mainstream business community doesn’t really change much in the way that I or hundreds of my colleagues and peers will consume cannabis (after all, you can’t write business without writing sin).

I’ll never forget when, in 2010, then Governor Rick Perry said: “if you don’t like medical marijuana and gay marriage, don’t move to California.”

I’ve got news for you, Rick. It’s not just coming to a town near you soon. It’s already there…

Check out Tom’s blog. It’s a daily read for me and one of the best wine blogs out there.

Nothing Good Rhymes with Santa Claus: NEW XMAS SINGLE and NEW ALBUM from my band The Go Aways

BUY THE NEW ALBUM HERE. JUST $9.99!

In another time in my life, writing and recording songs and performing live with my band was a main focus. Since 2013, when my French indy rock band Nous Non Plus stopped touring, my music career has taken a backseat to other interests and pursuits.

But this year, after I met my now bandmate Gwendolyn Knapp in Houston and first heard her songs, we decided to perform and produce an album culled from her songbook in my home studio.

The result is Turn Away (see the liner notes below). It’s available for sale (just $9.99!) on CDBaby as of yesterday and in a few days you’ll be able to find it on all the mainstream music streaming platforms (including iTunes and Spotify).

The album includes our Christmas single “(Nothing Good Rhymes with) Santa Claus,” the one track on the album that we co-wrote. As you’ll see in the video above, it’s a lot of fun and really fits the mood for this year’s holiday in America.

We hope you enjoy the music as much as we did producing it. And we thank you in advance for your support (please buy our album!).

Merry Christmas!

Where did the songs on “Turn Away” come from? How did the lyrics come about, you ask? It’s hard to say. Each song I write just starts with the simple act of fingers on guitar string and then some raw emotion takes over. As Hank once asked of David Allen Coe in “The Ride”: “Boy, can you make folks feel what you feel inside?” Everyone with a guitar and half an ego hopes to answer that question.

Even so, these songs are not autobiographical, but they are drawn from the same stockpile of imagery, feelings, experiences, and general craziness that inspire all of my writing. The voices in these few songs run dark and rampant. Basically, they’re just female narratives put to music, kind of southern gothic, kind of sappy, kind of funny, kind of creepy.

Such is the case with “Drowned,” which actually just began with the chorus some day it’s gonna catch up with you (I’d recently been cheated on when I came up with that little gem) but the lyrics evolved over time into an Old Western-inspired payback tale: A young girl and her sister hiding from the man that’s killed their entire family (as well as two pigs and a deaf mute), and planning to seek revenge on him.

I have a predisposition for writing about bad things, I suppose, having grown up a sixth generation Floridian in Pasco County. My family had its share of dysfunction, mental illness, addiction, alcoholism, baggage, lock ups and let-downs. All that seeps into everything I create, but I also just like the idea of writing songs that turn the trope of country or Americana or rock or folk on its head. Songs that may come off sweet and universal, but always feel a little unhinged when you get a closer listen.

Gwendolyn Knapp
December 1, 2017
Houston, Texas

Turn Away
by The Go Aways
Houston, Texas

1. Drowned
2. Bad People
3. Sweet Talking Man
4. Will You Still Be On My Mind
5. Cold Women, Wine, Whiskey, And Weed
6. Turn Away
7. (Nothing Good Rhymes With) Santa Claus

All songs written by Gwendolyn Knapp except “(Nothing Good Rhymes With) Santa Claus” written by Gwendolyn Knapp and Jeremy Parzen.

It’s Only About Music (ASCAP)
Have We Got Music for You (BMI)

Produced by Jeremy Parzen.
Recorded at Baby P Studios (Houston, Texas).
Mastered by John Moran Mastering.

Vocals and guitars: Gwendolyn Knapp
Bass, additional guitars, keyboards, percussion, drum programming, and background vocals: Jeremy Parzen
Drums: Richard Cholakian

The Go Aways use the ToneCraft Bass Preamp.

Special thanks to Tracie, Georgia, and Lila Jane Parzen.

TheGoAways.com

© Terrible Kids Music 2017
Warning: all rights reserved
Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.
Made in U.S.A.

Slow Wine California guide coming online: first profiles now published

Last week, Slow Wine editor-in-chief Giancarlo Gariglio and I began publishing the first winery profiles from the 2018 Slow Wine guide to the wines of California on the Slow Wine blog.

Click here for the blog.

Even though we will be publishing a hardcopy version of the guide (slated for release in early 2018), each one of the profiles of the 70 wineries featured in the book will be published online. In keeping with the spirit of Slow Wine, the guide and its editorial mission, the idea is to make the book an open source of information about the estates, the wines, and the evolving California wine trade. As with the Italian and Slovenian sections of the guide, the entire California guide will ultimately be available online.

We plan to publish nearly one a day, four-to-five every week.

In other news, the New York public relations firm who handles logistics for the Slow Wine U.S. tour, Colangelo, has launched a website devoted to the annual tasting itinerary. This year, the tour will be visiting Atlanta, New York, Houston, and San Francisco. I’m so glad that Giancarlo decided to include Houston for 2018: our city is a major hub for fine wine in general and a great destination for Italian wine in particular. I’m also glad that Colangelo has agreed to publish the site and update it regularly. It’s an important resource for info that’s bound to come in handy.

That’s a photo I shot earlier this year at Hirsch Vineyards in Sonoma (Sonoma Coast). You can see the sloped growing site; the proximity to the Pacific Ocean (and the resulting maritime influence); you can see the naturally occurring grass and plants growing between the rows. What you can’t see is the ancient-seabed subsoil, ideal for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The presence of ancient seabed there is owed to the nearby San Andreas site.

I’ve written here before that I was wrong about California wine. At another time in my life, in the early years of my career as a wine writer, I wrote-off California wine as being too jammy, too oaky, overly concentrated, too hot (alcoholic), and lacking balance.

My experience this year as the coordinating editor of the guide and one of its contributors has really reshaped my thoughts and impressions of the California wine industry.

And California wine country needs us all — you and me — more than ever before. Tomorrow, I’ll be heading to northern California to survey the damage and recovery in the aftermath of this year’s terrible wildfires.

Stay tuned: I’ll be posting about the trip here and on the Slow Wine blog as well.

Thanks for reading and thanks for drinking California wine.

Please see my post, from earlier this year, California wine, I was wrong about you. I’m sorry…