Hey Big Spender!

I love HGTV. Cue an upwardly mobile, Middle America, archetype family. Pan out to a cluttered galley kitchen as their adorable toddler dumps her 7200-piece puzzle on the kitchen table-satellite office-gift wrapping station. The exhausted, harried, and very pregnant wife offers her list of “must haves” to a sympathetic real estate agent-contractor-fabric designer. “We definitely need 4 bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, an updated kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a finished basement, a soundproof office, and an industrial capacity laundry room with automated folding. The butler’s quarters, dedicated air hockey space, vintage wet bar, and indoor curling center are negotiable,” drones mom.

The feckless real estate agent shifts nervously and murmurs, “Yes, indoor curling centers are hot with Sochi. So what’s your budget?"

“$83,000,” dad replies. He looks the agent straight in the eye, without a whiff of irony. That’s when I really get into it.

“Brangelina spends $83K a year on Tide, let alone a crappy Kenmore top loader. You can’t really expect butler’s quarters for less than $150,000,” I yell at the T.V., pita chip shards flying from my lips to the screen. Damn bunch of uninformed, unrealistic aspirational spenders.

Brian is shocked. Perhaps he is suggesting that I, too, am an unrealistic and uninformed aspirational spender. Perhaps he is suggesting that I, too, pursue an improbable, half-baked budget for Bruliam Wines. He recently advised that I pitch Shark Tank. Brian is so tired of saying no that he’d rather hear Mark Cuban do it. Do you hear me laughing?

It’s true I like to experiment and play. For the last 2-½ years, I have repeatedly pitched purchasing a ceramic egg. It’s an aesthetic, breathable fermentation and elevage vessel suited to white wines. Brian has pointed out that Bruliam does not produce white wines. That’s because I don’t own an egg. Exactly my point. What comes first, the marsanne or the egg? Score ten points for clever word play. Score $0 for my Bruliam nest egg.

I also have suggested expanding into another Sonoma Coast vineyard. My “Vineyard X” business plan included words like “fun” and “super cool” and “killer site.” Brian looked for my Excel spreadsheet. There wasn’t one. I thought “P & L” meant Pinot and Labels. At least I’d saved the vineyard glamor shots to my iPhone stream. Sure it’s cheaper to print 500 labels for one bottling than 100 labels for 5 separate bottlings. But, I was an English major. You do the math. Point conceded.

Most recently, I’ve developed a hankering for a fermentation vessel of my own. I am eyeing a wooden custom deal with built in cooling coils. If a ton of fruit from “Vineyard X” costs $Y then a ceramic egg rings in around $2Y. What I’m daydreaming about is more like $3Y+, pending the Euro exchange rate. The odds are not stacked in my favor. But at least I’m a little more sympathetic to the poor saps navigating the housing market on reality TV.


The current object of my obsession: