A couple of weeks ago, I checked my mailbox at The Times and found a new wine journal lurking therein. It's called Loam Baby, a Wine Culture Journal, written and published by an anonymous author under the pseudonym R. H. Drexel.
Given the bare-bones layout and paper quality, I don't think you’d have any problem identifying the 66-page booklet as self-published. The name intrigued me, though, and I opened up the inaugural Santa Barbara County issue to find an interview with winemaker Greg Brewer (Diatom, Brewer-Clifton, Melville) illustrated with a low-tech photo of the lauded winemaker showing off the intricate octopus tattoo that covers his shoulder and arm, more photos of his various tattoos, even one with the winemaker taking a shower (discreetly cropped). Enough to make you feel like a Peeping Tom.
Silly or what?
But I started reading and liked the meandering nature of the conversation: It seemed real and not much edited, and I got a sense of Brewer that I hadn't gotten from other interviews or profiles I'd read.
This first journal also includes an interview with Mike Bonaccorsi's widow, Jenne, who has been running Bonaccorsi Wine Company since his death in 2004. The article, though, is mostly about her Labrador retriever, Masseto (with adorable pictures). It seems both woman and dog completely charmed the author.
There’s more: an article on outspoken winemaker Deborah Hall of Gypsy Canyon Winery, who, it turns out, is also a fledgling beekeeper. A story on "Things we love about Santa Barbara," plus a quirky suggested playlist from Rick Longoria of Longoria Winery. Mad for music, he's strung tunes together to play for a trip through the Santa Maria Valley ("Goblin' Girl" from Frank Zappa, "Sittin’ on a Fence" from the Rolling Stones, "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds" from Sons of the Pioneers, to name a few). He got so carried away, he created playlists for the Santa Ynez Valley, the Santa Rita hills and Happy Canyon too.
My favorite story? The tale of Chad Melville's candy apple red 1972 Volkswagen Transporter.
You can read it online at http://loambaby.com/ or buy a hard copy on the site for $11, including shipping.
Questions? Currently, Loam Baby does not tweet, tumble or Facebook, according to the website. But you can contact the author at RH@loambaby.com or by snail mail at 4225 Solano Ave., No. 643, Napa, Calif. 94558, which Google says is a UPS store. But having the address means that if you really, really want to know who's behind this new wine journal, you can hang out in front and make like Raymond Chandler, waiting for someone to pick up the mail from Box 643.
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-- S. Irene Virbila
Photo: Loam Baby cover. Credit: R. H. Drexel