Darrell Vickers – What I Drank on My Holidays


I have just returned from sharing some quality time with my beloved family in the fragile, water-staved ecosystem of central California. (Only if you live Los Angeles do you take a spring vacation in a place that is actually cooler than where you live.)

dry landThe combination of baking-hot summers and infinitesimal amounts of rainfall have transformed this brown hilly land into a Mecca for those who wish to capture sunlight in a bottle for profit. This psychotically thirsty region of the world veritably bleeds rich, red intoxicants and a surprisingly potable mid-priced Pinot Grigio.

But the breathtaking vistas of verdant bounty that dazzle and beguile those fortunate enough to ogle their bucolic splendor are but an illusion. Turn off the taps around here and this soil becomes about as fecund as Lex Luther’s scalp. Year by year, as the Earth warms, the critical rains of winter become as rare as tits on a unicorn.

HawkRagged birds of prey endlessly circle the dusty hills in a desperate hunt for anorexic rodents too weary from an unbearable lifetime of hardship and deprivation to flee from the merciful talons of death. The traditional modes of periodic feast and famine have been gradually replaced by a state of perpetual insufficiency. Casual quaffers of clarets and cabernets in this artificially sustained Garden of Eden are surrounded by the sad and hungry eyes of nature in irreversible decline.

Our Cool Digs:

the house we stayed

There is no access to the worldwide web up here on the farm. Imagine – spending three whole days in a spot so remote that you are unable to sound the bitter carillon of doom brought on by the enemies of science and reason that yelling at computerconspire in the shadows all around us. The ability to rail against beastly injustice and laughable untruths to the Facebook intelligentsia has been temporarily cast into abeyance. Ill-informed opinion and vociferous bouts of unmitigated rage are momentarily forced to go unvoiced. Gadzooks! Suddenly, bereft of one’s personal life vacuum, you strangely begin to consider engaging in “activities”…actually doing something other than staring into the shiny hypnotic screen of one’s Sony Vaio.

Likewise, there are no quotidian emails to suggest perfectly affordable wunder-products that will forever banish our depressingly flaccid or comically undersized penises. We find ourselves in a bewildering Twilight Zone of ignorance, criminally unaware of the diet supplements that Oprah and Dr. Oz the goat sauntering past our doorare futilely trying to conceal from their pudgy acolytes. Perhaps the caprine poop-machines that blithely wander past our rough-hewn rear door in search of leafy provender have can’t-miss stock tips to impart but thus far they have remained frustratingly schtum. It harkens back to a simpler, almost dawn-of-the-hominid, existence that bears some resemblance to my own tender years. Halcyon days, unfettered by cutting-edge technology or even push-button phones. While we weren’t exactly using crushed colored rocks and plant dyes to etch our holiday pics on the cave walls at Lascaux; calculators, cell phones, flat screens, VCR’s, audio cassettes and that device that enables Justin Beiber to sing on key were as far off in time as the next Maple Leaf’s Stanley Cup…well, maybe not that far off.

Back to My Jolly Hols:

central CA ranch

When one is comfortably ensconced in “wine country,” it is incumbent upon that individual to frequent as many “tasting kiosks” as physically possible during one’s stay. For mere pennies (and sometimes free) one can sample the multitudinous liquid wares of this million-acre Bevmo to the point of catatonic a muleinsobriety. Syrahs, Grinaches, Chardonnays and Zins are generously splashed into verre-de-vins to be snootily adjudicated by already legless imbibers who, if blindfolded, wouldn’t know the difference between a hearty Bordeaux and chambered mule urine.

Our first stop was a perfectly fine vineyard named, “Grey Wolf”.

grey wolf winery

We knowledgeably sniffed and palated numerous varietals for a mere 7 dollars (and if you bought a bottle, the tasting fee was waived – we waived the hell out of that tasting fee) in their quaint country parlour-style store/guzzle-barn.  Having purchased a rather savory Cab – we repaired to the picnic area where grey wolf wine bottleswe tasted ourselves blind while having lunch. The vineyard had a massive Golden Retriever named Ginny, with a chest like Alan Hale Jr., who joined us for our semi-pissed repast. My guess is, this remarkably zaftig but thoroughly charming canine joined almost every picnicker for their noonday nibbles. Now, if we were rounders of any merit or substance, we would have giddily charged on, goblets held high, to other wineries until the police were called in to Taser us away from the sampling table. Alas, we all staggered home and had a nap.

Back to the Inter-not:

me typing at the cabin

It’s been about 40 hours now since I unplugged myself from the almighty web. So far, the suppurating welts and vomit-inducing disorientation I feared have failed to materialize. I’ve even witnessed other wi-fied humanoids cheerfully alt computer addictioncommunicating with people they detest at franchise-coffee shops without me suffering from grand mal seizures. Is this a Brave New Amish-like World I’ve discovered? Has the iron grip of electronic inter-connectiveness been severed to the point where, in the future, it will merely be a casual time-saving tool and not a crack-pipe-level addiction? Or am I just experiencing the novelty Henry_David_Thoreau_of inconvenience? Henry David Thoreau blusters on and on about the simplistic majesty of eschewing modern society and its shallow comforts for a life of sweaty toil upon the land. But he quickly buggered-off back to the hedonistic decadence of the town that he was so contemptuous of after penning Waldon’s Pond and his rapturously-ennobling field of runner-beans could go fuck itself.

Interesting Discovery:

Trader Joes

Even in the middle of fucking nowhere, the hipsters in the parking lot at Trader Joe’s are absolute goddamn self-absorbed nitwits and assholes.

Back to Drinking Wine:

people picking grapes

On the second day of our assault on Sleepy Swallow, we hit double the number of vineyards as on our initial foray into fermentation. That would be two. The tasting roomfirst was owned by a leather-necked barrel-of-a-man who’d given up the rat race of L.A. twenty years previous to plant a new life for himself and, by the looks of it, ingest a goodly percentage of his highly palatable output. Here, we offered up our tongues to five types of primo vino. Now feeling that all humanity was one wine-tasting-party-7gigantic smile of nice, we miraculously navigated the route to our second dissolute destination. Seven or eight sinfully swiggable varietals were given serious consideration at this epicurean estuary. From this obscenely tasty location, we traveled mere feet (and even that was somewhat of a challenge) to a nearby metallic table to consume a picnic feast and yet more wine. Coastal cheese, crunchy bread and a robust cab/merlot blend sent us swirling down into a bibulous black hole of incomprehension and girlie-giggles.

While rock stars, dedicated alcoholics and the French are well accustomed to unpardonable bouts of catastrophic inebriation before school lets out, it was iggy popunquestionably well beyond my own personal comfort zone. “Oh, if only it were possible to saw off the top of my skull and wring the booze out of my sodden brain,” mused I, attempting to prevent my head from lolling about on the top of my neck during the epic car ride back to the cabin. A small thought. If I can feel this dyspeptic and wan after a skosh too much quality libation, how the fuck is Iggy Pop still alive?

Darrell’s Favourite Wine from the Trip

my favorite wine of the trip

A Fine Winery 

hidden oak

A Hedgehog Eating a Carrot


Back to the Reality of Make Believe:

Alas, on our fourth day, we bade a lugubrious farewell to this land of walnut trees and drinkypoos. Long after we are gone, the hawks will circle the cloudless skies in search of bunny num-nums and reptilian hors-d’oeurves. The sun-ravaged harvesters of fermentable fruits will still labor long among the precipitation-parched vines and tiny rustic stalls will play host to garrulous 2 buck chuckglugging galoots and zombie-eyed would-be sophisticates.

Me? I got to spend the next four hours in ever-increasing traffic, heading back to the sirens, the helicopters and a garage stacked high with crates of Two-and-a-Half-Buck Chuck’. I hear “last Thursday” was a very good year.

And as for my therapeutic and life-affirming break from the internet and all its puerile time-wasting nonsense…Have you seen that really great video of the baby panda bear sneezing?

Or this really cool video of a chimpanzee riding a Segway?  – and it’s got a real toe-tapper of a theme so to go along with it!

Wait, was that a hedgehog eating a carrot!? LOL!!!


Darrell Vickers appears here every 4th Monday 

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.co

DBAWIS_ButtonDarrell Vickers started out as one half of Toronto area band, Nobby Clegg.  CFNY fans may remember the cheery song “Me Dad” which still gets airplay.  From there, he valiantly ventured to L.A. and eventually became head writer for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  Since then, he’s created numerous sitcoms and animation shows in Canada and the U.S.  He still writes music and has an internet band called Death of the Author Brigade (members in Croatia, Canada and the U.S.)   Mr. Vickers also had a private music mailing-list where he features new and pre-loved music.  Anyone who would like to be added to his daily mailing list, just write him at Radiovickers1@gmail.com . 

One Response to “Darrell Vickers – What I Drank on My Holidays”

  1. Not quite the same, but eerily similar to wine-tasting here in Northern California. When the pandemic slows down enough to allow travel & family visits again, Lauri & I would love to host you & Judith here in Sonoma County, home to many great wineries, which we love visiting. I can’t believe I never read this entry before today.
    We even have a guest bedroom for you, and the nearest tasting room is a mere 1½ miles away, although the Lagunitas Brewery (craft beer) tasting room is only ½ mile away.

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