An excerpt from An Ozzy Roadtrip ’06
The Players: Roy, Jonny B, the DJ, and me
The location: Rutherglen, Australia
Ain’t this a bitch. Picturesque sunset. Eight shades of pink and orange and red blanketing the sky. Miles beyond miles of sexy, tangled grape vines sprawling in every direction. A crisp breeze exciting a plethora of natural, exotic aromas. And then there’s me, half cocked on two plus bottles of wine dragging a busted bike down the road cussing the Ozzy swindlers who pawned it off on me. Gonna be dark soon, still got three or so miles to go, I keep knocking my shin on this stationary pedal, and probably gonna have to pay an extra day’s rent for of my impaired bicycle – up until now I thought being wine drunk and irritated were mutually exclusive…
…Only a few days into a two month long road trip, we had just left the Blue Mountains,
the Beatles Van still had that new car smell, and the lone agenda item was to end up in Melbourne by the end of the week. What to do, what to do – a question that would be answered with a help of a map, some local persuasion and sweet glass of red. Rutherglen: Ozzy wine country in the foothills between Sydney and Melbourne, Victorian heaven if you ask me. Home sweet home of the Rutherglen Muscat and that delectable Tokay. Rutherglen boasts all the tell-tale signs of a robust wine region – gorgeous valley, rolling hills, sun kissed grasslands, and an abundance of those happy grape vines destine to bring smiles to the faces of millions.
Pete and I had enjoyed a couple days in New Zealand’s Marlbarough vino region months earlier and discovered the bicycle as the choice vehicle for exploration around wine country. Economical, somewhat safe, kinda legal, not to mention it’s just plain fun to ride around drunk on a bike – you can’t go wrong! So after some brief haggling, directional guidance, and bicycle handling instruction the four of us were set loose in the land of vino on a mission to slurp up the local scene.
There are 20+ wineries in the area and you’d really like to see them all, but that just isn’t realistic in a day – especially when you’re sporting a solid buzz after numero uno. I’d like to think my wine knowledge it pretty good, but the truth of the matter is my inebriated pallet has a hard time distinguishing anything besides good and terrible – usually (but not always) leaning towards the good side of things. That doesn’t change the fact that bullshitting with vineyard owners is one of my favorite past times. Something about that grape scent in the air really makes you feel as if you know what you’re talking about. We hit six or seven different spots in Rutherglen, but the vino descriptions at Cofield Wines were by far the most memorable –
Our Sangiovese blends sour cherry flavours to enhance a medium body with drying tannins. Should be accompanied with sparkling conversation, the endearing smile of a loved one, and an intimate snuggle close a gentle fire…
We were all sticking together pretty well throughout the day, but after the first 3-4 stops
young DJ starting lagging a bit. As it turns out, heavy drinking and exercise don’t always mix so well – neither do booze and time management. We found ourselves six or seven miles outside of town with about 30 minutes before it was time to return the bikes…time to hurry. Jonny, Pete and I raced ahead and DJ brought up the rear.
I had been cruising pretty good all day, but something was starting to feel a little off. I mean I could be wine drunk but I think my bike is running a bit sluggish…wait a minute…yep that’s a flat tire…perfect!! After some fruitless jostling, my fate became imminent and it was time to walk. Jonny and Pete were probably back by now, hopefully the DJ as well – and here I am a drunk guy with a drunk bike. It was at the height of my groveling when a rusty old man pulled over in his rusty old truck – ‘having some troubles mate?’ – I excitedly explained my plight and my new friend graciously remarked that my bike would fit in quite well with the twine reels and gardening tools in the bed of the truck – ‘Jumper on in’ – Oh sweet relief!
As we cruised back along the rolling country roads, I elaborated on my predicament, and
excessively paid gratitude toward my benevolent chauffeur. He was a sober, weathered, older gentleman who was happy to help out another human being in need, hell, he was headed that way any how. With the windows down and dusk upon us, things were starting to look up again as another struggling biker came into view. As we approached I noticed it was a recognizable figure. Young DJ was bringing up the rear all right, still a mile or two out of town.
“That one of yours, mate?”
“Yeah, that’s actually my brother.”
“He gonna be all right?”
“Yeah, I think the wine may have just slowed him down a bit.”
“You got the flat tire mate – but looks like he may have himself a flat battery!”
“Ahhhahaha, I could kiss you for saying that!”
I managed to just think that last line except for the delighted chuckle. I love the great stories that always seem to make there way out of wine country, especially the ones that forever allow you to give your brother a rash of shit!