A Happy Cautionary Tale
It seems absolutely clear that Naomi Brilliant is happier now that her wine brand, Roshambo, is dead. It seems too that Naomi's time confronting the wine business left her bitter. At least that's what I get from reading the Santa Rosa Press Democrat Article, "Roshambo Founder Shifts From Wine to Farming".
The most fun, I mean real fun, I had working with a winery PR client was when I did a bit of work for Naomi Brilliant at Roshambo. I was simply so far out of my element working with the wise and strange Naomi that the only alternative I had was to give in to the fun she demanded of her brand.
The wines? Outstanding. Every single one of them. And I suspect with a bit more discipline and a willingness to completely discard her self, Naomi could have made Roshambo a huge success financially. So, while I'm sad to see this brand go away, it is heartening to see Naomi Brilliant throw it away so thoroughly and so honesty.
The way Naomi Brilliant went about promoting her wines was..different. Her tasting room out on Westside Road in Healdsburg was monumentally beautiful, hugely different than any other, gargantuanly expensive to build and mightily disorienting to those used to the common. Naomi's promotional instincts I'm pretty sure were a true expression of her own personality, including as they did a compulsion to produce outlandish events, a complete lack of convention, a willlingness to showcase and celebrate drag queens, and a complete deconstruction of wine industry norms. She simply didn't do things the way others thought she should or the way all others were inclined to. She lost her winery as a result, but anyone who didn't appreciate and revel in the way she brought down her tent just doesn't appreciate a good joke.
In the end it looks like the life of a salmon swimming upstream got to her.
“I like the idea of making wine. I don't like the idea of selling
wine,” Brilliant said Thursday from her family's Westside Road estate.
“I really don't care about the wine world.”
That's about right.
So now, according to the PD article, Naomi is farming vegetables and, according to her blog, watching her chickens die. I haven't talked to her in a long while, but I'd be willing to guess this girl is happier now than she has been in a long time. How cool is that?
You could call Roshambo a cautionary tale. And I suppose it is: There is a very distinct way the wine industry and most wine drinkers like to see wine presented: As the golden and immortal piss of the Gods, not as the idiosyncratic golden stream of consciousness that Naomi offered it as. Tow the line. Reap the reward. Drop the line and consequences will ensue. So be it.
I think the wine industry will be a little worse off without Roshambo. But I bet that its founder will be happier. It's a good trade off.