When I say Rudy I mean the pint sized walk on for Notre Dame who was immortalized in a movie by the same name. When I say I know how he felt, I mean by sacking a quarterback for his one play in college football and not how he felt later in life after he was charged for security fraud. To be honest, I am not really sure what security fraud is.  I digress. Everyone has their moment of glory and mine came at the 11th annual Northwest Petanque Tournament. 

For those of you who don’t know what petanque is, it is the French version of bocce ball or rather bocce is the Italian version of petanque. 


It was a sunny yet breezy Saturday afternoon when Thomas my right hand man in the cellar and I stepped onto the petanque court. We had been here before. Last year we failed to make it to the second round of the tournament despite months of practice. This year we had a simple strategy; no practice, and drink copious amounts of alcohol. We were sure to lose, but at least we wouldn’t remember. Little did we know that fate had something else in store for us. As luck would have it, we were one player short so Philippe the tournament director placed Michael Rashe on our team. Michael is the owner and winemaker for Golden Ridge winery here in Walla Walla.  He had won this tournament before with his family. He is arguably the best petanque player in the valley.  Our hopes of getting blatto and going home early were suddenly dashed. Now with a ringer, we had our sights set on the grand prize, a new French oak barrel and our names immortalized on the petanque trophy forever!!! 

Thomas was steady, calm and cool under fire. Michael was the master, wielding his impressive petanque prowess whenever we found ourselves in a jam. I was the guy who created most of the jams.  In our first four matches we conceded only four points. We were on fire despite the fact that I was the fire extinguisher. 

In the semifinals we faced a brutal team, fueled by beer and rage, they were nearly unstoppable. With Thomas’s steady hand and Michael’s Jedi like skills with the boulles (French for balls) we found a way to put a kibosh on their leisurely pace to the finals. In the final match it was touch and go.  In the end the guy who could barely keep his balls on the court found the strength to muster up one good shot to win the championship match. Just like Rudy I tried to get people to carry me off the court, but unfortunately everyone suddenly had to be somewhere else.

Next time you stop by the winery we will be happy to show you our trophy!


Ryan Raber


Tertulia Cellars