Wine country requirements include owning a collection of hats for different occasions and weather. I have one hat for crawling around under the house. I have another for going wine tasting. Another hat, the fancy one with no sweat stains, is reserved for going to weddings. A special one, more like a pith helmet, is used for trying to get the flying bats out of the house. My favorite is a normal-looking straw hat that I wear every day.
Our dog recently ate my favorite hat but the fact that he chose that particular hat made sense. He only finds and chews on things that matter to me like my watch, my wallet and my phone. Each of these proudly displays teeth marks on the corners. The hat was a distressing loss because it was an old friend and one of the few I have ever worn that properly fits. I have a big head and finding a hat that fits is a rare occasion.
The loss of the hat made me both a shopper and a student regarding local head apparel. As a student, I wanted to see what the latest hat styles are in wine country. A stroll downtown on any hot, bright day is all it takes.
There are always cowboy hats since they never go out of style. But cowboy hats can be unforgiving. Some people look good in cowboy hats. Others don’t look so hot but that fact doesn’t stop anyone from unabashedly wearing a Stetson. A new cowboy hat is a dead giveaway that you either have no cattle or are a tourist.
The Giants baseball cap is an old standby and easy to find. The problem is that everyone has a Giants baseball cap. As Yogi Berra might have said, “they are so popular, that no one wears them anymore.” Other caps of that style like the “gimme caps” tend to not be stylish enough. “Gimme” means that the hat was a giveaway or promotion and the price was free. When discussing a $100 bottle of cabernet, all credibility is lost when wearing a red and blue mesh cap that says “Budweiser, Breakfast of Champions.” A bad case of hat hair is an unfortunate byproduct of wearing baseball caps. Even worse is to wear a cap that is too small, making your head look like a watermelon with a brim on top.
Big floppy hats in a rainbow of colors are often the choice of women. Men can wear similar floppy hats but this type of hat on a man implies he is going fishing. Women often wear hats that were meant for men and most look pretty good if accompanied by cool sunglasses.
We have a stack of hats for visitors that have all been used to a greater or lesser extent. It is mandatory to have a hat rack full of hats in a proper wine country house. Most of these hats have logos on the front. The hats were free, which is why we have so many. No matter how hot it is, visitors are not prone to want to wear any of these hats and I can’t imagine why.
Wine country being wine country, fancy hats with cool brims are the cool style today. These hats imply that you have other hats that you use for working in the vineyard or tinkering with the Austin-Healey. These, too, are the hats that cost more than a bottle of Screaming Eagle.
Picking the proper hat can be complicated. From my perspective, the vineyard workers have it down. The guys I see in the fields have the best hats that are both functional and fit.
These parts are a haberdashers’ delight.
Rich Moran spends his time in wine country searching for hats that fit.