Bob Kuhl, president of the Wine Country Curling Club

PHOTO by evan duran

Learn more about curling and the club by emailing Kuhl directly at

Everybody wants to talk about baseball, basketball or football. Where's the love for curling? If you're unfamiliar with the sport, here's the gist: Your team tries to do the best job of sliding granite stones across ice into a set of painted concentric circles. Also, there's brooming involved. Bob Kuhl has done a lot of brooming in his time as president of the Wine Country Curling Club, a group that formed in Vacaville in 2007 but now curls at Skatetown Ice Arena in Roseville. We hassled Kuhl to learn if all that brooming makes you better at cleaning house and whether wine and curling truly mix.

How did you start curling?

My dad got me into it in 1961 when I asked if I could have some money to join a bowling league. He went, “Bowling league? You gotta be out of your mind. You gotta go curl.” I went, “Curl? What the hell is that?” He curled in a Thursday afternoon league with his buddies, so he took me down there and I played on his team there and I just fell in love with the game immediately. It takes a while to get the skill set in place, but once you do—it's like golf, as soon as you can get to the point where you're surviving on a golf course, you can really enjoy it more.

What sort of people come to play?

We seem to be attracting the engineers and the architects and the IT people and stuff—they like the technical side of this game. I do, too—I'm a salesman, I dunno how in the hell I get worked up about it.

How serious does it get on the ice?

It's pretty casual. In California, everybody's out there because they're having a good time and the skill set isn't quite up to the level that it is in other states. Granted, people are getting better and better, but we only have maybe a dozen curlers that are at a competitive skill set. We distribute those skilled curlers around to the whole team to take the new people that are coming in and teach them the game. … I never get too worked up in league, because you have at least two players who are rookies on every team and you can't expect them to make every shot the way they're supposed to.

So it could get heated, but right now it’s not.

A good time is the most important thing. In curling, if you beat a team, you're obligated to buy them the first round of drinks afterwards.

That’s a great rule.

After every game, the teams are sitting there visiting, getting to know each other. Any place in the world, you play another team, you're going to go sit with that team you just played with. And once you've curled against somebody any place in the world, you're on their best-friend list for the rest of your life.

So curling and wine mix well.

Yes, it does. The definition of a tournament is a bonspiel, and in my opinion, clearly how I see it, bonspiel means “curling with wine.” … We allow them to drink beer, but most of the time we try to get them to drink wine.

Curling is an Olympic sport, but people aren’t watching. Do you think it’ll get big?

I do. There are people who didn't know the game existed a year or two ago and now they're just absolute zealots. It's because the game offers so much. It's got a cardiovascular level to it that's huge. You think about this: you're bent over the ice at the waist, running down the ice, sweeping in front of a rock … It's very anaerobic.

But it’s not too physical, right?

You know, you could put a team of junior high school kids against a team of 80-year- olds and it's an even game. I mean, the 80-year-olds won't have the flexibility that the kids do. We've got two people in our club right now that are wheelchair curlers.

You’re saying anybody can do it?

You can be a little girl, an older man, an athlete, a non-athlete, you can be from band camp, you can be whatever you want and you can compete against each other. … Can you play hockey against the guys who just won the Stanley Cup without getting your ass kicked? Probably not. So curling is kinda a level playing field. When you go on the curling ice, there's only so many things you can do for advantage and those are usually strategy.

Are you a master sweeper around the house?

My wife won't allow me to sweep because I'm such a, how should I say, I'm a sloppy sweeper in the kitchen. I think that's by design.