Randall Grahm, Bonny Doon Vineyard
Dorothy J. Gaiter interviews Santa Cruz wine pioneer Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard.
DG - How did you start to make wine?
RG - What drove me to drink was... I think it was a pathological fear of running out of fine wine to drink. I had the great fortune to work in a wine shop in Beverly Hills, California as a very young man and was exposed to the most extraordinary wines, I mean absolutely amazing. I cut my teeth on these fabulous wines and I thought, I will never be able to afford these wines. If I am ever going to have wines of this caliber I am going to have to learn how to make them myself.
DG - And how did you go about doing that?
RG - Well you know when in doubt go back to school, so I went back to school, UC Davis. They did their best, they tried.
DG - Was there a particular grape that reached out to you?
RG - Well of course, it was Pinot Noir. Why, because it is a difficult grape, it is an impossible grape. And being a guy you want to do impossible, difficult things to your everlasting glory - and immortality. it didnt work out all that great.
DG - Well Pinot is about site, about location, cool climate?
RG - Well it is about everything, Pinot is the most complicated grape to make. I think the point of it is that our paradigm is Burgundy. We love Burgundy. And Burgundy has had the ability to iterate over hundreds if not a thoursand years and really find what absolutely works for their site. I'm afraid in the new world maybe the best we can hope for is a pallid imitation of this platonic ideal. I am not interested anymore in making a good replica.
DG - Your wines are everywhere and they are well thought of, because they deliver fruit, they deliver.
RG - They deliver everything but a sense of place. They are lovely wines, they don't yet have a sense of place. And that is fine except I want to make a wine with a sense of place. That's what drives me, that is my deepest passion.
DG - Well how are you going to do that?
RG - I'm glad you asked. It is going to be tricky. It isn't going to be easy and maybe it is going to fail, but I have some crazy ideas about how to make a wine of place. They are pretty unorthodox ideas. They are maybe even goofy.
It involves creating a large population of different grape varieties. A vast number of different grape varieties and essentially de-emphasising varietal characteristics to allow site characteristics to emerge. It is kind of a Gestalt problem, if you will.
55% Grenache, 23% Mourvèdre, 10% Roussanne, 7% Cinsaut, 3% Carginane, 2% Grenache Blanc Calling all sherry lovers! The Vin Gris Tuilé has a distinctive production process, aged 9 months al fresco in glass demijohn, turning it a brick orange color from the oxidation. Its unique production process imparts a distinctive nuttiness with definitively sherry-like qualities. It’s light, tangy, and dry with notes of lemon, tangerine, butterscotch, caramel, and candied pecan. Serve it before dinner as an aperitif, or alongside Mediterranean cuisine. Also pairs well with French onion soup, or even oysters on the half shell.