I’m just catching up with the fact that Randall Grahm, the founder of Bonny Doon Vineyard and one of California’s original “Rhone Rangers,” was among those inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame last weekend by the CIA. No, not that CIA -- the Culinary Institute of America.
For more than a quarter century, though, Grahm has been an agent, so to speak, of change and innovation in California winemaking, pushing the boundaries of traditional thinking about wine and wine marketing, often in highly entertaining, if not hilarious, fashion. I don’t think anyone else, for example, could have come up with the “Death of the Cork” event I attended one evening a few years or so ago. Grahm, I recall, came dressed as the Grim Reaper at this wake-like dinner and announced that, henceforth, the cork would be replaced by the screw cap closure on all of Bonny Doon’s wines. It was great fun.
Grahm says he feels fortunate that “my ‘work’ has never really struck me as real work. It has largely been about play, uncontrolled vinous id.” He continues: “I’ve explored an ungodly number of grape varieties, and worked in a wide range of wine styles, but everything I have done to date has fallen squarely into the realm of ‘wines of effort.’ It is now time for me to buckle down and really apply myself to discovering/creating an authentic wine of terroir. For me, this is what has true value.” His real work, he says, has yet to be done.