The Iconic Rhone Ranger
- Randall is a downright celebrity winemaker. He created some very famous brands (Big House Red and Cardinal Zin) and he's received tons of attention, Hall of Fame inductions, and all manner of Lifetime Achievement Awards for his passion for making authentic Californian wines... he even has an asteroid named in his honor.
- But even a famous winemaker like Randall had a hard time selling the wines he made - so he turned to Angel funding to support his pioneering efforts to discover true Californian terroir.
- Randall's reputation precedes him and we expect these wines to sell like hotcakes so add a bottle to your basket now or you might never get a taste!
Randall Grahm's Story
"Like Columbus who sought a trade route to Asia, Randall Grahm set sail in 1979 for the Great American Pinot Noir, foundered on the shoals of astringency and finesselessness and ended up running aground in the utterly unexpected New World of Rhône and Italian grape varieties.
Randall was born in Los Angeles in 1953 and attended Uncle Charlie's Summer Camp, excuse me, the prestigious University of California at Santa Cruz where he was a permanent Liberal Arts major. Some time later he found himself working at the Wine Merchant in Beverly Hills sweeping floors. By dint of exceptionally good karma he was given the opportunity to taste an ungodly number of great French wines and this singular experience turned him into a complete and insufferable wine fanatic. He returned to the University of California at Davis to complete a degree in Plant Sciences in 1979, where owing to his single-minded obsession with pinot noir he was regarded as a bit of a holyterroir in the hallowed halls of the sober and sedate Department of Viticulture.
With his family's assistance, Randall purchased property in the Santa Cruz Mountains in a magically quaint area known as Bonny Doon, intent on producing the Great American Pinot Noir. The GAPN proved to be systematically elusive but he was greatly encouraged by experimental batches of Rhône varieties. The late great Bonny Doon Estate Vineyard (1981 – 1994, a tragic victim to Pierce’s Disease) was eventually planted to syrah, “roussanne,” marsanne and viognier and produced achingly beautiful wines confirming that California's temperate climate is well suited to the sun-loving grapes of the Mediterranean. In 1986 Bonny Doon Vineyard released the inaugural vintage (1984) of Le Cigare Volant, an homage to Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
As symptoms of his chronic Weinderlust began manifesting more forcefully in the late 1980's, Mr. Grahm felt compelled to cast his net further afield. Bonny Doon's Ca' del Solo vineyard in Monterey County, planted just out of searchlight's reach of the state pen in Soledad, was planted to an ever expanding roster of Italianate varieties such as nebbiolo, barbera, dolcetto and freisa. (The vineyard was subsequently sold.)
In 1989, Randall was indicted into the Who's Who of Cooking in America by Cook's Magazine for "lifetime achievement and leadership in the improvement and development of American cuisine." In 1992, Ted Bowell of the Lowell Observatory in northern Arizona named the "Rhoneranger" asteroid in his honor. He was proclaimed Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year by the James Beard Foundation in 1994. Randall lectures frequently to wine societies and technical groups, and occasionally contributes quixotically sincere articles to wine journals. His idiosyncratic newsletters and articles were collected, carefully redacted, and with some spanking fresh new material, were published as the award-winning book, Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology in 2009. In 2010 the Culinary Institute of America inducted him into the Vintner’s Hall of Fame.
Recently, Grahm has purchased an extraordinary property in San Juan Bautista, which he calls Popelouchum, (the Mutsun word for “paradise,”) where he is profoundly intent on producing singular wines expressive of place.
He lives in Santa Cruz with his muse Chinshu, their daughter, Amélie and his thesaurus.
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