First, Bonny Doon isn’t a winery any more than its founder is a winemaker. Bonny Doon is an idea. A hope. An aspiration. A dream. A love affair. And most certainly a journey. Is there a tasting room? Yes, but Bonny Doon is more than a destination. The wines, the story, the founder and the history are truly, to borrow a term from 1960’s lexicon, a trip. A mind-bending, sensory altering trip where simply by exposure to Bonny Doon one immediately feels a sense of astonishment over what has already been accomplished and bewilderment over future plans. A conversation with Bonny Doon founder Randall Grahm as narrator and historian of your trip is not necessary, as the wines themselves are commanding authors of both time and place (a feat all too rare in winemaking today). Simply conversing with Randall about wine and Bonny Doon is really a trip within the trip.
His brilliance could fill this page, his accomplishments another, and his wine challenges one more. Through it all, his passion remains and burns intensely, stoked both by past successes and future aspirations–like the creation of 10,000 new varieties! Grahm’s original intent was to produce T.G.A.P.N. (The Great American Pinot Noir) modeled after the greatest vineyard sites in Burgundy. In this famed French wine region, trained wine experts revel in identifying the exact location of a wine’s origin, as no varietal is more transparent of site specificity than Pinot Noir.
Unfortunately, the dry, arid climate of California’s Central Coast does not mirror the climate of Burgundy’s storied sites, but does bear close resemblance to those of an equally romantic region, the Rhône. More specifically, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape area within the Rhône. Thus, Randall set out to produce wonderfully expressive wines from a heretofore unknown area of California.
Fast forward thirty years – including the coveted namesake as original “Rhone Ranger”, a Wine Spectator cover and 32 consecutive vintages of Le Cigare Volant – and you indeed have the stuff of legends. Randall Grahm and Bonny Doon are intertwined and precisely what renders the pursuit of fine wine worthy. Le Cigare Volant is a formidable doorway in which to enter the realm of Bonny Doon. And we cannot imagine a better passage. Enjoy!
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