Archives > Been Doon So Long

Everybody into the Pool! (The Romance of the Vine)

If one is looking for true originality in a New World wine, grape hybridization may well be the most rational way to proceed. But I have some nagging doubts about the potential brilliance of vinifera hybrids, and what might really be meant by “wine quality.”

Bearded In One’s Lair

I’ve been asked by my colleagues to write about the recent James Beard award for Been Doon So Long, presumably to not so discreetly draw attention to this highly creditable third party endorsement. I presume they are hoping to get from me something like a sincere lump-in-the-throat profession of pride; maybe a gracious conveyance of thanks to the legions of supporters of the book would also go over well. Don’t they know with whom they’re dealing?

The Hall of Fame: My CIA Connection

It was just about a month ago (March 13th to be precise) that I was inducted into the Vintner’s Hall of Fame at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, CA. (Dramatic pause here, to let the irony sink in.) I confess that as much as I seek approbation from my peers – perhaps even to a neurotic degree – I often do have some problems in graciously accepting it when it is actually proffered. So, this particular honor has been a real tough one for me.

Further Ruminations on Cigare: The Doon and Dirty

We are just about to bottle the 2008 vintage of Le Cigare Volant and celebrate, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its continuous production. I’ve written elsewhere about a number of the winemaking details and the stylistic evolution of this wine, as well as about changes in my own thinking in regard to what we have achieved and might hope to achieve with Cigare…

Why Should Terroir Matter…

What I’m really thinking about these days – above and beyond how to survive in this extremely challenging economic climate – is how one might find real meaning in the wine business, in the Maslovian sense, after one’s basic needs for survival have been met.

Footnotes to Sub-terroir Rhônesick Blues

The reader may know or be able to infer that I live a somewhat convoluted, self-referential life; that is to say, many of my personal points of reference seem to exist in the realm of vinous and the arcane (generally both). Eliot footnoted The Wasteland; why not to footnote a Bob Dylan song parody about […]

2006 Maximin Grünhauser Abtsberg “Superior,” von Schubert

I’ve been to visit Carl von Schubert, the owner of the beauteous von Schubert-Grünhaus Estate just once in situ. He was rather preoccupied that day with various and sundry crises1 (despite the bucolic veneer, this is what the wine business is generally about), so his wife showed me around.  The Ruwer tributary is not the […]

Sub-terroir Rhônesick Blues

J. Locke’s in the cold cave | Drinking down the old Chave
I’m on the crushpad | Thinking about the Advocate
The man in the lab coat | Reporting on a horsy note
Final review’s just now set | Says we’ve got some bad brett,
Sees filtration as a safety net. | Look out grahm
You’re gonna get slammed

The Story of “Doon to Earth,” Part 3 of 3

This is a speech that Randall Grahm delivered in Washington, D.C., at the Inc. Magazine Conference, September 2009 (part 3 of a 3-part series): While I have been hoping to elevate the level of discussion about our wines, what seems to be happening is that many of our most loyal customers just miss our old wild and crazy labels and are somewhat disappointed with the relative placidity and mysteriousness of the new ones. The problem of course is that it is not so easy to redefine yourself once there is a reasonably well-embedded image people have of you. In my case, it is perhaps that of the ADD-afflicted joker, someone who just can’t get serious, flitting from one wine style and grape variety to the next, and of course there is certainly an element of truth in this characterization. It’s been difficult to shed the negative association with Big House the perhaps a few slightly iffy vintages of Cigare. It brings to mind the old joke about having carnal relations with “just one goat” and what do people call you?

The Story of “Doon to Earth,” Part 2 of 3

This is a speech that Randall Grahm delivered in Washington, D.C., at the Inc. Magazine Conference, September 2009 (part 2 of a 3-part series): Some back story. I started the company in 1981 with the naïve aspiration of producing the Great American Pinot Noir in the little hamlet of Bonny Doon. My efforts were systematically thwarted, but I discovered Rhône grape varieties and my efforts were intermittently positively reinforced, so I’ve continued to do what I do. Bonny Doon grew and grew organically, which is to say in a random, unplanned fashion and ultimately became quite complex and convoluted, beautiful in its way, but mostly untenable, kind of like a Citroën automobile.

The Story of “Doon to Earth,” Part 1 of 3

This is a speech that Randall Grahm delivered in Washington, D.C., at the Inc. Magazine Conference, September 2009 (part 1 of a 3-part series): I thought that I might talk about what one might do to survive in the economically apocalyptic times in which we live. This is the 900 lb. gorilla in the room, indeed in any room you go into these days. Certainly, if we are honest with ourselves, we are all looking for some guidance and inspiration about how we might intelligently proceed. Many of our businesses seem to be confronted with the dilemma expressed by the Boston cab driver, the famous, “You can’t get there from here,” conundrum…

My Disappointing Review

It was inevitable that there would be a less than glowing review of the book. In this instance, it came from Steve Heimoff, a generally fair-minded, certainly quite opinionated individual, and very much his own man. I won’t try to paraphrase Steve’s critique. But it did bring up a number of interesting points for me.

Ontological Status

Writing to you now from my new ontological status as a published author, I have to say that I don’t really feel orders of magnitude different from my earlier state of being. Yes, one item can be crossed off the so-called “bucket list,” but neither does that make me any more ready to kick the […]

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