Archives > Speeches & Presentations

Speech presented at the Food + Enterprise Conference

I’d like to share with you some of the things I have learned in love, these many years in the wine business. When I entered the business I was just a naïve kid who wanted to make great Pinot noir, because, well, you know…. (If you don’t know, Pinot is incredibly difficult to do well […]

How Might the New World Really Matter?

When I first started in the wine business almost thirty-five year ago it seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea to pursue the varietal wine of one’s dreams. Broadly speaking, you were either a Cab guy or a Zin guy or a Pinot guy. (There were a few outliers like the eccentric Charbono Society of Inglenook […]

Terroir and Meaning: An Interim Recap

What do you do with your life to make it as meaningful as it can be? It has been a while now that I’ve realized that I was not cut out for a brilliant career as a medical researcher, who might potentially find the cure for a dire disease, nor, has it turned out that […]

Digital Wine Communications Conference Speech, Izmir, Turkey

Sources I had the distinct pleasure of speaking to a group of wine bloggers in Portland, OR recently – some of you may have been there – in which I reflected somewhat pensively on the state of the wine business in the U.S., mostly lamenting a certain palpable loss of innocence and idealism. The gist […]

DOMAINE DES BLOGGEURS

DOMAINE DES BLOGGEURS1 I find it more or less ironic to be standing in front of you, talking about anything pertaining to the business side of the wine business, because, in spite of my notoriety as a clever marketer (or marketeer as my detractors would have it),2 I feel that these days I hardly understand […]

Waiting for Godello: Bringing an Alternative Variety to Market

I’ve been a partisan of “alternative varieties” for a long time, partially because I am a non-conformist by nature, but also for two significant reasons: 1) I am convinced that so much of what has been planted in the New World is a result of an historical accident1 and/or a function of commercial expediency, not […]

Why Terroir Matters: Can Its Pursuit Also Help Us Save the Planet?

Terroir’s self-evident truth carries with it a deep, almost elemental, psychic force and resonance, and in a very real sense, terroir cannot exist without human beings to discover it, express it, and in the end, to appreciate it.

Red Wine, White Wine, Blue Ocean

Real success in the wine business simply may lie in making real wine, and of course having the ability to communicate about this real wine you have somehow achieved.

At the Grenache Symposium (An Alternative Drinking Party)

There are some problems in pursuing anything approaching a consensus about what constitutes “good” or “great” Grenache. It seems to suffer a bit from the perception that it is a second class citizen, a supporting actor rather than the star cépage. In an age of the cult of personality, of the superstar chef, superstar everything, how is Grenache to comport itself?

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?

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 […]

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…

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