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 aforesaid. The writing and re-writing, and editing and proofing has all been just fantastically rewarding – I don’t know about you, but there is a real frisson, when a word or phrase just suddenly comes into focus, rather like putting together a jigsaw puzzle1. The book is indeed lovely, funny, sincere and generally not too pious. It still continues to crack me up, but that may well be a feature of my unique neurology. Further, there is no doubt that the book will delight far more readers than it will infuriate, but at the end of the day, it is all just words.2.

Now, a vineyard on the other hand… If we can miraculously avert global warming and not otherwise irrevocably despoil the planet for just a little while, a great vineyard, La Tache, say, for example, will enjoy the sort of immortality that Homer bestowed on Odysseus, Shakespeare on the Dark Lady, the National Inquirer on Britney Sp… Yes, I know, I was instructed to fill this space with lively discussion about the book – all in good time, my pretty – but I’m on a roll here. The words of a book enter through our eyes, lighter than the gentlest caress, but as we drink the wine down, we quite literally incorporate it – make it part of ourselves, in a way that will never quite occur with mere language. I’m with Brillat-Savarin on this: The discovery of a new terroir confers more happiness on humanity than the discovery of a new star.

I will be very happy if this book does anything to alert readers to the vastly complex and multi-foliate universe that is wine.

  1. Yes, there are certain people who really get off on this sort of thing, and we know who we are, even have a secret handshake. What? []
  2. One extremely important subtext of the book, if not the most important subtext is that at one point in the wine business, people made wines to please themselves, not the Other. With the enormous pressure that now exists in the wine business to succeed at all costs, there is a much greater tendency now to want to play it safe, make wines that are in some sense guaranteed to please the important constituencies, and this is a great loss for the world. Certainly as a young winemaker, finding my way, I wanted so much to be a success that I really did try to do whatever it took to make wines that I imagined would please others. The problem with this strategy of course is that it does tend to take one rather far from any possible expression of terroir. At a certain point, if one has had the wit to have planted a superb vineyard, one should be willing to turn the greatest part of the driving over to Nature herself []

8 Responses to “Ontological Status”

  1. Bette says:

    Awesome — can’t wait for my copy!!

    • Randall Grahm says:

      Steady as she goes. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to return any bottles of big buttery chard in your cellar.

  2. Randall- with just one blog entry you’ve managed to trigger such an enormous to desire to READ MORE! I can’t wait! Congratulations and I will look forward to many more entries from you.

  3. Rhone Angel says:

    A long overdue welcome to the blog-o-sphere Randall, Rumors are a new vineyard estate is in your future…La Tache or Winehaven?

    • Randall Grahm says:

      We’ll aim for La Tache, but may end up more Winehaven-like. In fact, hope to grow an eclectic (my, what a surprise) mix of grapes in new Estate in San Juan Bautista. Stay dooned.

  4. Trish says:

    Helloooo Randall the wine And word wizard, my wine news filter has picked up the release of your new book. I must try to get a copy to the terroirless down under….You must be about to lurch into another vintage and I am reminiscing about the 2004. What a wonderful time I had, thank you. Sincere congratulations on the relaese of your book and I know you would have forgiven me by now for sending away that tanker of red wine…

    • Randall Grahm says:

      Trish, So nice to hear your voice, albeit in this somewhat disembodied form. All is forgiven. Best wishes for your harvest next. Hope to see you come back to the Cruz for a return visit.

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Where Art Meets Science

If you are an artisan vintner who wants to reach new customers, the solution is a simple as C, B, E.

At CBExpo, you’ll take a scientific approach to reaching new customers and converting them to ambassadors for your label. That approach begins with learning proven business strategies and post-production secrets from industry luminaries…

Including Bonny Doon Vineyard’s Randall Grahm, who will be a closing speaker at the Expo’s General Session on May 20th, 2016.

Date: May 18-20th, 2016

Location: The Oakland Convention Center

For more information about this event, click here.



CIA Sommelier Summit

Join us for the second annual CIA Sommelier Summit! Building upon the momentum of last year’s inaugural summit, this three-day conference once again brings together the most dynamic group of wine professionals in one place. Don’t miss this great chance to network with peers and industry leaders all while deeply expanding your knowledge of the fast-paced and ever-changing beverage industry

Bonny Doon Vineyard’s Randall Grahm will be presenting at the Tuesday, April 25th (10-11:15 a.m.) Breakout Session:

Natural Wines: WTF? (What’s the fuss?)

Moderator: Christie Dufault, Associate Professor – Wine & Beverage Studies, CIA at Greystone

Presenters: Randall Grahm, Winemaker & Owner, Bonny Doon Vineyard and Abe Schoener, Winemaker & Owner, The Scholium Project

Is it in the yeast or the ideology? Organic, biodynamic, vegan, no added/low sulfite, foottrodden or simply wine made with minimal intervention by a brave, well-meaning purist? What does it all mean and what do we think about it? Are natural wines good for the earth, good for you, and good tasting? Join Vintner Hall of Fame member Randall Grahm, who seeks to make “naturally soulful, original wine,” as we determine if this current movement is new hype or new hope.

Date: April 24-26

Time:  CIA at Greystone, 2555 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574

For the complete summit schedule and to register, please visit the CIA Sommelier website here.




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