Posts Filed Under winemaking

Wineries and Social Media: A Totally Unscientific Case Study (Franciscan)

Vinted on January 28, 2010 binned in commentary, wine 2.0, winemaking

A funny thing happened on my way to the 2010 Pro Wine Writers Symposium.

I did some research, and found what I was looking for, just not where I expected to find it.

Since my Symposium fellowship was underwritten by Franciscan, I’m planning on a visit to the winery when I’m in Napa next month.   So I was digging around on the ‘global interwebs’ to get my bearings on all things Franciscan before the visit.  Reasons being that I wanted to get a solid starting point of Franciscan knowledge from which to branch out when I ask them questions and generally get all, you know, in-depth on them (you know how I am); also I’m a total geek and that kind of stuff is fun for me.

Not that I am without some knowledge of Franciscan – I’ve tasted some of their flagship wines, and their website is chock full of background on their Napa legacy (and with a past that featured Agustin Huneeus and one of the first real “Meritage” wines, your bragging rights around having a ‘legacy’ are pretty safe) and their take-it-to-perfectionist-extremes focus on blending.

As for what’s happening now (and I mean, right this second) at Franciscan… not so much.  I didn’t find anything at their website to connect me to the current happenings of the people there.


I did find some of that information, though – just not at, and not without a bit of digging…

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Sub-terroir Rhônesick Blues = Awesome

Vinted on November 30, 2009 binned in California wine, winemaking

The video embedded below, featuring Bonny Doon’s irrepressible Randall Grahm, is just… well, it’s just awesome.

Fans of Grahm’s style of humor and his approach to wine-making will no doubt find much to appreciate in this satirical homage to Dylan.  Those of you among our readers who are actually making wine may find some of this cuts so closely and deeply that the humor is bitter-sweet.  Knowing Randall, I’d guess that was partly the intention!

From the video comments:

“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 some of the more obscure aspects of winemaking chez Doon?.”

You’ve gotta love this guy; or at least, you’ve gotta respect his gumption.

Special thanks to Meg of for bringing this one to my attention.  Enjoy!





A Portrait of the Satirist as an Old Winemaker: An Interview with Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm

Vinted on October 8, 2009 binned in book reviews, interviews, winemaking

To many people, the charismatic front-man of the iconic Boony Doon wine brands, Randall Grahm, is the Mad Hatter of the wine world.

Once they read Randall’s recently-released book, Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology, those same people will realize that they’re dead wrong.

Randall Grahm is not the wine world’s Mad Hatter; Randall Grahm is the wine world’s Cheshire Cat, equally (and eloquently) adept at satirizing the modern trends of the wine industry as he is at continually surprising wine consumers with quirky, excellent wines inspired by a desire to transmit the equally quirky and excellent message that California’s terroir has to tell.

Been Doon So Long is, at times, a masterstroke; it’s just as interesting, funny, poignant, and acerbic as any wine that California has ever had to offer.  Clearly an avid lover of literature, music, and wine, Randall Grahm has somehow managed to utilize all three as he takes us through the history of Bonny Doon, offers intimate glimpses of his personal demons, and sends up many of the wine world’s most sacred cows.  If he has a mad hat, Grahm is clearly capable of pulling rabbits out of it – both when it comes to wine and when it comes to writing.

Been Doon So Long is a unique work, and while it might not be the kind of book that you’d expect from the world of wine, it’s probably the book that the wine world deserves right now.  I found reading the book to be rewarding, but rather like the fabled rabbit hole, the deeper you get into it, the more difficult it becomes to fully explain.  Which is why I figured I’d let someone msarter (Randall) explain it instead.

[ Special note to the FTC: Have I received the book and Bonny Doon wines as free samples? Yep. Did that influence my review of the book? I don’t think so, but I’m not a psychologist. ]

Following is an interview I conducted with Randall this week while he’s in the midst of his promotional tour for Been Doon So Long.  Like the book, the interview will give you a glimpse into the rabbit hole of Randall’s mind.  You’ll encounter below a guy with a formidable prowess with the written word, strong opinions, a consuming passion to find a Californian wine that truly speaks of its origin, and who isn’t afraid to wear his emotions in plain view.

But before you head down this rabbit hole, be sure to gather up your smarties, love of literature, an open mind, and a glass of something unique and terroir-driven.  You’re gonna need ‘em…

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