Thursday, September 10, 2009
Randall Grahm is a dreamer, a romantic and an intellectual.
He also happens to be the winemaker and owner of the well known Bonny Doon Vineyard.
His new book, 'Been Doon So Long' will be released on September 14th.
On September 14th, you can buy the book directly from the Boony Doon website or from Amazon.
1) The title of your new book is 'Been Doon So Long', what's that title mean to you?
Well, it is a bit of a pun, obviously, but with a few levels of meaning. Apart from the obvious sense of being associated w/ Bonny Doon Vyd. for so long, the original citation, "Been down so long, it looks like up to me" creates a bit of a zen paradox: "Why should being down look like being up?" So, in the elided version, "Been Doon So Long...", the reader must ask him or herself, now what? Which is essentially what I am asking myself, "Now, what?" Bonny Doon has not exactly been a dooner, sorry, downer, but it has been what it was, a funny experimental winery that made substantial amounts of good wine at fair prices and marketed them with some degree of wit and whimsy. Now, we will try to retain some whit, but are going after bigger fish - wines that perhaps will express a sense of place.
2) What is the book about? Is it fiction or non-fiction? Knowing you, I suspect it has both.
Well, I think that those are spurious categories: There is no such thing as non-fiction, as every account one creates is some sort of fictional creation, and every fictional creation is always telling some kind of truth. But, to your point, there is a fair amount of literary satire, prose and poetry, send-ups (with a vinous slant) of the stylzed writing of well known writers, as well as a fair number of comical, light-hearted pieces ("connerie") and earnest essays. Plus certainly a one-of-a-kind glossary of French/Yiddish/technical vinicultural terms.
3) Obviously you are a man that believes in transformations.
How has your relationship to winemaking changed over the years?
Transformation is the very essence of wine; it is the lesson that wine teaches us. The major transformation in my own thinking has been the move away from being a control freak - wanting to technically control all aspects of the process, to being far more interested in the potential expression of a natural phenomenon.
4) I have noticed some seismic changes in how U.S. wine consumers relate to wine.
A wine friend recently said that the older generation wanted to impress friends with how much a bottle cost but the younger generation wants to impress friends with the wine's story (knowledge).
What do you think about the above observation and how it relates to today's wine consumer?
If what you say is true, that would truly be a major change for the good. I think that we are still fairly infantile as a wine culture, and while we may now be substituting "story" for "price tag", certainly the vast majority of wine consumers are not yet able to differentiate between the real, inherent coolness of the wine (a wine that is produced in a natural way and somehow articulates a sense of where it is from), and a wine that is largely a creation out of marketing whole cloth. In fairness, discerning the authentic and real from the "paste" is not the easiest task these days in the very loud and crowded bazaar that is the modern wine world.
5) You are a restless intellectual and dreamer who could have devoted your life to a number of pursuits. Why wine?
It seemed like a great idea at the time, and I was fortunate to have been bitten hard by the wine bug. Certainly my immersion in wine has likely deformed my personality in some way, but it has also given me the opportunity to call upon many aspects of myself and integrate them. Probably, unfortunately for me, the slight celebrity status afforded winemakers these days has not been particularly favorable to my slightly (or more so) narcissistic tendencies.
6) Your current favorite food and wine match?
2008 Ca' del Solo Albarino and oysters
Posted by Amy Atwood at 11:05 AM