Bonny Doon founder and renegade winemaker Randall Grahm in town to talk terroir

Bonny Doon's fearless leader, Randall Grahm

Bonny Doon's fearless leader, Randall Grahm

Calling all highbrow wine folk! Randall Grahm, the original Rhone Ranger who named his wine after a French law prohibiting flying saucers from traveling over certain vineyards and put Ralph Steadman's art on his bottles, is coming to town. He's one of the most compelling winemakers in the country and he'll be here to chat with Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl as part of the local What's Up? Pop Up series created by Sarah Lutman. They'll be at Open Book May 8, to gab about creating terroir in the New World.

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Randall Grahm, who set out to conquer Pinot Noir, was instrumental in the popularization Rhone varietals in California and then went on to create the hugely popular Big House and Cardinal Zin brands. Known for his zany marketing genius, he gives his wines humorous names and often unexpected label art. Grahm has also embraced screwcaps for wine closure and put forth this video to explain it to wine novices in an unorthodox fashion.

In recent years, Grahm has done an about face, selling off his popular labels and concentrating on producing a lower quantity of better wines while using biodynamic viticultural practices. And as of 2009, he's following his passion to create a wine in California that truly embodies terrior -- a sense of place that informs the very nature of a product. Purchasing a parcel outside of Santa Cruz that does not require irrigation (dry farming), he has begun what he calls his Great Terroir Experiment.

Sarah Lutman, who organized the event under her What's Up? Pop Up aegis, knows Grahm personally, and asked if he would consider doing a talk here. When he said yes, it was her idea to pair him with local food writer Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, who herself knows a thing or two about wine (see her James Beard Award-winning piece here). Lutman, a consultant in the arts, culture, and non-profit world, felt that Grumdahl would bring Grahm's uber-intellectual style down to earth for those of us still learning the basics of viticulture and wine in general.

The chat is free, but does require registration. Most importantly, Bonny Doon wines will be available to drink at JJ's Cafe and Wine Bistro directly following the discussion and Q & A.

What's Up with Randall Grahm? In Conversation with Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl

Open Book - 1101 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis
Thursday, May 8 - Doors open at 5 p.m., Conversation from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

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