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Bonny Doon

Bonny Doon was founded in 1983 in California's Santa Cruz Mountains in the eponymous hamlet of Bonny Doon, by Randall Grahm, who admits that initially, being obsessed with Pinot Noir, he was foolishly attempting to replicate Burgundy in California. However, he soon realised that the soils and climate of the Central Coast were far more suited to growing Rhône varietals and producing blended wines. So he started to experiment, leading in 1986 to the inaugural vintage of what has become their flagship wine, the wittily named Le Cigare Volant [a tribute to Châteauneuf-du-Pape]. The business grew rapidly, and achieved large-scale financial success, so much so that Grahm found that it had diverged from his original principles of creating soulful, distinctive and original wines. In 2006 therefore he sold off his Big House and Cardinal Zin brands, and the Pacific Rim brand followed in 2010. Bonny Doon's focus is on terroir wines; they are passionate about the essence of terroir and since 2004 they have practised biodynamic principles in as many of their vineyards as practicable. They are makers of premium wines; only use estate-grown fruit and take a minimal intervention approach with minimal use of new oak; seldom fine or filter their red wines, and bottle under screw cap. They are known for their quirky labels and amusing and rather ingenious names of the wines. In 2020 Grahm decided to focus on another project, and sold Bonny Doon to WarRoom Ventures LLC, although he remains a winemaker and partner with WarRoom. He has purchased a 400 acre site near San Juan Bautista which he calls “Popelouchum” [the Mutsun word for “Paradise”], where he is involved in an ambitious project to breed 10,000 new grape varieties and perhaps produce a true vin de terroir!