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Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology Hardcover – October 19, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (October 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520259564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520259560
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 8.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,030,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“There's witness to one of California's most magnetizing winemakers coming to terms with his more mature self.”
(San Francisco Chronicle 2009-10-18)

“Sharp, irreverent musings on wine—everything from literary spoofs to serious essays. All are assembled here.”
(Food & Wine 2009-11-01)

“I know of no other compendium of wine lit so erudite, witty, and straightforward as Grahm’s remarkable book. “
(John Mariani Bloomberg News 2009-11-15)

“Brilliantly observed and beautifully rendered.”
(New York Times 2009-11-18)

“A most entertaining course in oenology and an honest portrayal of one man’s search for true originality and terroir.”
(Fine Cooking 2010-03-01)

“Like a fine diamond. Every time you look at it from a different angle, you find a brilliant side you haven’t seen before.”
(California Grapevine 2010-01-01)

“Gorgeous volume. . . .Packed with some of his best work.”
(Wine & Spirits Magazine 2009-12-01)

From the Inside Flap

"Raise your glass to Randall Grahm. Long may he tickle our fancy."—Kermit Lynch, author of Adventures on the Wine Route

“Long a fan of Bonny Doon, it cheered me to find Randall Grahm's writing just as irreverent and delicious as his approach to wine.”—Kathleen Flinn, author of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry

“Randall Grahm is the Willy Wonka of the wine world, and Been Doon So Long is intelligent, insightful, and mischievous. It's a work of genius.”—Jamie Goode, author of The Science of Wine

"If Donald Barthelme had studied philosophy and oenology he might have written like Randall Grahm. He's a provocateur, a punster, a philosopher, and jester. As entertaining as Grahm is, he also manages to edify, ultimately surprising us with contrarian common sense and a flamboyant defense of tradition."—Jay McInerney, author of Bacchus and Me and A Hedonist in the Cellar

More About the Author

Like Columbus who sought a trade route to Asia, Randall Grahm set sail in 1979 for the Great American Pinot Noir, foundered on the shoals of astringency and finesselessness and ended up running aground in the utterly unexpected New World of Rhone and Italian grape varieties.

Randall was born in Los Angeles in 1953 and attended Uncle Charlie's Summer Camp; excuse me, the prestigious University of California at Santa Cruz where he studied Liberal Arts. Liberally. (He was on the ten-year plan.) Some time later he found himself working at the Wine Merchant in Beverly Hills, sweeping floors. By dint of exceptionally good karma he was given the opportunity to taste an ungodly number of great French wines and this singular experience turned him into a complete and insufferable wine fanatic. He returned to the University of California at Davis to complete a degree in Plant Sciences in 1979, where owing to his single-minded obsession with Pinot Noir, he was regarded as a holy terroir in the hallowed halls of the sober and sedate Department of Viticulture.

With his family's assistance, Randall purchased property in the Santa Cruz Mountains in the absurdly scenic hamlet known as Bonny Doon, intent on producing the Great American Pinot Noir. The GAPN proved to be systematically elusive but he was greatly encouraged by experimental batches of Rhone varieties. The late great Bonny Doon Estate Vineyard (1981-1994) was eventually planted to Syrah, Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier and produced achingly beautiful wines confirming both that 1) California's temperate climate is well suited to the sun-loving grapes of the Mediterranean; and 2) the blue green sharpshooter doesn't know from Cote Rotie. In 1986 Bonny Doon Vineyard released the inaugural vintage (1984) of Le Cigare Volant, an homage to Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

In 1989, Randall was indicted into the Who's Who of Cooking in America by Cook's Magazine for "lifetime achievement and leadership in the improvement and development of American cuisine" and in 1992, Ted Bowell of the Lowell Observatory in northern Arizona named the "Rhoneranger" asteroid in his honor.He was awarded the honor of Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year by the James Beard Foundation in 1994, and an analogous award from Bon Appetit Magazine in 1999, though that distinction is still subject to a recount in New York State.

Randall lectures frequently to wine societies and to technical groups and occasionally contributes quixotically sincere articles to wine journals. His occasional idiosyncratic newsletters are frequently reproduced though never copied. Since 2002 Randall Grahm has focused on the implementation of Rudolf Steiner's biodynamic principles in both vineyard and winery. In May 2007 his Ca' del Solo Vineyard received Biodynamic(R) certification from the Demeter Association. Randall Grahm is a vitizen of the world, a champion of the strange and the heterodox, of the ugly duckling grape varietals whose very existence is threatened by the dominant Cabo- and Chardocentric paradigms. He lives in Santa Cruz with his muse, Chinshu, their daughter Amelie, and his thesaurus.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Chambolle VINE VOICE on October 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you have been a subscriber to the Bonny Doon newsletter, you're familiar with Randall Grahm's over the top punnery for wine geeks. Only Mr. Grahm would pen a satire titled "Reductio ad Sulfatum, or A Penny for Your Thoughts," riffing on reductive winemaking and replete with footnotes like this: "The use of copper sulfate (the active ingredient in Tidy Bowl) is the most common treatment for persistent reductive aromas in wines. In biodynamic practice, this highly effective treatment is, alas, strictly forbidden."

There is an entire chapter of verse entitled "Posey Galore," which includes such masterworks as "Howlbarino," by "Alain Gainesberger" and the lyrics to "Monster Grenache," to be sung to the tune of "The Monster Mash." I mean, where else would you find a line like "The guests included Henri Bone-eau, Michel Cryptoutier, Marcel Gui-goul and his fils"?

Like I said, you've got to be a particularly peculiar sort of wine geek to get off on Grahm's shtick -- but if a parody entitled "'B' by Thomas Puncheon" sounds intriguing, this is your book.

Incidentally, "Been Doon So Long" recently received a James Beard Award. Sounds like the book was right up their alley.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John M. Cesano on February 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Randall Grahm is the owner and Winemaker of Bonny Doon Vineyard. Randall Grahm and Bonny Doon are nearly synonymous, so inextricably are the two linked for wine lovers. Randall Grahm became well known as one of the pioneers of Rhone varietal wines in California (Cinsault, Grenache, Mouvedre, Marsanne, Roussane, Viognier), and was at least equally well known for his mold breakingly unique wine labels (Chuck House, Ralph Steadman). Grahm found additional substantial success with relatively obscure Italian varietals.

Fortunately for anyone who loves wine, literature, and wine literature, Randall Grahm is also famous for his marketing prowess, which included his writings in a Bonny Doon Newsletter. While the Bonny Doon Newsletter was intended to aid the mercantile, to promote and sell the wine, the Newsletter became more ambitious, educating and sharing Grahm's point of view.

Randall Grahm's writings for the Newsletter were not limited to mere articles alone, or pre-blog blog entries in print medium; they included brilliantly executed parodies of notable literary works including Don Quixote, Catcher in the Rye, and A Clockwork Orange. Couched inside of each parody, Grahm commented on notions Doon-ian, and often poked fun and sometimes derision at a host of subjects enological or viticultural satirically. Grahm also parodied literary poets like Ginsberg in poesy, and popular song lyrics - including Have a Cigar from Roger Waters of Pink Floyd.

Been Doon So Long is a collection of these writings from the newsletter, as well as articles, speeches and essays. Sure to please his many fans, and educate a legion of new ones, Randall Grahm has also written a wonderful review on the history of his many wine labels.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thad Westhusing on January 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Like a captivating wine, Been Doon So Long is a book that encourages one to read, reflect, and then read again. And like any great cellar, this is a book that offers a variety of writings from various periods of Grahm's life as a winemaker, enabling the reader to be selective as to what is ultimately consumed. I approached Grahm's book with the initial impulse to consume it cover-to-cover, only to find myself reading and returning to various sections of the book that resonated most with me.

Of particular interest were the pieces organized under the section, "Earnest Speeches and Sober Essays". Here, I discovered insights into the true meaning of terroir; how we Americans suffer from an immature wine culture; the merits of originality and minerality; and most importantly, how wine reaches deep into our states of mind, body, and soul. Grahm's writings, especially the essay, "A Meditation on Terroir: The Return", helped connect the dots for me, providing the context my consciousness needed to better understand and appreciate wine in a more profound and meaningful way.

Besides connecting dots, Grahm's candid reflections on his multi-decade journey crafting and marketing wine helped me better understand the person behind the Bonny Doon labels. Until reading this book, my impression of Grahm was primarily that of an innovative (lest we forget witty) marketer as well as an astute businessman, with the additional thought that he had the wherewithal of making decent wine at scale.

I had no frame of reference on his soul, nor did I understand the transformation that was occurring in Grahm as a winemaker thru the 90's and into the next decade, when he decided to part ways with the larger parts of his business and focus solely on a few select vins de terroir.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dan S. Higgins on July 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I will start by saying Bonny Doon wine, and brand, was one of the reasons I became so interested in wine. Randall is a hell of a marketing man and his wines at one time were quite good. Old Telegraham was one of my favorites. Those days seem to be over with Randall selling most of the brand and buying property in San Juan Bautista to grow Rhone varietals. Anyway the first third of this book is Randall explaining how he and his cohorts came up with the ideas for their labels with the lower third of a lot of the pages containing digressions in smaller print. That's annoying. The second third of the book is simply the reprinting of newsletters he would send to to people on his mailing list. These for me were written in a style and vernacular that I simply couldn't comprehend. Also annoying. I did not make it to the last third of the book. If you are looking for the history of the Bonny Doon Winery this is not it. If it weren't for the fantastic artwork throughout I would have rated this two stars. As I write this review I realize Been Doon So Long fits perfectly into Randall's grand scheme (I mean that in the best way) of marketing.
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