Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology
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VINE VOICEon October 12, 2009
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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on February 8, 2010
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.

The quality of literary playfulness, genius, makes this work of literary parody a great literary work in its own right.

In the book's center, at its core, is the book's masterwork, a parody of Dante's Divine Comedy. In Da Vino Commedia: The Vinferno, over nearly 60 pages with beautiful illustrations by Alex Gross, Grahm tells the tale of being taken "doon" through the nine circles of wine hell. After pointing out the sins of the industry in fullness, Grahm writes of being made to face his own sins and a desire to save himself from mortal zin, um sin.

As Grahm has grown older, he has grown wiser, and Grahm has reconsidered his priorities. A young daughter Amelie and a health scare have caused Grahm to focus his energy; his spiritual path has seen him divest himself of over 2/3rds of his labels and decrease his case production to less than 10% of Doon's previous output. He writes with passion about wanting to make honest wines that represent the place they come from, that have Terroir.

In an effort to achieve his goal of producing wines with Terroir, Randall Grahm is moving his wine operations from Santa Cruz to San Juan Bautista to grow grapes in the limestone rich soil, perhaps from seed, without irrigation or trellising, dry farmed and head grown; he wants to make Rhone and Italian varietals , wild and profoundly original, complex and emotionally resonant of the land itself.

In addition to Randall Grahm's passionate views on Terroir, Grahm opines on the superiority of a screw cap to a cork as a bottle closure, the general banality of California Chardonnay, the adult theme park that is the Napa Valley with its focus on lifestyle instead of life, and his abhorrence of point scores for wine (they are fixed, reductionist while wine is living, ever changing).

Randall Grahm's incredible grasp of the esoteric, his depth of wine knowledge, his passion for grape growing, his literary bent, and sheer talent brought together in Been Doon So Long caused me to feel unadulterated awe as I read his words, to shake my head in admiration (and a touch of NV) at his writing skill. More than once, reading in a public place, as I came upon a particularly naughty passage, I burst out in laughter causing those around me to seek the cause.

Randall Grahm fights the fights, going against the grain, doing things the hard way, in an effort to make something special. I have always loved that he makes un-boring wines. Doing things Grahm's way has meant having to write messages on an inflatable pig - or the Doonian equivalent. Newsletters, Radio, interviews, meet the winemaker dinners, anything and everything in service of educating a public unfamiliar with Bonny Doon's unfamiliar wines. I like wine with a message. Grahm's wines are message laden beverages - communicating unusual varietals, unique techniques used to produce them, visually artistic labels, and the wealth of information printed on them ; similarly his book is filled with messages, sometimes stuffed into satire, and further wrapped in the cloak of parody, or song, or poesy. Delectable, complex, textured, dense and filling.

Been Doon So Long, A Randall Grahm Vinthology is not Wine For Dummies; but if you have someone in your life who loves wine or literature, or in a perfect world loves both, this book would make an incredible gift that will be appreciated greatly.

I read over 100 wine books while working as a wine seller and marketer, while working for wine book publisher the Wine Appreciation Guild, and as a consumer and lover of wine. Simply put; I have never enjoyed a book on wine as much as I enjoyed Randall Grahm's Been Doon So Long.
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on July 19, 2010
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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on October 3, 2015
All wine lovers should have this book...front and center on one's coffee table.
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on January 14, 2015
it was a gift and well received by the giftee.
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