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Bonny Doon, Santa Cruz, California


Bonny Doon Vineyard is the brainchild of pioneering American wine maker Randall Grahm. We visited his tasting room, which is located 8 miles north of Santa Cruz but weren’t lucky enough to meet the man himself. The majority of Bonny Doon’s vineyards are in Monterey County and their flagship wines are Le Cigare Volant and Old Telegram, both heavily influenced by the Rhone style. Indeed, Randall Grahm first made a name for himself as one of the first “Rhone Rangers”? in the 1980s. It also has many plantings of Italian grape varieties, some of which are rare even in Italy, such as pigato (a little known white grape from north-west Italy). They have used biodynamic viticultural practices here since 2004. An interesting example is that they stuff cow horns with manure and bury them close to the vine for maximum flavour in the wine. Randall is also a firm believer in the screw cap and is of the opinion that every bottle of wine with a cork stop is corked!

Le Cigare Blanc 2005 – inspired by the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region, this wine is a blend of 54% roussanne and 46% grenache blanc. It is suggestive of white peach and floral aromas and has a stony minerality.
Le Cigare Volant 2003 – 35 % mourvèdre, 32 % syrah, 26 % grenache and 7% cinsault. Raspberry fruited with black pepper spice. An impressive hommage to Châteauneuf-du-Pape