Project puts wine first – August 8, 2015

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Randall Grahm has never been a winemaker short on words or ideas. Hea��s been making wine at Bonny Doon Vineyards for more than 35 years on Californiaa��s central coast.

While he started out hoping to make great Burgundy in California, he soon discovered the climate was better suited to Rhone varietals and the rest as he might say was anything but a�?Doon hill.a�?

His tinkering with Rhone grape varieties led to Le CigarA� Volant, a 1984 New World red blend that was an homage to ChA?teauneuf-du-Pape. The label put the winery on the map. A decade later Piercea��s disease began to devastate the Bonny Doon vineyards and Grahm turned to purchasing grapes from vineyards in California, Oregon and Europe.

By 2006, Bonny Doon production was just south of 500,000 cases a year. Thata��s when Graham decided to sell and go in another direction.

It wasna��t that Grahm was unhappy with his wines but he revealed in a New York Times interview what so many other winemakers never do, a�?The world doesna��t need these wines. I was writing and talking about terroir but I wasna��t doing what I was saying. I wanted to be congruent with myself.a�?

Enter the 280-acre San Juan Bautista property purchased in 2009 and the project Popelouchum, pronounced: a�?Poh-puh-lou-shoom,a�? (the Mutsun word for paradise). It seems Grahm has set out to change the way grapes are grown in California, not to mention the way folks think about vineyards. His idea: grow the essence of terroir wines and maybe launch a mission to hybridize vinifera grapes that are drought-resistant and can take on climate change.

Ita��s not a weekend project but then a�?The breeding of 10,000 new grape varieties, each genetically distinctive from one another and blending them into a unique cuvA�e the world has not tasted beforea�? is all Randall Grahm. The expectation is to discover individual vines that are more suited to the new California reality that may even have a wider reach if they can be disease- or drought-tolerant in a changing climate. The problem is he needs money and time and at 62, he doesna��t have an abundance either.

Grahm is seeking, non-profit status and crowd-funding to finish the job. He promises to share his results with the community at large or as he says a�?We will offer our catalogue of discovery to others who want to follow and potentially leave a rich legacy for the next generation of grape growers and wine drinkers.a�? In a little over a month he is one fifth the way to the $250,000 he needs to get going.

Always the thinker, Grahma��s new project is very human in scale and much more suited to the needs of the planet: fewer inputs (no trellises, end-posts, irrigation, wider vine spacing), and lower output (i.e. lower tonnage due to dry-farming), but significantly higher grape and wine quality. I cana��t think of a better project to stand behind for a wine drinker or an industry giant. To contribute to the campaign or learn more about the project, visit

Ita��s is a campaign that has touched the heart of a small community of wine drinkers to the tune of $125 each. What I dona��t understand is why some industry giants, major winery associations, the worlda��s largest wine shows and others in the wine business with means, have not reached out to fund this project.

I dona��t really know Grahm, other than through his wines and brief meetings in Vancouver and California. However, almost every winery that has opened in the last few decades or rose to the top of the world wine game have done so on the relentless work put in by small guys such as Grahm, who have put in an enormous amount of time, work and travel to build a culture of wine around the world and ita��s time to for some payback.

Maybe your contribution will insure your winery will be around for another century. Randall is too polite to ask those who can really afford to support the cause for money and should he need to; he is far too busy trying to save the wine business from itself. grifulvin v cost how much risperdal does it take to overdose

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