Californias Bonny Doon Vineyard Sold
The sale to WarRoom Ventures, a wine production and marketing business, was announced on 9 January. Grahm closed his Santa Cruz tasting room in Davenport on 23 December.
Grahm will become a partner with WarRoom and stay on as head winemaker, while Bonny Doons production manager Nicole Walsh will also remain to oversee winemaking at the Santa Cruz winery.
Grahm told the San Francisco Chronicle that his talent was not particularly in the financial aspect of wine, and that WarRoom appealed to him because they can sell wine like crazy.
WarRooms president Andrew Nelson has worked with liquor conglomerate Diageo as well as wineries including Edna Valley, Beaulieu Vineyards, Sterling, Provenance, Rosenblum and Acacia, among others.
After starting WarRoom in 2018, he acquired Lapis Luna Wines, and now has added Bonny Doon.
Graham will retain creative control of Bonny Doons wines, but production will change from 35,000 cases of 15 different wines annually to just four wines: the flagship red Rhône blend Le Cigare Volant; Le Cigare Blanc ; Vin Gris de Cigare ; and a 100% Picpoul.
Nelson plans to increase production of each of these wines to 100,000 cases annually, with prices ranging from $15 to $20 , and distribute them across the US.
Grahm founded Bonny Doon in 1983 in the Santa Cruz Mountains and soon focused on Rhône varieties one of Californias pioneering Rhône Rangers.
Additional reporting by Tina Gellie
Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Volant
The newly re-styled Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Volant. Wonderfully satisfying and less than half the price!
56% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 13% Syrah and 1% Petite Sirah from the following vineyards in the Central Coast of California: 48% Alta Loma, 35% Loma Del Rio, 6% Mesa Verde, 6% Zayante, 4% Rancho Solo and 1% Lieff.;
This is the new, re-engineered Le Cigare Volant from Bonny Doon Vineyard that was introduced with the 2018 vintage. Compared to the old blend, winemaker Randall Grahm dropped the Mourvedre from the blend and greatly increased the Cinsault. You can read more about this transition in our previous review of the 2013 vintage that we have included below.
The other big thing to note is that the SRP also dropped considerably, which means this is no longer a Saturday Splurge but instead right in our sweet spot! The pricing has also gone from $45 to $20 for the 2018 and now to $15 for the 2019 vintage.
Sample submitted for review. The Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Volant has an SRP of $15 and is available for as low as $13. Ready to buy? Check your;local retailers. 11,500 cases produced
The 2019 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Volant begins with a lovely aroma of varied red fruits, licorice, cedar and wintergreen. The more you swirl it the more you uncover, so much so that it’s hard not to just keep sticking your nose in the glass.
Ready to buy? Check your;local retailers.
Bonny Doon Vineyard A Proper Pink
May 30, 2021
Two tasty grapes make for one delicious rosé, the Bonny Doon Vineyard A Proper Pink.
69% Tannat from the Mt. Oso Vineyard in western Stanislaus County and 31% Cabernet Franc from the Ceago Vineyard in Clear Lake, California.
The Bonny Doon Vineyard A Proper Pink has an SRP of $16 and is available for as low as $12. 3,722 cases produced. Sample submitted for review.
From the bottle:
The 2015 Bonny Doon Vineyard A Proper Pink;begins with a very pleasant aroma of watermelon and strawberry along with a little spice, tomato plant, citrus zest and a hint of salt. Taking a sip shows that the wine is packed with rich and tart fruit flavors plus loads of spice wrapped up in a very pleasing, even slightly oily, mouthfeel. With plenty of good acidity as well this is a delicious rosé. The plentiful spice notes lead into the long, dry finish.
Looking for more great rosé under $20? Find all of our recommendations, plus more tips on finding great value, right here.
See a listing of local retailers selling the Bonny Doon Vineyard A Proper Pink here.
Recommended Reading: What Wine Has The Lowest Calories
Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris De Cigare 2018
Central Coast, Calif., $20
Grahm scored a hit with this Vin Gris de Cigare long before rosé became a craze. The wine is a blend of traditional Rhone grapes, with a third of the blend being white varieties. This wine has been reliably good year after year. ABV: 13.5;percent.
Distributed by Kysela: Available in the District at Glens Garden Market, Whole Foods Market . Available in Maryland at Montpelier Liquors in Laurel, Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Balduccis in Alexandria, Classic Cigars & British Goodies and Screwtop Wine Bar & Cheese Shop in Arlington, Indulge Bakery & Bistro in Newport News, Whole Foods Market .
Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be sold at additional stores. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.
Unquenchable: A Tipsy Search
; Best Books of the Year
Natalie MacLean is a new force in the wine writing world ‐ a feisty North American answer to Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson. She can write beautifully about wine.
The Financial Times of London
There are very few people in the wine world who “get it” and Natalie is one of those who brings more fun to a buttoned-up and stodgy game.
Gary Vaynerchuck, Wine Library TV
Also Check: How To Get Out Set In Red Wine Stains
A History Of Innovation
Over the years, Bonny Doon has been a leader and innovator in the California wine industry, pursuing biodynamic production of the wines, championing minimal intervention in winemaking, using screwcaps on their bottles, putting wine in a can, and adding ingredients lists to their labels in order to challenge their winemakers to use as few interventions in the wines as possible.
Bonny Doon Vineyard Old Telegram 2016
Contra Costa County, Calif., $55
Old Telegram is Grahms tribute to the brawny wines of Bandol. Made entirely from mataro, or mourvedre, this wine has inky color and spicy aromas of pepper and clove, followed by flavors of Bing cherries and wild herbs. It makes a great match for stews or grilled meats, but it is also deceptively seductive on its own. ABV: 14;percent.
Distributed by Kysela: Available in Virginia at Little Washington Winery Tasting Room in Washington, Locke Store in Millwood, Market Street Wineshop in Charlottesville, Moms Apple Pie in Round Hill, Yiannis in Virginia Beach.
Tn: Seven From Bonny Doon Vineyard
Lynn and I went to dinner at Oliveto’s last night, and Randall Grahm was there, Bonny Doon Vineyard being the featured winery of the evening. So, in addition to the regular wines available by the glass and bottle, a selection of several Bonny Doon wines were also being poured.
I should note that I’ve known Randall since we worked together at the same retail wine shop some 33 years ago, so feel free to take whatever grains of salt thought necessary . .
All three whites were served at once, followed by all four reds.
2007 Ca’ del Solo Albariño, Ca’ del Solo Estate Vineyard, : Produced from 75 percent Albariño and 25 percent Loureiro, this truly captures the character and quality of Albariño, even to the extent that the wine shows some minerality. The difference, however, is that while this wine is, in one sense, broad across the palate, a flood light of the variety, a wine like the 2006 Albariño from the Bodegas del Palacio de Fefiñanes is more focused, like a spotlight. Still, this is a first-rate Albariño, as fine as I’ve tasted from California.
2007 Ca’ del Solo Muscat, Ca’ del Solo Estate Vineyard, : Normally I tend to shy away from dry Muscats — all too frequently, they have a tendency toward excessive bitterness on the palate and in the finish. This wine is very aromatic, classic Muscat aromas and flavors, silky smooth and well-balanced, with a clean, dry finish — no bitterness whatsoever — and a lingering aftertaste. Truly wonderful!
Randall Grahm Sells Bonny Doon Vineyard
The iconoclastic winemaker will remain on board; he hopes new investment will energize the brand
Randall Grahm, one of California’s most innovative vintners and the founder of Bonny Doon Vineyard, has sold the brand to WarRoom Ventures LLC after 35 years in business. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Grahm will remain as winemaker and a partner with WarRoom. Bonny Doon’s production manager Nicole Walsh will also stay on board to oversee the winemaking.
“I’ve never been a brilliant businessperson,” Grahm told Wine Spectator, adding, “I have other valuable assets, but WarRoom will be more successful in managing the finances.” WarRoom Ventures is a small, new wine company that invests, develops and manages wine brands.
A trailblazing vintner, Grahm founded Bonny Doon in 1983 with his family’s help in the remote Santa Cruz Mountains, intending to make Pinot Noir. He quickly turned to Rhône varieties and released the inaugural vintage of Le Cigare Volant in 1986. Le Cigare Volant has been the winery’s flagship label ever since.
Regarded as one of California’s earliest advocates for Rhône-style reds, Grahm was a constant innovator and envelope-pusher. He was one of the first to use microbullage, adding tiny oxygen bubbles to the wine, in California and to employ screwcaps on premium wines.
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Bonny Doon’s New Business Strategy Will Condense Its Lineup To Just Four Wines
Bonny Doon Vineyard, one of Californias most influential wineries, has been acquired by WarRoom Ventures, the parent company of Lapis Luna Wines. Randall Grahm, who founded Bonny Doon in 1981, will remain a partner in the company and continue to oversee winemaking. A purchase price was not disclosed.
Im deeply ambivalent about selling Bonny Doon, Grahm said. Its my opus. But the point is Im not particularly good at all the aspects of running a winery, mostly the finance aspect of it. WarRoom and its president, Andrew Nelson, were appealing partners to Grahm because they can sell wine like crazy, he said.
The wine distribution business has changed significantly in recent years, and its put companies like Bonny Doon in an unfavorable position, said Grahm. Wholesalers have consolidated, giving larger brands an advantage, and there is little incentive for winemakers to create limited-production, experimental wines.
Thats why, under WarRooms ownership, Bonny Doon whose annual production is currently around 35,000 cases will condense its lineup from about 15 wines to just four, all of which will be put into national distribution. Those four wines will be the flagship Le Cigare Volant , Le Cigare Blanc , Vin Gris de Cigare and Picpoul .
Ive loved the Bonny Doon brand for a long time, added Nelson, noting that he had first attempted to buy the brand in 2017. Randall is an idol of mine.
History Of Bonny Doon Vineyard
After graduating from University of California at Davis in 1979 with a Plant Science Degree, Randall Graham bought property in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains where he intended to cultivate and create Pinot Noir wines. Trial and error quickly showed Graham that the climate and terroir was better suited to Rhône varietals such as Grenache and Syrah, and in 1984, Bonny Doon winery released its first vintage of the flagship wine, Le Cigare Volant , a red Rhône style blend that paid homage to Châteauneuf-du-Pape from France. The wine is a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsaut, and Viognier. Graham and Bonny Doon quickly became known for their Rhône-style wines, leading Wine Spectator to dub him “the Rhône Ranger” in 1989.
Bonny Doon Vineyard Continues On Track Following 2019 Sale
When WarRoom Cellars purchased the Bonny Doon label in 2019, iconic owner Randall Grahm, a self-declared anti-pointillist, worried about how the new owners would maintain quality in the 40 year old brand. He neednt have fretted.
The Wine Enthusiast magazine awarded the 2019 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare 92 Points and the #8 Best Wine Value of 2020. Previously, the Bonny Doon 2018 Cigare Volant received 93 points and landed at #19 on the Top 100, and the 2019 Cigare Blanc earned a rating of 90 Points.
According to WarRoom partner Andrew Nelson, We didnt want to change anything about winemaking. We continue to defer to Randall, and longtime winemaker Nicole Walsh and to adhere to all of the established winemaking protocols. At the same time, WarRoom doonsized the number of Bonny Doon SKUs, allowing its national distributor, Total Beverage Solution, to focus on key Bonny Doon products.
Bonny Doon is such a well-established brand name, continued Nelson, and during the Covid crisis weve seen incredible off-premise sales growth because of that reputation that Randall built and nurtured over the years.
The anti-pointillist would be proud.
Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Volant Cuve Oumuamua 2018
Monterey County, Calif., $23
Le Cigare Volant has been Bonny Doons flagship wine since the first vintage in 1984. Randall Grahm named it for a little-known 1954 ordinance passed by the town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, in the southern Rhone Valley, banning flying cigars, or UFOs. With the 2018 vintage, Grahm changed the style to a lighter-bodied wine meant for early drinking rather than extended cellar aging. This blend of grenache, cinsault and syrah is lithe and racy, with aromas of cherries and spice, and a lovely hint of grapefruit rind on the finish. Alcohol by volume: 13.5;percent.
Distributed by Kysela: Available in Maryland at Bin 201 Wine Sellers in Annapolis, Goskas Liquors in Severna Park, Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer in Cockeysville, Roland Park Wines & Liquors in Baltimore, Wine Merchant in Lutherville. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington, the Cheese Shop in Williamsburg, Corks & Kegs in Richmond, Kroger , Market Street Wineshop in Charlottesville, Norms Beer & Wine in Vienna, Wegmans , Wine Gallery 108 in Alexandria.
For Less Than $17 This Juicy Red Wine Will Take You To Rhone And Back
The sale of Bonny Doon gives us an opportunity to taste some of the core wines that will stick around, as well as those that will be discontinued. This weeks list includes the revamped flagship red, Le Cigare Volant, and the popular Vin Gris de Cigare. Both of these will remain part of the Bonny Doon line. Fans who want to splurge should look for the Old Telegram before its message fades away. Other selections include an outstanding Côtes du Rhône and a delicious cabernet sauvignon from Washington States Columbia Valley.
Guide To Bonny Doon Vineyard And Wines
For those near the central coast of California, don’t pass up a chance to visit the eclectic Bonny Doon Vineyard. This Santa Cruz winery features a wide selection of wines with colorful labels that serve as pieces of art. Under the direction of winemaker Randall Graham, Bonny Doon produces biodynamic wines made with great respect for terroir and minimal intervention.
Red Wines Of The Earth
Anaerobically cellared,;affiné;or perfected in 20 liter;glass demijohns on its lees, this wine represents the peak;of elegance in the eclectic Bonny Doon Vineyard range.
#2, 50 Best Wines of 2016, VinePair – “Randall Grahm is a winemaker who;continues to impress. His move to close all of his wines with;screwcap;might be seen by some people as cheapening the wines, but that couldnt be further from the truth. This is a serious, age-worthy red wine that showcases why Randall is one of this countrys best winemakers. A Rhone-style red blend, the wine is deep and dark with the;Syrah playing the dominant role. Flavors of dark berries marry with leather to create a delicious wine.”
92 Points Wine Enthusiast;
Requiem Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Columbia Valley, Wash., $22
Despite its solemn name, this delicious wine should bring a smile to your face. Cassis and blackberry flavors, with a hint of herbs and a plush texture highlight a sunny ripeness. ABV: 14.8;percent.
Distributed by Elite: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Dixie Liquor, Rodmans, Van Ness Wines and Liquors. Available in Maryland at Annebeths and Wine Cellars of Annapolis in Annapolis, Capital Beer & Wine in Bethesda, Cheers & Spirits and Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold, Fenwick Beer & Wine and Sniders Super Foods in Silver Spring, Lakefront Fine Wine & Spirits in Frederick, Longmeadow Wine & Liquors in Hagerstown, One Eleven Main in Bel Air, State Line Liquors in Elkton, Wishing Well Liquors in Easton. Available in Virginia at Sonoma Cellar in Alexandria, Richmond Wine Station in Richmond.
Bonny Doon Vineyards: Syrah Is Not Dead And Other Matters
Theres just something about Randall Grahm that demands only the use of adjectives pulled off of a rack clearly bearing the label erudite. The man isnt busy, hes peripatetic. Hes not merely opinionated, hes irrepressible. More so than many winemakers, an afternoons conversation with Grahm seems likely to range deep and wide across philosophic, economic, political, literary, and scientific domains. And thats before you even start talking about the wine.
I cant be consistent, I cant stay on message. How boring is that? I try to be a little more focused but. Grahm trails off with a smile.
Grahm is the founder, owner, and seemingly inexhaustible pilot light of Bonny Doon Vineyards, and one of California wines elder statesman. While he might decry such a label, and could split hairs about his age , hed be hard pressed to shrug off any anointment as one of the states most important winemakers.
Grahm started Bonny Doon Vineyards in 1983 without much of a plan, other than to make wines that he enjoyed drinking, and for a while the wines produced under his label included Pinot Noir, Rhone varieties, and lesser known Italian varieties. But Grahm embraced each with a fervor that could border on frightening. The combination of that passion and Grahms intuitive and almost preternatural gift for guerrilla marketing and branding took him from being a rich kid with an interest in wine to being one of Californias most successful and admired winemakers.