Randall Grahm

Randall Grahm is a Californian winemaker and the founder of Bonny Doon Vineyard. He is perhaps best known for his pioneering work with Rhone varietals in California[1] and for popularizing the use of screw caps on premium wines. He was an early proponent of transparent ingredient labeling on bottled wines,[2] and has been a prominent advocate of terroir[3] wines and biodynamic practice.[4]

Randall Grahm
Randall Grahm at a wine tasting in New Orleans, 2008
Born (1953-04-04) April 4, 1953 (age 67)
Known forBonny Doon Vineyard


Randall was born in Los Angeles in 1953 and attended UC Santa Cruz where he was "a permanent Liberal Arts major."[5] He eventually began working at the Wine Merchant in Beverly Hills sweeping floors. There he had the opportunity to taste great French wines and the experience turned him into "a complete and insufferable wine fanatic.[5] He returned to the University of California at Davis to complete a degree in Plant Sciences in 1979, where he developed a "single-minded obsession with Pinot Noir"[5]

With his family’s assistance, Grahm purchased property in Bonny Doon, in the Santa Cruz Mountains where he was intent on producing "The Great American Pinot Noir." Although he initially had trouble with Pinot, he was encouraged by experimental batches of Rhône varieties, and he has been a tireless champion of Rhône grapes since the inaugural vintage of Le Cigare Volant in 1986. In 1989 Randall appeared on the cover of the Wine Spectator, clad in blue polyester, as "The Rhône Ranger," a moniker that has followed him ever since.[6]

In 1991 Randall was added to the Who's Who of Cooking in America by Cook's Magazine,[7] and in the same year Ted Bowell of the Lowell Observatory in northern Arizona named the "4934 Rhôneranger" asteroid in his honor. He was proclaimed Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year by the James Beard Foundation in 1994.[8]

Randall lectures frequently to wine societies and technical groups, and occasionally contributes "quixotically sincere" articles to wine journals.[5] His newsletters and articles were collected and published as the award-winning book, "Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology" in 2009.[9] In 2010 The Culinary Institute of America inducted him into the Vintner’s Hall of Fame.[10] He currently lives in Santa Cruz with his partner Chinshu and their daughter, Amélie.


  1. ^ Quist, Cheryl. "Rhone Rangers To Honor Randal Grahm with Lifetime Achievement Award" (PDF). RhoneRangers.Org. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  2. ^ Asimov, Eric. "Vintner With Nothing to Hide Finds That Few are Looking". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  3. ^ Bensen, Amanda. "Randall Grahm on Why Terroir Matters". Smithsonian Mag. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  4. ^ Fox, Nick. "The Wines Behind the Man". Blogs.NYTimes. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d Grahm, Randall. "Biography". Bonny Doon Vineyard.
  6. ^ Gibb, Rebecca. "Randall Grahm to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award". wine-searcher.com.
  7. ^ Forster, Laurie. "Randall Grahm - Bonny Doon Vineyard". The Wine Coach.
  8. ^ Zraly, Kevin (September 29, 2009). Windows on the World Complete Wine Course 25th Anniv. Edition. Sterling. p. 315.
  9. ^ Grahm, Randall. "Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology". Been Doon So Long.
  10. ^ "Vintners Hall of Fame Inductees". The Culinary Institute of America. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014.

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