Winery of the Month: Highlights of Bonny Doon Vineyard’s ‘Day of the Doon’ at San Juan Bautista ‘Popelouchum’ Vineyard
On Sunday, September 18, 2011, Bonny Doon Vineyard celebrated Day of the Doon IX, its annual gathering of the tribes honoring its faithful D.E.W.N. Wine Club members.
As an advocate and brand ambassador, I was pleased to be able to attend, doubly so because the day was to conclude with a special naming ceremony for the new San Juan Batista vineyard.
Reader input: You will notice this blog post is lighter on verbiage, and more focused on picture content. It’s a format I am borrowing from food bloggers, that allows me to publish faster, and share more – let me know want you think.
Whats Going on in San Juan Bautista?
Several years ago, Randall Grahm made a decision to refocus, after having grown into high volume producer of wine, across multiple labels. The successful Big House and Cardinal Zin labels were sold off, and the funds used to purchase a 280-acre site in San Juan Bautista, combined with a decision to focus solely on the Bonny Doon brand.
The San Juan Bautista project is home to a number of revolutionary agricultural and viticulural experiments, centered on a new substance called “biochar” a form of highly porous charcoal that increases water retention and promotes beneficial microflora and soil fertility, and hybridizing a grape variety from seed, rarely done, and yet to be commercial success.
There is an excellent article in Edible Monterey Bay – I highly encourage you read for more details: “GRAHM’S GAMBLE: A risky quest to make a unique
American wine in San Juan Bautista“
I am a fan and admirer of Randall, and have been fortunate enough to get to know him a bit more these last few years, and even get occasional advice. Recently he took time out of a busy day hauling pears from Mendocino to Santa Cruz, to stop and taste the Rhone whites from my new tiny label about to launch – Two Shepherds.
Randall Grahm is often referred to as the original “Rhone Ranger.”
In honor of his vision, unwavering dedication, and always boldly willing to gamble and go where others have not tread before, the culmination and result of 30 years of contributions to the US Wine industry, that we name Bonny Doon as Winery of the Month.
(edit – the phenomenal, dedicated, Bonny Doon team, equally share and have earned this. )
Day of the Doon 2011 – Photo Journal
The event started with a special ceremony and songs by members of the Ohlone native Americans, who originally inhabited and were caretakers of this area.
Next we had a walking tour and overview of the property.
As a special treat, we then paired sparkling wine with a tomato tasting, and compared tomatoes grown in biochar and dry farmed versus normal.
Next Randall spent some time answering questions about biochar, the vineyard, and other things, while we enjoyed some wine. (Truly a rough day.) As you can see, I was paying rapt attention.
Also for your enjoyment, I captured a bit of video footage – here Randall talks about the challenges of planting grenache from seed.
Next we were treated to a special vertical tasting of magnums of 2001, 2003, and 2005 Cigare Volant (and/or some lovely Sangria.) and some nibbles. (No pictures of food sorry, I need to get better at food porn.)
And then it was time to eat and drink! Dinner that is – as if we hadn’t already been all afternoon.
After many great courses of food and wine, we moved outdoors, under the stars for a special naming ceremony of the San Juan Bautista vineyard.
DEWNies traversed labyrinth builder Lars Howlett’s site-specific creation, lit by candlelight. Ohlone Chief Sonne Reyna delivered an invocation, inviting the spirits of the land to return to this sacred place. The 280-acre property was formally given the name “Popelouchum.”
Pronounced “Pop-loh-shoom,” is the Mutsun language word the Ohlone natives historically used for the site. Its secondary meaning is “paradise,” a quality evident to all who visited this special day.
In his official press annoucement Randall Grahm said:
“Day of the Doon events have always been perhaps a bit theatrical, but the intent of this year’s celebration was to set aside theatricality for its own sake. Sharing Popelouchum with our dear friends, we proclaimed our unremitting dedication to the discovery of the terroir of this very special place, and to letting the land speak in its own unique voice.”
Indeed. I look forward to next year and following the progress of this great labor of love. Perhaps I can even convince Randall to let me have grenache seedling for my own new grenache vineyard!
Terroir: My Spiritual Journey (Part 1) (Randall Grahm blog)