Tag Archives: Le Cigare Volant

BEEN DOON SO LONG – Mosaic Wine Group welcomes back an old friend – Bonny Doon Vineyard!

What a difference a Doon makes! Mosaic Wine Group is very pleased to announce its newest addition to the portfolio – an old friend, adviser and colleague, Randall Grahm and Bonny Doon Vineyard! Times have changed for the Grahm over the past couple of years, as he has retooled his portfolio in order to streamline his message of building one of the the greatest biodynamic wineries that California has ever produced.

P8310133Dan Redman of Mosaic Wine Group and the Grand Master of Wine Zen

I had the opportunity to work with Randall Grahm and Bonny Doon Vineyard during their monumental climb of brand equity and consumer recognition, with the rise of Big House Red, White & Pink. Having sold off those ‘industrialized’ wine labels, he has focused his sights on streamlining his portfolio to create wines of great substance and character, through biodynamics. Randall first introduced me to the ways and means of Biodynamics at a Bonny Doon National Sales Meeting several years ago in California, when he invited one its pioneering forefathers, Nicolas Joly of Coulee de Serrant, in the Loire Valley of France, to speak to a room full of farmers and winemakers. It was that day that the lightbulb turned on for me, regarding biodynamics, and I have immersed myself in learning as much about this ‘natural’ style of farming in order to help educate the masses to its benefits.images-2

Randall Grahm is back, and he’s better than ever! Known for his razor sharp wit and intellect, he has a new book, titled ‘Been Doon So Long’ being released next month, which chronicles his life, his stories and his penchant for making world class wines in California. I hope to have Randall back in Texas soon when he tours the country on a national book signing tour.Been Doon So Long

Here is a letter that Randall authored, which is going out to the trade channels of Texas.


Dear friends and fine wine buyers of Texas –

Randall Grahm here, speaking to you through the magically realistic medium of words. I’m writing to tell you about some very significant changes chez Doon.  You have, perhaps, heard of our divestiture of the Big House and Cardinal Zin brands?  No need to get into the convoluted psychological mechanisms that motivated the sale[1] of the brands and significant restructuring of the company,[2] but suffice it to say that we are now calibrated to a truer compass, becoming ever more congruent to our deepest values and aesthetic sensibilities. We have cut our production 90%, and reduced the range of wines produced similarly.

The Bonny Doon portfolio is now much smaller and more focused, deeply committed to vins de terroir. It is our aim to move as quickly as we can to utilizing only Estate grown fruit, but this process, of course, does not occur overnight.  At the moment, we are farming 125 eclectic acres biodynamically in Soledad, CA, and the third commercial releases of these wines – Albariño and Muscat most notably – were released in February.  They are pure,[3] mineral-intensive wines and a great harbinger of things to come.  Since 2007, they are also certified Biodynamic® by Demeter. These wines, along with an extremely distinctive Sangiovese (also farmed biodynamically in the slightly warmer climes of San Benito County) will be sold under the Ca’ del Solo label.

Until our new Estate vineyards are producing, we have greatly upgraded all our grape sources[4] – all killer, no filler, as it were, and are working primarily with biodynamically grown fruit. From the 2008 harvest, we sourced about 70% of our fruit from biodynamically farmed (working towards certification) vineyards.

The core of the Bonny Doon portfolio remains the Cigare family – Le Cigare Volant, Le Cigare Blanc, Vin Gris de Cigare and Le Vol des Anges;[5] this was the starship that brought us here (and will presumably take us back some day).  As a complement to the meridional Cigare, we also produce a septentrional[6] Syrah, “Le Pousseur,” from the Central Coast. We will plant a large (100ish acre) Estate Cigare vineyard in the area in the coming year, with the aim of producing a Truly Great Cigare.  I believe that we have seen a great breakthrough in the quality of Cigare in recent vintages, and if you have been following our wines, this is not really news to you.[7]

The most germane news that I have to report is that in addition to Pioneer Wine Company, Bonny Doon wines are now also being represented in Texas by Dan Redman’s Mosaic Wine Group.  We are very excited to be working again with Dan. He is a particularly passionate wine person; if you aren’t already cognizant of this truth, I promise you that it will be a great pleasure for you to work with him.

Dan Redman, Mosaic Wine Group
P (512) 904-9463
M (713) 398-2604
F (512) 401-3101
dan@mosaicwinegroup.com
9120 Edwardson Lane
Austin, TX 78749

Pioneer Wine Company
North and East Texas, Dallas (214) 461.7600
Central, South & West Texas, Austin (512) 895.0558
Greater Houston Area (832) 778.5743

Best wishes,

Randall Grahm
Winemaker & President-for-life


[1] In brief, I felt that the company had drifted too far from its originating spirit – a commitment to distinctive, fine wines, to terroir (though I didn’t really fully appreciate the preciousness of this notion back then).  Further, I had developed a very keen interest in Biodynamic wines, wines with more soul and life-force.  At the scale that we had attained, it was effectively impossible to convert our portfolio to 100% Biodynamic production.

[2] The most salient changes: Big House and Cardinal Zin brands were sold to The Wine Group (i.e. no longer Bonny Doon products) and we are phasing out certain products (viz. Eurodoon wines and others) to make the line more coherent.  The Pacific Rim brand, while I still own will be a quasi-autonomous entity no longer managed by Bonny Doon directly, nor sold by the Bonny Doon Vineyard sales team.

[3] Is purity really a virtue in this town?  All of the wines from our Ca’ del Solo vineyard, at least, were fermented this year with indigenous yeast; use of enzymes and other technical aids were eschewed, as was acidification and virtually all of the winemaking tricks upon which we winemakers have grown so reliant.

[4] We have changed too many practices to really enumerate here, but the biodynamic bit has really made the largest difference.

[5] “The Angel’s Flight.” A new dessert wine for us, botrytised roussanne, which should set everyone free.

[6] Referring to grapes grown below or above the 45th parallel, but in fact signifying a Southern and Northern Rhône style respectively.

[7] Certainly we were somewhat distracted by the Big House sideshow and all of the marketing schtick that attended it, but we have been on the path back to Our Roots, as it were, for a few years now.