Randall Grahm Heads to Washington
Bonny Doon sells two top brands as Grahm starts new Washington State-based company.
Randall Grahm, known as "God" by those who work for him, announced on Monday that he had sold his Big House and Cardinal Zin brands to the Wine Group LLC, a management owned wine company based in
The Big House wines, available in white, pink and red, account for roughly half of total Bonny Doon sales. They sell about 200,000 cases annually; Cardinal Zin, a single bottling with a memorable label illustration from Ralph Steadman, sells about 20,000 cases annually.
The two brands, which have been experiencing double digit growth since the switch to screwcaps, have "stressed our own resources and infrastructure to the max," according to Grahm. Calling it "Doonsizing" rather than downsizing, he went on to say that "this sale allows us to return to our roots, as it were, and refocus on the production of unique and distinctive, biodynamically produced wines. I have been raving on long enough about the transcendental value of terroir; it is now time to translate mere words into deeds."
The Bonny Doon brand will focus exclusively on estate wines, biodynamically farmed, and will produce about 50,000 cases annually. But the real story, hidden in the news of the sale, is the plan to split off a separate company, called Pacific Rim, and headquarter it in
In an exclusive Wine Enthusiast interview, Nicolas Quillé, Bonny Doon's Chief Operating Officer ("I am number two after God" he explains), revealed that Grahm has long term contracts with two Washington vineyards and will harvest the first fruit this fall. "
The 120 acre Wallula vineyard is planted to several different Riesling clones and is half organic, half biodynamically farmed. The 100 acre Desert Hills vineyard is all Riesling also, conventionally farmed. Quillé, who spent eight years at
Pacific Rim, which blends one quarter Mosel Riesling in with its