A dinner in honor of celebrated winemaker Randall Grahm

It’s not every day that I get to cook for someone as special as Randall Grahm, the self-proclaimed “founder, winemaker, terroirist-vinarchist and prez-for-life” of Bonny Doon Vineyard.

Randall is on his way to New York to attend the James Beard Award ceremonies last Sunday evening. We had planned the dinner with some of our most famous acquaintances for the evening prior to Saturday, May 1 day.

When the idea of the dinner was conceived a couple of months ago, I instantly began preparing the menu. Randall Grahm is known for his veins of terroir, which is why I wanted the cuisine to reflect the terroir as well. I created an inventory of the spring vegetables that I might discover in the Union Square Greenmarket, and using that list, I began drawing up a menu that was not just seasonally fresh but also worked well with Randall’s wines.

The only issue was that I was unsure what Randall might decide to serve that evening. But, I still went to work being aware that a few of Bonny Doon’s renowned varieties would be included: Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault Mourvedre Roussane, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc.

If you are passionate about something, it’s simple to be influenced by it. I am a huge fan of wine from Randall Grahm. It’s no wonder that the recipes could have been invented themselves.

It wasn’t until a few weeks prior to it that Randall sent me a selection of wine he was planning to serve – 14 wines, to be exact. This could mean only one thing: we were planning to serve wines on flights for almost every course. The next day, I received the coveted box. My hands began to shake when I opened the box and found the bottles. The first bottle I picked is the one from 1985 Claret. “Dear God,” I thought, “We are going to be tasting Randall’s journey as a winemaker.”

The evening couldn’t be better: the conversation was intense, lively, occasionally hilarious, and always thrilling. The wine flowed. For every course, Randall added glasses to the table and served even more exquisite wines. The food never stopped coming as well, and every time I brought a new food item to the table, my guests would stop and inquire: “Viviane, what have we been eating?” …?” the conversation will soon become lively once we have drank out of the wine glasses that were stacked before us. By the time the party was over, each guest was in the company of their unique Stonehenge crystal.

We were able to taste some of the oldest and very young wines, including popular Bonny Doon varietals and less well-known wines like Randall’s Pinot Meunier (in both white and red). Each wine Randall served was a pleasure, and each had its character, and all had a story to relate to.

“Leave everything as is on the table,” I said to everyone as the night ended. “I want to take photos as soon as I wake up.”

This is exactly the way I went about it. When I sat down at the table in the following early morning, it was possible to hear the sounds of glasses clicking and the echo of laughter.

“Change can be hard and uncomfortable. However, this is not the first time we’ve made a transition in the way that we transport ourselves across our national forests,” Owens explained. “We know we will encounter issues along this journey and will continually analyze them and figure out the best path forward because that’s what we do in the Forest Service.”


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