In the 1980s Randall Grahm planted a vineyard and started making wine, with the goal of creating the ultimate American pinot noir. He started writing to market the wine, and kept writing because it was fun.

Today Bonny Doon Vineyard is a California institution, and Grahm’s parodies, musings, and meditations, collected in Been Doon So Long, characterize the vineyard almost as much as as the wine itself. In this podcast, Grahm speaks to Chris Gondek of Heron and Crane Productions about how his winemaking enterprise became a lifelong journey.

At first Grahm aimed to make popular wines, but soon grew to appreciate the challenge, complexity, and magic of terroir: “You are getting… a reflection of nature itself,” he says. It’s an ongoing pursuit: “Wine is infinitely complex, infinitely mysterious…it’s always changing and evolving, mutating, and you can never really apprehend it in just one moment. You really need to study it and follow it over time”.

Bonny Doon Vineyard keeps growing, and recently opened a new tasting room and a restaurant, the Cellar Door Cafe. Whether or not Grahm has created the Great American Pinot Noir, the ultimate success, he says, is if winemaking can be a lesson in how to live. “Wine, for me, is now, in a sense, a kind of meditation….Ultimately it doesn’t matter if the wines are perfect, or great, but if I can learn how to be present, for example, in my vineyard, that would be an extraordinary accomplishment.”

Listen to the podcast now:[podcast][/podcast]

Read an excerpt from Been Doon So Long: The Heartbreak of Wine Geekdom: Ten Ways You Know You’ve Met a Real Wine Geek, on Randall Grahm’s website.