Friday, April 12, 2024

ADVERTISING: Advertorial — GEORGE BALLING: Bonny Doon Access

| August 19, 2020 1:00 AM

A couple of years ago one of our great local distributors happened into the shop. In the sample bag were a few bottles from the Bonny Doon Winery, located in Santa Cruz. We have known the wines from Bonny Doon for many years, having enjoyed them on many occasions long before we opened the Dinner Party. The founder and winemaker at Bonny Doon, Randall Grahm, is a legend in California winemaking and has been honored with numerous awards in the culinary arts and for his winemaking, including the Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year from the James Beard Foundation in 1994. He has been making the wines at Bonny Doon for nearly 40 years.

His wines are delicious and always creative and innovative in their approach. Randall was the first vintner in California to grow and produce Rhône varietals, starting a trend that has exceeded all expectations. His first love was always red Burgundy, but his goal of producing great Burgundy from his location in Santa Cruz proved elusive. His Rhône wines have taken on a well-earned epic fame around California, and frankly, across the globe.

Two years ago, when we tried the wines again and realized we would have regular access to them, we put them on the shelf immediately! Since then, his Clos de Gilroy Grenache, the “I’m not drinking any #%&*@!” Merlot (named for the epic scene in the movie, Sideways) and his iconic rosé Vin Gris de Cigare have become regular customer favorites here at the shop and on our own dinner table at home.

Seems like a long preamble, I know, but something really special happened this past week. We had decided recently to feature the Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare dry rosé and the red Rhône blend Le Cigare Volant in our Friday Night Flights program. For regular customers, you are well familiar with “the Flights.” It is our weekly wine special that goes out via email each Wednesday, and you have until Thursday at 4 p.m. to order however many bottles you want, and you pick them up in the shop on Friday. Since Mary came up with the idea 10 years ago it has become one of our most popular offerings.

When we made the decision to feature the Bonny Doon wines in “the Flights,” our distributor sales person from BRJ Distributors contacted the winery to let them know. This past week we received a link to a You Tube video where, sure enough, Randall recorded a video about the two wines just for our customers! This might not seem like too big of a deal, but for us as wine professionals to have Randall take the time to record a video just for the Dinner Party is kind of like having your change of address card at the post office being covered by the national network news! We are thrilled and truly honored.

We will be featuring the wines in our “Friday Night Flight” program the week of August 24, with the email going out on August 26 and the wines being ready for pick up on August 28. If you would like to receive the weekly flight email just contact the shop by phone (208-765-5653) or email us at and we will add you to the email list.

Randall does a wonderful job of describing his wines in the video. The rosé to me is true “South of France” quality. Crafted from Grenache and Mourvèdre, just like the pink wines from Provence, the wine is loaded with berry flavors and aromas. It is bone-dry and the aromatics show a lovely mix of wet stone minerality and fresh spring berries. I learned from watching the video that the wine shows the distinctive creaminess on the palate from extended lees stirring while the wine is still in tank. The wine is just a joy and goes great with rich shellfish, like lobster or scallops.

The Cigare Volant Cuvée Oumuamua is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cincsault and goes perfect with gamey birds like duck or turkey according to Randall, and I agree. The wine shows rich, savory notes of dried herbs, coffee and a subtle meatiness on the nose. The palate delivers warm fruit flavors of cherry, plum and a distinctive cassis note on the finish.

We look forward to working with Randall and the Bonny Doon wines more as we move forward. While we hope to have Randall more involved via video with all of our selections from the winery, we are thrilled and honored that he chose to help with our flights this time. If you would like to see the video you can through this link If you would like to order some of the wine just give us a call.

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George Balling is co-owner with his wife, Mary Lancaster, of the dinner party, a wine and gift shop in Coeur d’Alene by Costco. The dinner party has won the award for best wine shop in North Idaho twice, including for 2018. George is also published in several other publications around the country.

After working in wineries in California and judging many wine competitions, he moved to Coeur d’Alene with Mary more than 10 years ago to open the shop. You can also follow us on Facebook at!/dinnerpartyshop.