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Hangin’ With Randall Grahm

It’s not every day that Randall Grahm comes to Day-twah, so when it was announced a little over a week ago that the Bonny Doon Vineyard wine maestro was headed our way for a meet and greet at Cloverleaf Fine Wine and Craft Beer in Royal Oak this past Tuesday, Kim and I immediately adjusted our schedules accordingly. I discovered firsthand what a cool dude Randall is when I interviewed him back in 2005, so that was reason enough to attend this event. Add to that the fact that we’ve been enjoying his wines since well before that, and saying so time and again in numerous Gang of Pour reports, this was simply not something we were going to miss.

Randall’s appearance was sponsored by his Michigan distributor, Little Guy Wine Company, and ampelography, a fine wine sales and marketing company based in Toledo, Ohio. Both focus on artisan producers, and avoid corporate industrial wine manufacturers like that plague that they are. As for Cloverleaf, we’ve been customers for close to 20 years, so this was “old home” night for us. We were the first to arrive, following close on the heels of Randall and Adam Mahler, who IS ampelography (it’s a one-man outfit). On hand to facilitate to the festivities were Cloverleaf’s Tom Natoci, Little Guy Wine rep Ryan White and the ever delightful Rebecca Poling, of Great Lakes Wine and Spirits.

I’m guesstimating that attendance was about 15 or 20 people, which was perfect for the venue. There was a very nice spread of Middle Eastern foods on hand for noshing, and, of course, about a dozen or so Bonny Doon wines, a cider and a verjus (which Kim loved; I stupidly didn’t taste it, but I know where I can get more). Attendees included our colleagues Jarred Gild, of Ferndale’s Western Market, James Cadariu aka Roastmaster, of Great Lakes Coffee, our old buddy Putnam Weekly, David Mancini of Supino Pizzeria and Noelle Lothamer, of Beau Bien Fine Foods. It was also a special treat for me to reconnect with Galen and Linda Kerns, both of whom I met and became friends with in a previous life in wine retail.

As for the wines, they were every bit as fine as always, and indeed, we’ve reviewed most here. I took no notes; Kim and I preferred to chill and have chance to chat with Randall when opportunities arose. We talked less about wine (although I did tell him a little about our burgeoning Michigan wine industry) and more about music (Bob Dylan, in particular, in the context of both current extended touring for such an old guy and continued high quality output of songwriting over the decades) and vinegar (Kim’s bailiwick, of course).

The real treat of the evening was when, about half an hour before the scheduled end of the session, someone started tapping on a glass with a spoon. I looked around for someone to kiss, with the wedding reflux kicking in, before realizing that the bang a gong was for everyone to quiet down, because Randall had some things to say and share. It was the highlight of the evening, to be sure.

What a great way to spend a couple of hours on a school night! Many thanks to Cloverleaf Fine Wine and Craft Beer, Little Guy Wine Company, ampelography, and, most especially, Randall Grahm, for coming to Michigan and hanging out with a gang of locals who really appreciate the very special wares that Bonny Doon produces.

I’m headed out to get me a bottle of that verjus right now.

Reporting from Day-twah,


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