Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Start watching
SoCal Update

SoCal Update

Start watching
a large damn with graffiti of a woman with a hammer on it, mountains in the background

Earth Focus Presents

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Professor T

Professor T (Belgium)

Start watching
Artbound

Artbound

Start watching
Emma

Emma

Start watching
Guilt

Guilt

Start watching
Line of Separation Key Art.

Line of Separation

Start watching
Us

Us

Start watching
The Latino Experience

The Latino Experience

Start watching
Key Art of "Summer of Rockets" featuring Keeley Hawes and Toby Stephens.

Summer of Rockets

Start watching
Death in Paradise Series 10

Death in Paradise

Start watching
millionaire still

KCET Must See Movies

Start watching
Independent Lens

Independent Lens

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

California Wine: Contra-diction

Support Provided By
boony1-600

Can a word be a triple entendre? If so then the man who could best wield it would have to be Bonny Doon Vineyard's Randall Grahm. An innovative winemaker with a love of language, Randall has long been a proponent of acting against the norm. Not simply to relish in the rapture of being rebellious, but because most people were simply going the wrong way.

Graham began his career with the other "Rhone Rangers," planting grape varietals that were formerly unknown in California, not to mention to most Californians. From changing the face of wine labels -- both paying homage and poking fun at the French -- to championing the stelvin closure -- effectively screwing with people's attachment to cork -- Randall set sail on a rocking boat.

Long a proponent of the possibility of the terroir here in the States, Graham has helped make the idea of biodynamics seem less like witchcraft and more like what it is: a beautifully balanced way of growing grapes. Seeing as he's constantly fighting the flock of fearful formalists that dominate the wine world, it's appropriate that he chose to name a wine Contra. The name comes from the location of the vineyards in Contra Costa County, but the layers of meaning were by no means an accident.

Unlike the abundance of wines from California that attack one's palate like an overstuffed sausage, Contra aims to assuage our abundance of sunlight by providing poise. It is comprised primarily of old vine Carignane followed by Grenache, Mourvedre, Petite Syrah, Zinfandel and Syrah. Contra is a field blend that is steered rather than strong-armed by the winemaker's hand, providing an unexpected gestalt assault on the senses. Tipping the alcohol scales at a blissfully balanced bantamweight of 13.5%, it packs a flavor punch without knocking you out.

In the glass, dark brooding berries huddle in the corner plotting their attack while a recently unearthed spice cabinet with poorly-hinged doors allows it contents to spill forth onto the soil covered floor. On the nose, wild-haired herbs wander out of the thick woods hungrily commanding that food to be put on the table. And it should. This is a wine that would pair perfectly with anything from lamb tagine to Memphis barbeque to wood fired pizza. The only challenge to face is managing to save some for dinner.

Boony Doon Vineyards' Contra retails for about $16 a bottle.

Photo of sunset in the Boony Doon area of Santa Cruz by Flickr user navratil.

Los Angeles resident Michael Newsome, a wine buyer for Whole Foods and a Certified Italian Wine Specialist, joins us every Tuesday for an exploration of California wine. See his previous posts here.

Support Provided By
Read More
A paved walkway stretches along a coastal cliff lined with white residential homes.

7 Ways to Explore Dana Point's Rich History and Marine Life

Here are the seven best ways to get to know the historic, literary and watery sides of Orange County's premier surfing and sailing destination — with plenty of breathtaking ocean views to boot.
A view of the iconic landmark, the Bradbury Building, showing dark, ornamental grilling and brickwork and layers of stairs.

The Savvy Mexican Businesswoman Behind the Iconic Bradbury Building

While the building’s namesake Lewis Bradbury is often referenced in historical accounts, his wife Simona is rarely mentioned alongside him even though she oversaw his business affairs after his death, including the completion of the iconic Bradbury Building.
A large cliff has a distinct rock formation that look like pillars, which create little crevices for people to go into and explore.

9 Epic Volcanic Attractions and Hot Springs to Visit in California

If you enjoy living on the edge, and one of your greatest wishes is to see a volcanic event in action before your very eyes, you don't have to travel as far as Hawaii or Indonesia. California has an entire volcanic field that's ripe for exploring, east of the Sierra Nevada. Here are nine spots to explore.