Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
May 04th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Banana Slug Wine

news3Art and wine come together with Bonny Doon Vineyard, UCSC partnership

"A former colleague said I’m looking more like James Joyce,” admits Randall Grahm, the witty vintner whiz behind Bonny Doon Vineyard, in reference to how he and the aforementioned Irish author wear similar circular eyeglasses.

The comparison of the men could continue, given the avant-garde creativity and unique paths forged by both. Yet, while Joyce demonstrated his keen awareness of the world through a stream of consciousness writing style, Grahm continues to capture his originality in wine bottles. This knack is evident in his latest label, for which the winemaker time-travelled back to his days at UC Santa Cruz.



In the ’70s, not even a decade after UCSC was built, Grahm was a philosophy and pre-med student, affiliated, unsurprisingly, with the artsy, free-thinking College Five, known today as Porter College (proud owner of “The Squiggle”). Another prized Porter possession can usually be found inside of an office overlooking this curvy red statue: Dean of the Arts David Yager. Ever since being named dean two-and-a-half years ago, Yager has made a deliberate effort to implement creative collaborations between UCSC and the City of Santa Cruz, taking the term “college town” to a
new level.

One of the most fruitful of these partnerships began almost six months ago, as Yager chatted with Grahm over coffee. The pair decided that one lucky UCSC art student would have the chance to design a wine label for Bonny Doon Vineyard, and a portion of the proceeds would go toward art department scholarships.
This partnership seemed like a no-brainer from the get-go as far as Yager was concerned. “It was a combination of [already] knowing Randall Grahm, looking for an avenue to create more student scholarships, and seeing how passionate people are about wine here,” explains Yager.

The result? The 2010 Banana Slug Roussanne—a white wine, though appropriately yellow in color, that is the embodiment of light autumnal fruit, such as quince and Asian pear, yet is simultaneously strong enough to be paired with rich dishes.

Essentially, “It’s a white wine that thinks it’s a red wine,” says Louise Leong, quoting Grahm himself. Leong is the UCSC art major, education minor, and illustration editor for the student-run newspaper City on a Hill Press who designed the label. Art department staff selected three art students to submit label designs, from which Grahm and Yager chose Leong’s.
Leong’s label was conscientiously crafted. After all, it had to be, according to Grahm. “The objective of a wine label is to somehow communicate, in an oblique way, the contents of the inside,” he says.

Grahm says the two other significant functions of a wine label are “to attract someone to the bottle—to pick it up and buy it” [and] “to set [someone’s] expectations and have those expectations met.”
Leong’s winning label strays from the farmlands, quaint cottages, et al. featured on traditional wine labels, and instead uses bright colors and bold techniques in its depiction of a banana slug (suggested by Yager), a pear, bees, Grahm’s celebrated car (a 1972 DS-21 Citroën), and a Flying Cigar—a reference to Bonny Doon’s flagship wine, “Le Cigare Volant,” which is also the name of the winery’s on-site restaurant.

Leong is now part of a group of internationally acclaimed artists that includes Gary Taxali and Ralph Steadman, who have also provided entertaining, clever images for Grahm’s creations. The collaboration went so well that Leong is currently working on another label for Bonny Doon Vineyard—an opportunity that is sure to further her plans for pursuing illustration and design professionally once she graduates from UCSC in June.

Pleased with this project, Grahm also hints toward further partnership with the UCSC Arts Division, revealing, “It’s very likely we’ll do a red as well.”

Leong’s artwork, along with the labels designed by runners-ups Arriane Martin-Cuadrado and Kristen Gautier-Downes, will be on display at the Le Cigare Volant Tasting Room on April 30, in honor of the official release of the highly anticipated 2010 Banana Slug Roussanne, which runs $16 per bottle (or $13.60 for Bonny Doon Vineyard members).

For those intrigued by Grahm’s transformation from student to winemaker, the 2011 book “An Ideal Wine” by David Darlington explores Grahm’s fondness for Santa Cruz and UCSC’s influence on his stimulating career. Plus, it’s chock-full of unforgettable Grahm-isms, like this one—found on page 45:  

Wine was my LSD … it was like discovering sex—it created all sorts of possibilities that weren’t there before, and added a richness to life that was all new to me.”


Bonny Doon Vineyard is located at 328 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz. Call 425-6771 or 425-6737 for more information. To purchase a bottle or case of 2010 Banana Slug Roussanne, go to bonnydoonvineyard.com.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Mountain Mystic

When Cora Evans died in Boulder Creek in 1957, her thousands of pages of religious writings hadn’t yet been published. More than a half a century later, Evans’ fiery visions and spiritual devotion have inspired a crusade within Catholicism to make her the Santa Cruz Mountains’ first saint

 

Wesak (Water) Taurus Solar Festival, Buddha Blesses the Earth

A most important celebration occurs Sunday, May 3—the Wesak Taurus Buddha Solar Festival/full moon. At the moment of the full moon the Buddha’s presence enters the Earth plane for eight minutes. He brings the Will-to-Good from the Father, which, when reaching humanity becomes goodwill (Mother Principle). Held yearly in a valley hidden deep within the Himalayas, the Wesak festival is prepared for for months in advance (beginning at Winter Solstice). On festival day, amidst pilgrims, disciples and Holy Ones gathered in the valley, the Buddha is invoked through movement, symbols and mantrams. At the moment of the full moon, hearing the words, “We are ready, Buddha, come,” the Lord of Illumination (brother of the Christ) appears in the clouds above the altar to emanate forth the will and purpose of God to earth. The blessing of the father is then held in safekeeping for distribution at the June full moon Goodwill Festival. The day of Wesak (May 3, 8:42 p.m. West Coast) all disciples (east and west) place crystal vessels filled with pure water outside (in gardens, on rooftops, porches and steps) under the heavens. As the Buddha blesses the world, all waters, including waters within our bodies, are blessed. The Buddha is accompanied by the Forces of Enlightenment to illuminate humanity’s minds. Humanity then begins to express new constructive, productive and beneficial ways of the Art of Livingness. Wesak covers five days—two days (before) of dedicated preparation, the actual festival “Day of Safeguarding,” and two days (after) distributing goodwill (the NGWS to humanity). Join us in the Valley by reciting the Great Invocation, mantra of direction for humanity.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of May 1

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Hole in the Wall

Popular Aptos spot opens for dinner

 

How do you connect with the natural world?

My connection to the natural world is through my art. I totally feel it there very physically in nature and even right here on the street. Jonathan Rosen, Felton, Pastor

 

Hess Collection Winery

My friend Emma from London came to visit for a few days in early March, so I took her wine tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains—a rare treat for her, as there aren’t too many vineyards in the middle of London. Her visit reminded me how fortunate we are to live in this paradise of ultra-fresh produce, with grapes growing in wild profusion.

 

Springtime Walkabout

May Day Flower Festival, free tours of the UCSC Farm, and a nondairy chocolate indulgence