Irreverent U.S. winemaker Randall Grahm may have been "Doon So Long," according to the title of his recent book, but things are certainly looking up for the producer following a $150,000 cash injection from Naked Wines.
Naked is a British wine merchant which recently expanded to the U.S. and Australia. It asks customers to sponsor independent winemakers by paying a monthly subscription fee, which is redeemed against their next order. In America, members known as "Angels" pay $40 a month in return for savings of “at least 40 percent."
Santa Cruz-based Grahm has been “crowdfunded” by these angels to produce two Rhone-inspired blends: Close But No Cigare – a play on the name of his most famous wine, Le Cigare Volant – as well as a syrah/viognier blend. The wines bear Grahm’s name rather than that of his winery, Bonny Doon. They are currently on sale on Naked's U.S. website priced $17.99 and $14.99 respectively.
“There is a finite limit to how much we can produce under Bonny Doon," says Grahm. "With NakedWines.com I have the freedom to experiment, the flexibility to blend, and the fact that they pay for the grapes helps me big time."
Grahm, who won a James Beard award for his "Doon So Long" vinthology, is a prolific Twitter user, with close to 340,000 followers. He laments the changing nature of the wine business, including the “proliferation of brands and the consolidation of distribution.”