California Dreamin’

7 December 2015

News from Stateside has is that the Rhone Ranger rides again.

Yep, that’s right….charismatic Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard is stirring the lees, this time in the field of Grape Breeding. From what we’ve read, his new crowd funded project ‘Popelouchum’ is going to be as ground breaking as they come.

The Iggy Pop of New World Wines, together with some very serious players like Prof. Andy Walker of UC Davis and Dr. Josè Vouillamoz of Wine Grapes fame, is on the road to create some 10,000 new ‘weapons grade’ grape varieties from plants that they’ll be cultivating over the next 10-12 years.

And with the heart-beating hope that Mother Nature will play her much needed supportive role, if anyone can do it, then surely it will be this band of grape soul searchers.

The new ‘gonna-be’ Popelouchum ‘Grahm Cru’ is located in San Juan Bautista, east-southeast of Santa Cruz, close to California’s pacific coast. The initial word about this new 50 hectare ‘outdoor laboratory’ is that they are seeking to create seriously juicy grapes with inbuilt disease and drought resistance. The latter is something which is of increasing significance to the grape-growing and wine-making community of California. With severe drought conditions continuing to prevail in The Grape State, Randall views his latest project as a proactive response to local climate change.

Indeed climate change is a global issue, the consequences of which wine-makers the world over are facing.

And Grahm believes Popelouchum could well assist the grape world at large. What he and his crew will learn over the coming 10-12 years could well offer invaluable benefits far from the shores of Monterey Bay. Of course a planting & breeding programme like this takes time.

But have no fear, the Rhone Range has already planted his new ‘cru’ with a small parcel of his favourite Grenache (Garnacha if you’re Spanish or Cannonau if you’re from Sardegna). The first nano-batch is expected to be released sometime in 2017.

Ain’t no doubt it, this California Dreamin’ project has struck a chord with us at THENATIVEGRAPES. Potential crosses involving some of Italy’s classic native grapes are on the cards already with names like Rossese, Nebbiolo, Ciliegielo and Picolit being shown some love. Randall is certainly sexing up the industry with this move and we for one are happy to play our part in spreading the love too.

Check out the Popelouchum Project and the Bonny Doon Vineyard here:

POPELOUCHUM – In Randall’s own words

Sub-Terroir Rhonesick Blues….Grahm’s take on a DYLAN Classic

randall grahm popelouchum
Title Photo: Thanks to the talent of Sara Remington

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