21. Bonny Doon Vineyard, Santa Cruz, Calif. from 101 Best Wineries in America 2016 Slideshow

101 Best Wineries in America 2016 Slideshow

Photo by Bonny Doon Vineyards

Slide 81 of 101
21. Bonny Doon Vineyard, Santa Cruz, Calif.

For the Rhône-ish at heart, the annual release of a new batch of wines from Randall Grahm — the original "Rhône Ranger,” who first set up shop in 1983 — is cause for celebration, and for reaching for a bunch of glasses and a sturdy corkscrew. Well, actually, forget that last part, because Bonny Doon Vineyards, Grahm's groundbreaking, idiosyncratic Central Coast winery, has long since gone exclusively to screwcaps, and thank goodness for that. Grahm makes wines with consummate skill, often naming them with puns and obscure references. Many of these have become California classics, including the Châteauneuf-du-Pape-inspired Le Cigare Volant; the charming evocation of grenache called Clos de Gilroy; and a whole passel of serious syrahs. And you've got to love a guy who bottles an 85/15 blend of merlot and cabernet franc labeled “I’m Not Drinking Any £#ƒ€!¢ Merlot!” Next up for Grahm: 10,000 (!) new grape varieties he says he plans to breed as part of his Popelouchum vineyard project, aimed at discovering a true New World grand cru. Hey, if anyone can do it, it's this guy.