Randall Grahm
Dining Reviews

Randall Grahm Kicks Off New Soif Tasting Series

Bonny Doon Vineyard guru holds master class

Randall Grahm, wine educator and founder of Bonny Doon Vineyard. PHOTO: JONATHAN RAMIREZ

An avant garde master of whatever’s next in viticulture, Bonny Doon Vineyard founder Randall Grahm has been rhôning around the world wine stage for decades. And now he’s returning to his roots as an educator, raconteur and mentor for anyone with an inquiring taste bud. Hence this Saturday’s rare Master Class with Randall Grahm, to be held May 11 from 1-3:30 p.m. at Soif Wine Bar. If you’ve ever wanted the lowdown on Grahm’s devotion to the spectacular grapes of the Rhône or his esoteric wisdom on the subject of terroir, this is your chance.

RG tells me that he’ll be bringing, “a slew of oddball wines” with him to Soif this Saturday, and will, “probably talk for a couple of hours about terroir, Popelouchum [Grahm’s San Juan Bautista estate vineyard] and the deeper meaning of vinous qi.” Possibly a few other topics as well.

The winemaker’s appearance kicks off Soif’s new series of Master Class wine tastings designed to spotlight individuals with notable depth of knowledge and experience in the wine industry. In addition to waxing loquacious about Rhône grape varietals, Grahm will discuss and critique not only his own wines, but also other wines he’s chosen from Soif’s wine shop.  Special cheeses and a selection from Chef Tom McNary’s charcuterie will add counterpoint to the flavor ambience of the event.

Tastings at the will include: 2014 Bonny Doon Bien Nacido Syrah, 2012 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant, 2011 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc, 2015 Domaine Chambeyron-Manin Côte-Rôtie, 2018 Bonny Doon Vin Gris Normale, and the legendary 2016 Vieux Telegraphe “La Crau” Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Saturday, May 11. Tasting begins promptly at 1p.m. Soif, 105 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz. $100 general/$80 for Soif Wine Club members. 423-2020, soifwine.com/new-events.

Mothers Love Avanti

Under the lively new ownership of Jonathan and Tatiana Glass, the Westside tradition that is Ristorante Avanti at 1917 Mission St. will be offering a special Mother’s Day Brunch menu on Sunday, May 12, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. I’m a fool for Avanti’s ultra-creamy polenta and would personally walk a mile for polenta with poached eggs, morel mushrooms and asparagus. The menu also lists an earthy fried egg, pancetta and avocado sandwich on house-made focaccia. There’s strawberry french toast for those who like it sweet, as well as ricotta ravioli with artichokes, green garlic and mint. And don’t worry, they will be running their wildly popular pappardelle with meatballs on Mom’s Day as well. Delicious ideas, as well as many attractive and comfortable new interior decor changes. Make reservations soon! ristoranteavanti.com.

Farmers Markets Spring Up

Opening this week, the Scotts Valley Farmers Market is back every Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the SV Community Center parking lot. That means organic veggies, fruits, herbs, pasture-raised eggs and meats, fresh flowers (the ultimate sign of spring!), breads, pastries, and cooked-on-the-spot cuisine. Watch for this summer’s schedule of pop-up breakfasts and a farm-to-table, multi-course meal starting on June 29 and created by Kenny Woods of 1440 Multiversity. Check the Scotts Valley Farmers Market facebook page for reservations and details.

Felton’s Farmers Market also starts this week, running every Tuesday from 2:30-6:30 p.m. in the heart of town through October. Fresh berries, DIY workshops from Mountain Feed & Farm Supply, fresh fish from H&H, and new this season, authentic street tacos from Tacos El Chuy, all reasons to soak up some redwood atmosphere on Tuesday afternoons. santacruzfarmersmarket.org.

Coming Soon

It’s almost time to say hello to the urgently awaited Bad Animal at 1011 Cedar St. in downtown Santa Cruz. A truly postmodern enterprise with the hybrid, hyphenated subtitle to prove it. The bookstore-restaurant-winebar is currently enjoying its final gauntlet of inspections. Stay tuned.

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Look for her recent memoir “Inside the Flame” at bookstores everywhere.

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