Randall Grahm, the visionary behind Santa Cruz’s Bonny Doon Vineyard has always followed his own path.
When Chardonnay dominated, he fostered a thirst for lesser-known Rhone varietals.
When he opened his tasting room, it wasn’t in the faux Mediterranean style so en vogue, but a most quirky spot adorned with spaceships.
Now, leave it to him to think outside the box again by veering into the realm of hard-cider making.
His Bonny Doon ¿Querry?, which I had a chance to sample, is not your usual sparkling alcoholic apple cider.
It’s far more complex with three kinds of apples (Macintosh, Pink Pearl and crab), two kinds of quince, as well as Seckel and Bartlett pears.
It’s quite dry and crisp. Apple is predominant, but you also get a roundness from pear and added astringency from the quince. It’s quite elegant tasting. And at 7 percent alcohol by volume, quite easy to quaff.
It would go with pretty much anything at this time of year, but especially charcuterie, roast pork, a cheese plate with dried pears or a not-too-sweet apple tart.
A bottle of the 2011 vintage is $16 on the Bonny Doon Web site. The label, which comes in both a black and a white version, is based on a free-hand drawing done by Grahm.