How To Bag Wine Drinking Millenials: Crazy Bear’s Approach vs Randall Grahm’s

Above is the back label copy for Crazy Bear’s Charbono-Nay wine which is trying to bag the Millenial Market.

Below is how Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm responded to Mutineer Magazine’s question:  “What do you want millennials to know about your wine?”

“A lot,” answered Grahm.

One, wine is alive. Wine has an intelligence. Wine changes. Wine needs time to develop and you need time to understand it. Don’t make the judgment in a second.  Don’t think you understand the wine in a second. Be patient. Spend time. Invest time. The average person doesn’t grasp the distinction, doesn’t understand that there are wines that are made through industrial process, that are very dependable, very standardized. You’re not going to have this variation from year to year, but they’re confections, and then there are other wines that are more artisanal, maybe they’re flawed, but there’s something more authentic and real about them…honest.

Read more at Mutineer Magazine:

(Confections! What a wonderful word to describe that process. I knew exactly what he meant.)

Learn about Crazy Bear Wine’s approach to bagging Millenials here. The writing here is a marvel as well. In a different way.

PS And instead of sandals, I’ll be sure to wear my Ugg boots with my Patagucci skirt this summer should I get a chance to bag me some #crazybear.

13 thoughts on “How To Bag Wine Drinking Millenials: Crazy Bear’s Approach vs Randall Grahm’s

  1. Thank you for including #crazybear in your post. It seems to have created a life of its own…

    Now “Patagucci” – I haven’t heard that one in a while! It always makes me laugh.

    Look forward to seeing you in WA!


  2. As you might infer from my comments, I think that the true essence of wine – real wine – is somewhat at odds with the profound Attention Deficit Disordered times in which we currently live. I would almost suggest that real wine is the antidote to ADD. I hope that Crazy Bear does not sell for more than $6.00. It’s not so subliminal message is that you really don’t need to attend to the wine; you need to attend to having fun. And maybe that is appropriate for a wine that doesn’t cost more than $6.00.


    • Randall- #crazybear wine is going to be super-pricey. Millenials have tons of cash and lay it down to party. The wine itself doesn’t demand attention, because you drink it real fast. If you crush it fast enough, you become attention, as its intoxicating flavor fills you with the spirit of a crazy bear.

      There isn’t anything more real, or essence filled, than being possessed by the spirit of a wild animal… It is far beyond terroir– it is Manimal. Let’s see Clos Roche Blanche do that!


  3. Hardy, my friend. I am disturbed by your comments, though it is possible that I am temporarily passing through an irony-free zone. Unless you are speaking a particularly sophisticated meta-language that I’m not understanding, please explain to me how one justifies charging very high prices for wines that you drink “real fast.” What is the real value proposition here? Maybe this is a generational thing, or just a non-animist kind of thing, but I just don’t think that wine should be drunk real fast. That sort of defeats the purpose of wine, at least for me. Real wine should be savored, and should be an occasion for focusing and refining one’s attention. If you’re looking for an orgiastic buzz, why not just go straight for old Chartreuse? I think that you have stated elsewhere that one of the problems of the crazybear wines was just that they were not very good. Allow me to state the obvious: why not work on improving the quality of the wine, rather than on engineering it to be ingestible in a great draught? Still more obvious: While language is magical and can be capable of moving people (some of the time) to all sorts of acts – heroic or foolish – incantatory speech, however cordial to millennial ears, will not be sufficient unto itself to induce even young people with tons of discretionary income (who are these people, by the way?) to purchase a wine more than once if it intrinsically sucks. I am agreed by the way that animistic possession may well be a cooler experience than a bloodless contemplation of the Platonic ideal of terroir, but I am more than a little skeptical of the vehicle of that particular transport.


  4. I read this post and followed the link to the Crazy Bear stuff. I’m a ‘millenial’ and I love wine and the process and everything Mr. Grahm talks about in his reply. I too feel that whatever attempt at irony this Crazy Bear brand is going for is not funny, does not serve the primary purpose of irony (to produce self-efacing rifts that provide deeper reflection and critical perspective), and has nothing to do with the profundity of wine.

    For the engaged millenial the best form of marketing is honest conversation and communication with integrity. I’d much rather read the musings of the controversial Nicolas Joly than some nonsensical crap about another potentially boring wine from California. Maybe all those not so subtle bloggers out there will jump into the fray of such a poor attempt at humour, but anyone who actually cares deeply about what is one of the most profound agricultural products on this planet (which perhaps demands an un-ironic deference to such a profound product as rice) is probably more interested in less drivel and more substance. I don’t want to put my extra time into reading some marketers self-glorified attempt at cleverness.

    I apologize if this is harsh, but I feel strongly about this sort of thing. I whole heartededly agree with Grahm.


  5. Randall,
    The greatest thing about this post and exchange is that it shows who you are- A defender of real wine, its beauty, and an advocate for what most juice is completely devoid of now- life and soul.

    There is a generation of new drinkers (that may not know it yet) who will be grateful that you fought for honest wine.

    You belong on that stage tonight.

    Cheers and congratulations on your Hall of Fame induction!


  6. There’s always someone in marketing who thinks they’ve come up with the next best thing.

    It all sounds like the frat party mentality…

    Thankfully, we all *do* grow up. It’s simple gravity.


  7. Had a nice phone conversation with Hardy yesterday, who assures me that he is absolutely a believer/lover of real wine. The crazybear concept is an ironic commentary on the issue of marketing wine to millennials. As such, it is meta-humor on the order of Andy Kaufman’s – he, who wrestled women, (and was somewhat reviled for his efforts). It is somewhat embarrassing to me that I, an ironist to the end, have been somewhat hoist by my own petard in this case. I am grateful to Hardy for his gracious comments on my own role as a defender of real wine. I am hopeful that the wines that I produce will themselves grow increasingly more “real.”


  8. Oh my! This been a marvel to watch unfold! At every turn I was tempted as the blog author to step in, respond, wield my “authority” as “truthmaker.” But I trusted my audience, especially Randall and Hardy, to know that the “truth” would come out–and call attention to both the worthy and authentic practices of Randall as a winemaker, and the strategy of Hardy to get people to pay attention to how we’re manipulated to ignore what’s in the wine for the hype about the wine.

    Thank you everyone for participating in this discussion. Thank you, Randall, for engaging it and taking it seriously. It has been disturbing to me, in the wine industry’s desperate attempts to sell wine to millenials and anyone else, that the quality of the wine has been lost to the marketing of the wine and I appreciate Hardy for taking the risk of going after the topic in this over the top fashion.


  9. What is most odd about this exchange is the complete absence of the slightest self-criticism on Mr. Grahm’s part about his role in creating marketing strategies not entirely unlike those of Crazy Bear. Really, when was Mr. Grahm ever a durable champion of terroir? A self-admitted marketing whiz, he built a company which eventually came to produce lazy, terroir-disfiguring brands on an industrial scale, over 450,000 cases per annum.
    Now that he has down-sized, he seeks to recreate himself as terroir’s greatest champion. There’s your irony.


  10. @Ken. I am not defending mega-producers, but to your point, even when Big House was in Mr.Grahm’s fold, the wines exhibited character and flavor that were well beyond their price point. Bonny Doon’s wines were my entry into what wine should be. I cannot simply dimiss there wines simply for the number of bottles produced. There are plenty of smaller wineries that do not have the same quality. Ultimately, it is what is inside that matters, and not the text or image on the label.


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