Big House Wines

Cheap wines with funky labels and screw-tops

Wine of the Week

Big House Wines

Randall Grahm is the owner of Bonny Doon Wines and also created the Big House wine label, named after the vineyard's proximity to the Soledad prison in California. Grahm is irreverent, funny, and a born risk-taker. In 2006, he sold Big House Wines to the Wine Group, an equally irreverent and risk-taking bunch whose main goal in life is to produce good wines that skirt the lowest possible price points – wines like Franzia, Corbett Canyon, and Fish Eye. The Wine Group was formed by a group of Coca-Cola folks, who have turned it into a huge company that is the polar opposite of smallish artisanal operations like Bonny Doon. Funny is not its favorite word (that would be profits). Wine watchers wondered if Big House Wines could retain its charm under the new regime.

Enter Romanian Georgetta Dane, a talented winemaker with a master's degree in enology. Her hiring makes more sense than you might expect, because just like Grahm, she's used to working with grapes most Americans have never heard of, including Malvasia, Tannat, Aglianico, and Touriga. The Wine Group's marching order to Big House management was to go for the youth market. So prices are about $8, labels are funky/funny, and the bottles have screw-tops.

The good news is the wines are as good as ever. Big House White is nicely acidic and has big floral and fruit aromas. It would be classified as a dry wine, though it has just a hint of sugar to make it a good quaffing wine for these hot summer days. Ditto for the Big House Pink, though it has more body, and its aromas tend more toward raspberry and strawberry. The Big House Red is my favorite of the bunch. Just as in the old days, the winemaker avoids over-oaking the wine and keeps the texture light. Nonetheless, the flavors are well structured and forceful, ideally paired with a Mediterranean stew.

Big House Wines are available all over town.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Food Reviews
South Austin Irish Pub Features Practically Perfect Fish and Chips
South Austin Irish Pub Features Practically Perfect Fish and Chips
Darcy’s Donkey is a welcoming addition to Barton Springs Road's Restaurant Row

Melanie Haupt, April 5, 2019

Feasting on Filipino Flavors at Be More Pacific
Feasting on Filipino Flavors at Be More Pacific
Former food truck combines Southeast Asian tastes for a fun and approachable experience

Jessi Cape, March 29, 2019

More Wine of the Week
Wine of the Week
Superb Spanish Wines at Bargain Prices
Superb Spanish wines at bargain prices: Bodegas Franco-Españolas reds

Wes Marshall, Oct. 18, 2013

Wine of the Week
Wine of the Week
Homefront Red: grapes for a good cause

Wes Marshall, Sept. 20, 2013

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Big House Wines, Randall Grahm, The Wine Group

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle