F&W honors a Washington state winery from a former top New York sommelier.
Gramercy Cellars, Washington State
A master sommelier at 26 (the youngest of any American) and in charge of "everything wet" for the restaurant group B.R. Guest at 34, Greg Harrington was doing quite well in the NYC wine scene. Then, in 2004, he and his wife, Pam, took a tasting trip to Washington state. In Walla Walla, 20 winery appointments soon morphed into 40, and the Harringtons realized they wanted to make wine there themselves. Two years later, "We sold our 650-square-foot apartment on the Upper West Side, which bought us 18 acres and financed half the winery. We knew if we could get our first two vintages in the barrel, we'd find a way to make it." When Harrington's Cabernets and Côte-Rôtie-esque Syrahs hit the market, the critical response was immediate and gratifying. These aren't knock-you-over-the-head wines. He says, "We like higher acid, lower alcohol (most of our wines are under 14 percent) and only a touch of oak." Harrington is now gambling on Tempranillo, which may prove as successful as his first big risk.