Masters Tasting Association: Fall Release

As I sit here writing at my home in Seattle, the weather is beautiful. We haven’t had rain in a very long time. The Rosé has been flowing, and the doors open all day while we sit on the patio. Best of all, I am very happy that I haven’t been on an airplane in about a month.

2014 was a crazy year for travel. We visited many markets, both US and international. I say we because Brandon, Robbi, and Emily went on some trips as well. Not sure how they visited Portland, Seattle, Boston and Whitefish, Montana, when I went to small towns in the Midwest during tornadoes and thunderstorms.

Gramercy now sits with production at about 8,000 cases, selling in 30+ states and 10 or so countries. With the release of the 2012 vintage, I feel we have our lineup set. I don’t expect to make new wines. Well, maybe just one more Syrah. We are currently negotiating to purchase one of the most exciting and proven Syrah vineyards in Walla Walla. Cross our fingers, hold our breath, etc.…We will probably want to give this vineyard it’s own bottling.

Speaking of travel, we just got back from a tour of the Loire Valley in France and Copenhagen. The goats and fish tour. If you haven’t been to the Loire Valley, it is highly recommended. The Loire is much more relaxed than many parts of France and pretty much tourist free, unless you visit a well know castle. We did a bit of wine research, seeing a few properties in Vouvray and Sancerre. The highlight of the visit was to walk the vineyards and taste at Charles Joguet in Chinon. They are making some fantastic Cabernet Franc. We are also glad to say that last year’s intern extraordinaire Dave Yoshida will be working with them for all of 2015.

After that, we jetted off to Copenhagen. No, NOMA was closed. However, AMASS Restaurant was mind-blowing. Its run by an American Chef named Matt Orlando. He has worked for a few famous places as Chef de Cuisine – NOMA and Per Se. Absolutely crazy experience. He also recommended that we go to his friend’s restaurant, Bror.

Outside Bror Restaurant, CopenhagenBror Restaurant, Copenhagen

Two hits in a row. What we perhaps didn’t understand was the passion for natural wines i.e. sans sulfur. Every wine on every list was natural wine. One fault bad, three faults amazing? I don’t get it. We did have a fantastic bottle of white/orange/brown wine from Frank Cornelissen. Well done. But these wines are like going camping for a bit too long. For a while its kind of cool, but after a while, you just stink. Maybe I’m just old. Or like things clean.

Now it is time for some winemaker clichés. Brandon and I have been particularly excited about the 2012 vintage. You have to love when everything goes right. It gets scary when everything is going right. We just stand around the winery waiting for something to happen – a sudden freeze that we didn’t expect, the truck to break – so many things can go wrong. We feel it’s a bit easier to deal with the tougher vintages like 2010 or 2011. We tend to stay on our game all day. In 2012, we just kinda sit around and drink beer while interns process perfect fruit. Put it in the fermenter, its ferments steady and clean, and put it in a barrel. Winemakers end up feeling totally useless. But that is the story of 2012. It’s a fantastic vintage a la 2007.

Brandon and I have been thinking about how to get better. How do we take it all to the next level? Obviously, we are working in the vineyards. We are diligently working with our growers to grow us the best grapes possible.

We also have 4 or 5 specific plantings for us in some of our best vineyards – clonal Cabernet in Red Willow, head-trained Grenache in Olsen, and Cabernet Sauvignon in gravel at Phinny Hill.

Concrete tanks loaded in and ready for the 2014 vintageConcrete tanks loaded in and ready for the 2014 vintage.

Even more exciting: as I write this, Brandon has a huge, and I mean huge, forklift at the winery, and he is installing our two new Nomblot concrete tanks. These are large rectangular tanks. You may have heard of concrete eggs for fermentation, but eggs are for breakfast and Easter. After my tour of the Rhone last year, I left knowing that we needed some true concrete for fermentation. We will fire it up this vintage. We are also debating lowering SO2 levels in our ferments and perhaps even native ferments on all of our lots this year. We will see. What I know is that we will do whatever it takes to make better wines every year.

We have a new wine this release that we feel will become a Washington Syrah standard – Columbia Valley Syrah. Over the past years, we have received many, many requests for a Syrah with a bit more availability. As our Syrah sources have exploded, in 2012 we felt we were finally able to offer a wine that is both Gramercy Syrah label worthy in a larger quantity. For the first time, we introduce the 2012 Columbia Valley Syrah. (See notes below) Think rocks fruit, with acid.

Red Willow Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Summer 2014Red Willow Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Summer 2014

So what are the MTA wines? We decided to do 2 Rhone-based wines for the club. Right now, we are feeling that most of the future MTA wines will be Rhone-based. That’s not to say that 2012 isn’t a fantastic year for Bordeaux varieties. It is stunning. Imagine a Reserve Cab in 2012 with a John Lewis level of quality. #wonderwhattheydidwiththe21gramsfruit? But I digress…

This release, we feature a single vineyard Grenache from Uplands Vineyard, perhaps one of the most unique Grenache sources in Washington.

We also decided to do a Syrah blend – we took our best rocks fruit source and blended it with some Minick Vineyard Syrah. It is probably one of the most “rocks like” wines we have ever made – funk and pepper.

I feel this is an incredible release and a fantastic way to introduce you to the spectacular 2012 vintage. As always, we thank you for supporting us. For those of you in the Seattle area – we look forward to seeing you on September 18th, at the Fall Release party at the Georgetown Ballroom!


Greg, Pam, Brandon, Robbi, Emily

*Please see below for information on shipping, ordering, our Seattle Fall Release party, tasting notes, and Greg’s Cellar Sounds.


The Masters Tasting Assocation will receive the following wines in the Fall 2014 shipment:

2012 Grenache Upland Vineyard, Columbia Valley – MTA Exclusive

2012 Syrah Rock Steady, Walla Walla Valley – MTA Exclusive

2012 Grenache/Syrah/Mourvédre The Third Man, Columbia Valley

2012 Syrah, Columbia Valley

2012 Syrah The Deuce, Walla Walla Valley

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

MTA 12 total shipment cost = $489.60 (shipment will include 2 of each wine listed)

MTA 6 total shipment cost = $244.80 (shipment will include 1 of each wine listed)

RELEASE INFORMATION: We will charge your credit card for this shipment on September 2nd.  Please visit our website at, login and take some time to look over your profile and update your information with accurate billing, shipping and credit card information.

Adding wine to your order? Click on the Login button and then proceed to View My Allocation. Please click the combine with club box in your shopping cart checkout. We will be happy to ship your club order for free as always. Additional purchases of 3 or more bottles will also qualify for free shipping if combined with the club shipment.

An invoice will be emailed to you at the time your credit card is charged and will also be available in your online profile under the View My Orders sub-menu.

For additional questions regarding your order, please feel free to call us at 509-876-2427.

Please click HERE to return to the Gramercy Cellars homepage to login to your personal account for more details or to place an order.


We are having a Fall Release Pick-up Party on Thursday, September 18th at the Georgetown Ball Room from 5 – 8pm.

Invitation to follow!

If you live in the Seattle area and would like to pick up your wines at the Seattle Release Party on September 18th, please select the Pick up at The Georgetown Ballroom option. Email Emily at or call 509-876-2427 to RSVP. Thank you!


If you have selected the Pick Up At The Winery option, the wines will be ready for pickup at the winery any time beginning September 5th.

:  Weather permitting, we would like to start shipping around September 22nd, via FedEx ground. We will send your wine to you as soon as we feel it will make the trip without being damaged by variable temperatures.  Please email Robbi at if you have questions regarding your shipment or specific dates when you will not be available to accept your shipment.

Cellar Sounds

Ryan Adams – My Wrecking Ball (single)

Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (love this)

Deadmau5 – while(1<2)

Todd Terje – It’s Album Time

The War on Drugs – Lost in a Dream

Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal

Star Anna – Go to Hell

The Fall 2014 Release:

2012 Grenache Upland Vineyard Columbia Valley MTA Exclusive

Upland Vineyard had its beginnings in 1917 when W.B. Bridgeman decided to plant grapes on Snipes Mountain. He farmed the vineyard until his death at age 90 in 1968. In 1972, the Newhouse family purchased the vineyard and now farm over 700 acres of grapes facing all direction in the Snipes Mountain AVA. While they have 20 + varieties at Upland, in recent years Grenache has become the most sought after star of the property. We began working with Upland Grenache in 2011 and immediately recognized its potential. With the perfect ripening conditions of 2012, it absolutely deserves its own bottling. It defines elegance. The profile of Uplands is unique – pure strawberry – single farm, owned by one person for the last 250 years, micro-financed, non GMO, hand harvested to table, flown by drone to market, massaged and sung to daily, Himalayan-Costa Rican-Ethiopian, 162 dimple wild fragaria wrapped in a baby blue box. This wine was fermented cool with 30% whole cluster for 21 days. Aged in neutral puncheon. It’s a small homage to the greatness of Washington Grenache to come.

Taste: Dark forest, raspberry, cranberry, strawberry, granite, white pepper, red flowers, lavender, vanilla, leather, mushroom, crème de cassis, medium body, medium minus tannin, elegant.

2012 Syrah Rock Steady Walla Walla  MTA Exclusive

So you may think this wine is a tribute to the late, great Aretha Franklin. Let’s call this wine what is really is. It’s a tribute to the Rock Steady Crew of NYC. (If you want to see Pam get seriously embarrassed, ask her about this wine. So embarrassed by her husband.) As many of you know, Greg almost never made it to the world of wine, instead hoping to find fame and finance in the world of professional break dancing – dreaming of white boy over-biting alongside Crazy Legs and B-Boy Fresh taking out the NYC Breakers at the Roxy. Now that Pam is even more embarrassed, truthfully this wine is our tribute to the Rocks AVA of Walla Walla. As many already know, SJR Vineyard has been a star for us. But Rocks fruit can lack freshness. We noticed that blending a bit of Minick Syrah breathed new life into the wine. It’s the best of both worlds – red fruit and black fruit, elegance and power, freshness and structure, backspins and moonwalks. This wine is 50% whole cluster, aged 18 months in neutral barrel. It’s an absolutely beautiful Syrah from a near perfect vintage.

Taste: Blackberry, tar, chocolate covered cherries, plum, black pepper, blueberries, smoked meat, seaweed/rocks with a delicate and elegant mouthfeel, soft tannins, medium acid, and medium+ viscosity.

2012 Grenache/Syrah/Mourvédre Third Man Columbia Valley

The 2012 Third Man is most likely our best to date. It is certainly the richest and most full bodied. Remember we are using the Gramercy Scale when we say ripe. These amps go to 7… In 2012, we finally found that elusive red – black fruit combination of the best wines of the Southern Rhone. In 2012, we decided to switch the usually Minick Syrah for the infamous Les Collines Block 50. The improvement is a momentous change. The black fruit of Les Collines is a fantastic blend with the Grenache and Mourvédre from Olsen and Alder Ridge Vineyards. We fermented each variety with varying degree of stems in open top fermenters for 17-21 days. The wines were blended and aged in 2-7 year old puncheons and 225L barrels. The 2012 Third Man has 57% Grenache, 38% Syrah and 5% Mourvedre.

Taste: Combination of red/black fruit, raspberry, blackberry, plum, smoke, meat, black pepper, Provence herbs, ripe, intense mid-palate, floral potpourri, slight vanilla.

2012 Syrah Columbia Valley

The 2012 vintage welcomes a new wine for us – a Columbia Valley AVA designated wine. As we search Washington for better and more unique Syrah, we see two things happening: First, our upper end wines are becoming more vineyard focused with John Lewis and The Deuce based on Les Collines and Lagniappe based on Red Willow. Second, we love the combination of fruit from the lower Yakima Valley and Walla Walla. We can make earthy wines with both structure and freshness. Third, we want to make a Syrah that has better availability and some potential for growth. Enter the Columbia Valley Syrah. This wine blends 4 vineyards – the northerly Minick and Olsen with two Walla Walla Rocks sources – SJR and Stony Vine. Minick and Olsen provide red fruit and freshness, the Rocks gives pepper, funk, smoke, depth and structure. This wine, aged 18 months in neutral barrel, is about 40% whole cluster.

Taste: Blueberry, leather, saline, meat, smoke, funk, raspberry, red cherry, violets, roses, medium body, crisp acidity and energy.

2012 Syrah The Deuce Walla Walla

We realized a major inequality for our Syrahs in 2012. Every wine has a name, except the Walla Walla Syrah. We started searching. We hired consultants. We attended conferences and held town meetings. We considered Imogen and Asher, Silas, Milo and Claire. We contemplated Chave, Verset, Guigal and Allemand. And after millions of dollars and thousands of hours of work, we found the perfect name – The Deuce. Yes, the Deuce. I warn you, do not go there. Two – the smallest and first prime number, Ernie& Bert, Just the two of us. Chuck Woolerly be back in two and two, 46&2. The Deuce pays homage to our hometown of Walla Walla. So nice they named it yada yada yada… The 2012 Deuce shows the best of Les Collines combined with a bit of Rocks fruit. Fruit & Funk. Each year, Les Collines seems to give us more. We truly believe it is one of the top 5 Syrah vineyards in Washington. We are privileged to have Blocks 50, 46 and 36 on the slope. Most excitingly, our new planting across from the John Lewis Block (46) comes online next year. Fermented with 80% whole cluster, the wine was aged for 18 months in neutral puncheon and 225 liter barrels. The 2012 is the most intense and structured Walla Walla Syrah to date.

Taste: Black cherry, funk, salumi, salty meat, soy sauce, green olive, pepper, lavender, brine, rocks, jerky, violets, tar, pine needles.

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley

While not stated on the label, the 2011 Columbia Valley is single vineyard wine. All parcels hail from the amazing Phinny Hill Vineyard. In a more than tough vintage, the Beightol family managed to present us perfect Cabernet. We felt it was perfect as is. We didn’t need any of Cabernet’s four best friends to join the party. Phinny Hill Cabernet alone, in front of Howard, Heidi, Howie and that other lady that no one recognizes. Every year this Phinny Hill seems to get better and better. This Cabernet is not for those that love Cabernet from states south of Washington. Instead, we advise you to look East. It’s firm Cabernet (translated; it has got some tannin) with herbal notes (translated: it shows some pyrazine or as PR trained, marketing focused winemakers say – green herb). It’s an old skool, throwback Cabernet and we love it unconditionally. Aged for 23 months in 40% new French oak.

Taste: Dark plums, black cherry, cassis, coffee, cedar, saline, dark chocolate, green herb, gravel, medium body, firm tannin, Old World-esque, baking spice.

Veraison at our Estate Vineyard

The Robert Parker Reviews:

2012 Gramercy Cellars Columbia Valley Syrah

Rating: (91-93)
Drink 2014 – 2029
Moving to the 2012’s, and the first vintage for the cuvee, the 2012 Syrah Columbia Valley comes all from The Rocks region of Walla Walla in 2012, but will incorporate grapes from other regions throughout the Columbia Valley going forward (hence the Colombia Valley AVA). Tasted as a final blend, it offers impressive pepper, bacon fat and assorted dark fruit qualities to go with a medium to full-bodied, classy, perfumed and layered profile on the palate. Possessing solid concentration, good mid-palate density and superb length, it’s a beautiful Washington State Syrah that will drink well for 10 to 15 years.

2012 Gramercy Cellars “The Third Man”

Rating: (92-94)
Drink 2014 – 2026
Moving to the Rhone blends the 2012 Third Man is a blend of 57% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 5% Mourvedre that will spend 18 months in 14% new French oak. Seeing 30-50% whole cluster fermentation for the Grenache, it offers peppery herbs, licorice, spice and assorted dark fruits to go with a medium to full-bodied, layered and rich profile on the palate. Balanced and elegant, it will have 10-12 years of longevity. Master Sommelier turned winemaker, Greg Harrington is fashioning some of the top wines in Washington from his base in Walla Walla. His 2011s showed beautifully from barrel last year, and didn’t disappoint this year from bottle. His 2012s will be even better. Tel. (509) 876-2427;

2012 Gramercy Cellars “The Deuce” Walla Walla Syrah

Rating: (92-94)
Drink 2014 – 2029
In the same ballpark, the 2012 Syrah Walla Walla is 100% Syrah, from the Les Collines and SJR vineyards, that was fermented with 50% whole cluster and aged 18 months in 14% new French oak puncheons. Exhibiting beautiful aromas and flavors of violets, pepper, flowers and purple fruit, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a layered, pure and seamless texture, and terrific length. It should be relatively accessible on release, yet evolve gracefully for upwards of 15 years or more. Master Sommelier turned winemaker, Greg Harrington is fashioning some of the top wines in Washington from his base in Walla Walla. His 2011s showed beautifully from barrel last year, and didn’t disappoint this year from bottle. His 2012’s will be even better. Tel. (509) 876-2427;

Greg tastes through a variety of Gramercy vintages:

2013 Rosé – Drink this up. Although I may have to eat my words a bit on Rosé – it seems that this just continues to get better for about 2 days after opening. Two separate customers have told me this. I left one overnight and it blew me away. Can this age????

2013 Picpoul – The Sharknado of Gramercy wines. Who new this would be 1) so good and 2) so popular?

2011 L’Idiot du Village Mourvédre – Typical order: “I’ll take 2 bottles of Lagniappe, 2 bottles of Walla Walla Syrah, and 3 cases of L’Idiot.” Mourvédre is here to stay.

2010 Syrah, Walla Walla – This one will age for quite a few more years, although we served this alongside the 2010 John Lewis Syrah at a dinner in Tokyo and at this point, it’s in a much better place. Totally blew my mind.

2010 Cabernet (both Columbia Valley and Walla Walla) – I really like the state they are in. Mostly primary, with a bit of green herb, but very firm – almost a mix of Napa mountain fruit and Bordeaux.

2009 Syrah, Walla Walla – While very pleasing, this one is not a long-term ager. We did a dinner with Steve Tanzer and 6 wineries showed 2009 vs 2011. Overwhelming verdict was that the 2011 vintage is a much longer-term player.

2008 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Lower East – The Lower East Cab is mind-bending right now. Our great friend Gareth has some and called me at least 10 times telling me I needed to try a bottle. “Dude, it’s a Bordeaux ringer.” Yup, he was right. I opened a Columbia Valley Cab alongside it and while it’s a fantastic wine, it still has years left – more New World right now.

All John LewisHold all for now – if you have to drink one, start with the 2009.

2005 Syrahs – Drink both of them. They are ready.

Greg drinks epic wines from other parts of the world:

2012 St Peray “Silex” Guy Farge – Southern Rhone white with acid and chalk? Crazy.

2013 Bandol Rose, Chateau Pibarnon – Wow – amazing Rosé. Not cheap.

2007 Chateau Pradeaux Bandol – This is the current release.

2012 Monier Perrol St. Joseph – Two growers come together to create a new domaine. Stems rule.

2010 Montevertine – Insane Sangiovese. Not even the best wine of the domaine. Can’t wait to see what the Le Pergola Torte is like.

2008 Clos Rougeard – Best Cabernet Franc made outside Bordeaux. Total unicorn wine. Had to go to France to find it. But an equally legendary find is Chinon, Philippe Alliet. We drank 3 of his cuvees at 3 different restaurants – both red and white sensational. Legendary.

2008 Gauby Muntada – Fantastic Grenache/Syrah/Mourvédre/Carignan blend from the Rousillon near France. This has gone from a $20 quaffer estate to one of the most serious in France in a very short time.


Fence crop