NYC wine power list: #2 – Paul Grieco

Paul Grieco is the second most influential person in wine in New York City according to our survey of industry elites.

Grieco is a partner at Restaurant Hearth in the East Village and in the Terroir wine bars that now have five locations in the city.

Grieco cut his wine chops at his family restaurant, La Scala in Toronto. He came to New York City in 1991 and by 1995 he joined Gramercy Tavern as a captain, marinating in the “enlightened hospitality” philosophy of Danny Meyer and the sauces of chef Tom Colicchio. He soon came to run the wine program to great acclaim.

But in recent years at Hearth and the Terroirs, he has become known for putting together the fearsomely independent wine lists that serve as part drinks list, part manifesto, and part education, complete with punchy, page-long essays. The wines of the Jura, the wines of Chateau Musar in Lebanon and other food-friendly wines from off-the-beaten path dominate his lists. He’s so convinced of the virtues of sherry that he gives away free glasses before 7 PM at the Terroir wine bars. He was a key early adapter of keg wine/wine on tap. Late last year he told me that he thinks Australian wines will be the next big thing.

Five years ago, his stridency was on display as he banned all white wines by the glass other than Riesling during the months of summer. It was so hilarious and so well received that the concept has now grown into a national phenomenon with restaurants across the country at least offering some Riesling selections by the glass, even if they don’t summarily dismiss other wines.

His good humor and strong views have made him a pied piper of sommeliers. So it is no surprise that industry elites voted him as the second place on our list.

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12 Responses to “NYC wine power list: #2 – Paul Grieco”

  1. Maybe I should have submitted my votes.

    Although, i doubt it would have mattered

    0 fof 4.

  2. I know NYC always has an eye towards the “off beat”. But really?

  3. Well, that pretty much makes it clear that Guillaume Touton is #1. 😉

    While I’m joking and find that man as offensive as the wine he peddles, there is something of a case to be made for it if one views “influential” in the broadest (i.e. not solely of positive influence) perspective.

    Touton’s model of importing cheap, lowest common denominator bulk and co-op wine under labels owned and controlled by his company has unfortunately grown into a national movement of every small to medium sized distributor with the cash flow to do so following suit and thusly squeezing many fine, conscientious importers out of the lucrative glass pour and case stack business that would have otherwise fallen to them.

  4. I figured he’d be either near the top of the list or not at all. Can’t deny his influence. I first heard of the Summer of Riesling at Hungry Mother in Kendall Square, Cambridge of all places. Wasn’t until later when I was in the East Village that I realized it was originally from Terroir. Looking forward to tomorrow’s No. 1 post!

  5. Gotta love a guy from Richmond who comments on the New York wine scene and what makes it tick.

  6. He’s a self serving demagouge. His winebars are over priced with a generally mediocre selection, based more on wholesale cost than quality.

  7. Thank you for the love.

  8. first person on this list who is relevant outside the city

  9. Paul has been rolling the vinous rock up the hill since his days in Toronto – Kudos to you Canada Dry!

  10. […] Asimov, NYT Paul Grieco, Hearth and Terroir wine bars Michael Skurnik, Michael Skurnik Wines Daniel Johnnes, Dinex Group, Daniel Johnnes Imports, and La […]

  11. Paul Grieco.One of the best sommelier worldwide.
    Without doubt.

  12. Had a great conversation with Paul when I was at Hearth last December, he is the man!


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