Gramercy garners Best New Winery honor

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Cheers to Walla Walla's Gramercy Cellars for its "Best New Winery of the Year" designation from Food & Wine Magazine.

The winery on JB George Road has been feted in the magazine's 13th annual American Wine Awards. This is the second consecutive year Walla Walla has nabbed one of the magazine's top honors. Last year Charles Smith was named Winemaker of the Year by the publication.

Gramercy owner and winemaker Greg Harrington had already been well established in the wine industry before he and his wife Pam left New York City in 2006 for a move to Walla Walla.

At 26 Harrington was the youngest American to become a master sommelier. By 34 he was in charge of "everything wet" for the restaurant group B.R. Guest, according to the magazine's synopsis. The sale of their 650-square-foot apartment on New York's Upper West Side gave the Harringtons enough capital to buy 18 Walla Walla acres and finance half the winery, writer Richard Nalley described.

But the transformation from a top N.Y. sommelier to winemaker came when the wine hit the shelves.

"When Harrington's Cabernets and Cte-Rtie-esque Syrahs hit the market, the critical response was immediate and gratifying," Nalley wrote.

In the interview with Harrington, the winemaker said, "These aren't knock-you-over-the-head wines. We like higher acid, lower alcohol (most of our wines are under 14 percent) and only a touch of oak."

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Last call for Sashimi Sake.

Downtown gourmet grocery Salumiere Cesario is planning its final serving of its Thursday sashimi and sake tradition for the season. Tonight's menu includes fresh Oregon albacore tuna with house-made ponzu and an array of large- and small-format sake selections. Other surprises may be in store. Owner Damon Burke has been known to throw in udon noodles, tuna tartar on fried wonton crisps and miso soup as part of the Thursday dining experience.

Service begins at 6 p.m. at the Italian market, 20 S. Second Ave. For more details, call 529-5620.

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Tickets are still available for this weekend's Vineyard Pasture Dinner featuring JLC Winery wines.

In honor of the upcoming fall harvest season, the event will celebrate the bounty of Spofford Station, starting with a farm wagon ride into Spofford Station Foothills Vineyard. JLC's winemaker and grape-grower Lynne Chamberlain will explain her process in the vineyards as guests taste an assortment of her wines. The journey begins at 85131 Elliot Road at the state line in Milton-Freewater.

Chamberlain is also a local pioneer in raising "Cabernet Cows," grass-fed organic beef finished on wine grape pomace.

Saturday's event runs 5:30-9 p.m. The cost is $65 per person, or $110 for two and includes a vineyard tour, pasture dinner of Cabernet Cow flank steak served with chimichurri sauce and a variety of side dishes, and two glasses of wine. Additional glasses or bottles will be available for purchase.

Guests must be 21 years of age. To reserve a seat at the table call 956-9743 or email wine@brixspot.com with the number in your group and contact info.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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