Greg Majors

Sommelier

New York

Bay Area native Greg Majors made his way to Manhattan in 2005 when he took a job at CRU — his first of two stints at the wine-focused restaurant. After splitting his time between the kitchen and the dining room, Majors left CRU to open Insieme in 2007 with Paul Grieco and Marco Canora. It was here that he found his passion for wine. Heading back over to CRU in 2009 as wine director, Majors headed up one of the country’s most admired wine programs and worked with some of the most sought-after regions, producers and bottles in the world. Between the two restaurants, Majors found plenty of inspiration for his next job: Craft. He landed his position as beverage director at Craft in September 2010 with the goal of having a wine for every palate and pocketbook, while encouraging his guests and staff to have fun with the unknown.

  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What are Greg Majors’ favorite New York bars?

    I really like going the Ace Hotel on 29th Street. They’re right next door to The Breslin. The whole lobby is very open. They play DJ music at times. It’s a very lounge-y, large, comfortable place with a fireplace; they have two bars. It’s not too scene-y, yet you certainly get a feel of New York in that location.

    [Hotel] Gansevoort is a pretty cool place to go to, if that’s what you’re in the mood for, especially on the rooftop. There’s an inside and outside — or at least a patio — that includes a pool.

    Then for bars, PDT. It’s been around for a while and a lot of people know it. It has its reputation and fame, but I still think that’s one of the best places you can go to get a cocktail. It’s just a really well-made cocktail; I mean, granted, you’re going to pay for it. It’s seating-only; you can’t stand. But it’s good if you’re willing to wait and you have some money to spend. I love the feel of it when you’re sitting down at the bar and just the quality of the cocktail is just that. You understand why you’re paying what you’re paying for.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What are Greg Majors’ favorite New York brunch spots?

    I actually did have brunch recently at a place called Riverpark. Tom Colicchio’s not really in the kitchen there, per se; but it’s part of his restaurant group. It’s right on the East River. It’s part of a large medical facility [Alexandria Center] where they’re doing a fair amount of research — like ImClone is a partner in this. Great location. I had brunch there and it was absolutely fantastic — very creative, very well made, clean flavors, local flavors. For price and value, certainly there.

    Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant is always pretty cool if you’re in the mood for more gluttony.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What are Greg Majors’ favorite New York hotels?

    Anywhere that you can find an affordable place because it can just be outrageously high, especially in Midtown. If you can muster it up, stay in New Jersey. It can be a pain because you have to take a PATH train in; but I think you can find great value and you’re right on the water. You have a great panoramic view of lower Manhattan or of the West Side. I know there are hotels that are starting to pop up because of all the business that’s over in Jersey City now. In Manhattan, it’s just where you can find a place to stay.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What is Greg Majors’ favorite time of year in New York?

    Everyone says it’s between spring and fall. I prefer spring. There’s about a three- to four-week window when spring and fall would overlap as far as there not being too extreme of a temperature — whether it be too cold or too hot — low humidity, low wind. I like that slight bit of warmth that you get with spring. That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable for me to finally put on a scarf or a pair of pants. For me, I think spring is my preferred time of year here in New York.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What are Greg Majors’ favorite things to do in New York?

    1. When I have time to look up and look around, it’s amazing how beautiful the architecture here is. Just from block to block, the variants of styles, touches — whether it be a thing in stone or a piece of marble — there are so many little details that people never really realize or talk about here in New York. So I think one is to see the architecture here in New York.

    2. Another thing that people don’t really think about are the beaches. You can get on the train and in 45 minutes you can be on a pristine beach out on Long Beach, which is great if you’re itching to get your feet wet.

    3. I think the value for beverage and food here in New York is a no-brainer.

    4. It’s a great place to people-watch — anything and everything on the streets here. Sit at a café or a restaurant, order a glass of wine and watch the world go by. Within a half-hour, you can write a little book about the types of people and interactions that they make — just the little nuances are pretty special.

    5. One of the only good things about the hurricane [Sandy] and the blackout was that I was forced to rent a bike. I’d never done that. I think it really opened my eyes to what you can see in the city — the little things that you can accomplish. So if you can, while you’re here, spend half a day and rent a bike. It’s really cool to get around and see the city that way.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What does Greg Majors look for in wine when traveling?

    Value. Being in Tuscany last year and in Vienna a couple years ago, I found you have to do a little bit of research and don’t have an eager reaction when you select wine. Just search for restaurants that have wine lists with great value because they’re certainly there. What would cost $250 here would be $30 there. The value is there, and you just have to be patient with it.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    Is Greg Majors pro screw-top wines?

    I am, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish with it. The whole reason for a screw top is that you don’t want any air to get into the juice, which is what you get with a cork. By selecting a screw top, you are maintaining all the freshness. That’s what you find with a lot of sauvignon blancs, because by disallowing air into the bottle, you maintain all the fresh fruit and the fresh minerals. Whatever came out of the fermentation tank is what you want to capture in the bottle.

    The same can be said for reds. You can have a beaujolais or a young syrah or a young grenache, and all you want to do is maintain all that fresh fruit. Having a screw top is a good way to go. And it’s cheaper. If you’re a young winery or a winery mass producing juice — not that I necessarily support that — it’s cost effective.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    Which wines does Greg Majors always have at home?

    Champagne — something bubbly — that’s a necessity. I like to have sweet wine in the fridge because I like to have sweet wine and cheese. Something burgundy — I like to have a red burgundy sitting around. But champagne the most.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What distinguishes a $10 bottle from a $100 bottle to Greg Majors?

    I think the quality of the fruit. When you have an estate that has three different wines — one is their entry level, one is their medium and one is their high-end — commonly, what they do is they source their fruit. All of their fruit is theoretically estate grown, meaning it comes from vineyards on their land.

    Their high-end bottling will be their best plant and they’ll go through and pick those areas first. Sometimes they won’t make that high-end bottling every year because that harvest or that vintage didn’t yield the quality of fruit that is reflected in their high-end bottle. So then they’ll go back and do a second pass; and that second-pass fruit will be their medium label. Then whatever’s remaining will be their entry level. At the end of the day, it’s the quality of the fruit.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What tips does Greg Majors have for those new to wine?

    Drink and taste and drink and taste. Most importantly, if you really want to take it seriously, do a lot of reading and do a lot of talking. Talk through it with people. I always get, “Well, I can’t taste that,” or “I don’t understand where you’re getting those aromatics or those flavors,” or “How do you do that?” You really do it by talking out wines you taste. Wine is very subjective — I may get something and you may get something different. It’s important to record what you taste, read about it and then talk about it.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What keeps Greg Majors passionate about his job?

    The fact that I get to taste wine daily because there’s something new every day. There’s a winery in Australia called Izway. He’s just tweaking things a little bit, and it’s maintaining what I look for in the quality of wine, but it’s something different. He’s extracting something a little different, whether it be in the vineyard or in the cellar; and by doing so, it creates new perception about what can be done with a specific grape. Visiting a winery in the Finger Lakes and seeing the quality of what they do, for me to come back and educate on what this person or this region is doing — the fact that I’m around it every day inspires me enough.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What’s the best wine Greg Majors has ever had?

    A 1982 Conterno Monfortino. That’s the wine that really got me into it. That really opened my eyes to “okay, there’s something here for me.” It really inspired something in me. It’s the one wine I remember.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What is Greg Majors’ favorite wine pairing?

    An old cabernet franc and black truffles or a bold nebbiolo with white truffles.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What’s Greg Majors’ go-to white wine for a seafood dinner?

    I’m partial to grüner veltliner from Austria. The easy way to think about it is to do some chardonnay — burgundy or California. But if you find a really ripe, dry grüner veltliner from a good vintage, which they’ve had for the past five or six years, I love the complexity of flavor. Whether it be the white pepper and the minerals of the stone fruit, there’s a lot that you can play with, in that it’s not a one-dimensional wine. You can assemble a dish a variety of different ways and have a grüner veltliner satisfy what you’re going to do.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What’s Greg Majors’ go-to red wine for a steak dinner?

    If I know the producer, I like to go into Campania. The grape is called aglianico, which is a varietal that is commonly referred to as the “nebbiolo of the Italian south.” Aglianico mimics nebbiolo, which is what they make barolo and barbaresco from, in aromatics, flavor and structure. They have a lot of the same qualities as far as tannin level, aromatics and flavors, like tar and fresh roses, that you find with nebbiolo. However, you just don’t pay as much.

    So if I can find something from Taurasi, which is just east of Naples, made from the aglianico grape, to me, that just really satisfies a rib-eye or a porterhouse —something with some marbling and fat because the weight in the tannin of the grape.