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

    How does Greg Majors choose wines pairings?

    Sometimes it’s [kind of] a guessing game because you theoretically can’t taste everything food-wise before pairing it with the wine. I think it’s more important to know the components of the dish — e.g., Are there red or black pepper flakes? Is there use of garlic or onion? Are there vegetable components? — and know which wines pair better with that.

    The cliché would be spicier foods with a sweet riesling; something with vegetable components like Brussels sprouts or greens, sauvignon blanc goes well with that; if you have a fish in a butter sauce, you know, chardonnay or really ripe Rhone Valley whites would do well with that. If I can’t taste the food, I really look into what the ingredients are and based on that, I can have a better assessment about what to do and what to pair with it.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What does Greg Majors look for in a wine?

    Harmony. If the acidity level is not too great, depending on if it’s a riesling or chardonnay; the presentation of tannin; how balanced the fruit is — Is it too ripe? Is it too extracted? Is it not ripe enough? — just the structural components of the wine. Is the wine what it should be? Can you identify? Sometimes I taste the wine and it really has no sense of what it is or place — that can be done by too much use of oak; it can be done by blending another varietal in with a varietal and it simply masks what it is. I guess I look for a wine that maintains a true sense of place and what it is, and the harmony of the winemaking.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What up-and-coming labels is Greg Majors watching?

    From the Finger Lakes region of New York, Lamoreaux Landing — even though Lamoreaux Landing already has been established — and Anthony Road. Fox Run Vineyards is another. West Coast, the winery called Copain is started to make some headway. Out on Long Island — not necessarily a new estate, but new in relation to other Long Island wineries — it’s called McCall.

    Then jumping way off the map, in Australia, there’s a little producer called Izway. It’s a project with the principal winemaker for Torbreck, which is a more renowned Australian winery producing syrah and grenache. The head winemaker branched off — he’s still working for Torbreck, but he’s now making his own label called Izway. It’s quite, quite good what he’s doing with syrah and some grenache, and some of the other varietals that do well in Australia.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What are Greg Majors’ favorite wine regions?

    Domestically, it’s great for me to get in the car and drive out east to Long Island to the vineyards. Especially in the wintertime, when everything’s dormant and it just has that panoramic landscape. I love just driving around that area of Long Island.

    On the West Coast, it’s the Santa Cruz Mountains. You won’t find a lot of wine grown in the Santa Cruz Mountains; it’s a part of California that overlooks the southern part of the Bay Area. It just has this advantage of extreme sunlight, but without a lot of heat; so you get really good-quality grapes. For me, it’s my preferred California or domestic area.

    For Europe, having family from the Campania area of Italy, just outside of Naples, [there are] great aesthetically beautiful vineyards, and wines for that matter.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What does Greg Majors wear when he travels?

    Either a sweat suit or something comfortable. And I have to sit in an aisle seat because I’m somewhat tall. If I can avoid wearing a belt, I will. I like to get through security as quick as possible.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What is Greg Majors’ favorite airline?

    I traveled with my mother in the tail end of the heydays when American and United really had great customer service, which I think now is gone by the wayside. Any of the big ones — Delta, American, United — at times just really don’t care, and their customer service really reflects that. I’ve flown Virgin in the past year or two; I’ve really found that to be enjoyable — something a little different. I’m always comfortable with them. I’ve never flown British Airways, but my mother speaks very highly of them.

    So I think if I had to answer your question, I’d say Virgin, if I can fly any airline — even though their planes seem to be a little tight. But JetBlue is always a good one to fall back on.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What was the best trip Greg Majors ever took?

    The most memorable was when [my mom] and I went to Berlin, Prague and Vienna. It was just sightseeing. There’s a famous wine growing area about 45 minutes west of Vienna, and I went out to visit some wineries and some vineyards — that was very memorable. Just to see the place and the wineries; touch the plants.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    Who is Greg Majors’ favorite travel companion?

    My mom would be it. I’m the only child. Since I can remember, we’ve always taken a trip together every year. It’s kind of getting to the point where it’s like “can we keep doing this?” But I love traveling with her and we get along very well.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What are Greg Majors’ favorite shops to visit when he travels?

    I don’t make a point to go out and shop. I like to go out and explore, and if I happen to pass something, I’ll step in and buy it. In Italy, whether it’s parts of Tuscany or parts of Campania, I find myself searching out more things food-wise.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What does Greg Majors always bring home from his travels?

    It would be culinary stuff. Something I can use in the kitchen — whether it’s pottery, spices or mixes — something I can take home, put into the kitchen. But I bring something back, outside of T-shirt. Jewelry is always nice, depending on where I’m at, like the southern parts of Greece. It’s always nice to bring something back for somebody. But I think more stuff that you can put into your kitchen.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What is Greg Majors’ favorite spa?

    My favorite spa is The Spa at Wynn Las Vegas, by far. Just the variety of water treatments, the lounge — it’s extremely luxurious. Just to sit there and rejuvenate — it’s beautiful.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What does Greg Majors love most about hotels?

    I guess it’s the genuine customer service — not rehearsed. I was in Miami with my mother — I travel a lot with my mother, and I have since I was a little boy — we went down to visit my grandfather’s grave and we stayed at this hotel that was just rebuilt; just reopened; beautiful, beautiful space right on the water; gigantic hotel. But what didn’t match up was the customer service. They seemed very robotic. They didn’t really have a true sense of authenticity. That’s what I find when I stay at the Four Seasons, when I stay at Claridge’s — they have the professionalism and they have the right mannerisms in what to say. You can just tell it’s either genuine or they fake it really well.

    And ultimately it’s the bed. Sometimes it’s a bed you just can’t stand. That’s why I like the Four Seasons, I think they have a custom line for the company, and it’s in all the hotels, more or less. They’re extremely comfortable.

    Finally, it’s the spa — if I want to get really into it. It’s amazing, the variants of hotel spas, whether it’s the size or what’s offered — a pool, sauna or steam. Some places that you’d think would have a fairly luxurious spa, it simply just doesn’t exist.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What are Greg Majors’ favorite restaurants?

    Here in New York, I love to go to Lupa and Balthazar. I tend to favor the more simplistic, bang-for-your-buck type places. I like to be in a busier restaurant; I like the feel. My ultimate all-time favorite restaurant is a little taqueria in Half Moon Bay, California, called 3 Amigos. You’d never think it, but it’s the best authentic Mexican food I’ve ever found. Half Moon Bay is on Highway 1 if you’re driving down — about 25 minutes outside San Francisco. It’s just on the side of the road, but it’s legendary with the locals. It’s my favorite.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What are Greg Majors’ favorite hotels?

    I’m always partial to Four Seasons, regardless of what city it’s in. It’s their customer service and the quality of the rooms and the amenities — from soup to nuts, top to bottom — I’ve always had a positive experience with them. I find them to be very dependable.

    I was able to stay at Claridge’s in London for a couple nights, which was just extraordinary. Again, the customer service, the little details really got to you.  Whether it be the replenishing of your espresso pot or the maintenance of the bathroom, it’s the small little details that often are missed. I can say that because I’ve been fortunate enough to travel with my mother. Being that she’s in that business, I’ve been exposed to a lot of that. I’m kind of spoiled in that respect.
  • On March 5, 2013
    Greg Majors answered the question: Greg Majors

    What are Greg Majors’ favorite cities?

    I tend to lean toward Western Europe. The most memorable places that I’ve been to in the past five years have been Berlin and Vienna. I just found them to be aesthetically beautiful. Obviously, it’s more East Berlin than West Berlin where you find some of the architecture intact. Surprisingly, I found the food to be even more enticing. You know, you’re not going to go to every place and find something memorable. I was just really surprised with the quality of the food and the drink. I just didn’t want to leave.

    And being from California, I’m partial to some places there — specifically the Monterey-Carmel area. I love to go there and just decompress.

    I just took a trip to Ireland. That blew me away as far as how wonderful the people were. I don’t know if it was because we were American and they were going through some tough economic times; but we were in Cork and I couldn’t get away from how lovely they were to us — just their gratitude. The landscapes really speak for themselves. I played golf a couple times and they were immaculate golf courses. You know, the food is so-so; it’s touch-and-go. Just their warming embrace was enough to convince me that I’m going to make several trips back there. If I want to get a couple of buddies together and go out there for a weekend golf trip, you’re there in five and a half hours, and it’s so easy to get around there.

    Finally, I love to be in London. Even though you’re paying two-to-one on the dollar, for me, it’s worth it. I love the energy of the city — just going out and walking around. It’s a tweak on New York. I find it feels like home, but also new and unique.