Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

Posted by: TomHill

Sad News @ Harrington Wnry - 09-17-2019 08:10:49

When I was at dinner w/ BryanHarrington in the Bay area a few weeks ago, he revealed that he is shutting down Harrington wines. This is some of the saddest wine biz news I've heard in some time.

Bryan has always operated on the ragged edges of profitably (and sanity). He was recently informed by his landlord that his rent was going to be increased by over 4X. He felt that he could not sustain that kind of a rent increase and remain in business, so has decided to pull the plug. He has not yet made a formal announcement of such, but the Harrington WebSite has apparently been taken down and I know a number of folks in the wine biz are aware of it. So it's probably OK to share this information now. He has not yet made a formal announcement to his mailing list, but one should be forthcoming eventually. He just decided it was too late in life to start all over in a different venue and plans to return to his art work, which is what he did before he embarked on his winemaking career.
He crushed no grapes this vintage & I understand he is in the process of selling off his winemaking equipment. He still has some unreleased wines that will be offered soon. In Nov & Dec, he will have two sales events to blow thru his remaining inventory. This should be a great opportunity to pick up some great & interesting wines at good prices. Come Dec 31, that'll be all she wrote. But there'll be a lot of Harringtons that will live on&on in cellars across the country.

I've followed BryanHarrington (almost) from the very start. KenZinns gave me a head's up way back when that Bryan was making some very good Pinots in the industrial bottoms of TheCite. I liked the Pinots quite a lot. But then Bryan sorta went off the deep end (the ragged edge of sanity I referred to above) and started pursuing odd-ball varieties, mostly Italian with a passion nobody else in Calif has shown. For several yrs, he would journey to Italy and arrange to have sent back to FPS at UC/Davis some of these unusual varieties that interested him, where they would be cleaned up for viruses and then released, Bryan, being this silver-tongued devil, would then convince growers (like RonSiletto in Gilroy and the Bushes at SumuKaw) to plant them for him. One of Bryan's recent efforts has been to make sure these growers have a market for these off-beat varietal grapes and are not left holding the bag.
This aspect of Harrington wines has been the one that's excited me the most. I'm tremendously interested in how some of these somewhat obscure Italian grapes will perform in Calif. By and large, at Bryan's hand...very well. When I visited ElisabettaForadori several yrs ago, I took a btl of Bryan's Teroldego to share with her. She was favorably impressed by it ("but not as good as mine" was her retort).
One of the grapes Bryan brought back was supposed to be NerelloMascalese from Sicily. But the subsequent DNA tests indicated that it was nothing in their data base of over 28,000 grapes varieties. So Bryan made a wine he called "Misteri" that was actually quite good and interesting. I'm curious where thes grapes, planted up at SumuKaw vnyd, will eventually go to. I hope they find a good home.

One of the exciting projects that Bryan has pursued is making a no-SO2 wine, under the Terrane label, using a Swiss grape-derived product that acts as an anti-oxidant. I've not made enough side-by-side comparisons to come to an opinion on the efficacy of this product.

Anyway, given his small production level, Bryan has not received the recognition he deserves in the wine industry, especially in his passionate pursuit of unusual varieties...except from some of us nut-cases on WineBerserkers. I dearly hope someone will come along and pick up Bryan's mantle.

So...that's my sad story for today. Be on the lookout for his close-out sales come Nov & Dec. There will be some great wines, ones of a kind, to be had.

I'm sure I'll see Bryan in the future at our get-together dinners there in the Bay area. But I'm sure going to miss the flush of adrenaline when I open up a new HarringtonWines offer. Bryan is a very bright & passionate guy and will assuredly do well in the future. But his closing is going to leave a big hole in my wine adventures into to obscure & unknown. It was a great run while it lasted.

Tom