Hacienda Del Sol

An Interview with Lee Gregory, Certified Sommelier and Beverage Manager

Get to know our Certified Sommelier & Beverage Manager and a little something about wine.

Lee Gregory has over thirty years of experience, making him a passionate and knowledgeable expert in all things wine. Learn a little more about Lee and his dedication to our award-winning wine program below.

An interview with Certified Sommelier & Beverage Manager, Lee Gregory:

How long have you been working with wine?
I have been in the restaurant business since I was 14 years old. Forty years ago! I have been working with wine for thirty years as a bartender, manager and a sommelier. 

What first sparked your interest in wine?
I was out to dinner with my family in 1983 when I graduated high school. My uncle had me try a Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon 1982 vintage. I was blown away. I have been interested in wine ever since! 

How long have you been a certified sommelier?
I passed the Introductory Exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2005 and the Certified Exam in 2007.

What can you tell us about the process to become certified?
The Court of Master Sommeliers offers the exams. The learning is all done on the job and at home through self-study of wine regions, maps and blind tasting. I had been in the business for some time when I first took the exam, so I was lucky enough to have years of experience.

How long have you worked here at Hacienda Del Sol?
I started working here in March of 2019. I started as an Assistant Restaurant Manager, General Manager and now the Sommelier and Beverage Manager. 

What is your favorite part about working at Hacienda Del Sol?
My favorite part is the people! Both the guests and my co-workers. I love working with and meeting people from all walks of life from different places and cultures.

What is your favorite wine on The Grill’s wine list?
It’s hard to pick, there’s so many great choices. Right now I would choose the Chateau Montelena Potter Valley Riesling 2016.

The Grill's delicious seasonal cheese board paired with a 2017 Chateau Montelena Potter Valley Riesling

In 2019, HDS was awarded Wine Spectator’s “Best Of” Award of Excellence for the twenty-first year in a row, what does that mean to you?
It is an impressive achievement no doubt. There is the pressure to maintain that status, but more than anything it is a great honor to be associated with such a program.

The Grill has won this prestigious award every year since 1998.

For someone who doesn’t know a lot about wine, what would you recommend they start with when trying wines? 
I can find a wine for anyone, there is such a vast amount of wine with so many different flavor-profiles. I would say try a wine that you think smells appealing. Smell is a vital part of taste and if you like the way a wine smells you will probably like the taste. That and don’t be afraid to try wines you do not like. Knowing what you don’t like helps you to learn what you do like. After these steps and you have a basic knowledge of what you like, ask the Sommelier.

What is your favorite region for wines?
That is such a difficult question as there is so much to like! I am certainly a fan of the Northern Rhône Valley of France. I am also a huge fan of the right bank of Bordeaux, Saint Émillion.

What is your favorite dish on The Grill's menu right now?
Our Seared Scottish Salmon entrée is fantastic. It is seared salmon with a watercress salad, a grapefruit vanilla buerre blanc and tempura fried avocado. A blending of different flavors that work very well together.

And what wine pairs best with that dish? 
There are several wines that pair well with the salmon. For white wine I would pair the Chateau Montelena Potter Valley Riesling. The acidity in this wine really cleans off your palate with each sip and the hint of citrus really blends with the watercress salad. For a red I would pair the Penner-Ash Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley of Oregon, a lighter red with nice bright red fruit notes and a hint of earthiness. This wine pairs well with the richness of the salmon.

You can see our full dinner menu at The Grill here. Stop by and ask Lee to recommend the perfect wine for your evening out. 

See you soon.