Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

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TomHill
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Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#1 Post by TomHill » September 17th, 2019, 8:19 am

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

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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#2 Post by Todd F r e n c h » September 17th, 2019, 8:31 am

This is indeed sad to hear. Such a challenge for small wineries, driven by passion, not profit, to succeed in this marketplace, and obviously when a landlord quadruples the rent on them, it spells disaster. It's difficult to earn Tom Hill's respect, and I know Harrington has always had it, for good reason.
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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#3 Post by Brian Gilp » September 17th, 2019, 8:49 am

This is indeed sad news. I have enjoyed most of the wines that I have had from Harrington over the years. Just last week, I was in the cellar and noted that I only have a few random bottles left and that I needed to reload this fall. I will be stocking up when he sells off the remaining inventory.

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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#4 Post by Tom DeBiase » September 17th, 2019, 9:17 am

It’s a real shame and this type of rent increase seems to be pretty common in SF. Always have enjoyed Bryan’s wines and talking to him at wine events.

Tom

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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#5 Post by Paul Miller » September 17th, 2019, 9:19 am

I have one bottle left, a 2005 Gap's Crown Pinot. I may have to open it this weekend in honor.

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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#6 Post by Todd F r e n c h » September 17th, 2019, 9:24 am

Paul Miller wrote:
September 17th, 2019, 9:19 am
I have one bottle left, a 2005 Gap's Crown Pinot. I may have to open it this weekend in honor.
I, too, have one bottle of Harrington in the cellar - '13 Nebbiolo, from BerserkerDay. Will try to drink it sooner than later
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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#7 Post by Alan Newman » September 17th, 2019, 9:27 am

Haven't opened the 17 McEvoy Ranch Syrah from Berserker Day. Will do so this weekend.

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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#8 Post by Ken Zinns » September 17th, 2019, 12:32 pm

Thanks for your post, Tom. Just want to clarify one thing - the Harrington Wines website is still very much online, and lots of the most recent wines are available for purchase there. There are tentative dates for the last two open house events but I don't know whether they've been finalized yet. Probably one in mid-November and the other in early December. If you're on the Harrington email list, he'll be sending out info on all of that.
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Hmmm...

#9 Post by TomHill » September 17th, 2019, 12:49 pm

Ken Zinns wrote:
September 17th, 2019, 12:32 pm
Thanks for your post, Tom. Just want to clarify one thing - the Harrington Wines website is still very much online, and lots of the most recent wines are available for purchase there. There are tentative dates for the last two open house events but I don't know whether they've been finalized yet. Probably one in mid-November and the other in early December. If you're on the Harrington email list, he'll be sending out info on all of that.
Hmmm....my browser times out on trying to reach the Harrington WebSite. I'll try it at home on my iPhone.
Good to know it's still up.
Tom

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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#10 Post by Sean_S » September 17th, 2019, 2:26 pm

Oh so Sad.....

Just last night there was part 6 of a blind tasting of 05 Pinots versus the 05 Burgs. Groups #1 and Wes' #1 was 05 Harringington Lund. So sad I missed this tasting and so sad I've really just started collecting Harrington wines. Love the uniqueness of varietals and the style. I know I will sadly miss his wines...

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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#11 Post by GregT » September 17th, 2019, 2:51 pm

Paul Gordon mentioned this a couple weeks ago. Sad news indeed. He was flat out one of my favorite wine makers anywhere. I hope he doesn't exit the wine business entirely!
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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#12 Post by Wes Barton » September 17th, 2019, 4:12 pm

Sean_S wrote:
September 17th, 2019, 2:26 pm
Oh so Sad.....

Just last night there was part 6 of a blind tasting of 05 Pinots versus the 05 Burgs. Groups #1 and Wes' #1 was 05 Harrington Iund. So sad I missed this tasting and so sad I've really just started collecting Harrington wines. Love the uniqueness of varietals and the style. I know I will sadly miss his wines...

Sean
It was the group #1, as well as mine. I'll have to stick a McHenry in the lineup if we do another. That'd slaughter all.
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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#13 Post by Wes Barton » September 17th, 2019, 4:29 pm

GregT wrote:
September 17th, 2019, 2:51 pm
Paul Gordon mentioned this a couple weeks ago. Sad news indeed. He was flat out one of my favorite wine makers anywhere. I hope he doesn't exit the wine business entirely!
He'd love to be able to continuing to bringing in new-to-here varieties, it if can be made to make economic sense. He'd also be happy to consult matching the right varieties to the right sites.

But, he does want to get out of the city and off to the coast somewhere. As a kid, he'd go down to his aunt's place in Santa Cruz every weekend. He surfed for decades, and has a love of the coast. Then, without the constant interruption of sales duties he can get back into the creative headspace and paint again. His New York broker is still in business.

I share his desire that the right people take up the reins on a lot of this stuff.
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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#14 Post by Sean Devaney » September 17th, 2019, 6:01 pm

So sad to hear this news. I've really enjoyed his wines and hopes the seeds/cuttings he has spread will find winemakers as experimental as he is.

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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#15 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 17th, 2019, 6:10 pm

Always sad to hear of a colleague who has decided (or faced the fact) that the bottom line is not making sense.

It's tough out there.
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Yup..

#16 Post by TomHill » September 17th, 2019, 6:47 pm

Yup....The Harrington WebSite is, indeed, up and running. Lots of great wines there available to purchase at very good prices. The Syrah is a no-brainer. The Falanghina is also quite good.
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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#17 Post by brigcampbell » September 17th, 2019, 7:46 pm

I've been emailing Bryan and while it's unfortunate there are new doors opening for him personally.

If all goes well there will be an opportunity in the near future for all wineberserkers to celebrate and pay tribute to a true berserker!

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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#18 Post by Ken Zinns » September 17th, 2019, 8:42 pm

I’d like to say that it’s been a great experience working with Bryan Harrington all these years. I’ve had the opportunity to work with over 50 grape varieties and to help make wines using a number of techniques - skin-fermented whites, partial-carbonic reds, foot-stomping, fermenting in an amphora and in concrete, etc. And all without a bin dumper or forklift rotator - we moved the grapes, must, and pomace the low-tech way with pitchforks, shovels, and buckets! A lot of tough manual work but it sure helped keep me in shape. Fellow Berserkers Al Osterheld and Wes Barton plus a couple of other core helpers were invaluable in getting us through crush every year.

Bryan’s decision to close down his winery was pretty unexpected for those of us who have been helping him out during crush each year. It’s been hard to be mostly on the sidelines this year, though I’ve been able to help out a little at other urban Bay Area wineries when they’ve needed an extra hand. I think that Bryan is really looking forward to moving on to his next phase, most likely returning to the art world as mentioned above.

Thanks to all the Berserkers who have been fans and supporters of Harrington Wines! As noted above there are still a number of recent releases available. Cheers! [cheers.gif]
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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#19 Post by GregT » September 18th, 2019, 12:20 am

From what he said, he actually had some clients as an artist and traction in that field is even tougher to get than in the wine business. But he made good and interesting wines. He's still welcome to stay with us if he's in town though!

I will really miss his wines. Whatever he made, it was interesting and often eye-opening.

And thanks for your contributions too, Ken and Wes!!
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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#20 Post by Adam Frisch » September 18th, 2019, 12:47 am

Heard from my Mission grower earlier this year and spoke to Ken Zinns about it via email. Didn't want to mention it until it was official from the "horse's mouth", so to speak. But very sad to hear. I've enjoyed his wines for years and they've always been expressive, interesting and very well made.
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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#21 Post by Markus S » September 18th, 2019, 4:44 am

I thought this was another death. Only a loss of a business. Not so sad, but a little sad. Glad to hear he's alright though!
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Well...

#22 Post by TomHill » September 18th, 2019, 4:52 am

Adam Frisch wrote:
September 18th, 2019, 12:47 am
Heard from my Mission grower earlier this year and spoke to Ken Zinns about it via email. Didn't want to mention it until it was official from the "horse's mouth", so to speak. But very sad to hear. I've enjoyed his wines for years and they've always been expressive, interesting and very well made.
Well, Adam....maybe not from the horse's mouth...more like the horse's a$$. Bryan gave me the OK to post about his closing.
Tom

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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#23 Post by J a y H a c k » September 18th, 2019, 6:36 am

I thought I had never had their wine until I looked it up and found this note. I guess I should have bought some:
  • 2013 Harrington Trousseau Siletto Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Cienega Valley (11/15/2015)
    Traded with someone (CT from Louisiana) I did not know for a bottle of 2000 D'Armailhac as a result of FMIII's proposal on Wineberserkers that we swap bottles with someone to expand our horizons. or for some other reason I do not recall.

    This is an excellent wine. Not quite a WOW factor to poke its nose into the outstanding category but still excellent. I had never had a Harrington wine and the only Trousseau I had before was a bottle that was severely flawed. Pop and pour. Very nice. I liked it a lot. The first flavor I got was spicy pepper and then berry fruit on top of that. Strawberry, but a wild, tart strawberry, and maybe a bit of cherry. Light acidity and no sharpness. I suspect there is not a lot of acidity, but the website needs some work, and has no useful information about this wine. Once it took on about 90 minutes of air, it took on some depth and smoothed out a bit. (89 pts.)
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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#24 Post by Al Osterheld » September 18th, 2019, 7:22 am

Ken Zinns wrote:
September 17th, 2019, 8:42 pm
I’d like to say that it’s been a great experience working with Bryan Harrington all these years. I’ve had the opportunity to work with over 50 grape varieties and to help make wines using a number of techniques - skin-fermented whites, partial-carbonic reds, foot-stomping, fermenting in an amphora and in concrete, etc. And all without a bin dumper or forklift rotator - we moved the grapes, must, and pomace the low-tech way with pitchforks, shovels, and buckets! A lot of tough manual work but it sure helped keep me in shape. Fellow Berserkers Al Osterheld and Wes Barton plus a couple of other core helpers were invaluable in getting us through crush every year.

Bryan’s decision to close down his winery was pretty unexpected for those of us who have been helping him out during crush each year. It’s been hard to be mostly on the sidelines this year, though I’ve been able to help out a little at other urban Bay Area wineries when they’ve needed an extra hand. I think that Bryan is really looking forward to moving on to his next phase, most likely returning to the art world as mentioned above.

Thanks to all the Berserkers who have been fans and supporters of Harrington Wines! As noted above there are still a number of recent releases available. Cheers! [cheers.gif]
Yes, it's been fun over the years and it does feel odd to not be working as the harvest starts. As far as his art career, he claims he made much more money as a painter and sculptor, and he's still in contact with some of the galleries that carried his work.

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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#25 Post by Wes Barton » September 18th, 2019, 5:56 pm

J a y H a c k wrote:
September 18th, 2019, 6:36 am
I thought I had never had their wine until I looked it up and found this note. I guess I should have bought some:
  • 2013 Harrington Trousseau Siletto Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Cienega Valley (11/15/2015)
    Traded with someone (CT from Louisiana) I did not know for a bottle of 2000 D'Armailhac as a result of FMIII's proposal on Wineberserkers that we swap bottles with someone to expand our horizons. or for some other reason I do not recall.

    This is an excellent wine. Not quite a WOW factor to poke its nose into the outstanding category but still excellent. I had never had a Harrington wine and the only Trousseau I had before was a bottle that was severely flawed. Pop and pour. Very nice. I liked it a lot. The first flavor I got was spicy pepper and then berry fruit on top of that. Strawberry, but a wild, tart strawberry, and maybe a bit of cherry. Light acidity and no sharpness. I suspect there is not a lot of acidity, but the website needs some work, and has no useful information about this wine. Once it took on about 90 minutes of air, it took on some depth and smoothed out a bit. (89 pts.)
Posted from CellarTracker
It's not too late to pick some up. There are some wines bottled, but not listed on the site. Not sure if the '18 Trousseau is listed. The best way to see what new there is is to check CT and sort by vintage. Then call or email Bryan.
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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#26 Post by Ken Zinns » September 19th, 2019, 2:45 pm

Looks like Tom Hill scooped Esther Mobley of the San Francisco Chronicle on this story - this just came out on their website today:
Harrington Wines, one of SF’s last great urban wineries, to close at the end of the year

Just confirmed the final open house dates at the winery - Sunday November 17th and Saturday December 7th. Details to come.
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Actually....

#27 Post by TomHill » September 19th, 2019, 5:01 pm

Ken Zinns wrote:
September 19th, 2019, 2:45 pm
Looks like Tom Hill scooped Esther Mobley of the San Francisco Chronicle on this story - this just came out on their website today:
Harrington Wines, one of SF’s last great urban wineries, to close at the end of the year

Just confirmed the final open house dates at the winery - Sunday November 17th and Saturday December 7th. Details to come.
Actually, Ken, I knew she liked Bryan’s wines and sent her a copy of this WB post.
I’m really glad she followed up on it with a story.
Tom

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Re: Actually....

#28 Post by Ken Zinns » September 19th, 2019, 6:33 pm

TomHill wrote:
September 19th, 2019, 5:01 pm
Ken Zinns wrote:
September 19th, 2019, 2:45 pm
Looks like Tom Hill scooped Esther Mobley of the San Francisco Chronicle on this story - this just came out on their website today:
Harrington Wines, one of SF’s last great urban wineries, to close at the end of the year

Just confirmed the final open house dates at the winery - Sunday November 17th and Saturday December 7th. Details to come.
Actually, Ken, I knew she liked Bryan’s wines and sent her a copy of this WB post.
I’m really glad she followed up on it with a story.
Tom
Thanks, Tom. [cheers.gif]
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Re: Actually....

#29 Post by Tom G l a s g o w » September 19th, 2019, 6:43 pm

TomHill wrote:
September 19th, 2019, 5:01 pm
Ken Zinns wrote:
September 19th, 2019, 2:45 pm
Looks like Tom Hill scooped Esther Mobley of the San Francisco Chronicle on this story - this just came out on their website today:
Harrington Wines, one of SF’s last great urban wineries, to close at the end of the year

Just confirmed the final open house dates at the winery - Sunday November 17th and Saturday December 7th. Details to come.
Actually, Ken, I knew she liked Bryan’s wines and sent her a copy of this WB post.
I’m really glad she followed up on it with a story.
Tom
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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#30 Post by Adam Frisch » September 20th, 2019, 8:42 am

Behind a paywall.
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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#31 Post by Ken Zinns » September 20th, 2019, 10:57 am

Adam Frisch wrote:
September 20th, 2019, 8:42 am
Behind a paywall.
Someone else let me know they were not able to access the article either. Don't know how the SF Chronicle website paywall works but I've had no problem viewing the article and I don't pay for a subscription - same is true for a number of other people I sent the link to.

Not sure if this might work any better for you, but see if accessing the article webpage through the Chronicle's Facebook link might help:

Harrington Wines, one of SF’s last great urban wineries, to close at the end of the year (SF Chronicle Facebook link)


If you still have problems and want to read the article, send me a PM and I can email you a pdf of the article.
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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#32 Post by Adam Frisch » September 20th, 2019, 6:36 pm

Ken, I've reached my "monthly limit of free articles". Hmm, strange, because I don't recall going to SF Chronicle much.. If you could find a way to link it as pdf, that would be great!
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Re: Sad News @ Harrington Wnry

#33 Post by Ken Zinns » September 20th, 2019, 7:09 pm

Adam Frisch wrote:
September 20th, 2019, 6:36 pm
Ken, I've reached my "monthly limit of free articles". Hmm, strange, because I don't recall going to SF Chronicle much.. If you could find a way to link it as pdf, that would be great!
Don't think I can link a pdf here, but I'll send you a pdf via email.
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