02 Mar Gary Grilli – Walker Road Fred Meyer – Beaverton
Deserved or not, wine has a reputation. Snooty. Pretentious. Elitist.
Gary Grilli, the long-time wine steward at Walker Road Fred Meyer in Beaverton has a reputation also. It’s none of the above.
Now in his 22nd year at the same store, Gary is one of the most down-to-earth people you’ll ever meet.
He’s the antithesis of a pushy salesman.
“The last thing I want to be is ‘customer repellant’, Gary says. “I’ll help people if they want help. If not, I’ll leave them alone.”
Most of Gary’s customers do tap into his expertise which is considerable. He knows wine inside out. He’s worked retail, wholesale and, before moving to Oregon from the San Jose area, Gary cut his teeth at iconic wineries such as Buena Vista and Ridge.
One thing he has learned: there is no single wine that everyone agrees upon.
“It’s kinda like music,” according to Gary. “I don’t like country music but a lot of people do. There’s no right or wrong.” To that end, Gary does his best to find out what you like, then makes recommendations based on your personal preferences.
If Gary isn’t on site when you visit Walker Road, look for the end cap that displays his personal recommendations. To make that display, “I have to taste it,” he says, “and I have to like it”. He doesn’t go it alone in the evaluation process. He has a built-in “focus group”. His wife also tastes a lot of wines that are potential “Gary’s picks” and tells him exactly what she thinks.
Gary’s goal has stayed consistent: to under-promise and over-deliver.
“The worst thing you can do in this business is oversell someone. The more expensive the wine, the more potential for disappointment, “ he says.
I’ve been buying from Gary for well over a dozen years. And I haven’t been disappointed yet.