A roomful of delighted North Collin diners were treated to a rare experience Monday evening at Gregory’s Bistro, in historic downtown McKinney, as they gathered for an outstanding meal, accompanied by several complimentary wines from Fiddlehead Cellars of California’s Santa Barbara County. The wines were all presented by Fiddlehead’s visiting winemaker and principal, Kathy Joseph.
The sort of event marks a first for McKinney’s ascendant culinary landscape and punctuates the swift emergence of Gregory’s and neighboring retailer McKinney Wine Merchant as the most potent BYOB tandem in the Metroplex.
When Chef Gregory Moreaux, along with front-of-house manager and bride, Lydia, moved the restaurant from their original Plano location in early 2010, they committed to maintaining the consumer-friendly BYOB feature (almost unheard of at so fine an eatery) which has brought along old loyalists, and drawn scores of new regulars from McKinney and the surrounding area, to their location at 111 W. Virginia St.
Across the street, McKinney Wine Merchant was recently opened by Andy Doyle, a longtime sales manager for a winery group based in Sonoma County. Doyle first landed in McKinney when promoted from Northern California in 1997.
The retail store is at 120 W. Virginia (site of the old post office) and within its walls, artfully decorated with maps of various wine growing regions, shoppers will find one of the most impressive and ‘smartest’ selections of wines in a boutique format in North Texas. With capacity for more than 200 wines, Doyle draws on over 20 years experience to handpick a range of both eclectic and ‘Blue Chip’ labels with the aim being to “over-deliver wine value and over-deliver information” where he laughingly adds “every now and then I get carried away describing wine and customers tell me to shut up”.
The wines of Fiddlehead Cellars simply floored guests at the price fixe affair. Joseph was in North Texas to introduce her small production portfolio after teaming up with Dallas’ Pioneer Wine Co. as her distribution partner. The four wines, which were served complimentary, are sourced from specific California and Oregon vineyards and included:
2010 ‘Pink Fiddle’ Pinot Noir Rose from Ms. Joseph’s 100 acre Fiddlestix Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills appellation ($22 at McKinney Wine Merchant). Commented a European surgeon in attendance: “The finest North American Rose’ I’ve ever tasted”
2008 Sauvignon Blanc from the Happy Canyon appellation at the eastern/inland-most end of the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County ($28) was chosen the most impressive wine of the evening – remarkable given that the group held a red wine bias
2007 Pinot Noir “Seven Twenty Eight” grown on the Fiddlestix estate and referring to mile marker 7.28 on Santa Rosa Road where the vineyard entrance is found ($43)
2008 Pinot Noir “Oldsville Reserve”, which is a very special small lot wine (4 cases available in all of Texas) from Oregon’s Willamette Valley ($53)
Ms. Joseph described each wine, as well as Fiddlehead’s history, passion and philosophy in several entertaining and compelling speeches between courses. More may be learned at her website or by visiting McKinney Wine Merchant.
McKinney is making a name for itself as a foodie mecca. McKinney Wine Merchant and Gregory’s, each owned by locals, was able to attract a renowned vintner of cult wines and make possible the sort of evening heretofore rare this side of Dallas.
As of Monday evening, McKinney dining is functioning at a new level. If you haven’t been downtown in a while, you should make a plan to visit soon.