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A Seasoned Wine Pro Returns to San Diego from NYC

A Q&A with Stake Chophouse + Bar's new beverage director.

Greg Majors

San Diego’s rapidly growing dining scene continues to attract hospitality pros from big market cities. Greg Majors, beverage director of NYC’s Craft since 2010, is moving back to San Diego to help launch Stake Chophouse + Bar, Blue Bridge Hospitality's upcoming upscale steakhouse restaurant in Coronado. Majors worked in the San Diego restaurant industry during his college years at UCSD; as he was wrapping up his final days at Craft, we spoke with him about his move back to San Diego and his plans for Stake's beverage program.

You’re from the west coast. Are you looking forward to being back in California? Absolutely. I can’t wait to be back in San Diego. About six months ago, I mentally decided that I wanted to move back, and when the chance to work at Stake came up, it just felt fortuitous. I’m really looking forward to being at Stake. I arrive on the 28th and my first day of work is the 29th.

You’ve been in New York City for almost 10 years. It's one of the most vibrant dining cultures in the world. What’s that working experience been like?
It’s been life changing. New York City focused my career towards wine almost 7 years ago, and working at places like CRU and around people like Paul Grieco was truly inspirational. If you love wine, NYC is definitely the kind of place that can stoke that passion.

What were your favorite wine lists/bars to enjoy while you weren't on the clock?
There are so many great places, but Lupa has a great wine list and is heartwarming. For a bit more of a luxurious night, Marea is fantastic, and I can’t say enough about Hearth. Paul and his partner Marco’s unwavering passion and friendship provide for great food and atmosphere.

Are there any regions or grapes that are of specific interest to you right now?
There’s so many great wines coming from Santa Barbara these days. The number of microclimates and great producers dedicated to crafting wines appropriate for their area is astounding. Being so close to the Finger Lakes, I’ve found some Rieslings from there little region I really like. The wines from southern Italy are also a real pleasure these days. I’m lovin’ Aglianico.

How do your see your experiences influencing the direction of the wine list at Stake?
An exact direction for Stake’s wine list hasn’t been totally mapped out yet, but David (Spatafore) and I are on the same page when it comes to our love of iconic steakhouse selections, old and new world. Working in restaurants like CRU and Craft provided me the fortunate opportunity to work with blue chip wines from Burgundy, Bordeaux and Napa. We will most certainly be offering these wines at Stake, but I’m also really looking forward to including some of the lesser known, high quality estates from around the world. In the end, our aim is to put together one of the best wine lists in San Diego, one with a balance of big ticket and every day wines.

Anything in San Diego that you can’t wait to get back to?
Most definitely. Selling my surfboard 10 years ago was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. I’m really looking forward to the first day I can drive out to the beach and jump in the water.

Stake Chophouse + Kitchen
1309 Orange Ave
Coronado, CA, 92118
(619) 522-0077

-Patrick Ballow