New Jersey-born Christina Sherwood is the wine director at Granville Restaurants. The group spans locations around Studio City, Burbank, Glendale and West Hollywood, all located in California. We met Christina in the West Hollywood, Los Angeles location where the group was hosting a reminder for press of just how fantastic its food, wine, cocktail and beer menus are.
Christina is a Certified Silver Pin Sommelier (North American Sommelier Association), since 2016 and much like the restaurant in which we met her, she’s top of her game while also sincerely down-to-earth. Granville prides itself on representing the affordable luxury choice, and by that it means: you can have your cake and eat it too, or have a wonderful dining experience and still make your car payment.
Los Angeles, in particular, can get silly with the Matrix-thinking of “pricey equals quality”. Consumers, well, consume and not always wisely. More however, are becoming savvy patrons. They’re understanding more about how their food is prepared and how to order it — good news for them, bad news for restaurants who’ve traded in smoke and mirrors. The days of the unsure patron are nearing an end, and now “Why does this wine cost this much?” is a common, and unembarrassing question.
Granville is the place for these people. They’re not out to just eat and drink, they’re out to learn, experience and feel comfortable while ordering fresh, high quality ingredients, hormone-free and antibiotic-free meats, organic greens, artisan cheeses and breads, and sustainable and organic coffee and espresso. They want the best, but they want to understand the process, and that’s what Granville does well.
Granville is in a unique demographic space. A no-Madmen’s land. Its locations, aesthetic, quality and service could certainly force a few extra bucks out of the wallets of passers-by and its respective locals, but it prefers to stay…grounded. Like a popular friend who never gossips. They could easily indulge, but they choose to take a higher road.
Christina Sherwood perpetuates Granville’s mantra, or rather, its manner of thinking. “The inspiration for the wine list was to blend the core values that Granville was founded on, and select a range of wines that offered something for every level of wine drinker, from the novice to the enthusiast, with all selections available by the glass.” At Bonfort’s we hear interview, after interview that good businesses realize the wine-drinker’s journey. They can’t set out experienced – all must enter through the gates of the novice. Nurture that customer in their journey and grow their palate to benefit them and create a space for your business with the potential to upgrade, and upsell.
“We started building the wine list using local wines from California, several of which are sustainable and organic,” says Christina. “I also wanted to make sure we were on trend within the industry so popular offerings such as prosecco, Sancerre and a super tuscan were added as well, rounding out the list.”
According to Christina, Granville guests have come to expect high quality and great value and the wine list is no exception. When selecting the wines for the list she and her team go through extensive tastings of each varietal, categorized into price points. “I’m always looking for wines that are varietally correct but also unique. We want to expose our guests to producers that strive for the same high quality that we do at a variety of different price points. This way our guests have the chance to enjoy a glass of Sonoma Valley sauvignon blanc known for its classic herbaceous notes or try something new like a mineral driven Sancerre which is the same grape but hails from the Loire Valley.
“I love all the wines on the wine list but on a warm day I always go for the Curran Rosé. This Santa Barbara County rosé is made from Grenache Gris and exhibits juicy, red, candied fruits with a crisp, dry finish. So refreshing, this wine goes with everything. Another favorite would be the Hitching Post Highliner Pinot Noir. This is a barrel selection of vineyards from Santa Barbara County, Santa Maria Valley and the Santa Rita Hills which changes with each vintage. The end result is fruit forward, expressive and elegant. It’s perfect if I’m in the mood for something silky and rich. When I want something with more structured my go-to is the Il Fauno Super Tuscan. Super Tuscans are a blend of bordeaux varietals from the region of Tuscany. The Il Fauno is primarily merlot and cabernet franc with a touch of cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot. Soft elegant tannins and a fair amount of acidity are complemented by the sour cherry and blueberry fruits. The wine finishes with warm spices and a sweet flavor of black licorice.”
Christina has been instrumental in honing all of Granville’s wine lists, and if she can offer one piece of advice to restaurateurs and her sommelier peers, it’s this: “Don’t just sell your customer, grow them. Help them. Think long term. It’s a great honor to be in the position of being able to guide a wine enthusiast’s palate. Cherish that.”
Granville price per glass/bottle:
Rosé, Curran $12/42
Pinot noir, Hitching Post Highliner $18/63
Super Tuscan, Il Fauno di Arcanum $15/53