When COVID walloped the restaurant industry in 2020, most buying managers pulled back the reins. Not Wrigley Mansion wine wrangler Paola Embry. With the blessing of Wrigley owner Jamie Hormel, Embry sought to double the property’s already massive wine inventory, reasoning they would get bargains and support struggling businesses in the process. Embry bought from small distributors and wineries everywhere, amassing roughly 18,000 bottles and giving Wrigley the biggest, most diverse wine cellar in the state.
The cellar is a triumph of imagination for Embry, who got her start buying wine for star chef Christopher Gross in the early ’90s. Upon joining Wrigley in 2010, her first initiative was moving the wine collection – only 450 bottles at the time – from a hot, doorless kitchen pantry to a larger room originally purposed as servants’ quarters. Over the years, she nurtured and transformed the space into the soothing, library-like retreat it is today, with custom-built wine bins and a wooden standing table for intimate wine tastings. With the opening of Gross’ eponymous restaurant at Wrigley in 2021, the cellar is enjoying a new swell of notoriety, and not just for the pairing options it offers diners. Kept at 48 blessed degrees, it might be the Valley’s premier summertime chill-out spot.
- Wrigley’s 120-page wine list represents well over $1 million in inventory, but you don’t have to be a millionaire to drink something delicious here. Embry loves finding great little-known wines from around the world – she’s currently high on Greece and Sicily – and her list offers 176 wines priced at $60-$65.
- At a Krug wine dinner last April, guests were led to the cellar for after-dinner sips of one of the world’s finest cognacs, Hennessy Paradis Imperial, served on a crystal tray and poured from a crystal bottle into hand-blown crystal glasses – the accoutrements (including gloves to prevent smudging) provided by Moët-Hennessy.
- For customers of an antiquarian bent, Wrigley possesses an impressive collection of rare Burgundies with older verticals from prestigious domaines such as Rousseau, Roumier, DRC, Roulot, Coche and Leroy. The 1952 Remoissenet Clos de Vougeot pictured here will set you back $4,900.
- Embry is running out of room as her inventory grows. Owing to supply-chain issues, she can’t get new bins built fast enough, so in the interim, she’s using the wooden crates in which the wine is shipped for storage, adding tags with bin numbers to keep it all organized.
- If money is no object, Wrigley has the wines to scratch that sybaritic itch – maybe a 2012 DRC Montrachet Grand Cru for $24,000, or a 2011 DRC Romanee-Conti Grand Cru Monopole for $59,000 (nope, that’s not a typo).
- Hungarian wine producer Royal Tokaji tucks its fabled 2008 Essencia (so low in alcohol that it’s technically not wine) into a red lacquered box with two hand-made crystal spoons, and for $95 at Christopher’s, you may experience this extraordinary dessert-like elixir — so sweet and intense that a spoonful will do.
2501 E. Telawa Trail, Phoenix,