5 Winemakers to Watch in 2022, According to Top Wine Sellers

From California to South Africa, here are five rising stars in the wine world—and their best bottles to add to your cellar.

Rob Harrison, Fluent Wine Company

“It was time to launch a premium age-able white wine project to rival the top whites from Bordeaux and the Loire Valley.”

Harrison’s path to Sauvignon Blanc–centric Fluent, as Williams describes it, ran through a role with Bill Harlan, leading an elite team working with high-profile guests like “celebrities, royalty, and heads of state.”

In spite of the beautiful First Growths and premium vintages of Napa Valley Cabernet he showcased at countless dinners for said guests—Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Margaux, Harlan Estate, Screaming Eagle—Harrison reports that it was a 1993 Château Haut-Brion Blanc that virtually overshadowed the vaunted reds one night and changed the trajectory of his life.

Michael Brughelli, Brvghelli Wines

Lured back to California’s Central Coast, he embedded himself in Santa Barbara’s Santa Maria Valley and focused on farming practices to elevate wine

A graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (with a double major in Wine and Viticulture and Agribusiness), Brughelli built his resume in different hemispheres.

But lured back to California’s Central Coast, he embedded himself in Santa Barbara’s Santa Maria Valley and focused on farming practices to elevate wine—“extrapolating cause and effect,” as he says—in celebrated sites, including iconic Bien Nacido Vineyard (where worked with luminaries like Sine Qua Non, Au Bon Climat and Chanin).

Suzanne Deal Booth, Bella Oaks

the wine matches the legacy of the historic vineyard. “The fruit literally sings

In Napa Valley, the legendary Bella Oaks Vineyard—planted in 1973 to Cabernet Sauvignon by vineyard pioneers Barney and Belle Rhodes—was the subject of concern and intriguing rumor until arts and cultural heritage advocate Suzanne Deal Booth acquired it.

Then came a collective sigh of relief, with expectations that the historic property would be honored “for all it has been and all it can still be in its new chapter,” according to Williams.

The Wine: “balanced with perfumed, floral aromatics, bright acidity and fine-grained tannins. The layers of complexity are dreamlike and alluring.”

Black winemakers of South Africa

“the most exciting new voices in wine”

“These winemakers are the whole package—with a strong ‘why’ behind their brands, a clear winemaking vision and a desire to turn the oldest winemaking dirt in the world into something fresh and modern.

South Africans know their way around Chenin Blanc, but Tinashe Nyamudoka blends Chenin with Roussanne, Colombard and Sémillon for the most beguiling and yet still laser-sharp white wine.

Berene Sauls is doing something so special—restoring the ancestral land where her family was held as slaves into vineyards that provide work for the area’s descendants—that you simply cannot separate the purpose from the wine itself.

Each sip of her Tesselaarsdal Pinot Noir is a gift for past, present and future generations.

Tara Gomez, Kitá

Farming on the only indigenous-owned vineyard land in the country.

Tara is a member of the Chumash tribe in California,” says TJ, “and is farming on the only indigenous-owned vineyard land in the country.

She has spent time making wine all over the world, and her wines have a very Old World sensibility that meshes perfectly with her respect of the land.

Everything Tara does—from the label, to the brand story, to the wine itself—is done with an eye toward telling the story of her ancestry, her land and her vision for wine in America.

She’s as exciting a new voice in wine as we’ve seen in a while.”

TJ and Hadley Douglas

of the Urban Grape

Photo: Urban Grape

In Boston’s South End, TJ and Hadley Douglas have grown the Urban Grape, which they launched in 2010, into one of the country’s most innovative shops—wines, for instance, are organized by weight as opposed to variety or region, putting the emphasis on what people like instead of what they know.

And in 2021, the US Chamber of Commerce gave its Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award to the Urban Grape.

Karen Williams

Who owns remarkably well-situated Acme Fine Wines

Karen Williams, who owns remarkably well-situated Acme Fine Wines in Napa’s north-valley hub of St.

Helena, has a reputation for finding (and carrying) wines practically before the brands hit the market.

A longstanding network of relationships with producers throughout California and beyond gives her inside intel on who’s making wines that are likely to be sought-after right out of the gate.

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