If you would have asked a young Eric Solomon what he wanted to do when he grew up, he would have told you he wanted to be a rock drummer, or a classically-trained percussionist, in earshot of his parents. So at 18 he found himself in London as the understudy to the principal percussionist for the London Symphony Orchestra as well as a rock-drummer in several bands. Neither position paid well, so it was pure luck that walking into his neighborhood wine bar looking for employment, he would discover his true vocation. Starting as a bartender, the lanky yank caught the attention of the proprietor for his aptitude and eagerness to learn and soon he was making selections for the wine list. Eventually he was sponsored to the Institute of Masters of Wine where he excelled in its rigorous course of study. Unfortunately this was cut short when the UK government realized that he had overstayed his student visa.
Washing up on the shores of Manhattan, the young, wine-savvy twenty-something immediately found employment as the Director of Fine Wines for a Fortune 100 Wine and Spirits company learning much that would serve him well when he founded European Cellars in 1990. From the start, Eric championed unheralded wine growing regions and promoted young, innovative winemakers. His initial focus was France where he was an early proponent of the wines of the Rhône, the Languedoc and the Roussillon. His growing reputation in Europe as a new, dynamic and successful importer prompted Daphne Glorian to send him, unsolicited, a sample of her wine, Clos Erasmus in 1993. This wine would change Eric’s life professionally and personally.
Daphne had a similarly unconventional path to wine. Initially she trained in the law and while working in the Paris office of an English Master of Wine she met Rene Barbier. Moving to the Priorat in 1988 at the urging of Rene, she invested her life’s savings in 17 terraces of vines near the village of Gratallops thereby becoming one of the founders of the modern Priorat. Daphne would go on to establish her own cellar, Clos i Terrasses, and become the first winemaker in Spain to achieve back-to-back perfect scores for her wine Clos Erasmus in 2004 & 2005. In the intervening years she not only met her enthusiastic American importer but eventually agreed to marry him. With his allocation of Clos Erasmus secured, Eric began to explore the rest of Spain and has assembled a Spanish portfolio as innovative and distinctive as his imports from France.
Eric Solomon Selections has grown over the years from a few estates to now just over 90 properties. In addition to his original import portfolio, European Cellars, Eric established Indigo Wine in 2015 with a collection of smaller estates from emerging regions, or young growers shaking up established appellations. Despite the name on the back of the bottle – European Cellars or Indigo Wine – both portfolios are selected by and imported by Eric Solomon.
For his pioneering efforts, Eric has been recognized by Robert Parker as his Wine Personality of the Year for 2002, remarking, “Solomon has a great talent for ferreting out spectacular wines from France and Spain. The quality of these selections is remarkable.” In 2006 he was awarded Best Importer of the Year by Food and Wine Magazine and he has been a James Beard semifinalist for Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Writing in celebration of European Cellars’ 25th anniversary, Robert Parker followed on his earlier praise, writing, “I first tasted with Eric in 1991/1992, and I have watched him grow as an importer to the point where he may be the finest in the United States.”