Uncorking another year

Leon & Son comes to Grand Rapids after a successful launch in Brooklyn.
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Leon & Son Grand Rapids East Hills partial interior
Leon & Son offers a broad selection of wines. Photo by Bryan Esler

At Leon & Son Grand Rapids, husband-and-wife team Christopher and Cristina Leon clearly love a good time — and they’re eager to invite you to the party.

“Always happy to open wine,” said Christopher, who might — for an impromptu tasting — uncork the 2018 Bonny Doon Vineyard Picpoul, an estate-grown, biodynamic wine by California legend Randall Grahm. “Picpoul’s a French grape that translates to lip stinger,” Christopher said. “It’s bright, tingly with a soft edge from the California sun.”

Leon & Son, 972 Cherry St. SE, also sells the perfect everyday stemware — Ravenscroft crystal wine glasses (4 for $33) — to punch up the wine’s clarity.

“We’re creating a hospitality experience for people. So, when you walk into the shop, we help you discover joy,” said Cristina, who also stocks thoughtful and bold provisions such as canned sardines in olive oil with lemon, 2017 Isole e Olena Extra Virgin Olive Oil (from the producers of Isole e Olena Chianti Classico) and Brooklyn’s Mast Brothers chocolate bars.

The setting

With blush walls, an original tin ceiling and hardwood floors, and inviting storefront windows, Leon & Son is gorgeously outfitted with handcrafted shelves and a counter by cabinet maker Allen Spencer. Each shelf beckons with alluring, twinkling wines — the world’s finest all in one place.

“Our wines are by producers that we want to champion, people who are defining their place in the world and doing something beautiful that’s worth talking about,” Christopher said.

The Leons want to satisfy your curiosity through wine tastings, chats, classes and pop-up dinners at independently owned restaurants (find event dates at leonandsongr.com).

During a recent wine chat, Christopher thrilled attendees with 2014 Stolpman Trousseau Combe Pet’Nat by sommelier and winemaker Rajat Parr. “Pet’Nat is just a fun sparkling wine that’s capped like beer in a bottle. This one’s made from trousseau, a red grape from France’s Jura region,” Christopher said.

Brooklyn born

On May 29, 2015, Christopher opened his namesake shop Leon & Son Brooklyn and quickly became the talk of the town — winning gold medals from WineSearcher.com for European, Burgundy and California selections, being named one of NYC’s “absolute best wine stores” by New York Magazine and voted NYC’s most loved store (any kind of store) by Time Out readers two years ago.

Thanks to local contacts, the Leons established their second location, on a bustling boutique-lined stretch on Cherry Street in Grand Rapids, not far from Cristina’s alma mater, East Grand Rapids High, in August 2019. GR

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