Taking a leap, Harry Bahri left telecommunications behind to become a sommelier and produce wine
By Ashourina Slewo
A dream and a hare came together to inspire what is now known as Emerald Hare today. In an effort to pursue his dream of being a sommelier and wine producer, Harry Bahri sold his telecommunications establishment and took off for New York City. It would be in New York at the International Culinary Center that he would meet his partner Scott Carey, who like Bahri, had a vision.
Bahri and Carey met at the International Culinary Center where they excelled in their studies and shared a love of wine. They wanted to produce exceptional wines for people to enjoy without having to break the bank to do so. However, it was not until they came across what they considered to be a sign from God, that their plan went into motion.
“While sitting and drinking wine in Napa, Scott and I came across two large Hares roaming the vineyards,” said Bahri, who serves as COO of Emerald Hare. “I flew back to Michigan and the next day I saw a Rabbit give me a confident Stare without running away. Scott and I decided to incorporate the hare in our label.”
Bahri and Carey then commissioned world famous artist Steve Penley to bring their vision to life. Thereafter, in May 2017, four Emerald Hare wines were launched. “We currently have sauvignon blanc, rose, chardonnay and a 5 varietal Bordeaux style blend in our lineup,” said Bahri. “We currently have a cabernet being aged and will be out in late 2018.”
The partners have worked hard to create a specialized brand and product that sets them apart from other wine producers. As a result, Emerald Hare recently won three medals in a competition in California where more than 5,000 wines from other producers were featured.
“What sets Emerald Hare apart is our high-quality wine lineup that’s being sold at a fraction of the cost compared to other high-end wines and can be enjoyed by anyone,” Bahri explained. “Our wine blends are unique and specific to us.”
Bahri passed the Certified Sommelier exam after he graduated from the International Culinary Center, which at a 20 percent pass rate, is said to be one of the hardest exams in the world. With the wealth of knowledge he had acquired during his time in New York City, Bahri wanted to bring that to Michigan with him. “Being from Michigan and seeing all the Chaldean dominated wine & liquor shops, I realized it would be a good opportunity to share the knowledge I had attained to help better their businesses,” said Bahri.
Thus far, the response to Emerald Hare has been positive. Bahri notes that the younger generation of Chaldeans has been especially enthusiastic, while the older generation has tended to be skeptical.
“I have noticed that the younger generation of Chaldeans have been extremely helpful and are very happy to see a fellow Chaldean do something unique that has not been done in our community before,” said Bahri. “The older generation has been a little bit more difficult to deal with – especially store owners. They seem to be more skeptical and some are not willing to extend a helping hand. Some aren’t willing to sample the wines when I present them to see the extraordinary quality for the price.”
Bahri and Carey have not allowed these initial reactions from some members of the community to deter them from their goals, though. Instead, Bahri hopes that Emerald Hare continues on the path to success and to ultimately serve as an example to everyone, in and out of the Chaldean community.
“My hopes for Emerald Hare is to keep making exceptional wines at every day prices that all can enjoy,” Bahri explained. “I would like to be an example for other Chaldeans to take the leap into the wine world. I would like to be able to help other Chaldeans with all the knowledge I have attained.”
In addition to continuing his work in the wine industry, Bahri is also working to launch a high-end cigar bar and bistro in January 2018. The bar and bistro will showcase an eclectic wine, spirits and cocktails list.