With a lineup of good musicians as well as interesting winemakers who will be offering talks and tastings, I’ve got a lot of reasons to want to hang out at City Winery.– Eric Asimov, The New York Times
Indulge Your Senses:
We are trying to pair the culinary experience with a cultural experience. We are attempting to create the perfect setting to share with friends your passion for wine, music and great food. We believe strongly in our company mantra that you should “Indulge the Senses”—that the sounds, smells, tastes, and views should combine to create a unique and special customer experience.
Q&A with founder Michael Dorf:
City Winery is the brainchild of Michael Dorf, founder of the iconic Knitting Factory, one of New York’slongest runningmusic venues, wanted to create a space in Manhattan where he could combine his shared passions for wine and music.
How was the idea conceived?
What is the philosophy behind City Winery?
We are trying to pair the culinary experience with a cultural experience. We are attempting to create the perfect setting to share with friends your passion for wine, music and great food. We believe strongly that the design and set-up of the physical space which combines the wine country vibe in a urban setting sets the stage for our unique customer experience. I would suggest that part of our formula or technology (using the definition loosely to mean platform) is much like the iPhone, which is providing both functionality for our customer’s time with slick user-friendly design that our customers are comfortable with. In other words, we have created a location that feels better to use—seating, rather than crowded standing for a show, great sound, wine served in Riedel glasses, a terrific wine list, very good food, attentive service, physical access to winemaking with all the romance of being in wine country, from the stainless steel fermenting tanks, French oak barrels, and even the aroma of fermenting grapes. For the cultural seeker, be it a music show, wine pairing, or other performance, we have built a more efficient ticketing system and opportunity to combine eating with viewing. In a highly fragment and digitized world, there is tremendous competition for our time and attention. Furthermore, for our more sophisticated and high-end clientele, the pressure and responsibility of jobs dictate that they can’t always leave work before 7pm and have no tolerance for lines, wait time an entrances, or the anxiety of knowing where they are sitting. They certainly don’t have time for going to a restaurant for dinner, parking a car, and then going to another location for a show. Our customers are willing to pay a premium for this “luxury product” that helps them save time, as time is just as valuable, if not more for them, than money. In summary, our brand is starting to represent the image of being the highest-end experience combining a culinary and cultural offering. We are paying attention to our image from the time the consumer connects digitally through their onsite visit to the reputation and memory which lives on.
What Role does Music Play?
Music is integral to our brand, and not just because I’ve been a promoter for 25 years of my life, but because there is a deep rooted connection between the music maker and the wine maker, the wine fan and music fan—both music and wine appeals to a sophisticated customer. Music fans also love the rock stars of the wine world. Last year when I visited Ravinia I was blown away that a very high percentage of the beverages being consumed on the lawn during a Swell Season concert was wine. From a pure practical standpoint, we do operate a lemonade stand and part of our job is to get people in front of our stand. In that sense, our programming draws people to our house and sell them the lemonade. In our particular case, we also make a bunch of the lemonade.
Can you describe some menu options?
Wine is made to be consumed with food and thus, we have designed a menu which supports your wine consumption. We have created a cuisine that borrows from Mediterranean history – Italian, French, Spanish, Middle-Eastern cultures have been pairing simple and wholesome food with wine for centuries. With this in mind, we have small and large plates to pair with your wine. Our award winning wine list has over 400 unique producers from around the world, in addition to the more than 20 in-house produced wines sourced from vineyards in California, Oregon, Washington, Argentina and Chile (and perhaps some Riesling from Michigan if we can find some) We make a variety of flat breads with a simple combination of ingredients and use high quality cheeses. Essentially bread, cheese and a direction which pairs perfectly with different wines. We also use our own wine lees as the yeast for the flat bread, I think the only restaurant in the US doing that.
What will City Winery have for meeting planners especially?
Our modular space can accommodate many different kinds of private events, from 300 person sit-down weddings or bar mitzvahs to a 500-person gala, from a corporate 30-person dinner party to a corporate retreat complete with a private wine blending class. As a full service event space with a built-in stage, state-of-the-art sound and production, and on-site catering we can accommodate almost any type of event. This is the ultimate in wine country arriving in an urban setting for your party.
What do other City Winery patrons say about the venue?
You need to ask, but I think we get very high marks for building a better mouse trap.
Can you give me detail on the design elements?
Read about our design HERE