After making his first barrel of wine in California with his brother Josh and wine maker David Tate, formerly of Ridge Winery and now at Barnett Vineyards, Michael caught the bug: "For a long time I'd been enjoying wine as a fan - drinking it, taking classes, attending wine dinners - but it was not until I actually started participating in the process of working with the grape, turning it into wine, putting it into a bottle, and watching it develop over time, that I really started to understand wine. And when I would give my friends a bottle of wine with my name on it, most would respond by saying: 'I wanna do that too!' It was this experience that led Michael to conceptualize and start working on the City Winery business plan in 2006.
The core target audience of City Winery - urban wine enthusiasts who desire the experience of making their own wine, but who are not going to leave their comfortable Manhattan lifestyle to decamp to a vineyard - immediately became clear. But Michael wanted to create more than just a custom crush facility. Beyond making wine, Michael also wanted to focus on the enjoyment and satisfaction that comes from sharing wine with friends, and to capture the unique social bond that occurs when communities of like-minded people gather over a bottle of quality Cabernet, while dining on a freshly-prepared meal and listening to their favorite artists perform.
In September 2011 City Winery opened the Barrel Room, a 30-seat restaurant within the Winery complex featuring 11 wines by the tap made on premises. The Barrel Room features its own menu, designed by our executive chef Andres Barrera, to complement the wine and much of the food is prepared right in front of you. In addition to sampling our own array of wines produced on premises, guests may order from City Winery's wine list of over 400 selections from most major winemaking regions of the world, recognized by Wine Spectator magazine with a 'Best of Award of Excellence' in 2010. “The Barrel Room” is housed inside the building between the company’s fermentation tank room and the music and private event space. The tap system, which uses a neutral argon gas, allows us to serve wine in the “greenest” manner with no need for bottle, cork, label, or cardboard case. Much of the tap wine requires no added sulfites during "kegging" and because of the inert gas the wine is freshly preserved in stainless steel creating no waste from keg to glass.
City Winery opened in Chicago in the late summer of 2012 in a new 32,000 square foot location with approximately the same winery capacity and even expanded tap wine tasting room. Putting a winery into the heart of a city allows for the fresh product to get to wine fans in a unique and efficient manner, pairing perfectly with the world-class entertainment.
That is what City Winery is about: community, creativity and culture. A vibrant, interactive space in the heart of a cosmopolitan city where folks can not only make wine, but also meet friends new and old while indulging their passion for quality food, music, art and life.