Endless Cheers and Ringing Ears
For many, the word ‘winery’ evokes romantic imagery of rolling vineyards and sun-dappled grapes, but that’s not exactly what Michael Dorf had in mind when he opened the original City Winery branch in Manhattan in 2008. The passionate winemaker and music fan dreamed of combining his two loves in one multi-zone, multi-purpose urban locale. Fast forward to August 2012, and Dorf has brought his wildly successful NYC operation to the Windy City, and unsurprisingly, like-minded locals are clamouring to fill their glasses, plates and ears with his goodies.
The 33,500 sq ft space retains its turn-of-the-century architecture and features lashings of reclaimed brick and wood, along with a 300-seat performance venue, huge dining room and wine garden, plus various private event rooms. Bottle and barrel-inspired detailing galore serves as an indicator of Dorf’s near fanaticism for the blessed drink, and glass panels expose the working winery also housed on the premises. There are musical performances most nights, spanning every genre from blues and jazz to rock and country and often featuring big names like Lindsay Buckingham, with the odd comedy act thrown in, and regular talks and tastings given by winemakers. A Mediterranean-tinged menu of pastas, flatbreads and meaty mains partners simply and wholesomely with the more than 400 international and 20 in-house wines, which are produced from grapes sourced from US and South American vineyards. Good wine, food and music all in one spot – where do we sign up?