City Winery, which opened in the fall of 2008, has quickly established itself as an innovative brand by uniquely combining the first winery in Manhattan with world-class music programming. With 6 harvests completed (3 from Northern Hemisphere vineyards and 3 spring harvests from south of the equator) more consumers will have an opportunity to taste the high quality of the wine through a unique tap system directly from the cellar below.
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City Winery’s cellar holds 300 French oak barrels with 11 tap lines to the newly launched Barrel Room which will serve the fresh wine, as well as being a new 30-seat restaurant within the Winery complex. 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.
“The Barrel Room allows us to show off two elements of our business which have matured nicely—namely the high quality of our food AND the delicious wine we have been producing,” said Michael Dorf, founder and CEO of City Winery. “We are also very excited about giving our customers the rare opportunity of tasting some of our wine using a nontraditional method but getting as close to a barrel tasting of finished wine as possible.”
Since inception, City Winery has averaged 75 tons a year of grape production, which yields the equivalent of 250 barrels or 5000 cases of wine from 15 different vineyards in California, Oregon, New York, Argentina, and Chile. In 2010, City Winery served almost 30% of its production without it ever going into a bottle—the wine when finished with it’s aging process moves from a wooden barrel into a stainless steel keg for tapping straight into a glass. While many micro–breweries and even Whole Foods recently have started selling “Growlers”, riding on both the craft beer market and environmental benefits, the logistics of the wine business have generally not allowed for this. But given City Winery New York is in the heart of a wine consuming urban setting, drinking fresh wine locally is now possible.
David Lecomte, City Winery’s executive winemaker who is originally from the Rhone Valley in France, comments, “The tap system allows us to introduce small batches of wine down to a single barrel. We can demonstrate on one tap line Pinot Noir from Oregon aged in new oak for 1-year against the same vineyard’s Pinot aged in used oak, press wine versus free run wine, American oak versus French oak, barrel aging versus stainless steel tank aging. For a wine aficionado, this chance to learn and taste the differences is rare and exciting.”
City Winery plans to open in Chicago in the spring of 2012 in a new 25,000 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. City Winery expects to increase the amount of wine delivered in this way to almost 50% of its production in the future, as well as expand to additional urban markets.