2012 Year in Review – Top 12 Greatest Moments From Our Staff (in chronological order)

 

#1 -Little Feat

January 2nd – 4th

What a great way start to 2012! For three nights, this American rock group brought their authentic, bluesy-horn blowing, down-home sound to the City Winery stage. City Winery has had their sights set on Little Feat for a long time, and hope that this will become a yearly event before they cross the ocean for their annual run in Jamaica.

 

 

 

 

Click here to see Joshua’s performance at City Winery.

#2 – Joshua Bell

January 6th

Joshua is one the most famed violinists in the world. Being a friend and a fan of our venue, he chose City Winery for a very special underplayed album release performance. The room was jam packed with an audience that was enjoying food and drink while remaining completely captivated by Joshua’s compositions.

 

 

 

 

#3 – The Cabinet of Wonders

February 4th, March 10th, April 28th, May 19th, September 8th, October 19th, November 16th and December 16th

City Winery is proud to have hosted and provided a home for wildly popular and NPR hit variety show by John Wesley Harding. The show has developed over the past three years into a true representation of what City Winery is all about; a coming together of leading cultural influencers in music, comedy, and literature. This year included the likes of Sam Amidon, Iris Dement, Nick Hornby, Stephin Merritt, Eugene Mirman, Aaron Neville, Steve Earle, Loudon Wainwright III, Alec Ounsworth, John Roderick, Ron Sexsmith, Stephen Kellogg and many more!

 

 

 

 

 

#4 – Wyclef Jean

February 24th, March 31st, October 18th, December 16th (Chicago)

2012 was “The Year of Wyclef” performing four incredible shows between New York and Chicago. This amazing talent showed everyone who was lucky enough to get in to the four-day residency that he is much more than a refugee; he is an amazing and talented musician who knows how to put on a remarkable performance. By the end of the show Wyclef had everyone out of their seats waving  City Winery napkins in the air. We look forward to seeing more from Wyclef in 2013 when he hosts the newly created Refugee Lounge Series at the winery.

 

 

 

 #5 – Robert Johnson 100th Birthday Celebration Rehearsal Show

March 5th

A live dress rehearsal at City Winery the night prior to the sold out show at The Apollo Theater. The show featured many soul, jazz and blues legends such as Steve Jordan’s All Star Band, Living Colour, Shemekia Copeland, Bettye LaVatte, Taj Mahal, Keb Mo, Sam Moore, Todd Rundgren and more.

Click here to see a clip from the show at City Winery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to see Todd’s performance at City Winery

#6 – Todd Rundgren

March 7th

One of our most beloved artists came through City Winery with five shows this past year, each one a little different from the other. These shows were advertised as ‘An Unpredictable Evening With Todd Rundgren’ not without reason. In addition, Todd also took part in our outside production at the Apollo Theater to celebrate Robert Johnson’s 100th birthday anniversary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#7 – Mother’s Day Show with Patti Smith & daughter Jesse Paris Smith plus Lucy Wainwright Roche  and daughter Suzzy Roche. 

May 13th

Click here to see a clip from the show at City Winery.

This very unlikely bill was put together specifically for City Winery and featured two mother and daughter combos and brought together the beautiful, melodic, harmonies of the Roches contrasting the strong minded delivery of the Smiths. Only in New York and only at City Winery can such a collaboration blossom from idea to reality.

 

 

 

 

 

#8- Ronnie Spector’s Beyond the Beehive

July 6th, 14th, 20th, 27th, August 18th, September 15th

This was a monumental run of 6 shows that was developed specially for City Winery and featured Ronnie Spector at her best. Ronnie took the audience on an emotional journey through her amazing life story through song, photos and video. Audience members included fellow celebrities in the music and theater community and friends that Ronnie has collected over the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to see the performance of “This Land is Your Land” by Diana Jones, David Robbins, Steve Earle, Tim Robbins, Miles Guthrie Robbins, Steve Butts (original member of The Highwaymen), and John Hammond.

#9 – Woodyfest: Celebration of Woody Guthrie’s 100th Birthday

July 11th-13th

An incredible line up of musicians from all genres came out to celebrate the100th Birthday year of the man who defined Americana music in this country. The performers selected for the tribute were a perfect fit for the City Winery audience and we were lucky enough to get a little help from our friend Steve Earle who was both the co-curator and host for all three nights. Some of the highlights included Billy Bragg, Allen Toussaint, Tim Robbins and John Hammond among others.

 

 

 

 

 
#10 – Sam Moore

July 17th

Who knows the fate of feel good soul music? A true, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came when   Sam Moore of Sam and Dave played two shows in one day at City Winery this past summer. First he rocked out our backyard at the Hudson Square Wine & Music Festival and then a full show in the winery that evening. Keeping the Soul Man music alive!

See Sam More on “Goody Day NY” with Bethenny Frankel and Dave Price.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



#11 – Taj Mahal

August 25-26th

The legendary blues man hit the stage for two special nights as well as joined our Rolling Stones tribute at Carnige Hall. Taj has been on our radar from day one and to see him finally play our stage was definitely  a highlight, especially when his daughter Deva joined him on the last night.

 

 

 

 

 

#12 Gad Elmaleh

November 25th-29th

Truly not knowing what to expect after booking a 4 night of comedy show performed all in French – we ended up adding two additional nights, made way for Jerry Seinfeld and started talks about an encore performance this summer!  The show was a real home run with the French community in New York! We hope that by hosting one of the most successful comedians in the world more will join the ranks.

 

 

Be sure to comment below and let us know some of your favorites, or acts you would like to see at City Winery in 2013.

 

Happy New Year!!

Our Big Crush Last Weekend

Close to one-quarter of our entire fall harvest arrived last Saturday. Needless to say, it was a long day for us, but it was also filled with high expectations. We were not disappointed. The grapes arrived in top condition ready to fill our hungry tanks. In the Pinot Noir department, we received grapes from the Bien Nacido vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley and the Bacigalupi vineyards in the Russian River. Petite Syrah and Zinfandel arrived from Lodi as well.

Assistant Winemaker Bill Anton delivered pallet after pallet of grapes to the loading dock where Sikou Nakate and his trusty pallet jack were waiting to lift and pull each one-ton stack to the loading station. In the case of the Petite Syrah, whose clusters tend to run somewhat large compared to other varieties, the stems had to be snipped into smaller pieces so that they would go through the destemmer properly. Working in shifts, the sorting table was kept busy all day long, with only short interruptions in order to move from one tank to the next. Purple hands and sticky fingers were in abundance.

With our second crush of the season now finished, three-quarters of our fermenters are already full.  It is now up to the hard-working yeast cells to transform all that sugary must into wine. We tend to them day and night making sure they complete their important task on schedule. This means regular pump overs, punch downs and temperature regulation. Our lab technicians are busy monitoring the progress and if all goes well, we will start to press and barrel down during the next two weeks. As you can see, timing will be very important so that tanks are available for more crop as it comes in. We are excited about breaking in our new press that will make this process more manageable. Stay tuned for updates.

 

 

World’s Fastest Winery

Last Saturday we had one of our largest crushes ever — 20 tons of grapes! Thanks to our dedicated members, staff and friends, it was processed in record time without a hitch. In fact, they managed to sort the grapes with such precision and care that David’s high standards of winemaking were held in the highest regard. In the time lapse video below, you will see most of the day’s effort compressed into two and a half minutes.

 

The World’s Fastest Winery from Hank S on Vimeo.

 

The Grapes are Coming! The Grapes are Coming!!

Poseidon Vineyard-Pinot Noir 2012

 

As I sit here at my keyboard in Soho, our first crop of the season is being hand harvested at the Poseidon Vineyard in Napa. These luscious Pinot Noir grapes have reached the point of optimal ripeness and will soon be on their way to City Winery. The small yellow bins that you see above will be stacked high in a refrigerated tractor trailer and covered with a protective blanket of argon gas to retard oxidation. If all goes as planned we will have them in our hands this Sunday! Six tons are expected and will make for a gentle opening to our fall crush (We have been known to crush as many as twenty tons in one day!).

The Poseidon Vineyard, situated in the Carneros AVA at the northern end of San Francisco Bay, was first planted by the Molnar family in 1973 where the cooling winds from the Pacific temper the summer heat. This maritime climate is ideal for growing Pinot Noir grapes so that they ripen slowly and develop phenolic ripeness at the same time as sugar ripeness. Phenolics are a vast group of organic compounds that are responsible for the color, tannins and complex flavors found in wine. Over the years, the quality of this vineyard has been so remarkable that many of the big names in Napa purchase grapes from it, including Joseph Phelps, Heitz Cellars, Sterling, Pride Mountain, Acacia, and Mumm (The PinotFile, Volume 9, Issue 11, September 11, 2012).

Those of you who read my last post know how busy we have been preparing the winery for the biggest crush of the year. Time is of the essence so that when the grapes arrive they are crushed and placed into fermentation tanks without delay. Today we finished cleaning and reassembling our conveyors and made sure the tanks are fully cleaned and sanitized. As you can see below, these are big tanks (6,500 liters or 1,717 gallons) and require a person to actually get inside to do the job thoroughly.

Sikou Nakate preparing to clean one of the 6500 liter fermenters

 

Cleaning a stainless steel fermenter in preparation for Sunday’s crush

 

Work schedules are being drawn up and provisions made to have the fermenting juice, pulp, and skins, aka the must, attended every day from early morning to late at night. For the next two weeks or so, it will be like incubating very precious farm eggs: keeping the temperature just right, making sure there is proper ventilation (or circulation in this case), and constantly monitoring the development. And this is only the beginning of what we hope will be our most phenomenal harvest to date!

 

ALL HANDS ON DECK! Preparing for the 2012 Fall Crush

As August draws to a close here at City Winery, word is arriving that our fall crop is going to be extraordinary this year. The growing season in California has been nearly ideal so we are expecting to have our fermenters filled to capacity in the next few weeks. Crushing up to one hundred tons of grapes takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears so we reach out to many of our staff, members and friends to pitch in. In other words: ALL HANDS ON DECK!

The work itself is quite exhilarating for those who appreciate the art of winemaking. Seeing the freshly picked grapes as they arrive opens a new window into the enjoyment of wine. Suddenly you make a direct connection between these luscious, aromatic fruit and the flavors that make wine such a distinct and delightful experience. Tasting a Pinot Noir grape and comparing that to a fresh Cabernet Sauvignon grape immediately reveals the source of their differences. The Pinot Noir’s bracing acidity and crispness contrasts with the thicker-skinned Cabernet Sauvignon grape that is rich and chewy.

But the real miracle is to witness the transformation from juice to wine. The combination of crushed grapes and juice, known as the must, begins it’s metamorphosis as a beautifully sweet and intensely flavored mixture. As the yeasts begin their work, the sugars are replaced with a complex variety of compounds that add a wide range of new tastes and aromas. Gradually the must becomes more wine-like over the roughly two-week fermentation process. During this period, the must is tasted and analyzed twice a day in our lab. Adjustments are made in order to insure the best possible outcome.

The preparations for the crush are moving into high gear. The fermenters need to be thoroughly inspected and cleaned, as do all the conveyors, destemming machine and sorting tables. Pumps, hoses and fittings are being put in order for managing the must. New barrels are being acquired and must be tested for leaks and other imperfections. Existing barrels are undergoing a thorough inspection, then washed and set in racks for receiving new wine. Our basket press will be taken out of storage and similarly prepped. Once a crush begins, there are no timeouts, so everything must be in near perfect working order. In the event of an equipment failure, we review our backup procedures. As they say, “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst” is the order of the day.

The winery is a hub of great activity and anticipation as we strive to improve every aspect of vinification each harvest. David Lecomte, our head winemaker, is never satisfied with just maintaining the status quo, no matter how diligent. We have been upgrading and intensifying our laboratory analyses with new staff and protocols. This will allow David to prevent or more quickly correct any must issues before they cause a wine fault. A week ago we received a new bottling machine that will allow us to substantially increase our capacity. This is important for the harvest because it will free up barrels and rack space as the aged wine can be put into bottles more quickly.

September marks a new beginning for City Winery with its sister facility in Chicago now open and ready for its first harvest. Together we watch the ripening grapes in California, Oregon, Washington and elsewhere with renewed excitement. With our combined knowledge and experience, this fall offers us an opportunity to make the best City Winery vintage yet.

CHEERS!