"When we first covered San Francisco-based Crushpad back in 2005, the idea of a winery in an urban centre was surprising. Crushpad has since blossomed, and now a like-minded contender on the opposite end of the nation is picking up on the notion and combining it with a wine bar.
Due to open this fall, City Winery will combine a wine bar and event space with a fully operational winery in the heart of Soho, New York City. The private-label winery—apparently the city's first—will let consumers choose their favourite grape, consult with City Winery's master winemaker and then crush, ferment, bottle and label their own bottles of wine. The company will have the capacity to make about 300 barrels of wine in its first year, and 200 of those will be dedicated to a limited set of members, who will have access to City Winery's state-of-the-art equipment and professional team. Grape varietals will be sourced from vineyards in California, Oregon, Washington State, New York, Chile and Argentina under strict temperature control, and customers will be able to work with City Winery's specialists in person or online to customize their barrel, participating as much or as little as they like in the process. Membership is available on three levels, beginning at USD 5,000 annually plus the cost of grapes, barrels and labelling for about 250 bottles of wine. Wine classes are also included, as is the opportunity to trade bottles with other members; wine sales, however, are prohibited. About a third of City Winery's barrels have already been sold, according to its site.
City Winery's venue side, meanwhile, features a flexible space that can accommodate up to 200 people seated or 400 standing, with an in-house stage and sound system. A full catering kitchen is onsite to serve the venue's multiple dining and tasting rooms, while the wine bar will have more than 50 wines available by the glass each night. Through City Winery's VinoFile membership program, customers can track their wine consumption and get related suggestions from the on-site sommeliers and winemakers. A special cheese bar from Greenwich Village-based Murray's Cheese, meanwhile, will be manned by a full-time expert to create the appropriate wine pairings from a selection of over 30 cheeses. City Winery also plans to create unique pairings of private concerts with such delicacies as wine and chocolates, mushrooms or truffles, port or scotch.
Frequent Springwise readers will undoubtedly notice the way City Winery's efforts tap into the customer-made and still made here trends, while offering consumers some much-sought-after status skills to boot. Will City Winery follow in Crushpad's footsteps and relax its rule prohibiting wine commerce among its customers? We'll keep you posted. In the meantime, one to watch!"