8/22/2012 05:26:00 PM

Party Report: Zagat Presents First Look at City Winery


The grown-up version of an amusement park has opened on Randolph Street. What’s the main attraction? Wine!


Last night, Zagat sponsored by MasterCard presented a first look at City Winery. The evening began, as any quality evening should, with a glass of 2011 Grenache Rosé made at City Winery in New York. We were welcomed in the atrium, below light fixtures made of amber wine bottles. From there we were escorted through the spacious dining room, decorated - not surprisingly - with more vino bottles. A window in in the corner offered a peek into our destination: the winemaking room, where several large metal tanks anxiously await the arrival of this season’s grapes. There were also several wooden barrels that will be used to ferment the product.

Robert Kowal overlooks wine making at City Winery and he hopes to have Chicago-made wine ready for consumption in the spring of 2013. They will be producing wines from grapes shipped in from California. Kowal is excited about the promise of using fruit fresher than the variety that NYC uses, since travel time from California to the East Coast is about two days longer than it is to the Midwest. In the spring, grapes will be imported from Argentina and South America.

For now, City Winery is serving offerings from the facility in New York. We sat down for dinner to enjoy a three-course meal that started with salad garnished with sweet carrot chips and sherry dressing. The wine was a Sauvignon Blanc. The next course was Cornish hen served with bulgur cake, all of which was seasoned with cumin that paired well with the pinot noir. The meal ended with an apple tart in puff pastry with a choice of a blended downtown white or Malbec Rosé.

The food is not the star of this space, coming in third to the wine selection and performance venue. Upcoming acts include Esperanza Spalding, Mason Jennings and Mavis Staples. The new venue will also host special wine dinners as well as winemaking seminars. The coming attraction we are most looking forward to though is the debut of their first batch of vino.

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