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The Build Out: A Sneak Peek at City Winery

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Welcome to the Build Out, a new series where we'll chronicle the construction of City Winery, Manhattan's first winery and tasting room, opening in a massive space in West Soho. Check in during the coming weeks for grape deliveries, restaurant build-outs, and of course, the final big reveal.

Here we have the beginnings of City Winery, the winery/restaurant/music venue/bar mitzvah party palace from Knitting Factory founder Michael Dorf. So far it's just a lot of raw space and some newly arrived 2,300 gallon wine tanks, but from the way Dorf describes it, the place will be the second coming. For one, it will be the first venue in the city to make wine on premises and allow customers to make their own batches. And then of course there's the restaurant, the cheese bar, and the unlikely involvement of Patti Smith and Philip Glass. Let's break it down.

The Wine: The winemaking process, we're told, is designed to eliminate as much risk as possible—down to half-degree temperature regulation and "super high quality" grapes. Which is good news for the barrel owners' club, those extravagant oenophiles who will plunk down $7,000 to $8,000 for their own barrel of wine, custom-made from varietals and type of oak barrel used down to bottle design. You can go in on a barrel solo or with your buds, but the membership is limited to 200.

There is a somewhat dizzying array of exclusivity levels, from a super VIP barrel owner who may earn the right to bottle storage, down to the $50/year "Vinofile" member, who gets tips on events and whose intake will be tracked in a massive online database, so the sommeliers can make suggestions based on some unholy proprietary booze algorithm.

The Restaurant: It will be full service, lunch and dinner, and will open in November. Besides the Murray's cheese bar, which will be stationed upstairs, a subterranean kitchen will churn out "salty food that supplements more wine consumption." Cue the small plates. Expect combinations of cheese and bread from chef Andreas Barrea to sop up all that cabo-grigio you created.

Music Venue: Naturally, this winery is also a concert hall (multi-purpose venues are all the rage these days, right?). And Dorf expects a good deal of bar mitzvah and corporate Christmas party business too. As far as the line-up goes, expect John Medeski (who already signed up for a barrel), Phillip Glass, and others (rumors include Natalie Merchant and Patti Smith; also the possibility of pairing artists with?grapes). Makes just as much sense as a music venue with bowling, we suppose.
· City Winery [Official Site]
· Two is A Trend: City Winery and Bridge Urban Winery [~E~]
— Additional Reporting by M. Padrick

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