Nowhere near Napa? No worries. You don’t have
to traipse to the vineyard to give your group an authentic vino
experience. At urban wineries in cities from coast to coast, groups
can learn about wine, make their own, or just chat and sip in the
midst of fermenting grapes and aged oak barrels.
Hip Chicks Do Wine, in
Portland, Ore., is one such spot, launched in 2003 by Laurie Lewis
and Renee Neely (www.hipchicksdowine.com). The women buy local grapes
and churn out 3,000 cases of wine annually at their downtown
facility, where they also host tastings, classes and events for up
to 75 people. “It just made sense,” Lewis says of the location.
“Why drive 45 minutes out to a vineyard when you can drive 10?”
On the East Coast, Michael Dorf,
founder of New York City’s famous Knitting Factory nightclub, will
open City Winery, a 21,000-square-foot venue in
Manhattan this fall (www.citywinery.com).
Dorf says he got the idea after
visiting CrushPad, a winery in San Francisco’s
Mission District (www.crushpadwine.com). “The stainless steel, the
barrels and the large, open space -- I loved the setting,” Dorf
recalls. He plans to offer private barrel ownership, allowing
individuals to make 250 bottles of customized wine. “A company that
owns a barrel and hosts an annual event here could give away the
250 bottles as favors,” Dorf notes. For events, City Winery offers
a built-in stage plus private rooms for up to 50 people each, and a
large, open area that accommodates 200 seated or 400 standing.