Americana Music Festival: Opening Night

We hosted our first official shows in the venue last night as the Americana Music Festival kicked off its long weekend of showcases. We hosted a full to capacity crowd who listened to Sturgill Simpson, Caleb Klauder Country Band and Lindi Ortega. Sturgill was the most anticipated set of the night and he delivered a blistering set that resulted in a standing ovation. Earlier that evening, Simpson won the Americana Music Association’s Emerging Artist of the Year award.

15th Annual Americana Music Festival & Conference - Day 1Sturgill Simpson – Rick Diamond/Getty Images

15th Annual Americana Music Festival & Conference - Day 1Sturgill Simpson – Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 7.25.28 PMCaleb Klauder Country Band is the first band to play the City Winery Nashville stage.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 7.25.12 PMLindi Ortega closed the evening with a rocking set that included a cover of the Bee Gees “To Love Somebody.”

Performing tonight is Grant-Lee Phillips, who will return to City Winery on November 5 with Howe Gelb, Linda Cantrell, Rodney Crowell, Joe Henry and Robyn Hitchcock.

Nashville Business Journal: Get to know SoBro’s newest tenant, City Winery Nashville


A crew of workers was scurrying around City Winery Nashville, laying down wood floors and unloading tables and chairs, when I arrived for a tour Wednesday morning. The music venue-cum-working winery debuted last night, in a limited fashion, as an official venue for the Americana Music Festival.

The restaurant, which confirmed its entry into Nashville last August, will host its grand opening on Oct. 1.

City Winery Founder Michael Dorf, dressed in blue jeans, sneakers, and a ball cap, was among those scurrying around. He and his senior management team, all in town for the soft opening, were at the venue cleaning up into the early hours Wednesday morning.

“The encouragement is something I haven’t felt in any of the other [four City Winery] locations,” Dorf said of Nashville. “Our neighbors are going, ‘it’s so great you’re coming. We don’t need another music venue but we need your music venue.’”

Dorf, now in his early 50’s, made his name in music as founder of New York City’s famed venue The Knitting Factory. That club, a small space opened in 1987, catered to avant-garde jazz and rock acts, but City Winery Nashville, a sprawling 30,000 square foot renovated warehouse in SoBro, is targeting a different clientele.

“We are really a listening room,” said Dorf. “We’re focused on the seated listener, which works really well with the fan who has had a knee replacement.”

He was being tongue-in-cheek, but only slightly. Serving a full dinner menu of locally sourced food and over 400 wines (poured exclusively in Riedel glassware), City Winery aims to fill a gap in the music venue business. Doff wants to offer a higher-end concert going experience to people more like him: music fans who have either aged out of the raucous, late-night, standing-only music venues, or simply don’t want that.

“It’s for people who want to have a luxurious concert experience, who want a sight line and want to sit,” said Dorf. “In truth, we think we’ve built a better mousetrap.”

The acts he’s recruiting –Marketa Irglova (‘Once’), Macy Gray, and The Wood Brothers all in October, for example – fit a more intimate space. In Nashville, the music venue will seat between 300-325 people.

The main restaurant, split over two floors, will seat aroundt 125 people, with additional outdoor patio space. The full menu, which Dorf described as “wine-inspired, globally-influenced, and locally-sourced,” will be available in the music venue as well as the restaurant portion.

“This is the best looking room from a venue standpoint of the four [City Winery locations],” Dorf told me, standing on a second-story VIP balcony, overlooking the main floor music venue. “For me, it’s the manifestation of the mix of winery and music that hasn’t happened yet.”

The other three City Winery locations are in New York City, Chicago, and Napa Valley. From where we are standing on the balcony, you can see both the stripped-down City Winery stage and into the future working winery, shielded behind a sound-proof glass wall.

The winery won’t be fully operational until fall 2015, when the restaurant will bring in 100 tons of grapes from roughly 25 wineries in California, Oregon and Washington, with plans to purchase some fruit locally as well, for its first big crush.

More than 14 varietals of wine will be produced at City Winery Nashville, served from its on-tap system, which Dorf considers one of the restaurant’s most unique selling points. The wine is preserved in stainless steel kegs stored in temperature-controlled rooms, and poured via a tap system at the bar. He estimates that about 70 percent of the wine by the glass sold at City Winery is from the tap system, although the restaurant also has a 400 bottle wine list.

Located at 609 Lafayette Street, tucked behind the Rescue Mission in the part of SoBro dubbed “Pie Town,” City Winery is opening in one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in an already fast-growing city.

Like most expansions into Nashville, that growth is part of what attracted Dorf here. He looks at metrics like demographics, the culinary scene, the wine culture (it turns out that Nashville has some of the largest home wine collections in the country), and the number of other new building projects. Dorf has learned that in Nashville, construction workers and sheet rock are hard to find these days.

“Nashville was a pretty easy choice for me,” he said, also citing the music industry. His long-term plan is to open about 30 to 40 City Wineries to create a network of venues across the country that artists could tour. Although he’s developing signature, replicable details — the tap system, barrel-stave bars, a proven menu that pairs well with wine — he wants to retain local color. In Nashville, for example, nearby Isle of Printing has produced a signature wine-bottle mural.

In Nashville, Dorf also had local investors, a “varied” group of 15 people. Purchase price included, City Winery will cost about $7.5 million to get up and running in Nashville. According to the New York Times, Dorf raised $5 million to open the first City Winery in Manhattan, which paid out investors about $1 million last year.

“After I got New York running and proved it was a financially viable model, we’ve been able to get some larger investors to grow like we want to,” he said. “But always having those local stakeholders will be key.”

What cities might be next to join the City Winery club? Boston and Atlanta are his top two contenders.

Click here to view the original article.


Shuck and Shake this Sunday

This Sunday, September 21st Noon- 5PM City Winery will be taking over Opera House Plaza, right in our back yard, to celebrate that Napa Downtown is open for business with music (DJ and Live), drinks, and $2 Raw Oysters.  City Winery will donate $1 from each oyster, house wine, and house beer to Napa Earthquake Relief.  It is also your chance to purchase your tickets to the Napa Valley Rocks! After Party in advance and save some $$.   Also, it is important to know that we are debuting BRUNCH this weekend so come early… eat well… dance… get hungry.. eat oysters… Help a FANTASTIC cause. 



Isle of Printing Installation Begins Today


Following in the Nashville tradition of venerable print shop, Hatch Show Print, Bryce McCloud’s Isle of Printing is located across the street from City Winery Nashville. Bryce, who worked at Hatch Show out of college, is a visual artist who is as comfortable hand carving blocks and manning his letterpress, as he is using his state of the art laser cutter. He is currently creating a masterpiece installation inside our walls. You have seen Bryce’s masterful work all over Nashville including the can mural installation at Pinewood Social, the laser cut and hand riveted menus at Barista Parlour, the limited-edition, laser cut Great Gatsby Soundtrack album cover at Jack White’s Third Man Records, and now our 20-foot tall piece of artwork in our entrance. Installation begins tonight and will be ready for the unveiling at our pre-opening run of shows with the Americana Music Festival this week. Piece by piece, it’s coming together (and that is true for so many elements of City Winery Nashville). Follow us on Facebook for updates on the installation’s progress.


IoP_PINEWOOD_7_SMCan Mural Installation at Pinewood Social


barista-menu-frontLaser cut and hand riveted Barista Parlour menu

 gatsby laser cut albumLaser cut limited edition Great Gatsby Soundtrack LP for Third Man Records

*Isle of Printing photos from

Eater Nashville Plywood Report – Take a Look at How City Winery is Coming Together



















The 36,000 square foot behemoth of music, food and drink that is City Winery is starting to take shape. The main stage is now not just a slab of raised concrete, but fully formed and coming along quickly. Finishes in the downstairs restaurant, upstairs lounge, bar and mezzanine are starting to pop up, and progress is being made on the space that will eventually house the winery and barrel room, too. And while the entire project won’t be finished for next week’s first official preview during the AmericanaFest events on Sept.17, the previously announced grand opening target date of Oct.1 is still the goal. Hit the jump to see more photos and be sure to check back soon for more updates.

Click here to read the full article.



City Winery Chicago Serving Lunch


First, we opened in August 2012 with dinner, then went for weekend brunch. Can you guess what’s next? Yep–that’s right. We’re introducing lunch at City Winery Chicago starting September 15! Both dinner and brunch have been a success, and we feel that there is still more room to welcome new guests to the CW family!

“With the West Loop continuing to attract businesses and residents alike, offering lunch is a natural step in engaging people with our brand,” says City Winery General Manager Greg Kitowicz. “We want to offer people a relaxing option for lunch, whether it’s in our dining room overlooking the winery or on our patio.”

Our kitchen has whipped up a mouth-watering lunch menu containing a variety of starters, salads, flatbreads, and sandwiches. Whether you opt for the famous Di Stefano Burrata, the sweet Wall Dorf Salad, our Flatbread selections, or the “Drunken” Falafel Sandwich, you’re sure to find something you’ll love off our lunch menu.  And, of course we have plenty of wines to pair with your meal. Who says you can’t enjoy a glass of wine during the early afternoon or on your lunch break? Surely not us here at City Winery! Don’t forget about dessert, either. Satisfy your post-lunch sweet tooth with one of our delectable desserts, also available on our lunch menu. Take a look at our food & wine gallery and our full lunch menu here.

There aren’t many restaurants in the West Loop open for lunch during the week, so we’re excited to welcome the growing number of neighborhood residents and folks working at local businesses. City Winery boasts an excellent atmosphere for events and parties which companies can take full advantage of (Holiday lunch party, anyone?)! Tourists can also find our lunch flyers at any of the Choose Chicago locations.

Lunch will be served from 11am-2pm and all menu items will be available to-go in case you’re in a time crunch but still want to enjoy a meal. Our starters, sandwiches, and desserts will still be available from 2pm until dinner if you’re feeling like grabbing a late lunch instead. Make your reservations here!

Bon appetit!




Images © 2014 Groupon, In. All Rights Reserved.



Billy Bragg still talking politics on the eve of two-night stand at City Winery



Singer focuses on social justice, as he has since his 1980s debut. Bragg also mines Woody Guthrie’s catalogue.



He’s still mixing pop and politics.


Nearly 30 years after he put out three perfect pop-folk-protest albums in a row, Billy Bragg remains the leading voice for social justice — one backed up with a great hook, bridge and chorus.


“The key to a good protest song,” says the British folkie who has written plenty, “is to have enough protest and enough song. You have to have the message, sure, but you also have to keep (the people) humming.”


Bragg promises to do just that during a two-night stand next week at City Winery, where he’ll mix songs from his classic albums — “Talking with the Taxman About Poetry” (1986), “Back to Basics” (1987) and “Workers Playtime” (1988) — with tracks from his most recent album, “Tooth and Nail.”


And, of course, there will be plenty of Woody Guthrie — the archetypal folkie with the machine that kills fascists. Bragg, backed by Wilco, spent must of the last 15 years serving as Guthrie’s personal Alan Lomax, teasing out three full LPs out of old unpublished lyrics handed to him by the late singer’s daughter.


Bragg’s recording schedule has slowed of late, but not his itinerary. There’s Billy Bragg singing at an Occupy rally. There’s Bragg singing for Scottish independence. And, last week, there was Bragg at an impromptu food drive/concert to benefit struggling families in Ferguson, Mo.


“Songs don’t change the world — I wish it worked like that, but it doesn’t,” he says. “But songs can bring people together around an issue, like Ferguson or Occupy Wall Street. When you go to a gig and everyone around you is singing along to ‘There’s Power in a Union,’ you think, ‘Wow, other people care about this, not just me.’”


Cynics would say that group singalongs and protest songs went out with the 1960s — but Bragg has a different take: cynicism — not capitalism or conservatives — is the enemy no matter which side you’re on, boys.


“The only real antidote to cynicism is activism,” he says. “Think about the Occupy Wall Street movement. It was so easily dismissed, but it reinforced people’s sense of community. We did it with song. The other side does it by owning a news channel. Fox News has its own singers letting people on that side of the issue say, ‘Yeah, that’s how I feel.’


“Besides, the point of Occupy Wall Street was to call out the bankers for creating the problem. And it worked. At least now, people ask questions when someone proposes loosening financial regulations. Besides, if Occupy Wall Street didn’t do anything, why is Bill de Blasio mayor of New York? Obviously the movement stirred up enough mud to make it possible to elect someone left of center.” 


Yes, Billy Bragg talks a lot about politics. But so is everyone these days, thanks to social media, blogging, or even making movies, which used to be prohibitively expensive.


“Yeah, music is no longer the only social medium for young people,” Bragg says, recalling his earliest days of busking in the 1980s before he landed his own record deal. “I only had music. If you were someone with something to say, you formed a band and gigged.”


And he still is. Bragg says his solo two-night stand will be familiar to fans, but there will be plenty of twists. A few nights before coming to New York, he’ll be at Chicago’s Riot Festival, which favors metal.


“I may still be playing loud because of Riot Fest,” he says. “I do a good one-man Clash.”


And the second night coincides with the referendum on Scottish independence, which Bragg supports.


“I may be dashing off the stage every few minutes to check the returns,” he says.


On either night, Bragg may be coaxed out to perform the entirety of his first EP, “Life’s a Riot with Spy vs. Spy.”


“It’s only 17 minutes, so if I get the wind in my sails, I’ll do it,” he says. “I listen to the audience. If they’re rowdy, I’ll do more electric.”


Billy Bragg at City Winery, 155 Varick St. at Vandam St., (212) 608-0555, Sept. 17-18, 8 p.m.


Full article:

City Winery’s First Crush of 2014! 09/06/14

CW NY logo

On Saturday, 9/6, City Winery received their first shipment of grapes from Bacigalupi Vineyards from the Russian River Valley, CA.

Step 1

All grapes are hand harvested at night or in the cool early morning into small picking bins that hold 20lb of fruit.  The bins stack to ship to ensure none of the fruit gets squished on the way to City Winery.

Fruit arrives at 5am. We unload it off the truck and bring it inside.  Inside, one person dumps the bins of whole grape clusters by hand into an escalator for grapes – this equipment is called the giraffe.

 photo 1-2

Step 2 

 The whole clusters are dumped on the conveyer belt. Then they are moved to the destemming machine.

FIRST GIRAFFE- grapes dumped onto the conveyer beltdesteeming


Step 3 

Destemming is the process of separating stems from the grapes.

Grapevine stems are:

-High in tannins, but these are usually bitter, low molecular weight tannins.

-High in potassium, which decreases wine acidity.

-High in water, which decreases the colour and alcohol level of the wine.

Most of the time, grapes are destemmed at City Winery.

DESTEMMING- Inside of the machine

Step 4

After destemming, the berries are sorted by hand on a sorting table. Hand sorting helps to remove imperfections the destemming machine could not set apart (leaves, stems, stones, moldy grapes…)


 Step 5 

Our Chief Winemaker, David Lecomte,  is tasting a couple of berries to estimate the balance sugar/acidity of the grapes and the tanicity.

HAND SORTING- David tasting at crush

Step 6

After hand sorting, the berries are transported onto another giraffe (conveyer belt). Then they fall in to the fermenter tank. Maceration and fermentation processes can start!

GIRAFFE-Grapes falling into fermenter tank-2 VIEW FROM TOP OF TANK after sorting

For more information on City Winery’s wine crush, check out these videos: