Urban Barrels: Our Full-Flavored Field Trip to City Winery
At the invitation of sommelier and Martha Stewart contributor Sarah Tracey, the Martha Stewart digital team headed to City Winery in lower Manhattan for a taste of delicious white, red, and sparkling wines. Read on for photos and a few of the fun facts we picked up during our visit.
Sarah's title at the Winery is "operations manager," which essentially means she wears many different hats. Her day-to-day duties vary, but they often include leading tours, educating the staff, hosting tastings and dinners, and teaching classes. The Winery also hosts a few larger-scale wine events, and Sarah runs the behind-the-scenes logistics of those, too. She's been with City Winery for more than five years, and has been working in the wine business for just about eight.
The Winery has two separate areas (and many sub-areas within those, too), but our tour began upstairs in the room referred to by the staff as the "Winery space." To start, we sipped delicious sparkling white wine -- a prosecco from a producer called Drusian -- and learned that it came from the Veneto region in Italy. Sarah then showed us around the first floor and explained that this was where the wines were actually produced in giant metal vats with temperature-control knobs. Believe it or not, all the work (sans the growing and picking of the grapes) is done in-house in New York City! Sarah also explained that as soon as the grapes are picked in Washington, Oregon, or California, they're loaded into temperature-controlled trucks and brought to New York "on the whole cluster." According to her, it's absolutely crucial that they arrive in New York as fast as they can to ensure that the grapes are in near-perfect condition. The best way for that to happen: Two drivers take turns sleeping and driving all the way back to the Winery. This might seem like an awful lot of stress for just one step of a long process. But as Sarah reminded us, to make a great wine, you've got to start with perfect grapes.
Next, with our prosecco glasses nearly empty, we headed downstairs to view the private dining room and the barrel aging cellar. We were delighted to see that we'd be trying more wines!
First up: City Winery's "SoHo-vignon Blanc" -- a fun play on the Winery's location made with a Sauvignon Blanc grape. Then, a second white. This one was a blend of the Winery's own Roussanne Marsanne. As we learned, Roussanne and Marsanne are the two types of grapes used in this wine, and they're particularly special to head winemaker David LeComte because they make up the most popular blend in his native region, the Rhone Valley in France. Even though the grapes themselves were brought to City Winery from California, this was David's way of paying tribute to his hometown.
Last came the reds. We started with the Winery's Spring Street Pinot Noir, and finished with its Syrah. The grapes in both of these wines were sourced from vineyards around California, but the wines were made in New York City, making them "bi-coastal wines." Doesn't get much cooler than that!