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Chicago Winery rendering
Courtesy First Batch Hospitality

A full-fledged winery will open in River North this fall

Chicago Winery is planning to debut a capacious two-floor space complete with a restaurant and in-house winery.

Emma Krupp
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Emma Krupp
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No one would ever mistake Chicago for Napa, but local oenophiles will soon have a new spot to sip wine that’s crushed, fermented and bottled right here in the city. 

Chicago Winery—a working winery, restaurant, tasting room and event venue by First Batch Hospitality—plans to open in a massive two-floor space at 739 N Clark St in River North this fall, joining the ranks of local winemaking spots like City Winery and Wild Blossom Meadery & Winery. First Batch also runs urban winery concepts in Brooklyn and Washington, D.C., but reps from the group say the River North location will have a special Chicago touch, with design elements inspired by the city’s transit history and “the golden age of passenger train travel.” 

“For probably four or five years now, Chicago has been at the top of the list for where we want to open,” says Rachel Sackheim, First Batch’s chief revenue officer. “As far as the culinary scene and the experiential scene, the environment makes a lot of sense for us.” 

The winemaking team, led by executive director of winemaking Conor McCormack and First Batch winemaker Erik Subrizi, is planning to produce 3,500 cases of wine from 50 tons of grapes in its first year, with varietals sourced from wine-growing regions across the U.S. (including limited sourcing from Midwest grape-growing regions, too). Sackheim describes McCormack’s winemaking style as “artful and traditional,” producing small-batch boutique wines made from big-name varietals like pinot noir and chardonnay.

Alongside the wine offerings, the space will also feature a first-floor restaurant and bar area led by executive chef (and Alinea alum) Andrew Graves, which will serve modern American cuisine. 

“At the basic level, I think if we’re going to serve good wine, we need to serve good food to complement it,” Sackheim says. “It’s not necessarily about perfectly pairing a glass of wine with a certain dish, but rather developing a portfolio on both sides that complement one another.” 

For those seeking a behind-the-scenes look at the winemaking process, Chicago Winery plans to host regular tours throughout its 2,500-square-foot winery facilities—which are partially visible through the restaurant’s dining room—that conclude with a guided tasting in the first-floor tasting room. Hoping for something a little more hands on? Guests will also have a chance to take a variety of classes, including entry-level introductions to wine and a more in-depth blending course where participants can perfect their own wine blend. And upstairs on the second floor, guests can book the indoor-outdoor event space, which boasts an enclosed patio space with retractable windows for year-round use. 

Details about Chicago Winery’s restaurant menu and winemaking process will be released in the coming months, with a projected opening in mid-October. 

“Our goal is to settle into the Chicago market, understand what people want and are looking for and blend that into the foundation of what we do,” Sackheim says. “We want to make sure that we’re immersing ourselves and embracing the local culture.” 

Chicago Winery (739 N Clark St) is scheduled to open fall 2022. You can book events in the winery’s second floor space via the Chicago Winery website.

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