{Chicago} @ChicagoIdeas Week Urban Winemaking Lab at @CityWineryChi

It’s the second year of  Chicago Ideas Week and once again it’s been a week full of amazing speakers, workshops, and labs held in various places of interest in Chicago where like-minded folks come together to well…share ideas and stories!

Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) is about the sharing of ideas, inspiring action, and igniting change to positively impact our world. People who come to CIW are artists, engineers, technologists, inventors, scientists, musicians, economists, explorers—and, well…just innately passionate.

For one week each October, CIW brings together some of the world’s most outstanding speakers to present their ideas and inspire the innovations of tomorrow at 80+ sessions across the city of Chicago. CIW aims to be the platform for sharing big ideas and making big things happen.

Of course, I was most interested in the food centered workshops. Last year, I attended Food Talk moderated by award-winning Chicago Tribune features writer, Kevin Pang.

This year, I was able to participate in an urban wine-making “lab” at the new City Winery, located in Chicago’s West Loop meat packing district.

Set at what used to be a warehouse, this 30,000 square feet of space on 1200 West Randolph Street, has been transformed into a cultural mecca that combines a winery, a restaurant, multiple private dining spaces, and even boasts a concert hall. Talk about a one-stop-shop!

From the outside, City Winery looks like any typical cool metropolitan restaurant. As soon as you open the doors, you are greeted by a hostess and a lobby that has a modern art gallery feeling and airiness.

There’s a lounge area in the lobby with a fireplace, much like you would find in a hip hotel. Then when you enter the restaurant, you can clearly see the huge space that used to be a simple warehouse turned into a fabulous dining room boasting tables made from reclaimed wood and walls adorned with brick all reused and re-purposed from the site.

Wine barrels are a part of the decor and lets you know that you are in an winery indeed.

As I toured the restaurant, I was so delighted at the use of space. Such an overwhelming amount of space has been carefully thought out with several private spaces for VIP diners and special occasions.

But the real party is in the dining room, where patrons are taking in the fun vibe and atmosphere while partaking in Chicago-made wine right on the site paired with good eats.

One of the highlights of the City Winery, besides the winery itself, is the concert hall. With 30,000 square feet of space to play with, they have turned it into a fantastic music venue that contributes to the upbeat atmosphere in the entire facility.

Our group from Chicago Ideas Week all came to get a private tour of the winery, learn a little about wine making, and of course, partake of the very wine coming from the very first winery right in the middle of Chicago. It was very exciting!

Grapes are flown in from all parts of the U.S. and world and the process of turning the grapes into wine happens right at City Winery, in the middle of the meat packing district. In addition, they currently have a “Crush” program where people can stomp on their own grapes, make their own wine, have lunch and make a day city wine-making excursion out of it!

Patrons can also purchase their very own barrel of wine! VERY COOL!

So, next time you’re in Chicago, or looking for a new place to hang out, eat, listen to music or all of the above?? Definitely check out City Winery in Chicago’s West Loop.

Private Dining Room for Chicago Ideas Week lab participants

Making wine in the city of Chicago!

Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's Reserve Water (Chicago Tap Water!)

*Disclosure: I was a media guest of Chicago Ideas Week and City Winery

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