You’re planning a dinner party for all your food-savvy urbanite friends. These days, living in the city isn’t stopping you from sourcing your dinner goods locally. Produce from the farmers market. Check. Cheese from a local artisan. Check. A dash of basil and thyme grown in your own kitchen herb garden. Check. Now it’s down to the drinks. A bottle of wine from the winery down the street? Check.
Forget bottling wine in the shadow of romantic rows of grapes, extending endlessly over acres of rural vineyards. If you want to keep up with the foodie underground crowd, your wine better be as urban as you are.
Although the grapes still come from rural areas, vintners that want to keep their lives in an urban environment are increasingly choosing to make their wines smack dab in the middle of cities. The East Bay in California is now home to 21 different wineries (registered under the East Bay Vintner’s Alliance), offering venturous vino lovers the chance to buy their wine directly from wineries without the hassle of travel as well as creating a cheaper way for potential vintners a cheaper chance at breaking into the wine industry. Renting out an urban industrial space close to home can come at a much lower cost than buying a full-on vineyard and committing to a rural move.
Bringing wine-making to the urban environment is nothing new. According to the Wall Street Journal, most of the wine sold in the U.S. before Prohibition in the 1920s was made in warehouses around San Francisco. But the urban revival isn’t just benefiting vintners that prefer sticking to their urban roots, it’s also helping to make the wine-making process more communal. With closer access to wine-making facilities, urban residents have the chance to learn and take part in the whole process, from watching wine being made to even crushing the grapes themselves.
The Brooklyn Winery in Brooklyn, New York, which will be opening this fall, will offer its customers the chance to take part in every element of the wine-making process – like sampling grape varietals and racking your wine when the time comes to separate the wine from the sediment and yeast. The trend isn’t just limited to the coasts, in Cincinnati volunteers can help crush grapes at Henke Winery, which produces about 1,500 cases annually.
Urban wineries are popping up around the country, and the movement is getting a significant following from urbanites buying locally crafted bottles, to even making it themselves. Hip Chicks Do Wine in Portland, Ore. produces 5,000 cases annually and invites customers to come and taste at their urban Southeast Portland location. Those with a hankering for launching into their own urban wine ventures in London can take advantage of The Urban Wine Company, a collective of wine growers all over the city and surrounding areas. That means more locally crafted wines and more people that are taking part in the whole wine-making process and not just consuming it without thinking about where it comes from.
So pop open that bottle and raise your glass to the urban wine revival!
Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’s new column at EcoSalon, Foodie Underground. Each week, Anna will be taking a look at something new and different that’s taking place in the underground food movement, from supper clubs to mini markets to culinary avant garde.