When we moved to our current offices about five years ago, the immediate neighborhood was pretty sedate: a kind of netherland sandwiched between SoHo and the Holland Tunnel. The traffic could be noisy, and the Halloween parade started around here each year, but otherwise things were uneventful. Then for a while, things got too interesting: Trump SoHo shot up across the street and protesters flocked to protest it and, for no apparent reason, a motorcycle exploded outside our building…but relative calm had returned until recently, when a different kind of excitement descended upon Varick Street. First a new venture called City Winery moved in next door; then a mysterious, eco-themed nightclub sprang up down the block; and now a major performing arts space is slated to open a few doors down from the nightclub in 2009. Maybe the exploding motorcycle was a kind of baptism by fire, because our little neighborhood has officially arrived. Abbeville has always been at the metaphorical epicenter of style, but we now find ourselves literally surrounded by it.
All three of our new neighbors intrigue us, but we are particularly looking forward to the opening of City Winery, which bills itself as a “custom crush facility” tailored to “urban wine enthusiasts who desire the experience of making their own wine, but who are not going to leave their comfortable Manhattan lifestyle to decamp to a vineyard.” Amen to that. Oenology has been a frequent subject of Abbeville books, from our German Wine Guide to Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course, and our philosophy is, why go to wine when wine can come to you? Not only will City Winery offer the opportunity to crush the grapes and bottle the vintage, it also promises a top-flight restaurant and wine bar, wine tastings and winemaking classes, an ongoing slate of music and performance events, and much more. It promises to be, in short, precisely the sort of place where Arbiters of Style might congregate after work to sip Cabernet and listen to jazz fusion while discussing the subtleties of Dürer’s Melencolia. And luckily for us, we don’t even have to decamp to the other side of the street.
City Winery officially opens on New Year’s Eve, so we will probably stop by sometime next month for a taste of Provençal summer during the New York winter. We will report faithfully back on our wining experience then (and will also, in future posts, report further on that new Greenhouse nightclub and the performance center), but already we expect great things. The winery is a bold concept that shows every indication—on its website, and through the windows we’ve peeked in—of being superbly executed. In fact, if the finished establishment is half as fun as the ad pictured above, we will be very happy neighbors.