RAVENSWOOD — A Ravenswood winery’s just completed tasting room will open to the public this month.
Owner Warner DeJulio opened Winery Vin3124710 N. Ravenswood Ave., in 2016. The small urban winery is located behind what is now Cultivate from the forbidden root and produces small-batch wines using unique California and Washington grape varieties.
Last month, DeJulio completed construction on the winery’s tasting room, which is expected to open by the end of the month, he said.
“There are a lot of wine shops out there in the city, but there really aren’t any tasting rooms where you can really see the winemaking process,” DeJulio said.
The tasting room will allow the winery to serve drinks like grapa, a distillate made from grape pomace left over from the winemaking process, as well as cocktails and beer on select occasions, DeJulio said.
“But we definitely want to focus on wine, first and foremost,” he said.
Vin312 is based in an old warehouse built of vintage Chicago common bricks made from clay from the city’s river after the Great Chicago Fire, DeJulio said.
“The 9-inch common brick in Chicago, which they don’t build buildings like this anymore, is actually a great insulator and holds the temperature,” DeJulio said. “It’s a really nice cellar for wine.”
After opening the cellar, DeJulio and friends spent time stripping the white paint off the brick, he said.
When DeJulio was designing the tasting room last year, he took inspiration from the patina of exposed brick and used warm colors like burnt red and dark mustard for the tasting room walls, he said.
“I wanted to create an environment similar to a speakeasy tasting room,” she said.
With the tasting room complete, DeJulio hopes to one day expand his winery’s footprint if more space becomes available in the former warehouse, he said.
DeJulio’s interest in wine can be traced back to his childhood in suburban Norridge, he said.
Neighbors often made wine, and when DeJulio was in college, he had a bottle or two of wine on hand in his dorm room when his classmates drank beer instead, he said.
DeJulio’s interest piqued when he visited Italy with a cousin and later helped a friend from his hometown make wine from his garage and cellar in 2015, he said.
“There are a lot of Italians and Greeks in Norridge, and almost all of them make their own wine. If you go there around September or October, you’ll see people comparing on garbage day who has the most stacked empty grape crates,” DeJulio said. “It’s like a rite of passage.”
Since opening Vin312, DeJulio has sought to demystify the winemaking process and how a certain glass shape can affect the flavor profiles of wine, he said.
The tasting room is now another way for him to chat with customers and learn what they like, as well as share some of the unique vintages Vin312 produces, like his 2020 Tannat, he said.
“I would never make them drink a wine if they didn’t like it,” said DeJulio. “And if you’re trying to describe something and you think it tastes like a Jolly Rancher, then great. Why then can I ask what color Jolly Rancher is? You don’t need to know the flavor wheel. We’re classy, but I don’t want this to be stuffy.
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