RAVENSWOOD — A Ravenswood winery’s newly completed tasting room will open to the public this month.
Owner Warner DeJulio opened Vin312 Winery, 4710 N. Ravenswood Ave., in 2016. The small urban winery sits behind what is now Cultivate by Forbidden Root and produces small-batch wines using unique grape varieties from California and Washington.
Last month, DeJulio completed construction of the winery’s tasting room, which should open by the end of the month, he said.
“There’s lots of wine bars out there in the city, but there’s not really any tasting rooms where you could actually really see the winemaking process,” DeJulio said.
The tasting room will allow the winery to serve drinks such as grapa, a spirit made from grape pomace left over from the wine making process, as well as cocktails and beer on certain occasions, DeJulio said.
“But we definitely want to be dedicated to wine, first and foremost,” he said.
Vin312 is based out of an old warehouse built with vintage Chicago common brick made with clay from the city’s river after the Great Chicago Fire, DeJulio said.
“The 9 inches of Chicago common brick, which they never build buildings like that anymore, is actually is a great insulator, and it maintains temperature,” DeJulio said. “It’s really a cool cellar for wine.”
After opening the winery, DeJulio and friends spent time removing white paint from the brick, he said.
When DeJulio was designing the tasting room last year, he took inspiration from the exposed brick’s patina and used warm paint colors like burnt red and dark mustard for the tasting room’s walls, he said.
“I wanted to create an environment sort of like a speakeasy tasting room,” he 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 would often make wine, and by the time DeJulio was in college, he’d have a bottle or two of wine handy in his dorm when his classmates had beer instead, he said.
DeJulio’s interest grew when he visited Italy with a cousin and later helped a hometown friend make wine out of his garage and basement in 2015, he said.
“There are a lot of Italians and Greeks in Norridge, and nearly everybody makes homemade wine. If you go there around September or October, you’ll see people comparing on garbage day who has the most amount of empty grape crates stacked,” DeJulio said. “It’s like a rite of passage.”
Since opening Vin312, DeJulio has tried to demystify the winemaking process and how a certain glass shape can impact 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 makes, like its 2020 Tannat, he said.
“I would never make them drink a wine if they didn’t like it,” DeJulio said. “And if you are trying to describe something and you think it tastes like a Jolly Rancher, then good. Because then I can ask what color Jolly Rancher? You don’t need to know aroma wheel. We’re classy, but I don’t want this to be stuffy place.”
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