The only place better than a neighborhood wine bar is a neighborhood winery. So we were ready with a warm apple pie when Vintner's Cellar moved into Lakeview in early 2007.
One of three Illinois outposts of a Canadian-based franchise, Vintner's is part wine bar, part winery. The front half houses the bar, where a handful of tables and bar stools offer casual accommodations for a much-needed after-work drink or late-night buzz. As for the bottles, Vintner's signatures blends range in price from $14.99 for the house blend to the $30 ice wine. A single glass costs $7, but for a great deal, try the wine tasting—six wines for $12. Shades of red and purple color the space, and mosaic tiles line the bar. Unless you and your beau settle into the two plush chairs by the window for a romantic night of sipping, a flat-screen TV and free wi-fi provide unobtrusive entertainment.
For serious fun, head to the back of the bar. A stark contrast from the front half, the winery is white, plain and completely functional as a place to create your own concoction. You can even rent out the whole joint for $50 a head. Vats of wine sit fermenting, and each section of the winery allows visitors to watch the process of wine-making while it happens. In order to partake in the making, you have to commit to making an entire case of wine (30 bottles), which comes at a high price—anywhere from $359-$449 for premium or supreme blends, which come with personalized labels for an additional fee.
Centerstage Reviewer: Eve Ardell