Upscale Winnetka restaurant offers self-serve wine
The 21 Club at Trifecta Grill
501 Chestnut Street
Updated: April 22, 2013 10:08AM
WINNETKA — “It’s a wine tasting event every night.”
That’s how restaurant owners, Mary and Patrick O’Neil describe The 21 Club, a self-serve wine tasting room located in the back of their upscale Winnetka restaurant, Trifecta Grill.
With its industrial chic décor that resembles a downtown hot spot, The 21 Club is a cozy place for wine lovers to sample and enjoy 28 different bottles of red and white wines six nights a week.
“This is a great way for our customers to try wines they’ve never heard of,” said Mary. “We’re giving them education and the opportunity to try specialty wines that no one else has.”
The O’Neils, who in addition to Trifecta Grill also own O’Neils and Little Ricky’s, said they saw the self-serving wine tasting concept in a south Florida restaurant, and knew immediately they had to bring it to Winnetka.
“The industry is responding to the customer who wants more options and opportunities to try newer wines and wines they’ve never heard of,” Mary said, “Isn’t it great when you discover a new wine that you love?”
Here’s how The 21 Club works. Customers are given a card, and can load money on it, so it becomes a debit card. They then place the card into one of the 28 self serving machines, and choose the size of the pour they would like, either a one ounce taste, a half a glass, or a full glass. Each time they pour a glass, money is deducted off the card. When the money on the card runs out, they can add more money. The price of a glass of wine ranges from $9 to $80.
Laura Moriarty is one of five wine room managers who work at The 21 Club.
“It’s so much fun exposing people to wines they would never try,” she said. “You are tasting different regions, countries, vintages and grapes. You’d be surprised at how many people are thrilled when they find a new wine they love.”
Moriarty also said the room is very social and has the feel of a wine tasting or a party.
“People end up talking to each other at the wine machines, about other wines they should taste, and just about wine, in general,” she said. “They really end up having fun here.”
The wine selection is very diverse, with wines from Italy, France, Spain, New Zealand, Chile and the U.S., and wines at all different price points. Every two weeks, the labels are changed out, so customers are exposed to new wines.
The wines are also preserved via a special adaptor on the machines that gives them a layer of argon gas, allowing freshness for up to 60 days.
John Nemeth, of Winnetka, is a frequent customer who said he loves the concept.
“For $15 I can try a sample of a really expensive bottle of wine, without buying the whole bottle,” said Nemeth, “Plus they are continuously rotating the wines so it provides a great selection.”
The 21 Club has booths and tables where customers can sit and enjoy their wines. They can also have dinner if they choose.
Trifecta Grill, which opened last March serves gourmet bar food, including specialty pizzas, gourmet burgers, slider trios, salads, and small appetizer plates.
“When you go out to dinner, you want it to be an experience,” said Mary. “Whether it’s a live band, or something special on the menu, and that’s what this is. It’s something special and unique. It’s a fun, entertainment experience.”