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Behold District Winery, A Nautical ‘Jewel Box’ Coming to Navy Yard

The massive wine showplace opens August 30

A dramatic staircase leading to the mezzanine welcomes guests at District Winery, which features a whopping 5,000 wine bottles lined up behind a temperature-controlled glass wall.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

The District Winery debuting next week in Navy Yard is more than twice the size of its predecessor in Brooklyn, New York, providing the events-minded co-founders room to run with a regionally inspired restaurant, wine making facility, tasting area, open air patio, and cavernous private event space.

According to partners John Stires and Brian Leventhal, the beauty of having more real estate in D.C. — they’ve claimed a 17,000-square-foot chunk of land along the southeast waterfront — is the ability to work a dedicated tasting room into the mix.

“Everything can work together at the same time autonomously without having to step on toes,” Leventhal says.

District Winery co-founders John Stires and Brian Leventhal say they’re applying lessons learned from thousands of weddings and events at Brooklyn Winery to the latest location.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

The duo calculates that a 500-person party can take place in the mezzanine and third-floor wraparound patio, without interrupting the flow of things at the in-house restaurant, dubbed Ana.

The wraparound patio at District Winery. The exterior architect is Gensler.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

The interior, designed by HapstakDemetriou+, mimics the look of a steam ship, with brass lighting affixed to sleek dark wood walls. Vistas also create a seafaring experience; stand at the south-facing side of the patio overlooking the Anacostia and bobbing boats in slips dot the horizon.

River views are part of the experience at District Winery.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

“It’s like a jewel box. At night it lights up and acts as a beacon,” says Stires.

The glass-covered entrance to District Winery.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Since wine takes one to three years to produce, shipments of Brooklyn Winery-made product will stock shelves and fill glasses for now in D.C.

The amply stocked cellar at District Winery.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

There are 15 types in the works for this area, ranging from chardonnay made from Finger Lakes, New York grapes to sauvignon blanc from Suisun Valley, California — an exclusive variety only sold in D.C.

The mezzanine level offers glass-enclosed vantage points of all aspects of the space, including the downstairs restaurant and winery.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Stires is big on wallpaper design and went nuts in private areas; along with the green room’s green backdrop for bridal gowns, there’s a shimmering tiger print in the men’s bathroom.

The “Barrel Room Suite” overlooks the wine making process in action — and gives brides to VIPs a luxe place to prep.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Lighting accents are also a highlight, with several dramatic 200-cube fiber optic displays that form an infinity symbol at different angles.

Weddings will occur on the third floor, which walks out to a 360-degree outdoor patio that can be partitioned off during colder months. About 230 can fit up there, but for standing room events that combine the mezzanine level, up to 500 can fit.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Tours will be scheduled six times a weekend, for $25 apiece, starting Saturday, September 9, and will include walk-throughs of the north-facing nucleus of the operation: the on-site winery.

The first wine released will be a dry rose — the quickest type to make — in March 2018.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Winemaker Conor McCormack expects to receive the first shipment of grapes from California next week.

Chef Michael Gordon, an alum of recently shuttered Bouley in New York, and local hospitality vet Benjamin Lambert (701 Restaurant), are leading the kitchen here.

An impressive wall of presidents — created by artist Damon DeWitt — welcomes guests at full-service restaurant Ana (short for Anacostia).
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

They offered up a few seafood dishes during a media preview.

Crab beignets and grilled calamari with pineapple aquachile.
Photo by Tierney Plumb / Eater DC

Stay tuned for additional details about Ana and its food offerings.

Meanwhile, the D.C. area got an injection of new residents as a result of the expansion; along with McCormack, Gordon and the co-owners all moved from Brooklyn to the area this spring.

Status: Opening Wednesday, August 30; 385 Water Street SE; website.