Updated: Jun 18, 2019
As a sharp winter wind cuts down the thin concrete avenue leading to District Wine Bar, a sudden warmth of laughter and sounds of glasses chirping together erupts when the door cracks open to the amber distilled bar. Exposed brick hangs artwork and the refreshed urban concrete floors from the past metalwork shop spread the room wide and in the midst of that expansion a certain feeling wisps into the space…a feeling of familiarity, of craft, of moment, one that is more than art, wine, and food: an experience of family. The atmosphere takes you to dinner at home, on the porch, on the docks, the feeling of being handed a drink by a friend- the fire flirting through thin glass as the sun is setting. What made this experience culminate so well? What made it coalesce tradition with ease without batting an eye? Simple: Women.
Chasing the heels of spring and stepping into Women’s History Month, here at District we closed the last of our Winter Dinner Series with a celebratory fire crackle, cork pop, and lipstick on the glass hosted by Michelle Bailey of Smokey Park Summer Club and Juniper Cooper of Mutual Distributing Company. We had one mission: to honor and support women in wine, women in food, and women in history. Locally and family focused our table was filled to the edge with women throughout our town. The table mirrored the creators and coordinators of the night: mothers, daughters, sisters, and spouses all sharing in dishes and feminine crafted wines under oaky, fiery lights. In fields historically created by women, founded by women, run by women, but seen as male- we focused on and highlighted the works of women in our history and in modern day with this final dinner.
Homegrown and locally sourced oysters, beets, pork, duck, and other fare designed and presented by the amazing Michelle Bailey (who has been executive chef at Smokey Park since before it’s conception) allowed us to imbibe in the strength and modern traditionalism of female creators and cuisine- much like the fires used to bring the food from place to palate. Paired with incredibly supple and elegantly strong wines from makers such as Kelly Fox of Freedom Hill, Chelsea Franchi of Tablas Creek in Paso Robles, Maria Vargas of Marques de Murrieta (who was awarded Best Winemaker in Rioja in 2018), and Sarah Fowler of Peju Winery in Napa. All of the women involved on this illuminated night brought the same viticulture of history, tradition, and dynamic future. All those showcased, all those who gave us this wonderful experience come from backgrounds of growth and learning, work and determination which led to a room focused on honoring the multiplicity of the feminine, the modernity of women’s history, and the vast steps that are still being taken to move the worlds of wine and food forward.
Finishing out the dinner with delicious champagne-like smoky lemon pies from Michelle, and the ripe, soft, but peppery Brut from winemaker Floriane Eznack of Jacquart Winery- we realized the night felt like it should never end. As the smoke and bubbles mixed into a delicate but layered amalgam with a finesse many have not experienced before- it felt as if the concrete began to bend under our feet, whispering to us at the table that this won’t be forgotten, that this is a shared moment in history and in our hearts. This was an experience that could never have happened if it weren’t for the craft, strength, and intention of the women behind it. To Wine! To Food! And to the Women who made it all possible!