The hospitality industry’s woes in 2020 are well documented. However, one European entrepreneur is betting that his unorthodox model is still viable. Germany’s Christian Ress is bringing his popular wineBANK—essentially a private club for wealthy winos—to Washington DC with wineLAIR.
Slated to open at the end of August, wineLAIR will employ the same model as the eight European wineBANK locations in cities such as Basel, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. The concept is one part wine storage facility, one part buyers club, and a hearty helping of SoHo House vibe.
Basically, members store their drinks in the club’s lockers (climate controlled, insured, etceteras) and then have the option to drink the bottles in the swank onsite lounge.
“In 2003, I had the idea to create an exciting location that wine lovers could access and explore day and night, to store their wine, meet, share their passion and experience great events,” said co-founder Ress. “After opening and running the first wineBANK in my hometown in Germany successfully I decided to turn the idea into a network of locations all over the world. With several clubs up and running in Europe we are now coming to the US with wineLAIR. A major step for us towards our vision in shaping the world’s leading wine community!”
Of course, there are all sorts of bells and whistles involved. wineLAIR will offer members events such as masterclasses, wine tastings, and winemaker dinners. DC chef Ris LaCoste, of Ris, will helm a food program that concludes limited lunch and dinner options as well as the normal charcuterie and cheese type fare.
The 5500 square foot DC location will also includes a bar should a member’s locker run low. Full bottles and by-the-glass options are both in store.
Also very cool—wineLAIR never closes. Members can access the facility 24/7.
#SpoilerAlert: Joining this elite club, located adjacent to the DC Ritz-Carlton, is not inexpensive. A base membership starts with at $300 a month… plus a $5000 initiation fee. That gets you a 52 bottle (standard 750ml Bordeaux) locker, use of the club for two member (cards) with four guests apiece, as well as access to events and buyer’s club. Of course, there are plenty of up available for an added fee.
wineLAIR will open at 1120 22nd Street NW in a couple of weeks. A second location is Austin is slated to follow early next year.