Raise a Glass

Cooper’s Hawk arrives in South Florida

Wine lovers and connoisseurs have a new home in Coconut Creek, at Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant.

Founded in 2005 in Chicago, Cooper’s Hawk has 25 locations around the country, with five more scheduled for this year. The Coconut Creek restaurant, which opened in late 2016 at The Promenade at Coconut Creek, is the first South Florida location; two additionals spots, in Doral and Palm Beach Gardens, are slated to open soon.

Leonidas Papakalos, the general manager of Cooper’s Hawk, who has been with the restaurant for three years and opened the Orlando location in 2014, says it’s a perfect fit for the community he explored when he first visited The Promenade.

“Part of what makes Cooper’s Hawk great is that we focus on creating community—bringing people together,” Papakalos says. “That’s what wine does. When we came to the Promenade, we immediately [sensed] that. I feel that The Promenade and Cooper’s Hawk [will be] a great marriage.”

Cooper’s Hawk wines come from all over the world. The company sources grapes from throughout the country—mostly California, but also Oregon and Washington—as well from Italy, Spain, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia. The grapes are shipped to a winery in rural Illinois, where they are made into wine.

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“Because we have all these different types of grapes, we’re able to blend different varietals together,” Papakalos says. “That’s something that other wineries or vineyards can’t really do because they’re held to what they grow, while we’re held to what we can get.”

Cooper’s Hawk has won 400 wine awards, including a score of 99 (out of 100) for its Lux Pinot Noir at the Critics Challenge International Wine Competition in San Diego in 2015. The restaurant offers more than 40 varieties by the bottle, most of which are available for purchase and range between $17 and $39. The restaurant’s barrel reserve, served directly from the barrel, is available only by the glass.

Papakalos says part of the fun of introducing people to Cooper’s Hawk is the variety of its wine list.

“A lot people in the wine world, they know cabernet, they know merlot, they know chardonnay. They’re held to the dozen varietals that they can remember,” Papakalos says. “They don’t realize that you can have all of this and so much more, so it’s a lot of fun to expose them to that.”

But the wine doesn’t stop flowing after dinner. Dedicated wine lovers can join the restaurant’s wine club, which, with more than 200,000 members, is touted as the country’s largest. Membership offers monthly wines, tasting notes, member dinners, a monthly event, birthday gifts, member pricing on wine, recipes, a point-rewards system and trips to wine regions around the world.

Besides wine, of course, diners can expect modern American cuisine, which Papakalos says features seasonally inspired menus with unique takes on classic dishes. His favorite is The Prime, a prime rib sandwich (“I have it at least three times a week,” he says. “I probably shouldn’t be eating that much red meat.”) Other offerings include the Brussels sprout salad and pistachio-crusted grouper, as well as other sandwiches, hamburgers and pasta dishes.

And, of course, each dish is paired with Cooper’s Hawk wines.

“Because we make our own wine, we’re able to create the perfect dish that pairs well with that wine,” Papakalos says. “Other restaurants usually have to find that perfect wine that’s going to go great with their dish. We control it on both ends.”

The winery also has rooms for private events, an outdoor covered dining area, and a retail shop selling desserts, wines, jams, wine accessories and more.

“We kind of have everything under one roof,” Papakalos says. “You can do a tasting in our tasting room. You can continue the fun and go to the bar. Or if you want to have a great dinner, go to the dining room. We go out of our way to make our restaurants unique. I think that’s what makes us a great destination.”

Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant

The Promenade at Coconut Creek, 4473 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek954.861.4699 coopershawkwinery.com

Churrasco Steak 2Be a Valentine

Looking for a new place to celebrate the day of love? Here are Papakalos’ recommendations for a Valentine’s Day dinner at Cooper’s Hawk.

Wine: Lux Meritage or, if you prefer white, Unoaked Chardonnay. “It’s light. It’s crisp,” Papakalos says. “It doesn’t have that buttery, oaky taste that you get from our other bold chardonnays.”

Appetizers: Beet and arugula salad or Mexican drunken shrimp

Entree: Try Papakalos’ two favorite entrées, short rib risotto or churrasco grilled steak

Dessert: Salted caramel creme brulee, which Papakalos says can be easily shared

Gift: Box of candy from the retail market or a bottle of wine (Blanc de Blanc or Ice Wine)

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