Comfortably nestled in the shadows of the San Tan Mountains, owner Perry Rea and his family coax silken oils out of the olives they grow in their own groves. After more than 10 years of experiments, they finally settled on planting a few more than 16 distinct varietals, which thrive in the otherwise unforgiving Arizona deserts. Extending thoughtful care to each harvest, they avoid using any pesticides or genetically modified trees, employ water-conserving drip irrigation, and hand-pluck their olives at the peak of ripeness. Within 24 hours of picking, the staff then presses the crop in order to extract oils that taste as fresh as honey taken directly from a bee's pantry.
The fresh oils line the shelves of the mill's marketplace alongside imported wines and locally made goods. In addition to gourmet food items, the store stocks an extensive collection of Italian ceramics, works by local painters, and bath-and-body products infused with extra-virgin olive oil.
Queen Creek Olive Mill's oils also appear on the menu of del Piero, the facility's Tuscan-inspired bistro. Based on the Rea family's own recipes, each entree incorporates organic ingredients whenever possible, including locally sourced meats and herbs from the organic garden.
The certified sommelier at Vine Expressions handpicks three wines each month, from which wine-club members select two for enjoying within the warmly lit bistro. Rotating offerings may include chardonnay, pinot noir, or cabernet sauvignon, which wine lovers sip, sniff, and gargle while lounging at the purple-tinged bar or in cozy leather chairs. Snacks crafted from ingredients culled from the nearby farmers' market complement the reds and whites, and wooden shelves brimming with bottles line the walls alongside works by local artists. Membership also grants access to specialty events such as wine dinners, festivals, and trips to regional grapevines laden with succulent fruit and juicy neighborhood gossip.
At the 12k's of Christmas, a peloton of Santas and seasonally-dressed runners race through the Gilbert's Freestone District Park. All participants receive a Santa hat to wear, and are encouraged to dress up further with colorful socks, an elf costume, or felt reindeer horns. Both 6K and 12K races feature a flat, mainly packed-gravel trail with carolers set up at every kilometer. Chronotrack chips track progress, and race organizers issue awards for the top finishers in each age bracket as well as best costumes. The race also offers a 1.2 K Santa "Sled" run, where racers are encouraged to walk a stroller or enter a souped-up wagon pulled by their pets. By partnering with adoption groups and shelters, the event operates Santa's Pet Village, which helps connects stray pets with new families.
When your flagship restaurant inhabits a midcentury post office, finding a comparable space for your second location—one that fits squarely within the city’s historical and cultural fabric—is a tall order. Leave it to the masterminds behind Postino Wine Cafe to make it look easy. Postino Central makes its home in the building of Katz's Deli, a former cornerstone of one of Phoenix's oldest neighborhoods. The deli’s bustling counter has given way to an indoor-outdoor bar complete with fire pits and a wine list that’s both unusual and approachable. In the kitchen, chefs craft small plates that brim with local ingredients, including artisanal meats, cheeses, and more than a dozen styles of bruschetta.
d'vine's wine club boasts a globe-spanning array of rare and celebrated fermented fruit nectar, giving new and seasoned oenophiles a heady taste of the world of wine and fine dining. In addition to free weekly wine tastings each Wednesday, club members score their choice of two bottles of wine every month from a rotating selection of two reds and one white, ensuring easy removal of accidental grape stains. The two bottles must be consumed at D'Vine, though any club member ambitious enough to want a third or more receives an additional 10% off their decadently Dionysian purchase. The wine bar's unpretentious staff fills members' minds with tantalizing wine facts and fills goblets with vintages that may include 2009 Isabel Mondavi I'M chardonnay or 2008 Rock & Vine cabernet sauvignon. Drinkers transform into diners when they activate members' 10% discount on meals from d'vine's vino-friendly menu of tapas, salads, grilled pizzas, and rotating specials.