City Vineyard's viticultural mart purveys over 700 international fine wines and beers in a casual, non-intimidating atmosphere. Classes—many of which are overseen by local vino aficionado Foster Smith—are held every other Tuesday and traverse a seemingly infinite wine-scape, exploring the grapey libation's interaction with barbecue, sushi and sake, cheese and desserts, and more. Pluck basic tidbits from the vine of wisdom during the Wine 101 class (January 11), which unmasks the fundamentals of winemaking, source regions, tasting methods, and wine-speak. If you're a cigar devotee, sign up for the Big Reds, Port & Cigars course (January 25) to discover the proper pairing of smokes and juices before knowledge of the technique vanishes in a swirling cloud of ashes.
At The Pita Hut, diners look in on an open-air kitchen as creative chef Joseph Matta and a troupe of cooks craft Mediterranean meals with grilled and roasted meats, fresh produce, and handmade sauces. At dinnertime, the restaurant endures a moonlit transformation into Joseph's Table at The Pita Hut, and entrances eyes of evening foragers with a roster of dinner specialties during full-service suppers. Incisors sink into stuffed grape leaves ($10.99) bursting with a medley of lamb and beef tucked in with homemade yogurt. Shrimp adobados ($13.99) satiate tummy grumbles with a conga line of grilled chipotle jumbo shrimp wrapped in bacon as tightly as the nylon-clad legs of an overweight circus bear. On a patio lit by intertwining strands of tiny white lights, drained wine glasses ($3.75) and baklava flakes ($3.49) disappear from tables by the capable hands of a nocturnal wait staff as pungent aromas twirl from snaking hookah arms.
Set on sprawling farmland, Vizzini Farms Winery bottles a diverse selection of wine crafted from West Coast and Alabama vinifera grapes. Daily tours sneak groups behind the scenes of the second-generation Italian family’s winemaking process, which yields riesling piqued with tropical fruits and pinot grigio that's as lively as a 30-piece kazoo orchestra. A charming tasting room recalls a sunny Italian café, with warm yellow walls, racks of wine, and bistro tables ideal for gathering over a bite of deli fare and Italian-style desserts. On warm days, the spacious patio is open for enjoyment, providing views of surrounding vineyards and breezes with notes of black currant, citrus, and oxygen.
The Patrick family first dabbled in wine-making on their 24-acre estate back in 2001, when only one other vineyard operated in Shelby County. After a few seasons of practice and success, they decided to officially dedicate a portion of their land to cultivating grapes, and formally established Ozan Vineyard & Cellars in 2005. In 2013, they expanded with additional vineyard viewing areas, event space, and a winery boutique.
Using a combination of grapes grown on their own land and sourced from the East Coast, Ozan currently produces a series of varietals, including chardonnay, Chilton County peach, norton, and petit syrah. Conceived of traditional winemaking methods in small lots of French and American barrels, the vinos develop multifaceted flavors and complexity before being poured in Ozan’s tasting room or into glasses on the picturesque outdoor patio.
A broad front porch stretches across the main residence at Hidden Meadow Vineyard, inviting visitors to kick up their feet, tip back a glass of fruit wine, and admire the verdant view. Owners Bill and Janette Bailey manage the small, family-run winery, which specializes in bottles made from muscadine, concord, niagara, and cynthiana grapes. Their roster of wines includes blackberry and blueberry wines as well as scuppernong, a sweet, old-fashioned white wine.