For three generations, the family at Ficklin Vineyards has nurtured 35 acres of portuguese vine varietals to sustain a supply of small-production California-style port wines. Plum-flavored notes blossom from bottles of spicy Old Vine Tinta port ($15), and bottles of chocolate, hazelnut, and raspberry passport ($14) arrive at palates with fruit-infused flavors and up-to-date customs papers. Sauces such as the raspberry-chocolate port sauce ($18) help to accentuate desserts, and the L'Andalus orange aperitif wine ($30) inaugurates pre-dinner revelries with hints of apricot, honey, and orange blossom. To commemorate the rarity of exceptional growing seasons and Harlem Globetrotter losses, the Ficklin family bottles a vintage-dated port in limited quantities of 1,000 cases. Eight vintage ports have been bottled in the past 50 years, marking seasons such as 1996 ($36), 1988 ($41.25), and 1957 ($360).
California, like its European counterparts France and Italy, is synonymous with wine. During A Celebration of Wine, libations from 60 regional wineries fill tasting glasses. In addition to rich reds and crisp whites, cuisines from more than 30 central-California eateries are represented. This salute to epicurean taste is organized to raise money for the enology department at Cal State University, Fresno—it's the rare chance to drink wine and support education at the same time. The event itself is even educational, as a cooper takes the stage to perform a popular demonstration of how classic oak barrels are made. Participants can cap off their afternoon with coffee and dessert while dancing to live music performed by giant saxophone-playing grapes.
Raisin Hell Ranch welcomes both grim reapers and gleeful roamers to its spread of spooks and scares. With the VIP combo ticket, you’ll have unlimited access to the ranch’s three haunted attractions. In Scarecrow’s Revenge, über-peeved scarecrows look to rejuvenate their soulless strawed selves with human flesh, human blood, and minimal plastic surgery, and Chupacabra Feast unleashes the bloodsucking creatures of cryptozoological lore for a mayhem-filled meet-and-greet with an unsuspecting public. Raisin Hell Ranch’s third scare site, Black-Out Maze, is a starchy labyrinth of masterfully carved twists, turns, and dead ends, with guests tromping through a 2.5-mile maize maze without the aid of flashlights or maps. The Black-Out Maze’s design celebrates the 100th anniversary of Fresno State, a corn maze that sneakily disguised itself as a college via well-placed classrooms and academic essays.
To make the search for fermented grapes almost as enjoyable as drinking them or throwing them at passing busses, Vino 100's friendly and knowledgeable staff of winetrepreneurs assists customers in making informed wine selections without the need for clunky vinometers and high-powered wineoculars. Vino 100 stocks more than 200 wines priced at $25 or less and more than 200 wines priced at $26 and up, as well as dozens of bottles costing equal to or less than the square root of the daily NASDAQ index. Amid its charmingly rustic décor, visitors can grab a bottle of Seven Hills Riesling ($15), De Tierra Merlot ($18), and more. The type of bottle all depends on whether they want to massage taste buds during dinner or inject a giggly romanticism into an evening that's usually spent playing Yahtzee and watching dance-contest recap shows. You can also peruse a wide selection of craft beers and savory meats and cheeses.
Moravia Wine's Howard Hammond is the patriarch of the family vineyards. For Howard, farming is a family tradition that stretches back to the late 19th century, when his Danish ancestor, Hans Jacob Jeppesen, arrived in America aboard a Norwegian vessel named "Moravia." Today, Howard, his wife Barbara, and a new generation of Hammonds carry on that tradition at the family's vineyards, a 400-acre estate in West Fresno. There, they produce Moravia wine inside a World War II-era farm and equipment barn. The barn's interior has undergone major changes to accommodate the production process and frequent tasting events. But its exterior still uses the original brickwork, maintaining the building's character.