For Jose Morais, his winery is more than just a lifelong dream. With Morais Vineyard & Winery, he's also able to pay homage to his Portuguese roots, creating traditional libations such as jeropiga, a sweet liquor made from partially fermented red wine, and the touriga national, a full-bodied red with smoky notes that's won medals from two different wine competitions. Jose his team of the winemakers also experiment with styles and flavors, whipping up the Battlefield White from blanc and albarino grapes and conjuring aromas of smoke and ripe red fruits from the cabernet franc, which pairs well with meat dishes and Parisian accents. The winery's decor blends rustic and modern touches, from the grand ballroom decorated with marble floors and a rod-iron staircase to the tasting room, which sports a massive stone fireplace and sleek corkscrew chandeliers.
Though DuCard Vineyards has only been around a few years, its property?situated on the edge of Shenandoah National Park?has yielded grapes for the last decade. At first, they formed the flavorful foundation of pours at a nearby winery, whose product went on to win best wine in the state at the Virginia Governor?s Cup. After this, DuCard's winemakers used the grapes to craft varieties for friends and families, and growing demand virtually willed DuCard Vineyards into existence soon thereafter.
Besides its meticulously sustainable operation, DuCard's grounds host a tasting room for sampling everything from raspberry-flavored reds to whites with hints of peach and lemon peel. A "hidden gem," according to The Madison Eagle, the vineyards also host numerous year-round events, including board-game days and live music more melodious than somebody tapping an empty wineglass until it's refilled.
When they set about designing their year-round outdoor fields, WarPlay's founders—two Marine veterans who have played paintball for nearly 30 years— meticulously mapped out layouts that impacted strategy, which was something they felt most paintball fields lacked. They set up not only traditional woods-ball and speedball fields, but they also created their own hybrid fields that meld the quick pace of speedball with the more methodical play of woods ball. These course designs emphasize teamwork and heighten play because the markers and density of cover—which may include concrete bunkers, standing timber, and out-of-work black holes—make the fields seem bigger than they are. This can lead to rapid swings in momentum and intense firefights—first contact usually happens within 50 seconds. To keep the action going, every field features spawn areas that let players return to games within five minutes of being hit.
Before Comfort One Shoes' sole experts are allowed to fit a single shoe to a customer's foot, they must graduate from Comfort One University and undergo a mentorship process. It's only then that they can help shoppers find their desired footwear, whether it be lace-up Ziera boots, On running shoes with CloudTec technology, or Thierry Rabotin shoes, handmade without uncomfortable, rigid components. Alongside men's and women's footwear, the shop stocks an assortment of bags and accessories such as colorful iPhone cases from Triple C Designs that protect phone exteriors and conceal scratches from the last time you transformed into a werewolf.
Comfort One Shoes also seeks to better the world through creative philanthropic efforts, such as collecting 25,000 shoes for those without and offering their employees half their pay and time off to volunteer in the community. Perhaps such initiatives are part of the reason Comfort One Shoes earned the National Shoe Retailers Association’s Retailer of the Year Award in 2011.
The style-savvy staff at A Formal Affair spiff up patrons for fancy occasions with a plenitude of formal wear, rentals, and accessories for all shapes and sizes. Bodies can get gussied up in a Max and Cleo dress (up to $168), while appendages bedizened with stately jewelry ($25–$200) catch the light and the attention of eligible magpie bachelors. Customers can also create a sleek foundation for glamorous ensembles with wrinkle-free Spanx undergarments ($30–$100), or add a touch of majesty to Scrabble victories with one of A Formal Affair’s elegant tiaras ($100–$300). An After Six Sand dress suit rental ($149) dapperizes gentlemen, helping them get a figure as sharp and sophisticated as an ice pick quoting Tennyson.
Each of Merrifield Garden Center’s three locations overflows with thousands of plants throughout the year, encompassing such variety that a reporter for CNN’s Eatocracy claimed “I might as well endorse my paychecks straight to them…because I always want to grow what they've got.” Knowledgeable garden experts, 25 of whom have been with Merrifield for 25 years or more, guide customers through row upon row of flowers, trees, shrubs, and other plants, or help them sort through an extensive selection of bulbs and seeds. Visitors may also bump into the founders themselves, or their children and other family members, 38 of whom still work at the thriving business that started 40 years ago. Merrifield doesn’t just proliferate plants, however; amenities such as cafes in Gainesville and Merrifield and a dog park in Gainesville make each garden center into a leisure destination as well. Three of its garden gurus run an hourlong TV show that's been going for more than two decades, and other staff publish gardening advice on the website and Facebook. The staff also work to protect the environment with a variety of eco-friendly initiatives. Besides stocking native plants and water-saving devices for their customers, they also compost more than 20,000 tons of soil and 25,000 cubic yards of brush left over from their comprehensive landscaping services every year. The Gainesville location also gathers old concrete, metal appliances, and rusted Optimus Primes for recycling free of charge.