Once you’ve bellied up to the cozy tasting room’s bar like an urbane, sophisticated cowboy, you’ll be treated to a few flavorful wafts and quaffs of Montaluce's finest 2008 and 2009 red and white wines, fermented from the carefully maintained fruits of its 35-acre vineyard. The 2008 chardonnay massages the nose with aromas of green apples, pear, and lemon zest mixed with smoke, walnut, and honeysuckle. And the 2008 risata (Italian for laughter) will put your palate into hysterics with notes of cherries, raspberries, cranberry, savory herbs, and just the faintest hint of Joker venom. Otherwise, go snorkeling for the dark chocolate notes buried in the oaky, deep violet, kraken-filled deeps of the cabernet sauvignon. Much like wine itself, your experience at Montaluce will be different depending on the exact point in time you partake of it. Gracious guests who arrive for their wine flight Tuesday through Saturday will be treated to a complimentary guided winery tour at 2 p.m. Likewise, Sunday sippers can tune their taste buds to live musical performances on the veranda from noon to 5 p.m.
Sprig's elegant yet casual atmosphere plays host to a locally grown smorgasbord of seasonal savories, with this summer's menu showcasing the foodsmarts of Marsala master Christopher Neff. For lunch, revel in tasty treasures from the wood-fire grill, such as the grilled-chicken club with applewood bacon (a $9 value) or the bratwurst's bursting wallet of caramelized cabbage and apples (a $10 value). Or, spend your midday charitably finding a more permanent home for the oyster po boy (a $9 value), drenched in spicy rémoulade. All lunchtime sandwich plates are accompanied by creamy slaw, fries, or sweet-potato chips, and tongue-prepping appetizers like the fried pickles in beer-cheese sauce (a $4 value) and tomato-jam'd cornbread (a $3 value) are served all day long. For dinner, dig into a spicy stew of andouille sausage, shrimp, and corn on the cob (a $14 value) while a tablemate tackles a wood-fired chimichurri flat iron bolstered by a lemon-kissed arugula salad (a $21 value).
Marcia Langford Perez's brother Gene once owned a small farm in north Florida. Here, each season, he would plant a few vines of rare grapes. When it came time to harvest, he chose his brother Philip as the vintner. This family affair quickly pulled in Marcia and her husband Gerald, who joined in tending the vineyards and making wine. After Gene passed away, Marcia decided to honor his legacy: she opened Wine Workshop and Brew Center, a polished craft store and urban winery dedicated to the art of independent brewing and winemaking.
Today, Marcia and her staff explore the ins and outs of winemaking during in-store classes and slumber parties in the fermentation tanks. They help visitors choose their grape or juice, blend the yeast, and?after a few weeks?collect, bottle, and label the finished wine. They also teach beer brewing in a series of weekly workshops, highlighting the partial-boil process and the uses of hops, yeast, and specialty malts. For those who want to try brewing on their own, the store also supplies ingredients and equipment such as fermentation containers, extract kits, base and specialty grains, and full wine kits from popular producers.
A pioneer in Decatur's full-scale production brewing scene, BlueTarp Brewing Co. first opened its doors to the public in December of 2012. Owner and brewmaster Tom Stahl started from humble roots, making his first beers at home. However, after roughly one year of homebrewing, Stahl realized that he wanted to aim higher and began planning to expand into a full business?a story he shared with The Art of Beer podcast. Currently, BlueTarp Brewing Co. lures visitors with public tours of the production facility as well as tastings of the most current releases. These brews cover a broad range of styles, including a dark, hearty stout brimming with notes of coffee and chocolate and a heavily dry-hopped double IPA with a sweet, sturdy core of malt that can withstand any Pilates workout.
The term "pairing" brings to mind a highly sophisticated spread of rare spirits with fine meats and cheeses. But for Halloween 2014, Wild Heaven subverted this notion by serving samples of their craft brews beside bowls of Butterfingers and cherry Starbursts. That's because the founders run their brewery with a sense of humor and a desire to make their beers more accessible, even if you can't upload liquids to the internet yet. People can learn more about their numerous brews during a tour, enjoying samples as varied as White Blackbird, a saison infused with Korean pears and chardonnay, and Ode to Mercy Special Winter Ale, an imperial brown with Bulleit-soaked oak chips.