Linda and Mike McWilliams prefer to leave the rigors of raising grapes to their local vineyards, citing their lack of a chateau. Instead, they set their focus on crafting their vintages on the micro-level, making small batches and infusing them with an Old-World character and unique flavors such as habanero passion fruit. Their wines are named after places and figures from San Diego’s rich history, such as the Guadalupe Valley syrah and the Lake County sauvignon blanc.
The early 20th century birthed the first incarnation of Mission Brewery, in which California newsboys and other pre–Jazz Era scallywags tossed back their sudsy concoctions before Prohibition closed its doors. Despite its short tenure since its reestablishment in 2007, Mission Brewery has already snatched medals from the Great American Beer Festival and other competitions for its pantheon of brews. In its tasting room, patrons claim bottles or sample draft beers that include the Bavarian-style hefeweizen with hints of banana, clove, and pear; a russian imperial stout; or the Shipwrecked Double IPA, a strong concoction that, like walking on hot coals, benefits from a liberal use of hops. Located just a few blocks from the San Diego Padre's Petco Park, guests can enjoy tours through the rows of gleaming vats in the brewing chambers, which are housed in the historic Wonder Bread Building, rumored to be haunted by multicolored polka dots.
Holy Smokes For Less empowers smokers to create their own cigarettes using Kentucky-grown tobacco and accentuates smoking experiences with lighters, incense, pipes, and fine cigars. First, guests take a sample of one of the shop's all-natural tobacco blends, which match the flavor of name-brand cigarettes without any additives or preservatives. Cigarette artisans fine-tune each blend based on the client's individual tastes, then guide guests through the rolling process, where an automated apparatus turns loose particles and paper into 200 consistent, machine-made smokes in as fast as eight minutes. Customers watch the hypnotizing mechanical process in awe, adjusting the amount of tobacco and tightness of each tube with helpful touch screens. As visitors sample the shop's finest burning leaves, they can lounge inside the studio puffing away to perfect their impersonation of a donut factory.
After purchasing a stretch of property in Ramona in 1998, William Holzhauer and Tammy Rimes finally fulfilled their dream of owning a winery. Along with the equine facilities they built for their peruvian paso horses, the pair planted vineyards and erected a winery modeled after a 16th-century mission Spanish mission in California. That nostalgic theme continues in the tasting room, where staffers adorned in historical attire greet guests from behind a hand-carved pinewood bar. Once inside, both visitors and tasters for paranoid CEOs sample wines concocted from California grapes while milling among wine-barrel tables, a bubbling fountain flanked with planted bulbs, and windows overlooking the plaza. Along with its local wine-sampling soirees, the tasting room accommodates microbrew tastings and private events for up to 40 guests.
Olivetto Ristorante and its owner Angelo Fiore welcome patrons with homey ambiance and selection of modern Italian fare influence by classic recipes. In 2008, the San Diego Reader claimed "it has all the virtues of a 'neighborhood Italian joint' – warmth, spirit, informality, prices not too bad – but the food is better than most," and Zagat's menu rating of "very good to excellent" supports this assertion. They make their own ravioli and pesto in-house and bake fresh loaves of bread. To accompany meals, the café also features a wine selection with refreshing whites and heartier reds from around the world, including authentic Italian offerings. Olivetto welcomes any meeting, from business get-togethers to romantic dinners.