Beside the Rhine River in Germany or in sun-soaked fields in Tuscany and California, vines grow heavy with ripe fruit. These jewel-toned morsels fill bottles at PRP Wine International, whose consultants then share the global terroir during special events and private tastings at home. Each staff member has a library of facts about wine production and consumption on the tip of their tongue, as well as several varieties of corkscrews hanging from their mandated utility belt. Their mission is to cultivate an appreciation of fine wines by introducing clients to global varieties—from beaujolais to chianti—while sharing food pairing ideas and recipes, and educating clients about the winemaking process and wine in general.
An online shop organizes varietals, such as montepulciano and gewürztraminer, by their taste profile and country of origin, and sparkling wines are searchable by price point. To deepen their client's connection to their favorite bottle, they may either be etched or emblazoned with custom labels that commemorate an event or deliver a dry thank you.
The "secret" in Bacchus' Secret Cellar is gas. Argon gas, to be exact, which powers the bar's preservation system and ensures that the wines within stay fresh for long periods of time. There are about 50 wines—mostly reds—on tap at the counter, as well as 8 sparkling wines, 5 dessert wines, and 12 microbrews. The library of options encourages guests to sample several, so it's wise to order a flight: you can get a signature array of 2.5-ounce glasses, or you can compose your own for a unique harmony of tastes.
The bar is just the beginning of the cellar's wine selection. On the shelves that span the walls, more than 350 labels beckon to be uncorked. A bistro menu provides gourmet food to complement sips, from starters of oven-roasted dates to lamb burgers and prosciutto flatbreads, made by dropping a regular loaf of bread into a printing press by accident. There's also a full menu of cheeseboards, with goat, cow, and sheep cheeses from the United States and abroad.
Having grown up on a farm in central Canada, Marlowe Huber already knew about crop harvesting and soil when he began making wine in the early 1980s. He refined his skills still further by studying oenology in Vancouver before embarking on his first wine-business venture with his brother, Darren. Together they ran two wineries in British Columbia for 15 years before opening Laguna Canyon Winery in 2003.
Today, staffers pour out a diverse selection of Laguna Canyon wines at two tasting rooms in downtown Laguna Beach and at the winery itself. Marlowe and Darren also collaborated with marine artist Wyland to create his Wyland Cellars label, whose bottles he adorns with colorful undersea scenes. Grapes for these wines are sourced from low-yield growers in Napa and Sonoma valleys, who cultivate subtle flavors by hand-picking and home-schooling their fruits.
The sounds of conversation and laughter compete with the clinking of glasses in The Wine Artist’s lofty venue. The space sprawls over 2,500 square feet, with plenty of room to host private parties, bridal events, corporate events, and private cooking classes. Events at The Wine Artist feature unique wines, gourmet catering, and experiences such as wine bottling and team building activities.
A little piece of Germany lies on 8 acres of Huntington Beach. Traditional restaurants and grocery stores line the quaint cobblestone streets, and people decked out in German dress meander through their wooden doors. As the sun rises over rows of dangling shop shingles, the air becomes electrified with the sounds of puffing tubas, sizzling bratwurst, and traditional German toasts. This is Old World Village, a mecca of bakeries, bars, delis, and eateries that have been celebrating German heritage for more than 30 years. Sauerbraten, wiener schnitzel, and spaetzle fill the air with savory aromas in Old World Restaurant as visitors to the bar raise their glasses to sip on such imported suds as Dunkel, Hofbräu, and Warsteiner. Meanwhile, the European market lines its colorful shelves with not only German staples but also goodies from Italy, Poland, and other countries. Though the village is the perfect escape for individuals in need of European merriment, mass festivities are its specialty: weddings, family reunions, and other celebrations benefit from its banquet services, and festivals such as Oktoberfest open German traditions to the public better than a congressional lederhosen mandate.
Pouring beer is an art form: glasses need to be titled just so or they’ll fill with foam. Fortunately, it’s a skill that’s easy to learn, especially at Tap House, where brews gush forth from 94 taps. Bartenders decant 60 beers in the main room and pour from 12 taps in the downstairs area. Alternatively, patrons who wish to take a hands-on approach can fill their own glasses at a beer wall with 12 self-pouring taps and at a self-serve 10-tap system on the outdoor patio.
Served at a frosty 29 degrees, beers—from light ales to double IPAs—can complement Tap House’s upscale bar food. As tap masters fill pints, cooks in the kitchen top locally farmed Angus burgers with ingredients such as shredded pork and A1 sauce. They also coat swordfish steaks in garlic lemon butter and flavor ribs with house dry rub and BBQ sauce marinated in citrus wheat beer.
These meals unfold in Tap House's elevated dining room, where more than 50 televisions always stay tuned to the night's biggest sports games, never to the night’s biggest mathematical lectures. Bands and DJs take to the main floor's stage on weekends, when the restaurant also hosts Sunday brunches with bottomless champagne and Budweiser.