Situated in the Santa Lucia Highlands overlooking the Salinas Valley, Hahn Estate has converted what were horse and cattle ranches into the birthplace for award-winning wines. Among the first wineries in California to be certified for its sustainability, the facility spreads its production across six vineyards and more than 1,000 acres of Monterey County land. That land yields premium selections of pinot noir, chardonnay, and syrah, or as Hahn Estate views them, tasty celebrations of the estate's unique location.
Winery founder Theophile Vache christened his land Pietra Santa—Italian for “sacred stone”—in honor of the region's granite- and limestone-rich soils, which have produced subtly earthy wines for 150 years. Rows of olive trees and wine grapes, including pinot noir and pinot gris varieties, sprout from 450 acres of fecund soil nestled in the Gabilan Range.
Within the Mission-style winery, vintner Alessio Carli ferments vino in oak barrels, and a Tuscan-imported press squeezes oils from organic olives. The winery's picnic area furnishes guests and marooned hot air balloon captains with breath-nabbing views of Cienega Valley. In addition to garnering the adoration of oenophiles, Pietra Santa has attracted attention from Frank Lloyd Wright associate Burley Griffin Junior, who designed the estate's prairie-style Dickinson house.
In high school, Tammy Hunziker was asked to describe the perfect man for a class assignment. Her answer—a gingerbread man—had little impact on her future personal life, but everything to do with her future career. Nowadays, Hunziker still bakes batches of gingerbread cookies, alongside oatmeal cookies, snickerdoodles, and meringues at her specialty bakery, Room for Dessert. Some cookies are frosted to resemble smiling faces, and others depict tasseled mortarboards, wedding dresses, and jack-o’-lanterns wondering if they’ll ever grow up to be a pie. An array of frosted cakes and cupcakes complement the cookies in flavors such as brown sugar, lemon, and dark chocolate.
Although Jessica James officially created Fluff Cupcakery in 2010, that wasn’t when she started baking. Having grown up with a mother who was a cake decorator, Jessica took to baking like a duck to water, and she’s been practicing the are since before she knew how to cook. This passion naturally grew into Fluff Cupcakery. There, she offers five unique flavors of cupcakes every day. She also keeps her menu extra fresh by rotating in two to three different cupcakes varieties every day. Fluff Cupcakery stays open until 5 p.m. during the week, and 3 p.m. on Saturdays, but has been known to close up shop early if their cupcakes have sold out or they’ve used all the flour in California to make one Rose Bowl-sized cupcake.
Superior Court Judge John M. Phillips spent his career witnessing the cycle of offending and incarceration in which local youth often became trapped. He founded Rancho Cielo Youth Campus to help prevent first-time offenders from getting stuck in this negative spiral by giving them educational and vocational alternatives to crime. After acquiring the Natividad Boys' Ranch, a long-dormant juvenile-incarceration facility, he transformed it into a comprehensive educational environment with classrooms, a wood shop, a ceramics room, and a natural setting.
Today, Rancho Cielo Youth Campus helps underserved youth in Monterey County find their place in society with educational programs and social services that range from healthful eating to drug diversion. The ranch also provides vocational training and job placement in the culinary-arts and construction fields. The sprawling 100-acre grounds contain two lakes, stables, and a cultivated garden, all of which host outdoor activities and recreational programs including fishing, dance classes, and sports leagues.