After a lifetime of practice as an ob-gyn and 10 years as an amateur winemaker, Gary Strebel’s vinting hobby hit a bump in the road: His fermenting creations were taking up too much space in the kitchen, and his wife, Sherry, was tired of the mess. After a lengthy licensing process, Gary moved his operation into the barn, first taking his wines to the public in 2007. The now-renovated hundred-year-old barn currently serves as both a winery and gift shop, which frees the Strebels’ kitchen space for the family and frees visitors from having to wedge themselves between the refrigerator and the dishwasher. In addition to its overflowing wine racks, the gift shop also fills its rustic bounds with paraphernalia such as glasses, billfolds, jewelry, scarves and purses, and Cowboy and Sooner memorabilia.
With Western-themed labels and names such as Dustbowl chardonnay and Roadrunner syrah, the wines at Put a Cork in it announce their regional flavors on the bottle and on tasters' tongues. The selection of locally produced wines varies throughout the year, much like the selection of snowflakes on a movie set, although it typically includes about 15 blends and single-varietal bottlings for visitors to sample or purchase. Featuring dry, unctuous reds as well as fruity whites, the winery doesn't overlook any taste buds or sweet teeth.
The staff strives to maintain a relaxed environment by leading informal, yet informative, tastings for small or large groups, as well as hosting occasional live musical performances.
Papa Dio's owner and head chef Bill Bonadio is a strong believer in tradition. His restaurant has spanned three generations of Bonadios, who have carefully crafted hearty Italian cuisine served on tables across two dining rooms. Boasting a sprawling list of more than 160 items, the menu runs the epicurean gamut through classic spaghetti and meatballs to Dio's original fried pizzas, while their new "Little Menu" includes items under $10. At the wine bar, tables draped in crisp white linens surround a horseshoe-shaped bar that was made with wood salvaged from an 18th-century home in Louisiana and a horseshoe salvaged from an 18th-century giant horse.
Throughout wedding season, bells in the century-old Spanish chapel at Chapel Creek Winery ring out across the grape fields. Students of Redlands Community College's enology and viticulture program tend to the vines’ more than 60 grape varieties, taking part in each step of the winemaking process. They grow, crush, and reanimate the grapes before fermenting and bottling the wine. Guests visiting the winery can tour the fields, watch the students in action, and stomp on grapes inside wooden barrels.
Set upon a bucolic farm with vineyards and a pond, the vines at Native Spirits Winery yield cabernet sauvignon, riesling, and syrah grapes. Vintners squish and craft these grapes into a variety of vintages, including sweet and dry reds and whites such as merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay, and shiraz. All wines are available for taste and purchase in the tasting room, and Native Spirits Winery frequently holds events that feature wine tastings joined by live music.
Just off the historic Route 66, Summerside Vineyards welcomes visitors into its rustic winery and meadery. Regular tours of the winery and cellar elucidate the specifics of the wine- and mead-making processes and end in the cozy tasting room. Here, surrounded by a warm color palette and antique furniture, staff walk visitors through samplings of Summerside's various wines and meads. The bottles range from dry to dessert, and each are produced and bottled in the onsite cellar. In addition to tastings, Summerside holds seasonal wine-focused events.