TThe professional, knowledgeable staff at Vintner’s Circle share their love of the wine lifestyle with hands-on wine classes that teach guests, family, and friends how to bottle wines, distinguish between different varietals, or pair wine with cheese. The shop’s unique winemaking courses take aspiring vintners through the accessible four-step process, which begins with choosing wine juices from a selection of more than 50 internationally sourced varieties. Participants then fill more than two dozen bottles with their own vintage. They can emblazon these bottles with custom-designed labels and colorful tops. Vintner's Circle also stocks a variety of gifts for weddings, holidays, and other special occasions, as well as wine accessories and gifts for wine lovers to enjoy year-round. Wine-education classes, corporate events, and team-building events are also on offer.
Andre's is a humble, family-run Euro-American eatery, which Zagat members recently named one of the Top Restaurants in the United States. Andre de Waal, chef and owner of Andre's, and his wife Tracey opened their restaurant in an old storefront building in 1998, adorning the exposed brick walls with their wedding photographs and paintings by local artists. Their eatery offers a rotating menu that is inventive, elegant, and comforting. Though the situation may turn at the drop of a switch, diners can currently begin the evening with house-cured salmon, cucumber salad, and fresh herbs ($8.50) or duck confit, penne pasta, and black truffles ($9) before they are ready for rare-roasted tuna and white-bean chorizo ($29).
David Schmeltzle's first attempt at home winemaking resulted in a foaming 55-gallon barrel of grape juice, a basement that smelled strongly of acrid fermentation, and a polite request from his wife that he find somewhere else to make wine. Instead of giving up, David decided to transform his passion for fermentation into a business concept, founding Vintners Circle as a way to teach the public to understand and appreciate wine and even craft their own.
The dedicated oenophiles at Vintners Circle commit themselves to teaching the public how to taste and assess wines with confidence. Introductory classes explain how to approach a glass of wine from swirl to sip, and the staff usually keeps a few bottles open at the stores, allowing visitors to try small samples.
Beginning with pre-pressed grapes from one of 15 international vineyards—including sites in France, Australia, and the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley—staff members can also show customers how to transform 6 gallons of juice into 28 bottles of wine in just seven to eight weeks. The process involves four major steps over that time, allowing patrons to stop by periodically and control the development of their wine through primary fermentation, secondary fermentation, clearing and stabilizing, bottling, and designing a custom label. At the end of the two months, customers leave with more than two cases of ripe, effervescent zinfandel, floral viognier, or another varietal from the 50 available winemaking kits.
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As a lifelong resident and explorer of New Jersey, Vaughn Tiedeman possesses an intimate familiarity with the region’s natural beauty and hidden entertainment gems. He started Living Adventure Tours to get folks out of the city and exploring the natural majesty of the northeast. He and his guides lead an endless array of seasonal activities such as hiking, kayaking, and hot air balloon tours during the warmer months. As winter sets in, they lead snowshoeing journeys and wine- and beer-tasting tours of the vineyards and breweries nestled throughout the scenic countryside.
After traveling to vineyards throughout the United States and Canada during wine-tasting trips, Michele and Paul Crecca realized they could show others how to make their own wine. They founded Your Own Winery to share their passion and know-how with newcomers to the world of wine.
Today, they help hobbyists produce and bottle more than 200 varietals of wine, including cabernets, pinot noirs, chardonnays, and pinot grigios. The staff will provide free samples to help students decide what kind of wine to make. It can be a tough decision, because winemaking is a six-to-eight week process that spans from primary fermentation to bottling. Each batch makes 28 bottles, and Michele and Paul even help their clients create custom labels, which have ranged from family photos and beloved pets to cherished pictures.
Manhattan native and restaurant industry veteran Ed Reinle worked in Thai restaurants for much of his career. There, he developed a palate and an appreciation for the balanced flavors, healthy eating, and vibrant colors of that country's cuisine. Each meal is a visually stunning, artfully arranged paean to Thai authenticity, with dishes such as red and green curry, crispy tamarind duck, and veggie-peppered fried rice and noodle dishes. Salads and small plates entice visitors with crispy green papaya, grilled chicken satay, and lightly fried spring rolls, and tom kha and tom yum soups tickly olfactory senses with aromas of galangal and lemongrass.
Reinle works alongside his wife, Toula, cultivating a friendly, laid-back lounge atmosphere. The duo pour Thai-inspired cocktails such as cosmopolitans made with spiced rum and ginger and dessert martinis made with sweet, creamy thai coffee.