Executive chef Rene Hernandez calls upon a culinary education at Spain’s world-renowned restaurant El Bulli to craft a tapas menu of 14 hot and cold plates of shareable dishes that draw from broad international influences. With a chosen glass of wine in hand, guests can cool tongues with the artisanal manchego cheese bolstered by organic chorizo and white grapes. Chefs hide crabmeat salad inside smoked salmon to surprise palates and place the fish on eggplant shaped like caviar to fit in at black-tie functions. Forks protect fingers from scorching by spearing-hot tapas including grilled baby squid served on a bed of caribbean salad with a cider vinaigrette. The crispy shells of sweet-plantain croquettes deliver dollops of chipotle aioli sauce, and teeth chomp their signature into packages of pan-seared shrimp in garlic and white wine.
Beans and Vines whets appetites with a delectable selection of worldly vino, piquant sandwiches and paninis, and rich coffees. Pick a bottle from the carefully culled collection of wine; a charming Chilean bicentennial chardonnay ($30) or a smooth-talking Italian Monte Maria chianti ($30) will inspire romantic nights or induce sentimental phone calls to estranged vineyards.
Visitors to Westfall Winery descend into the building's secret barrel room to taste fruit-packed potables from Westfall's extensive wine list, all crafted with Old World wine-making techniques amid the picturesque greenery of Sussex County. Inside French oak barrels, fermented grapes age into velvety cabernet sauvignon, local blueberries age into slightly tart blueberry wine, and young castaways age into colorful, barrel-dwelling philosophers. Sated oenophiles can step outside to Westfall Winery’s picnic area to relish a grilled hot dog and homemade chili, and tour the winery’s sparkling pond and white picket fences. At the end of the event, guests can take home a bottle or a case ($12.50+), then use the empty bottles to build a glass-bottomed lifeboat.
A vineyard-lined drive and the panoramas of the Sourlands provide a feast for the eyes to complement the rich taste of Old York Cellars' wines, which include malbecs, syrahs, and chardonnays. After taking in the sights from beneath a shady umbrella on the expansive, stone-accented patio, oenophiles retreat to a timber-frame tasting room and sample from the award-winning wines and Brix chocolates. To support the community, the vineyard also holds regular art exhibitions, holiday events, and meet-the-artist events.
After graduating from Vassar College in 1997, vintner Tom Carroll Jr. continued his education in California, where he taught himself about viticulture and enology to achieve a lifelong dream of opening a winery. Three years later, he returned to his hometown to found Crossing Vineyards on a plot of land situated a short distance from George Washington’s Delaware River crossing. The winery mingles historic charm and pastoral surroundings with modern technologies, such as a sterile HVAC bottling system and solar-energy panels. Tom and his parents, also co-owners, built the facility around eco-friendly winemaking practices, such as composting waste and using cover crops, a technique that prevents topsoil erosion and helps vintners sing the young grapevines to sleep.
Crossing Vineyards' European-style wines have won more than 115 awards in both national and international competitions over the past 12 years. The winery offers tastings and wine-pairing classes in an onsite educational area and hosts an annual summer wine-and-music series on its sprawling, 15-acre property.
At each Vintner’s Circle location, staffers guide customers through the roughly seven-week process of mixing, fermenting, and bottling their own wines. Each aspiring winemaker starts with a choice of 80 pre-pressed juices sourced from vineyards around the world and ends up with 28 bottles emblazoned with personalized labels and filled with their own unique vintage. Vintner’s Circle staff also guide wine tasting classes, sangria-making parties, and other beverage-related activities.
A restaurant is only as good as its head chef. Luckily, Tombolino has Pietro Siciliano. Recognized in 2010 by Bon Appétit as top chef in Westchester, Siciliano prepares scratch-made pastas and other Italian-style delicacies daily using imported ingredients and kitchen mastery learned during his training at the Culinary Institute in Italy. A selection of more than 500 wines pair well with Siciliano’s creations, which include house specialties such as almond-crusted chilean sea bass and veal milanese.