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.
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.
Whether culled from California's Napa Valley region in the fall or from Chile and Argentina in the spring, every bundle of red and white grapes winds up beneath a patron's stomping feet. Eight months later—after a pressing session and half-hour racking—each red, white, or rosé batch makes the transition from barrel to bottle. Clients then fill, cork, seal, and adorn the bottle with their own label before gently kissing it to remove any curses. For visitors more eager to imbibe wine than concoct it, The WineMakers Cellar accommodates guests with dinners and wine and cheese pairings in its bistro. Handcrafted wine continues to flow at cooking demonstrations, courses, and private parties held within the facility.
The attentive and knowledgeable staff members at Maratene's help each customer find the beverage of his or her dreams, an infinitely preferable experience to discovering the sulfurous, steaming goblets of their nightmares. Give a moderate nod while excessively enjoying a medium-bodied Castle Rock Pinot Noir ($10), or recite a philosophical treatise to an indifferent partygoer over a rich and complex Truchard Cabernet ($25). The chronically indecisive can sip samples at one of the shop's free Saturday wine tastings or visit owner and trained sommelier Gregg Burke's wine blog for more tips.
It would be easy to spend an entire day at Calandra's Italian Village—perusing the colorful packaged Italian imports in the market, lingering over a cup of pistachio gelato in the gelateria, and finishing off with a glass of wine in the bar. Wanderers who stroll to the left of the village stumble into Il Vecchio Cafe, where Italian tapestries adorn the walls and diners chat animatedly at wooden tabletops. Servers dart across the sunlit floors, bearing plates of homemade penne alla vodka, eggplant caprese panini, and broiled tilapia and refilling glasses of wine. A counter overlooks the kitchen, where a wood-burning oven bakes thin-crust pizzas. Wooden beams and vintage-style walls enclose the tabletops that speckle the outdoor stone deck, creating the look of a rustic Italian farm or the set of a movie where a rich businessman learns the value of friendship from a talking countryside mouse.