Vino Del Grotto harbors wines for sipping by the glass or carting home. Like homesick stomach butterflies, more than 20 wines by the glass flutter down tongues during tasting flights, tantalizing each guest with three 3-ounce portions of grapey goodness in customized selections such as Yosemite View chardonnay or German-imported Valckenberg dornfelder. Peach-apricot chardonnay and green-apple riesling sate fruit-partial palates, and sips of sparkling Belle Jardin brut bubble upon taste buds, giving them the effervescent feeling of flight that ostriches only dream of.
Traveling to homes across Illinois, California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin with an array of hand-selected bottles in tow, the knowledgable consultants of PRP Wine International save their customers the time they would spend searching stores and the jail time that could result from trespassing on private vineyards. The staffers of this private wine company spend almost every day of the year unearthing the best bottles across the United States, Europe, Australia, South America, and South Africa, and then present their selections to eager palates at homes, private clubs, and hotel suites during private tastings and special events. As the wine spills forth into glasses, the consultants impart background information on the wines, share pairing ideas, and encourage guests to ask any questions they might be embarrassed to ask at restaurants, such as, “How do you pronounce pinot noir?” or “Where is the giant laser that transforms the grapes into wine?” As the evening progresses, conversations will also cover grape varieties and facts about specific growing regions.
North Beach Bistro is more than a restaurant—it's a legacy. The upscale eatery was the vision of renowned chef Tony Pels, who trained with culinary giants such as Wolfgang Puck and Michel Richard, and chef David Seavey, whom Pels mentored for 15 years at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa. Pels passed away only two months before the restaurant's opening in June of 2008, leaving executive chef Seavey to carry on his tradition of culinary creativity and generosity.
Spurred on by this responsibility, Seavey combines the freshest ingredients with a genuine love for his fellow Floridians. The Jacksonville native crafts hearty and flavorful surf 'n' turf entrees such as the bistro bouillabaisse with Mayport shrimp, sea scallops, mussels, calamari, and fresh fish or chargrilled Black Angus filet mignon with sauteed mushrooms and port wine sauce. Reddish-gold fixtures in the bar emanate light that's as warm and welcoming as the chef himself. DJs and live music keep the space vibrant, and the dining room's wood floors and spot-lit art give it an air of sophistication. Weekly trivia nights arm guests with knowledge that makes an ideal conversation starter or helps pass the time while stuck in an elevator with Ken Jennings.
A grizzled sailor adjusts his eye patch as he leads his entourage down a winding street. A pirate with feathers in his cap breathes life into the history of a Spanish mansion. Tour Saint Augustine Inc.'s guides, always garbed in period dress, bridge the gap between St. Augustine’s past and present, recounting the city’s history through stories of early European colonists, famous local architects, and civil-rights activists.
Walking tours and hop-on, hop-off motorcoach tours begin in the Flagler-era historic district at the company's office. On foot, the guides follow a set tour path or tailor excursions to their group's interests as they travel to the past via a wormhole beneath the city’s gates. Their drivers also steer visitors down quaint side streets in historical horse-drawn carriages, and National Park Service–sanctioned guides lead guests into the bowels of the Castillo de San Marcos fort.
For Bradley and Jennifer Ferguson, winemaking was initially just a hobby. They fermented their first wine in their kitchen using blueberries plucked from bushes on the grounds of their family's farm. Proud of their creation, they shared the wine with friends and continued to make a new batch each year during blueberry season. Years of practice made the wine tastier and tastier. They decided to make their hobby into a profession, naming their company Bluefield Estate Winery.
Today, they brew two versions of blueberry wine—one sweet, one dry—as well as wines derived from fruits such as peaches, mandarin oranges, or snozberries. Visitors to the vineyard can sample the libations, staining their fingers indigo as a reminder of a day spent picking blueberries and grapes straight from vines and bushes.
Lined with mahogany-colored shelves, Wine Bank's walls display bottles upon bottles of wines, suggesting that its name is no misrepresentation. But unlike most wine shops, Wine Bank isn't just about wine. Here, beers, fine wines, and cigars complement an in-house menu of upscale starters and gourmet entrees, ranging from pork filet mignon to shrimp mac 'n' cheese. And for those who would rather drink wine than spend thousands building vineyards in their basement, Wine Bank offers memberships with discounts and invitations to private tastings and events.