The young crew behind ONEHOPE Wine believes wine can do more than dance with flavor and stain frocks fashioned from fine white camel hair. Each bottle has been instilled with a rich taste and beauty to complement its selflessness. One ONEHOPE box yields one bottle each of California merlot, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, zinfandel, sauvignon blanc, and an exclusive summer white ($18.99 each). The 2008 merlot uses grapes grown in the Lodi and Paso Robles regions, where a cool Pacific fog maintains grape acidity, creating a full flavor that complements its black cherries, plums and figs.
A car comes to life with a blanket of animatronic fish. An engineer pours a computer casing from liquid resin. Pedal-powered creations fly across a stretch of asphalt. Rather than let the processes of invention and tinkering stay confined to basements and workshops, the annual Fort Wayne Regional Maker Faire, powered by TekVenture, thrusts them into Headwaters Park for a family-friendly outdoor event. Up to 100 "makers"—artists, scientists, and tinkerers who invent, experiment, and create—showcase their crafts through live demonstrations and hands-on interactive experiences. These displays cover the spectrum of technology, using materials ranging from wood and fabric to electronics. Beyond the exhibits, the annual event features engineering challenges, live sets from local musicians, and stunt-filled BMX demonstrations. Locally produced food is also available for purchase.
The knowledgeable winemakers at Hops & Harvest delight in teaching customers how to transmute grapes in varietals such as chardonnay and pinot noir into nuanced wines. Hops & Harvest stocks the tools and resources that beginning and veteran home-brewers need to concoct fresh, delicious organic wines from the comforts of their homes as well as the hops and malts needed to bottle, keg, and barrel homemade brews. Live displays, samples, and classes keep the spacious store abuzz. Most wines and beers can be made indoors at any time of year, eliminating the final reason to leave the house during January.
Taste Creative Cuisine entertains eardrums and taste buds at the same time by presenting a menu full of contemporary twists on classic Southern cooking and regular sets of live jazz. Like carving a family chicken dinner with a laser-knife, the food roster modernizes mainstays of country-style dining. Fried chicken rests atop sweet-potato waffles, creamy aioli garnishes Cajun catfish sandwiches, and artichoke butter sauce adds flavor to cornmeal-breaded walleye pike. Handcrafted cocktails complement the Louisiana-fusion fare, as muted jazz trumpets, wailing saxophones, and standup comics keep audiences dancing and laughing into the night.
Food and wine, Italian and French, fine dining and casual bar snacks?Luc? Nuovo is a place of complementary dualities. Dishes such as fresh-tomato bisque and creamy shrimp risotto are united by their locally farmed ingredients ingredients, and their ephemerality: because executive chef Mason Conway relies on the freshest produce, his menu changes with the seasons. (His staff do make mozzarella and pasta in-house all year long.) In the bar, surrounded by beer taps and wine bottles, diners peruse more streamlined snacks such as mortadella-stuffed stromboli and roasted portobello sliders topped with caramelized onion and arugula.
If you really want to drink in an oenophilic atmosphere, there's the option of booking a private dinner in the wine cellar. The bottles filling the ceiling-high wine-storage system have all been selected with an eye toward complementing the food, never overwhelming it, and menus offer many seasonal pairing suggestions. Elsewhere in the sprawling villa-style buiilding, a stone fireplace dominates the main room amid earthenware floor tiles, exposed ceiling beams, and rustic wooden half-walls. Outdoor seating fills up during the warmer months, although Luc? Nuovo draws crowds indoors on Thursday evenings for live jazz performances.
Some partnerships—Fred and Ginger, Holmes and Watson, Rocky and Bullwinkle—seem predestined for greatness. Such was the case with Jeff and Jill Van Horne. Jeff, a wine collector, married his talents with Jill's gourmet cooking to create The Wine Loft, where their chemistry translates into delicious food and drink pairings. Stepping inside is akin to joining one of their dinner parties, with fellow guests lounging on sofas throughout the space and ordering cocktails or beer from the full bar.
Of course, the starring libation is wine. The cellar below the restaurant can store close to 2,000 bottles at a steady 58 degrees. More than 200 wines arrive at tables by the bottle, and 75 can be poured by the glass, complementing a variety of small plates and entrees. If you aren't sure what libation would best bring out the flavor of your lamb lollipops, servers gladly assist—or, you could attend one of The Wine Loft's wine education classes. These meet monthly to cover topics such as matching wine with chocolate or observing proper wine etiquette, which dictates that whomever uncorks the bottle must plant the cork and raise the resultant tree.