In the years following World War II, Dutch immigrant John Van Ruiten sought to fulfill his dream of owning a vineyard. With a simple handshake as his contract, he purchased the land that would help him turn that reverie into a verdant realty. More than a half-century later, the wine empire spawned by that handshake continues to sprawl as quickly as the vines of its zinfandel grapes. These grapes and more now stretch across the 800 acres that Van Ruiten Family Vineyards call home, earning the winery high accolades—including a nod in the Wall Street Journal proclaiming their 2007 old vine zinfandel among the top 12 wines in the world in 2009.
In Van Ruiten's tasting room, guests can sample the winery's signature zinfandel, chardonnay, and cabernet sauvignon–shiraz blend before retiring to shady corners of the courtyard or an outdoor patio overlooking the vineyards. Among the vines, nesting boxes house owls that—as an alternative to pesticides—hunt down rodents and use their bright eyes to scare away enterprising grape thieves.
Inside Bunches of Beads, visitors might get lost. It's not that the store is giant. In fact, the space is rather cozy. But the trove of multi-colored beads, chains, charms, and supplies is sure to bewitch any DIY-jeweler into a state of wholly positive disorientation. Inside their wooden display cases, strands of freshwater pearls and rows of tiny seed beads provide inspiration for a new necklace, bracelet, or beaded beer koozie, while tools such as rentable micro torches encourage crafters to complete a project. You can also start a project in one of Bunches of Beads' classes, which range from beginners beading courses to wire-wrapping and repurposing vintage pieces into new works of wearable art.
For four generations, the Watts family has been growing grapes beside the Mokelumne River, and their fresh and fruity wines have drawn accolades at state and county fairs across the country. They began by simply growing grapes for other wineries and their pet bats before their first efforts at fermentation, and their long experience in viniculture show in a fruit-focused philosophy that seeks to draw out the best properties of their riverside microclimate. An intimate, recently built tasting room done up in vernal green welcomes oenophiles to try the latest blends or a sip from the Butterfly line, whose proceeds help support pediatric-cancer research.
With a stock of stone art of all shapes and sizes, Lomelis Statuary specializes in turning indoor and outdoor areas into whimsical landscapes. Their diverse gallery highlights water fountains—full-scale or wall-mounted, neoclassical or modern—created from durable cast stone and finished individually by hand. Stone patio furnishings, decorative plaques, human and animal statues, and gazebos topped with intricate cupolas are also available.
Edible Arrangements' fresh, artful fruit baskets and boxes combine the aesthetic elements and emotive properties of floral arrangements with the juicy deliciousness and socially acceptable edibility of fruit. Enjoy the fruity deliciousness of en elegant box of chocolate-dipped tree candy in a plethora of varietals including strawberries, Anjou pears, apples, oranges, pineapple daisies, and bananas. All the fresh, juicy slices are hand dipped in Edible Arrangements' gourmet semisweet chocolate blend. Receiving a box of dipped fruits can turn a frown into an upright grapefruit wedge, a tear into a three-tiered citrus structure, and a friend into still just a friend, but one with a sweet, balanced diet.