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.
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.
The six generations of winemakers known as the Ehlers family have endured more than their fair share of trials and tragedies?from the loss of beloved patriarchs to a legal dispute over the name on their wine labels. Still, they've persevered, building a legacy that began in 1921 while fueled by two motives?a love of family and a passion for making wine. Now known as E2 Family Winery, their facility oversees more than 500 acres of vineyards dedicated to the growing of red and white California grape varietals. Once harvested, these grapes are processed in small batches to make eight styles of wine that include cabernet
sauvignon, zinfandel, and pinot grigio. The most unique of these comes from grapes grown on just 4 acres: a Portuguese-style verdelho, one of only a few made in the United States. And yet it's not just the winery's products that are unique?a GAI bottling system is a marvel in its own right. The system labels, plugs, and vacuum seals bottles with both synthetic and natural corks at a rapid speed, producing up to 2,000 cases a day, enough to supply a bottle to every household in the state or to keep Dionysus's next house party going for a few more hours.
At Wines of Wine OT’s polished, granite-topped wine bar, wine connoisseurs pour small sips of vintages from Six Hands Winery and Sorelle Winery. Catering completely to diehard oenophiles, the storefront stocks a vast inventory of handmade wine-barrel furniture. Artisans dismantle barrels and reassemble them into Adirondack chairs, cocktail tables, and fire pits. Additionally, they stock hundreds of white oak wine barrels, which customers can repurpose as home decor or fish-shooting galleries.