For three generations, the family at Ficklin Vineyards has nurtured 35 acres of portuguese vine varietals to sustain a supply of small-production California-style port wines. Plum-flavored notes blossom from bottles of spicy Old Vine Tinta port ($15), and bottles of chocolate, hazelnut, and raspberry passport ($14) arrive at palates with fruit-infused flavors and up-to-date customs papers. Sauces such as the raspberry-chocolate port sauce ($18) help to accentuate desserts, and the L'Andalus orange aperitif wine ($30) inaugurates pre-dinner revelries with hints of apricot, honey, and orange blossom. To commemorate the rarity of exceptional growing seasons and Harlem Globetrotter losses, the Ficklin family bottles a vintage-dated port in limited quantities of 1,000 cases. Eight vintage ports have been bottled in the past 50 years, marking seasons such as 1996 ($36), 1988 ($41.25), and 1957 ($360).
The stockade of new and gently used goods at Hinds Hospice Thrift Store bestows surrounding communities with a multifarious cove of everyday items, collectibles, and hidden treasures. Stock barren bookshelves with paperback books ($0.25+) or stabilize a wobbly house on stilts with the tenacious reinforcement of a hardback tome ($1.50+). Stylish pairs of women’s shoes ($8+) wait patiently for ankle inhabitants, and a wide variety of vintage furniture ($35+) stands by to enliven barren apartments or uninviting human terrariums. Proffering goods for every occasion, season, or made-up holiday, the thrifty store also stocks an expansive selection of kitchenware, sporting goods, and appliances.
Centrally located between appellations as extensive as Santa Monica and Napa Valley, the locally owned Mariposa Wine Company cultivates three brands of artisanal wines from grapes that historically thrive in the surrounding region. Mariposa's cool-climate-grown CRU brand features a classic 2007 Vineyard Montage pinot noir ($23.99), brimming with whiffs of cherry pie, cranberry undertones, and rapidly edited sequences of growing grapes set to inspiring power chords. The powerful syrah grape packs a peppery punch in the 2007 Sur le Pont ($19.99), one of Mariposa's Mediterranean-influenced Carmichael-brand wines. Also available is the Yosemite View brand, with grapes, bottles, and corks all grown in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Vigorously inhale the raspberry and licorice aromas of Yosemite View's zinfandel ($12). Bottle buyers who don't even buy laundry detergent without swishing it around in their mouth first will get to sample the winery's intriguing blends in its Wine-Tasting Room, where they can test the appearance, complexity, and squirt-gun capabilities of each vino at their leisure before buying.
As the owner of Artistic Painting Studio, Jennifer Ferguson teaches others how to spruce up their living spaces with decorative painting. But she doesn't confine her skills to the classroom. Over the course of her artistic career, she's broadcast her brushstrokes as a guest on The Carol Duvall Show on HGTV. At her own studio, the four-time author shares her techniques during classes along with her fellow trained and certified instructors. They elucidate the finer points of stenciling and faux-finishing surfaces such as keepsake boxes, walls, and airport landing strips. To inspire students, Jennifer keeps idea books on hand and emblazons her studio walls and floors with examples of ornate work. She also produces her own line of stencils at The Stenciled Garden.
At Fresno Fencing Academy, head coach and former Soviet and Ukrainian champion fencer, Vladimir Ostatnigrosh, distills his experience to foster a new generation of duelers within a 4,200-square-foot facility that boasts electric fencing strips, a fitness room with weight machines, and changing rooms. Ostatnigrosh invites students of all levels, aged 7 and older, to discover the art of parrying and thrusting, which nurtures self-discipline while bolstering the cardiovascular system and developing the skills necessary to retrieve stolen lunch money from Zorro. The academy’s classes, which range from introductory to competitive levels, cover the three Olympic fencing weapons: the foil, the épée, and the saber. Those expert swordsmen and swordswomen who have mastered the fencing rules and refrained from detonating any last-resort grenades during a match defend the academy’s robust reputation at local, regional, and national tournaments.
The Well Community Church opened the doors to Neighborhood Thrift in March 2008 with the aim of becoming a more permanent and sustainable positive influence in the community. Hoping to address the lingering issue of high unemployment in the area, Neighborhood Thrift not only finds second homes for discounted clothing and housewares but also runs a work program that helps give local citizens a stable job, in which they can earn experience, bolster their resumés, and give back to their community.
The airy, spacious retail center houses nearly 30,000 pieces of gently used clothing, as well as housewares ranging from appliances and decor to electronics and furniture. A newly opened café nestled in the store’s corner offers visitors coffee and free WiFi as they mingle with other members of the community and debate the number of creamers Plato would drink in his coffee.