TThe professional, knowledgeable staff at Vintner’s Circle share their love of the wine lifestyle with hands-on wine classes that teach guests, family, and friends how to bottle wines, distinguish between different varietals, or pair wine with cheese. The shop’s unique winemaking courses take aspiring vintners through the accessible four-step process, which begins with choosing wine juices from a selection of more than 50 internationally sourced varieties. Participants then fill more than two dozen bottles with their own vintage. They can emblazon these bottles with custom-designed labels and colorful tops. Vintner's Circle also stocks a variety of gifts for weddings, holidays, and other special occasions, as well as wine accessories and gifts for wine lovers to enjoy year-round. Wine-education classes, corporate events, and team-building events are also on offer.
At Staten Island Winery, wine enthusiasts transform into bona fide winemakers. They do so under the guidance of Bob Rando, who holds rank as the winery's owner and as an accredited winemaster. Bob and his team walk aspiring vintners through the process, starting with the crushing of grapes and ending with the bottling of finished products. Participants can even choose what kind of wine they make, either by selecting from the facility's list or coming up with their own blend.
John Gizzi and Diann Greco, the American Wine Society–certified wine judges at Make Wine With Us, teach wine aficionados to create their own wines using grapes harvested in Californian and Chilean vineyards. At the start of the nine-month process (California grapes in the fall, Chile grapes in the spring), winemakers-to-be assemble with fellow enthusiasts to learn the intricacies of the trade. Patrons learn to crush and destem grapes in a machine called a crusher-destemmer, named after the device's favorite Germanic metal band. Following the crushing process, a hydraulic press forces juice into barrels, where it shall remain until the conclusion of its sweet, sweet metamorphosis.
When wine awakens from its hibernation, patrons remove suspended yeast cells and skin particles though a process called racking. At the end of the nine-month period, newly minted winemakers lean on family and friends to fill, cork, and custom-label the finished product. Budding vintners then tote home their vintages to share with family, friends, and robot butlers with built-in carafes.
Despite its Bavarian lodge–style façade, Prospect Tavern doesn't tie itself down to any one cultural cuisine. The kitchen team draws from all around the world to design its eclectic upscale pub menu. Signature dishes such as a slow-roasted prime rib and lobster macaroni and cheese share the spotlight with herbed steaks, fresh salads, and vegetarian sandwiches. Many of these come with their own suggested drink pairings, which can be chosen from more than 10 craft beers and a robust list international wines. Food and drink aren't the modern pub's only attractions: throughout the year, special events range from live acoustic music and social karaoke to model UN meetings.
The brainchild of Ivan Ruiz—a sommelier who’s perfected mealtime pairings at restaurants across New York City—the Summit Wine & Food Festival celebrates the intersection between great wine and great food while simultaneously raising funds for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. Celebrity chefs from Bravo and the Food Network and local guest chefs share their knowledge during events like mixology classes and a special beer tasting hosted by Spiegelau Crystal, which includes a complementary set of beer tasting glasses for each attendee. Sommeliers also share the spotlight at the summit—showcasing varietals from domestic and international vineyards—and clear up the misconception that grapes are just confident blueberries.
The ambrosial experts at The Wine List of Summit uncork four bottles and unwrap two cheeses every Saturday for a weekly free tasting, which aligns neatly with the shop's overall goal: to make fine wines accessible to all. The shop's backbone is its selection, which showcases more than 2,000 hard-to-find wines culled from around the world, as well as tucked-away wineries in the United States. A cascade of beer and spirits, as well as decanters and other accessories, also complements the extensive lineup of bottles.
In addition to their broad selection of wines and accessories, The Wine List of Summit's head, certified master sommelier Ivan Ruiz, leads classes for wine aficionados and newbies alike on the basics of winemaking, tasting techniques, and key vocabulary words, such as “oaky” and “non-beer-y.”