It all began in 1987 with a few humble rows of chardonnay growing in a backyard. Bill and Brenda Murphy dreamed of being small-scale vintners, and within a few years the wines produced in their bite-size vineyard were tasty enough to sell. With the success of those initial bottles, Clos LaChance Wines—a European-inspired winery—was born, releasing its inaugural vintage in 1992. Since then, the business has grown from producing 200 cases of wine to 80,000, and from less than an acre of backyard to 150 rolling acres of hilly vineyards that have caught the attention of Orbitz and been recommended by numerous other media outlets. The Murphys’ daughters have folded into the business too, and Bill and Brenda hope that someday in the future, their grandchildren will take over and find a way to control the weather.
The Murphys are not only focused on their future, but also on the future of the land and resources for which they are responsible. Clos LaChance Wines is committed to eco-friendly growing and production practices and has been certified sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. The Murphys built the operation from the ground up, creating an open, Old-World-style space whose rolling hills, ivy-covered walls, and stone-walled courtyard are reminiscent of a villa in Tuscany. They even installed a regulation-size court where guests can bring their own bocce balls for a friendly game.
After immigrating to America early in the 20th century, Emilio Guglielmo saved up for years before he was able buy a plot of land for his winery in 1925. In the years since, three generations of his family have run the vineyard and kept its Old World style alive. Large wooden beams, stone walls, and terracotta tiles surround guests in the tasting room, where they can sample carefully selected vintages. Each year, the winery produces nearly 40,000 cases, including the award-winning 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and Estate Petite Sirah, each of which took home gold medals in San Francisco’s International Wine Competition.
The first time Marqus Crawford ever stepped onto a basketball court was as a freshman in high school. With a whole lot of hard work, Marqus went on to set records at his school and earned a scholarship to play in college. Eventually, he began sharing his wisdom as a coach. Over the last three-plus decades, Marqus has had stints coaching at San José State University, San José City College, and now at MC-Elite Basketball Training. There, Marqus emphasizes the fundamentals of the game, including ball handling, shooting, and basketball IQ. He improves the skills of both male and female players, offering training sessions in private, group, and team settings.
At Laser Recon’s outdoor playing field, players compete in teams for a variety of missions, such as capturing and defending strategic objectives or battling an army of zombies. Players of all ages and levels duck behind obstacles as they avoid incoming beams from laser guns. Prior to each refereed game, a mission coordinator briefs teams on safety rules, in addition to supervising players throughout the party, allowing parents to relax in the nearby covered picnic area.
Managing 27 grocery stores and more than 2,500 employees is a stressful task. Nob Hill Foods owner Michael Bonfante learned that the best way for him to manage that stress was to retreat to a shady, secluded spot surrounded by majestic trees. These occasional escapes into nature inspired Bonfante to found a park dedicated to teaching visitors of all ages—but especially children—how to appreciate horticulture, wildlife, and trees in particular. Along with his wife, Claudia, Bonfante eventually sold his grocery stores and committed all of his efforts to educating the public and spreading his love for nature.
Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park receives virtually all of the Bonfantes' attention now, and it attracts visitors with combination of educational exhibits, carnival games, and amusement-park rides. The map features more than 40 possible destinations where guests can learn something new about local horticulture, enjoy an adrenaline-pumping joy ride, or simply enjoy the scenery. With family-friendly attractions available for all ages, the park includes everything from carousels to paddleboats to a mine-cart roller coaster that takes passengers through a thrilling series of dips and speedy turns. An interactive water attraction called Water Oasis and the Octonauts live show were just added to the roster in 2014.
Even while visitors are standing in line or buckled into a ride, they are still surrounded by nature at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park. Five waterfalls—representing the five major styles of waterfalls that occur in nature—gush with torrents of water. The grounds also feature 19 of Axel Erlandson's famous Circus Trees, which he created by grafting saplings so that they grew to form shapes such as hearts, lightning bolts, and basket weaves. In addition to touting the importance of animals such as monarch butterflies and honeybees, the park features six distinctive gardens brimming with informative displays and everything from conifers to tropical and subtropical flowers.