“My love of chocolate making came from my mother, who is from Newfoundland,” says Vintage Sweet Shoppe owner Debbie Dever. To stave off boredom during the region’s harsh winters, Debbie’s grandmother taught her children to craft candy and treats. Her mother passed the skills she learned on winter days down to Debbie, who channels her passion into her handmade truffles, flavored fudges, and chocolate-drenched nut clusters. Her signature wine-infused truffles pair sips of champagne, port wine, and Napa Valley vinos with complementary chocolates chosen based on cocoa content and willingness to tell embarrassing stories about their compatriots. Dever’s team of innovative chocolatiers has been making chocolates for more than 30 years and also hand-mold chocolate-covered wine bottles—featured on the Food Network—by shrink-wrapping full bottles of wine before coating their surfaces in dark or milk chocolate, leaving each label framed by an edible exterior. The shop also serves espresso coffee drinks, frozen yogurt, and ice cream.
Mike Bee and Jim Peterson first teamed up in the early 90s, working side by side to resolve legal cases at their firm in Charleston, West Virginia. At the end of the workday, the two would often uncork a bottle of wine, discussing the characteristics of their favorite bottles in between sips. While attending a law convention in 1994, they toured the wineries of Napa Valley, and the experience proved inspirational. They enlisted the help of veteran winemaker Ray Coursen, and Falcor Winery was born.
In order to achieve an exceptionally balanced taste, the Falcor team selects grapes harvested at peak ripeness, well before the expiration dates spelled out by their vines. This fastidiousness has paid off. Their 2005 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon earned a spot on Wine & Spirits’ Year’s Best Cabernet & Blends list in 2010. This wine and others can be enjoyed in the winery's tasting salon, where award-winning chef Chay Woerz prepares menus and tastings that incorporate smoked meats and cheeses and wine-infused chocolate.
Napa Valley Adventure Boot Camp owner Jeff Larson and his team of trainers know all about breaking a sweat. Each day, they challenge their students with fitness classes that string cardio and resistance workouts into a challenging chain of intense exercise. They also understand that water and electronics don't mix—instead of hosting their classes inside gyms filled with treadmills and stationary bikes, they stage their regimens outdoors, fortifying their workouts with rejuvenating sunrays and the encouraging shrieks of onlooking robins.
Chef Greg Johnson transfigures time-tested favorites into creative dishes at the award-winning Zinsvalley Restaurant. Diners can steal away for an exotic midday lunch of coconut yellow curry, which bathes baby bok choy, yams, shitake mushrooms, snow peas, and jasmine rice together in a bath of yellow coconut milk curry ($14), or field imaginary fly balls while noshing on the Wagyu beef hot dog with a piquant kick of jalapeño jam and pico de gallo ($11). At dinner, gourmands can sip local small-production vintages while elegantly slurping shrimp linguini ($16) or the chef's signature steak frittes, which pairs grilled Kobe Bavette with chili-rubbed fries and watercress ($24).
Cycles Gladiator's wine tastings pair the complex flavors and seductive aromas of fruit-driven wines from California’s coastal vineyards in Monterey County. Inspired by the classic French bicycle poster bearing its name, Cycles peppers its recently renovated, historic tasting room with bike apparel and gifts. Visitors sample sips from a selection of more than 20 types of wine, with 12 bottles open at any given time. Like the 007s of the James Bond universe, wines at the tasting vary, although velvety libations in the past have included offerings from Cycles Gladiator, Copa del Rey, Huntington, and Homage. Wet whistles and tongue flutes with vintages ranging from light sauvignon blancs and smooth petite sirahs to full-bodied merlots and pinot noirs. Chat with fellow connoisseurs while unfurling a blanket in the surrounding picnic area, or balance tipples while playing bocce on one of two courts. Guests will take home keepsakes including a Cycles Gladiator hat, corkscrew, and poster, as well as one bottle of wine to compete against a neighbor in a cork-firing contest.
Luna Vineyards' growers use organic farming methods to coax harvests from rocky to thin red soils, then handpick grapes for native yeast fermentation and aging in oak barrels from Burgundy and Bordeaux. With today's Groupons, tasting tandems or quaffing quartets can sample four 3-ounce pours of Luna's vintages. Samples may include reds such as the 2007 Reserve sangiovese, awakening the senses with sniffs of black raspberry, tastes of dark chocolate, and sounds of applause. Whites may include the 2009 Napa Valley pinot grigio, peaking through the end of 2012 and described by Wine Spectator as possessing "vivid, juicy pear and peach flavors … with terrific details of apple blossom and spice." After swigging varietals and playing spin the bottle in the elegant tasting room, oenophiles can peruse current releases and receive 10% off their wine purchase.