After graduating from Vassar College in 1997, vintner Tom Carroll Jr. continued his education in California, where he taught himself about viticulture and enology to achieve a lifelong dream of opening a winery. Three years later, he returned to his hometown to found Crossing Vineyards on a plot of land situated a short distance from George Washington’s Delaware River crossing. The winery mingles historic charm and pastoral surroundings with modern technologies, such as a sterile HVAC bottling system and solar-energy panels. Tom and his parents, also co-owners, built the facility around eco-friendly winemaking practices, such as composting waste and using cover crops, a technique that prevents topsoil erosion and helps vintners sing the young grapevines to sleep.
Crossing Vineyards' European-style wines have won more than 115 awards in both national and international competitions over the past 12 years. The winery offers tastings and wine-pairing classes in an onsite educational area and hosts an annual summer wine-and-music series on its sprawling, 15-acre property.
The 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, all-inclusive winemaking program takes aspiring vintners through the accessible four-part process in store over the course of eight weeks, which begins with choosing wine juices from a selection of more than 50 internationally sourced varieties. Participants eventually bring home more than two dozen bottles with their own vintage for a total cost of less than $10 per bottle. 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.
Growing up, Marcie Spampinato watched her father, Mike, masterfully manage a local country club. By seventh grade, she was working alongside him, and today—with a restaurant management degree from Penn State under her belt—she joins with Mike to co-manage their steak-and-sushi joint, Spamps.
Chefs trained in Japan artfully stuff the eatery's sushi rolls with fresh ingredients such as black-pepper-crusted tuna and flying fish roe. Fusion flourishes such as kimchi tartar sauce, miso beurre blanc, and sake reductions give entrees such as rib-eye steak an Asian flair.
And much like a chocoholic's dream journal, the eatery's new cocktails revolve around sweet flavors, especially Marcie's favorite, the pumpkin-pie martini. Libations, which also include wine and beer, flow freely behind a copper bar with TVs or fill glasses in a dining room with exposed brick walls and private booths. At an outdoor patio dubbed The Grotto, lofted TVs illuminate trellises and tabletops as well as bar-goers shimmying to a live DJ's beats on Friday and Saturday nights.
The penchant for modernity at o-toro recently caught the eye and taste buds of County Lines magazine’s staff, which named it one of Philly’s Best New Ventures of 2013. The restaurant’s track lighting illuminates a contemporary scene marked by wooden fixtures, vibrant splotches of red and orange, and plates of Japanese cuisine with Mexican, Korean, and American influences. Sushi, sashimi, and specialty rolls—such as the signature o-toro roll with fatty tuna tartar, spicy mayo, and jalapeño—are served alongside tapas-style plates of filet mignon dumplings, duck tacos, and skewers of Korean-style fried chicken. At the polished wooden bar, bartenders pour wine, sake, and craft beer.
Chris, Cardinal Hollow Winery's owner and winemaker, ferments more than 2,000 gallons of juice each year to fill the facility's wood-paneled, cabin-like interior and its tasting room with more than 25 innovative varieties of the potent potable. Both independently and as part of the grape-cobbled highway of the Montgomery County Wine Trail, Cardinal Hollow invites visitors to wet their whistles at tastings and nourish brain orchards in classes. A two-hour lesson includes a full tour of the facilities such as the tasting room, which can be rented for parties of up to 100 people. Along with a tasting, guests will be given an overview of the history and the process of winemaking. During the class, oenophiles sink incisors into salty cheese and crackers while absorbing lessons on wine-and-food pairings at a bar that's supported by sturdy wine barrels. Guests can also peruse Cardinal Hollow wearables at the winery’s retail shop or groove to the live music that permeates the air about once a month.
At Round Guys Brewery and Bistro, most everything is local, including the handcrafted beers, the mead selection, and many ingredients on the panini sandwiches. However, perhaps the most local product of the pub is its jazz—sets are produced on the fly and on the premises every Wednesday night. The only requirement for joining the band is that you supply your own instrument, unless you play the drums (they have a set) or prefer to use bottle caps as tiny cymbals.
Thursday-night trivia and scheduled music acts round out the events calendar at the family-friendly brewery. Even if there's nothing planned for the night, guests still occupy themselves with a menu of pub fare and beer specials. Staff favorites such as the Kiss Off IPA pair well with buffalo chicken and cheddar-bacon-jalapeño sandwiches, and seasonal brews rotate on and off the draft list. These beers also serve as an essential cooking ingredient for the house bratwurst, which is served with onions on a roll.