Whether stopping in for fresh-baked scones and bread, ordering organic coffee, or perusing the fresh produce, guests at Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery, which is located along the Swamp Rabbit Bike Trail, are assured that the majority of the food is locally grown and produced. The staff prepares espresso drinks with local dairy and assembles boxes of seasonal produce for its grocery-store patrons. The grocery also carries raw cow and goat milk, local honey, and locally crafted chocolate. Swamp Rabbit continues its eco-friendly mission by hosting seasonal art markets, as well as an outdoor music series where donations go to community gardens.
Thursday nights from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., West End hosts its weekly wine tasting, encouraging oenophilic exploration amid the shop’s mahogany-shelved, bottle-lined walls. Palates pining for fermented flavors revel in four pours of generally smaller international labels from Australia, South America, and Middle Earth. Pairs brush up libation knowledge with info sheets for each wine while enjoying bite-size hors d’oeuvres served throughout the three-hour affair. Most couples tend to schmooze for an hour and a half, testing the quartet of flavors on tap and enjoying lively discussions about a varietal's vanilla notes and black-currant arpeggios.
The wine pours freely and the beer bubbles over frosty pint glasses at Grape and Grains, a family-operated homebrew and wine retailer that couples an appreciation for fine craftsmanship with a DIY approach. Owners Kenny and Janel Anderson—enthusiastic experts in hops and wine, respectively—have combined their passions into an enterprise that is one part supply shop and one part educational hub. As Janel presides over the wine bar and teaches classes in wine making, Kenny leads excursions into the complex world of home brewing, showing off the various hop varieties of IPAs and the tears of ousted MPs that give English ales their signature bitterness. The couple share their zeal for spirits with all comers at least 21 years of age, granting members of Grape and Grains' beer and wine club a 10% discount and military vets a 20% discount on products and classes.
Modeled after an Old World wine cellar, WineStyles's shelves are lined with rare bottles accrued by its staff of in-house experts hailing from quality vineyards across the globe. The shop's bounty includes handcrafted gift boxes and baskets and merchandise, such as guidebooks for translating secret codes etched in cork. If a specific bottle is missing from the selection, the quaff gurus place an order that often arrives within 24 hours. Along with retailing wine and imbibing gear, WineStyles's crew grants guests the opportunity to sample new pours at frequent events and two-hour tastings three nights a week. For dedicated aficionados, the chief wine taster chooses two bottles to send to wine-club members along with tasting notes that detail their origins, a winery description, and suggested food pairings.
For owners Anita and Wayne Tamme, City Scape Winery represents a dream turned hobby turned full-fledged business. The Tammes only sell their own wine, created in small batches to allow for more customization. In the summer, City Scape offers lighter, sweeter varietals; the winter brings classic, more traditional wines. Oenophiles stopping by the winery can typically sample up to eight of City Scape's wines, or peruse the retail store for its extensive inventory of winemaking supplies, including extracts, flavorings, yeast, and wine kits.