Since the first vines began to climb across Hamilton Oaks Winery in 1989, Ron and Connie Tamez worked with a dedication to craft a selection of fine wines. Having sworn off pesticides and herbicides, the two collaborated with ladybugs and red-tailed hawks that thrive by devouring crop-threatening pests.
Visitors to the Hamilton Oaks Winery are welcome to sample varietals such as chardonnay, zinfandel, and cabernet sauvignon during tastings at the historic farmhouse, which has been on the land since the 1920s. Those fields also contain an orchard and mission and malbec grapevines. The space holds up to 400 people, and it's sometimes available for weddings and other events.
Traveling to homes across Illinois, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin with an array of hand-selected bottles in tow, PRP Wine International's consultants save their customers the time they would spend searching stores and the jail time that could result from trespassing on private vineyards. The staffers spend almost every day of the year unearthing the best bottles across the United States, Europe, Australia, South America, and South Africa, and then present their selections to eager palates at homes, private clubs, and hotel suites during private tastings and special events. As the wine spills forth into glasses, the consultants impart background information on the wines, share pairing ideas, and encourage guests to ask any questions they might be embarrassed to ask at restaurants, such as, “How do you pronounce pinot noir?” or “Where is the giant laser that transforms the grapes into wine?” As the evening progresses, conversations will also cover grape varieties and facts about specific growing regions.
The sounds of conversation and laughter compete with the clinking of glasses in The Wine Artist’s lofty venue. The space sprawls over 2,500 square feet, with plenty of room to host private parties, bridal events, corporate events, and private cooking classes. Events at The Wine Artist feature unique wines, gourmet catering, and experiences such as wine bottling and team building activities.
The "secret" in Bacchus' Secret Cellar is gas. Argon gas, to be exact, which powers the bar's preservation system and ensures that the wines within stay fresh for long periods of time. There are about 50 wines—mostly reds—on tap at the counter, as well as 8 sparkling wines, 5 dessert wines, and 12 microbrews. The library of options encourages guests to sample several, so it's wise to order a flight: you can get a signature array of 2.5-ounce glasses, or you can compose your own for a unique harmony of tastes.
The bar is just the beginning of the cellar's wine selection. On the shelves that span the walls, more than 350 labels beckon to be uncorked. A bistro menu provides gourmet food to complement sips, from starters of oven-roasted dates to lamb burgers and prosciutto flatbreads, made by dropping a regular loaf of bread into a printing press by accident. There's also a full menu of cheeseboards, with goat, cow, and sheep cheeses from the United States and abroad.
High atop a hill in the Temecula valley, surrounded by clear blue skies and lush rows of Rhone grapes, sits Miramonte Winery, where the winemakers soulfully craft their red wines, off dry rosés, and inspired whites. A big, open veranda wraps around the building to provide an airy venue for wine tastings, and Mojo, the winery dog, curiously greets visitors before going off to lay in the sun.
The deep flavors and aromas in Miramonte's wines come not only from the way the Rhone grapes grow in the valley, but also from the expertise of winemaker Reinhard Schlassa and passion of owner Cane Vanderhoof. A UC Davis alum, Schlassa has made wines with icons of the industry on three continents, and he continues to perfect his craft at Miramonte Winery.
Grapes have played a tremendous role in human history—many members of the Hapsburg dynasty were at least half-grape—and they tended to do their best work at vineyards. Today's Groupon treats you to one of the San Diego region's better graperies with $75 worth of gourmet cuisine and drinks at Callaway Vineyard and Winery's Meritage in Temecula for $35. You'll also get 10% off everything at Callaway's wine store (just print your Groupon twice to use it once in the restaurant and once in the store). You may use one Groupon for every two people at your table, so you, your identical twin, and your identical twin dates can all enjoy a night of wacky mismatches and delicious food.