Greg Daniels' introduction to the culinary world wasn't a romantic one: he started working at a fast food restaurant at age 15, followed by a stint as a bartender. Nevertheless, these jobs ignited a passion for cooking that would guide his entire life. The Le Cordon Bleu graduate now works as the executive chef at Haven Gastropub, where he has designed a menu of gourmet American and European comfort foods inspired by his travels to England, New York, and San Francisco.
The eatery is an across-the-pond extension of the gastropub movement, which began in London in the 90s. Gastropubs differ from traditional pubs in that they specialize in high-quality eats and permit only the most beautiful drinking songs. Haven, for example, serves lamb burgers on rosemary brioche buns, fries sprinkled with house-made truffle salt, and whole roasted suckling pigs.
Of course, the "pub" part of Gastropub still implies a lively bar. Bartenders pour more than a dozen draughts as well as a selection of bottled beers, red and white wines, and craft cocktails blended with house-made mixes.
Bernard's Wine Gallery, a wine store with thousands of old and rare fine wines for sale, welcomes both wine neophytes and grizzled oenophiles to sip from its fine vat of liquefied vinefruits. Bernard Rosenson, who owns Bernard's Wine Gallery with his wife Cynthia, also owns Coquelicot Estate Vineyard, the organically farmed vineyard featured in this tasting. Six Coquelicot wines preside in the elegant tasting room, including the 2006 Bordeaux Blend, which won a gold medal at the 2010 San Francisco Chronicle wine competition for its dark, complex taste. Guests will swirl and sip in luxury, blissfully whisking away memories of Twilight Zone episodes where clubs of giant wine bottles attended a human tasting. Tastings run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Nestled inside the Bonaventure Hotel, experienced masseuses maintain 10,000 square feet of pure serenity spread across 11 treatment rooms. Cordoned off into sections for men and women, the facility flaunts amenities such as hydro-jet showers with seven pulsing showerheads and saunas fogged with soothing vapor instead of fog machines stolen from middle-school dances. Bonaventure Club plucks massage techniques from all over the globe, including Thailand where therapists stretch frames with their hands, knees, and feet to amplify the client's flexibility and energy. Pre- or post-treament, clients can unwind in a relaxation lounge stocked with Perrier water, jasmine-rose tea, and snacks, while flipping through magazines or watching a big-screen TV.
Thanks to Southern California's dry summer days and cool nights, the grapes around Antelope Valley Winery enjoy a long growing season with ideal temperatures and conditions. This translates into a variety of wines that run the gamut from robust reds to sweet sparkling concoctions perfect for toasting raisins who escaped the press. And although wine is Antelope Valley Winery's main focus, it's not their only one. In addition, they sell grass-fed buffalo meat hailed for its low-cholesterol goodness, and run a farmers' market from May through November, where shoppers can pick up exotic meats, organic juice, and locally made goat cheese.
Agua Dulce Winery unfurls its trellised vines and winemaking facilities across 90 acres of the Sierra Pelona Valley, effectively extending wine country a few hundred miles south. The grapes rely on the region's cool evening breezes and alluvial soils to maintain the earthy, peppery flavors and restrained acidity that characterize the region's wines. Medium- and high-toasted barrels from France, Hungary, and the United States each lend their own influence to the freshly fermented creations, aging the juice and subtly tweaking the flavorful interplay of rich fruit and restrained spice.
Winemakers Steve Lemley and Nate Hasper know that you can’t make interesting wines from uninteresting grapes. That’s why the creative duo behind Pulchella Winery actively sources all of the winery’s Paso Robles grapes from small vineyards that exhibit singular characteristics often overlooked by high-production wineries. These rare traits lend a depth of flavor complexity to the boutique wines that has resulted in a strong cult following.
Fermented either from single varietals or blends of grapes that have proven they play well with others, each small-batch vintage has a limited production of 100 cases or fewer. Visitors to the winery can sample these rare ferments in a dragonfly-themed tasting room managed by a certified sommelier and often frequented by the winemakers themselves.