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.
At this self-described urban microwinery, vintners crush, age, and bottle their own vintages using local California grapes. Inside its capacious cellars, juices from grapes grown in regions such as Paso Robles, Napa, and Sonoma age in oak barrels. The resulting vintages are available for purchase onsite, online, or through a nearby genie, and also fill glasses Friday–Sunday in the attached tasting room. There, patrons can meander through rows of barrels, stop to rest their glass on a granite-topped bar, and on nicer days, catch a salt-sprinkled breeze through the open warehouse door.
The vino aficionados at Bernard’s Wine Gallery stock their cellars with a multifarious collection of wines from around the world, including a broad selection of local Santa Barbara County vintages. Currently, the gallery inundates taste buds with a mélange of locally produced Coquelicot beverages cultivated using organic farming principles, such as zero chemical pesticides, regular composting practices, and hemp-woven tuxedos for every employee. Samples of Coquelicot Vineyard’s fermented delights—including chardonnay, sangiovese, and cabernet franc—dart across tongues to invoke an array of tones and flavors. Additionally, free plates brim with rich cheeses that help support the rich, sugary notes of the wines by spontaneously animating and leading a pep rally.
Agua Dulce Winery unfurls its trellised vines and winemaking facilities across 90 acres of the Sierra Pelona Valley. The grapes rely on the valley'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. The winery's selection includes a robust zinfandel that can pair with smoky barbecue or grilled meats and a bold cabernet sauvignon, which spent two years contemplating its escape from an international mixture of oak barrels.
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.