Give your nostrils something to smile about and your eyes something to chew when you pull up a chair to one of The Tasting Room's wine-laden tables. Your evening of wine-tertainment guest-stars a lineup of five or six boutique wines that are hand selected by the grape-washed hands of The Tasting Room's knowledgeable staff. Wine flights vary from week to week, but many of the selections hail from California's rich Central Coast, which, as the connoisseurs already know, has lands more fertile than a rabbit drinking oyster smoothies. The cozy spot also offers appetizers delivered from local restaurants for purchase while you sip.
Moravia Wine's Howard Hammond is the patriarch of the family vineyards. For Howard, farming is a family tradition that stretches back to the late 19th century, when his Danish ancestor, Hans Jacob Jeppesen, arrived in America aboard a Norwegian vessel named "Moravia." Today, Howard, his wife Barbara, and a new generation of Hammonds carry on that tradition at the family's vineyards, a 400-acre estate in West Fresno. There, they produce Moravia wine inside a World War II-era farm and equipment barn. The barn's interior has undergone major changes to accommodate the production process and frequent tasting events. But its exterior still uses the original brickwork, maintaining the building's character.
A Double Gold Medal award winner for its 2007 Lucas Vineyard Zinfandel at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, Ramos Torres Winery produces several Central Valley–grown wines under the direction of Oscar Ramos, who holds a degree in enology and a minor in enosophy (the study of wine's thoughts). An in-store wine tasting will let you and a beverage buddy tiptoe your taste buds through a selection of Ramos's varietals and fermented concoctions, which include the 2007 Vino Tinto, a careful blend of zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, and petit sirah. The 2007 Branches brims with intense fruit flavors, delighting palates with its blackberry notes and toasty finish, while the 2009 Conversations blends apricot aromas, muscat blanc, and the citrus sensations of orange muscat—tailor-made for sipping atop a bucking bronco. To keep vino-tasters from floating away and damaging the store's new ceiling fans, Ramos Torres Winery will weigh down wine-soaked bellies with a hearty spread of appetizers, including an assortment of artisan cheese and meats, seasonal fruits and vegetables, prosciutto-wrapped melon, and crostini.
Cedar View Winery has spent the last decade perfecting their craft to produce distinctive wines with an emphasis on rare and eclectic varietals. The tour peels back the curtain to offer curious quaffers an inside look at the art and science of viniculture, narrating the epic journey of their flagship Alicante Bouschet grape from its infancy on the vine through the high hopes of graduation day, and onto the physical and spiritual crush of the fermentation process. At the end of the tour, older and wiser connoisseurs file into Cedar View’s elegantly appointed tasting room to test their freshly honed sommelier skills on six separate wines, as well as nibble on smoked-salmon finger sandwiches, balsamic-dressed grilled sausage, and other gourmet appetizers.
Behind courtyards filled with lit fountains, verdant trees, and grassy spaces stands the glossy façade of River Park shopping center. During each annual A Taste of River Park these courtyards fill with local chefs serving tastes of their restaurants' signature dishes and Central Valley wineries pouring samples of their wines. While visitors stroll through the outdoor festival, the mall's retailers put on a fashion show of upcoming fall fashion trends and demonstrate the 21 ways to button a cardigan. Visitors can also thrill to the sights and sounds of the featured live entertainment.
To make the search for fermented grapes almost as enjoyable as drinking them or throwing them at passing busses, Vino 100's friendly and knowledgeable staff of winetrepreneurs assists customers in making informed wine selections without the need for clunky vinometers and high-powered wineoculars. Vino 100 stocks more than 200 wines priced at $25 or less and more than 200 wines priced at $26 and up, as well as dozens of bottles costing equal to or less than the square root of the daily NASDAQ index. Amid its charmingly rustic décor, visitors can grab a bottle of Seven Hills Riesling ($15), De Tierra Merlot ($18), and more. The type of bottle all depends on whether they want to massage taste buds during dinner or inject a giggly romanticism into an evening that's usually spent playing Yahtzee and watching dance-contest recap shows. You can also peruse a wide selection of craft beers and savory meats and cheeses.