At the helm of his urban winery in the heart of the Cedros Design District, winemaker Adam Carruth handcrafts award-winning wines, including the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Best in Class Alexander Valley Cabernet, from grapes he fastidiously collects from all over California. His team handles the production of each varietal from crush to finish, aging juices in barrels that line the walls of the industrial-chic tasting room. The final products—which range from a crisp sauvignon blanc to a bordeaux-style Surfing Madonna—slosh into customized stemware for patrons’ enjoyment seven days a week. Also in the tasting room, guests can peruse the exhibited work of local artists, break into crunchy baguettes from Bread & Cie or nibble on cheese.
Commercial pilots certified by the Federal Aviation Administration welcome guests to tours of Southern California aboard hot air balloons. As guests enter into sheared baskets, the pilots offer them complimentary champagne and non-alcoholic beverages before taking off. Sightseeing trips include flights over Temecula Wine Country at sunrise as well as romantic rides along the Pacific coast at sunset.
At Wine Steals, a casual wine bar and market the bar’s barrels and shelves are filled with more than 40 international wines. The executive chef, a former US Navy galley cook, arranges artisanal meat and cheese boards and crafts wine-themed international flavor combinations that either spread onto pizzas or curl up into sandwiches. For example, the pinot noir combo mixes Italian flavors of prosciutto, asiago, mozzarella, and white truffle oil.
Servers suggest ideal pairings to novice and experienced oenophiles as they pass drinks and plates across a 14-seat stone bar topped with European-style zinc. Above the bar, a chalkboard framed by wine barrels lists 40 vintages available by the half glass, glass, or bottle. Throughout the space, plush couches and chairs gather around wine barrels with wooden tabletops for more intimate gatherings or heated staring-contest championships. Wine Steals’ casual approach to wine and eclectic food has earned it the title of Best Wine Bar in the San Diego Union-Tribune's 2012 readers' poll.
Hewing to the artistic vision of director Leslie Craig-Foxworth, the international cartel of stage-trained rug-cutters at Performing Arts Workshop lead dancers of all ages in ballet, tap, and jazz classes. Scan the schedule courses suiting tap-ready toes attached to child or adult feet, with new classes including Vaganova-style adult beginning ballet, modern dance for the 45+ crowd, and the Mommy & Me sessions, which set tots as young as 2 spinning while they're still small enough to hide inside a jewelry box. Children aged 6–12 as well as full-grown adults can click shoes in respective beginner tap classes, while Starlets and Twinkle Toes classes impart the foundations of classical ballet in children 3–5 years old. The Performing Arts Workshop puts on twice-yearly performances, including The Nutcracker in December, which, unlike the cliques of haughty real-world wooden dolls, remains open to all students.
Stadium Sports Bar & Restaurant, outfitted with five-dozen HDTVs, serves dishes from a menu of traditional American pub fare, 31 draft beers, and 60-plus tequilas. Go to bat against hunger with a half-pound jalapeño cream-cheese burger slathered with spicy spread and fried jalapeños ($9.99), a surf 'n' turf pairing of top sirloin and shrimp ($16.99), or sizzling boats of steak, chicken, or shrimp fajitas ($14.99). Wash down meals with frosty drafts of Ballast Point Brewing's Sculpin IPA ($7), a shot of Amate Reposado tequila ($8), or a blast from a hose hooked up to a soda machine (market value).