Kersey Valley Spookywoods' story begins with a midnight dare. During a campout with his friends in the summer of 1985, 15-year-old Tony Wohlgemuth needled his friend Chuck into sneaking into the abandoned farmhouse that they were camping behind. As he crept up the steps, the other boys nervously waited outside. Shattering the tense energy with sheer terror, they heard Chuck's screams and pleas for help from within. When they ran inside to rescue him, they found his screeches were brought on by an encounter with a family of bats, which convinced them that the house was, in fact, haunted. This inspired the crew to set up their own haunted house in the same barn that October, and in the decades since, Tony and his wife, Donna, owners and operators of Spookywoods, have grown the operation from a small venue run by 10 teenage friends into a sprawling attraction run by upward of 300 staff members.
Nestled on a 65-acre farm, Spookywoods coaxes screams from visitors from the end of September until Halloween. A variety of attractions, such as the Deadly Harvest, Terror Trams, Fright Lights, and The Dreaded Inn—discovered by Chuck so many years ago—test guests’ bravery. The Deadly Harvest corn maze scares explorers silly, thanks to 10-foot-high cornstalks patrolled by a host of masked ghouls, who are really just misunderstood lost souls looking for someone to hug and love them. Along with its signature attractions, Spookywoods hosts other seasonal events such as the Dark Circus Halloween party, replete with fire shows and DJs.
Wine and Design’s team of local artists organizes painting classes and get-togethers for any occasion. They provide all the necessary materials⎯including paints, canvases, aprons, brushes, and corkscrews⎯and lead students stroke by stroke as they craft whimsical pictures of subjects such as animals, landscapes, and flora. They also invite guests to bring their own drinks to the party to enhance the fun.
Under the tutelage of Merlot & Van Gogh’s talented local artists, students of all skill levels daub canvases and clink glasses in two-hour BYOB painting classes. Between sips of wine, beer, or fizzy lifting drink, painters utilize a provided inventory of brushes and vibrant acrylic hues to re-create an image or fabricate a new one based on the night’s given theme. Step-by-step instructions guide the class through creative discovery, and provided aprons safeguard participants from paint smears incurred while hugging especially well-rendered self-portraits.
Travels In Wine Tours' co-founders, Kimberlee Young and Derek Schuler, share their love of wine, food, and travel with curious tourists through tours designed and led by certified sommeliers. Epicurean scenic tours of boutique wineries, personalized luxury Napa vacations, and custom weekend getaways marry viticultural education with flavorful indulgence as guests take in picturesque panoramas of vineyards that stretch to the horizon before curving upward and forming bridges to the moon.
At any given time, the Rioja! WineKeeper's handsome wooden casing houses 12 bottles in a temperature-controlled setting. These conditions keep the wines fresh and result in a full-flavored pour. A quick flick of the tap and a crisp white or bold red streams into Riedel crystal, the only glassware used at Rioja! A Wine Bar. Between these sophisticated pouring and storing methods, and the sheer immensity of the full selection—some 800 wines—Rioja!'s dedication to the appreciation of wine is palpable.
Their tapas menu was designed with elegant pairings in mind and—much like playing "spin the bottle" at the UN—highlights flavors from around the world. Prosciutto bruschetta, stuffed dates, and a chorizo and manchego plate show off the kitchen's Mediterranean leanings. South African-style jerky, on the other hand, indicates a willingness to infuse an Old World dining tradition with New World recipes. The bartenders also keep a healthy selection of craft beers from brewers such as Bell's, Duck Rabbit, and Founders.
Triad Homebrew Supply’s full-time purveyors of yeast, brew kits, buckets, and tubes dedicate themselves to making homebrewing accessible to all. Long dissatisfied with the paltry materials available in local stores, the owners stock everything from recipe books to elderberries, and they even provide an after-hours number that customers can call to get emergency supplies. Brewing classes, held roughly once a month in the lot outside the store, give newbies an introduction to their art or an efficient way to use up the lifetime supply of barley they won in the lottery.