After graduating from Vassar College in 1997, vintner Tom Carroll Jr. continued his education in California, where he taught himself about viticulture and enology to achieve a lifelong dream of opening a winery. Three years later, he returned to his hometown to found Crossing Vineyards on a plot of land situated a short distance from George Washington’s Delaware River crossing. The winery mingles historic charm and pastoral surroundings with modern technologies, such as a sterile HVAC bottling system and solar-energy panels. Tom and his parents, also co-owners, built the facility around eco-friendly winemaking practices, such as composting waste and using cover crops, a technique that prevents topsoil erosion and helps vintners sing the young grapevines to sleep.
Crossing Vineyards' European-style wines have won more than 115 awards in both national and international competitions over the past 12 years. The winery offers tastings and wine-pairing classes in an onsite educational area and hosts an annual summer wine-and-music series on its sprawling, 15-acre property.
The professional, knowledgeable staff at Vintner’s Circle share their love of the wine lifestyle with hands-on wine classes that teach guests, family, and friends how to bottle wines, distinguish between different varietals, or pair wine with cheese. The shop’s unique, all-inclusive winemaking program takes aspiring vintners through the accessible four-part process in store over the course of eight weeks, which begins with choosing wine juices from a selection of more than 50 internationally sourced varieties. Participants eventually bring home more than two dozen bottles with their own vintage for a total cost of less than $10 per bottle. They can emblazon these bottles with custom-designed labels and colorful tops. Vintner's Circle also stocks a variety of gifts for weddings, holidays, and other special occasions, as well as wine accessories and gifts for wine lovers to enjoy year-round. Wine-education classes, corporate events, and team-building events are also on offer.
Growing up, Marcie Spampinato watched her father, Mike, masterfully manage a local country club. By seventh grade, she was working alongside him, and today—with a restaurant management degree from Penn State under her belt—she joins with Mike to co-manage their steak-and-sushi joint, Spamps.
Chefs trained in Japan artfully stuff the eatery's sushi rolls with fresh ingredients such as black-pepper-crusted tuna and flying fish roe. Fusion flourishes such as kimchi tartar sauce, miso beurre blanc, and sake reductions give entrees such as rib-eye steak an Asian flair.
And much like a chocoholic's dream journal, the eatery's new cocktails revolve around sweet flavors, especially Marcie's favorite, the pumpkin-pie martini. Libations, which also include wine and beer, flow freely behind a copper bar with TVs or fill glasses in a dining room with exposed brick walls and private booths. At an outdoor patio dubbed The Grotto, lofted TVs illuminate trellises and tabletops as well as bar-goers shimmying to a live DJ's beats on Friday and Saturday nights.
The penchant for modernity at o-toro recently caught the eye and taste buds of County Lines magazine’s staff, which named it one of Philly’s Best New Ventures of 2013. The restaurant’s track lighting illuminates a contemporary scene marked by wooden fixtures, vibrant splotches of red and orange, and plates of Japanese cuisine with Mexican, Korean, and American influences. Sushi, sashimi, and specialty rolls—such as the signature o-toro roll with fatty tuna tartar, spicy mayo, and jalapeño—are served alongside tapas-style plates of filet mignon dumplings, duck tacos, and skewers of Korean-style fried chicken. At the polished wooden bar, bartenders pour wine, sake, and craft beer.
Pete Giannopoulos dropped a corporate sales job in 1994 in pursuit of his long-held dream of opening a brewpub. Although the beer adventure was originally a family-only endeavor, Pete has enlisted the expertise of various brewers over the years—2002 saw the arrival of head brewmaster Brian O’Reilly, who has been crafting the award-winning beers on tap ever since. Despite its beer-centricity, Slyfox Brewery is equally adept at attracting customers with its spread of juicy eats. The wraps, half-pound burgers, and flatbread pizzas that populate the pub’s menu partner with fresh brews more naturally than two baristas performing a tango. Chefs also add ale to dishes such as the beer-battered onion rings and the Dunkel lager cheese sauce that complements hearty pub pretzels.
At Taste, the retail store for the storied Sand Castle Winery, rows of wooden racks display the winery's vintages alongside Di Bruno Bros. cheeses and gourmet oils and vinegars. Regular tastings and hands-on classes take place amid the store's marble countertops and vineyard-inspired artwork that is only detectable by oenophiles. During wine-pairing classes, students learn to coordinate nosh and nectar as experts present them with various combinations of wine and accenting fare, such as cheeses and fruits.