WineMakers Guild's wine on premise process gives customers an opportunity to craft their own palatable wine creations away from home, avoiding disastrous wine spills that coat carpets and living-room wildlife in rose-colored speckles. In as little as 30 days, visitors can create their own personalized conversation-propelling elixirs with quality juice sourced from around the world. Over 100 tasty wine varieties are available to make, with 30–40 available for tasting at any given time. Your Groupon is good for 15 bottles of Green Apple Riesling or Blackberry Cabernet, or it can be applied toward the price of making any other varietal. A knowledgeable staff of vinologists assists customers at every step, ensuring a tasty blend that is ready to sample in four to eight weeks. Fermentation, racking, stabilization, and filtering all take place on-site, bypassing the need for purchasing winemaking equipment, messy clean-up, or complicated grape-squashing dance steps. The stress-free process yields 15–30 custom-labeled bottles of high-quality wine unsullied by sneaky fairies and even sneakier roommates who keep "mistaking" your wine stash for the Kool-Aid they store in a wine bottle next to it.
Tomato plants are imperfect, yielding just as many inedible fruits as the healthy, tasty ones. The organizers of The Tomato Bash devised an alternative employment for the unworthy bounty, transforming the leftover tomatoes into ammunition for a massive ketchup making party. Participants are encouraged to sport silly costumes for the big event, as they are inevitably going to get utterly filthy.
To kick off the festivities, revelers are entertained with a cadre of food trucks, beverage vendors, and DJ playing tunes, including rebellious anthems encouraging the tomatoes to throw themselves. At 3 p.m., the tomato foam machine outside of the tomato arena powers up, pumping the stage area full of bubbly, pink fruit foam. Then the hordes of goggle-clad contestants descend upon a large arena and lose themselves in a sea of red goo.
While on their honeymoon in Napa Valley, Meza owners Tatjana and Jason Brown came up with the idea to turn their shared passion for wine into a full-fledged business endeavor. They began laying down the blueprints for a wine shop in their hometown of Westerville that would specialize in high-quality yet attainable wines from around the globe. Today, their ever-growing inventory features more than 200 different labels, each handpicked and put through a rigorous interview process to ensure paramount taste and value. Atop the shop's shelves, the duo mingles domestic selections from Napa, Sonoma, and Columbia Valley with international bottles from New Zealand, Australia, and Spain. If customers are unable to find a desired bottle, Tatjana and Jason promise to hunt it down. Meza's tidy, modern décor pairs deep-purple walls with neatly lined shelves and dark hardwood floors that gleam beneath a plentiful amount of overhead lighting. Aside from themed wine tastings each week, the shop plays host to a variety of special events every month, including girls' nights out and Sip & Sketch sessions, where guests sip from glasses while drawing what they think wine would look like if it were an actual person. In addition to wine, Meza also carries an assortment of artisanal food products and candles to match with favorite bottles.
Tony Klausing traces his interest in winemaking back to watching his father prepare 1-gallon batches in the basement, where the inexperienced vintner would mix ingredients in the only method afforded to him: trial and error. Later, when Tony went on to open his own winery with the skills he learned, he decided to give it a name from a classic song, and landed on a shortened version of “Good Vibrations.” Now that he’s perfected his winemaking process, his wines bear the names of other favorite songs, acting like a mix tape that declares his crush on the craft.
Tony shares his ardor with the visitors to his storefront, where they’re greeted in a room with exposed brick and wood accents. The tasting bar encompasses a selection of more than 20 vintages, each of which pairs readily with available cheese plates. Clients can even charter the winery to produce wines of their own design that also bear custom labels.
Food and wine, Italian and French, fine dining and casual bar snacks?Luc? Nuovo is a place of complementary dualities. Dishes such as fresh-tomato bisque and creamy shrimp risotto are united by their locally farmed ingredients ingredients, and their ephemerality: because executive chef Mason Conway relies on the freshest produce, his menu changes with the seasons. (His staff do make mozzarella and pasta in-house all year long.) In the bar, surrounded by beer taps and wine bottles, diners peruse more streamlined snacks such as mortadella-stuffed stromboli and roasted portobello sliders topped with caramelized onion and arugula.
If you really want to drink in an oenophilic atmosphere, there's the option of booking a private dinner in the wine cellar. The bottles filling the ceiling-high wine-storage system have all been selected with an eye toward complementing the food, never overwhelming it, and menus offer many seasonal pairing suggestions. Elsewhere in the sprawling villa-style buiilding, a stone fireplace dominates the main room amid earthenware floor tiles, exposed ceiling beams, and rustic wooden half-walls. Outdoor seating fills up during the warmer months, although Luc? Nuovo draws crowds indoors on Thursday evenings for live jazz performances.
Craig and Laura Decker seem to have a difficult time making up their minds. They also seem to have a knack for turning this indecisiveness into an advantage at every turn. When it came to opening their new business, for example, they briefly wondered whether it should feature a wine shop, a wine bar, or a gourmet bistro. Their solution? All three.
This spirit of inclusivity pervades The Wine Guy Bistro, where the Deckers pair seasonal wine varietals with globally inspired cuisine. Rather than choose between European elegance and New-American pizzazz, they settled on a compromise they describe as “Old World chic.” This label suits a menu that features small plates of housemade meatballs and bruschetta alongside assorted cheeses from around the world. The focus on small plates is in keeping with the Deckers’ have-it-all mentality and gives diners the option to sample several dishes without having to barter with adjacent tables.