"Why should I go to San Jose for Costume-Con?"
Well, you should go to San Jose because Costume-Con is there. While you're in San Jose, though, the Bay Area beckons with unique opportunities for fun. If you're in to decadent food and beverage, we've definitely got you covered.
Come out a day early. Check in to our hotel on Wednesday night, because on Thursday morning (4/24) chocolate awaits!
It's about an hour's trip to Berkeley, but it's worth it. Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker is a first-tier chocolate manufacturer, starting with the raw beans and controlling every step in the process of making the best small-batch chocolate in the country. After the tour, we'll take lunch at Café Cacao, right in the Scharffen Berger factory.
From lunch we'll continue the short jaunt from Scharffen Berger to St. George Spirits, a cradle of craft-distilling in the US. Located at the northwest end of Naval Air Station Alameda (a site familiar to the fans of Mythbusters) in an old hangar, St. George Spirits is classic Schwartzwald, Germany transplanted to California. Under the St. George name, Jörg, Lance and their crew distill eaux de vie, liqueuers and a superb single-malt whisky. Their recent Absinthe release rocked the spirits world. They're also well-known for distilling the "Hangar One" series of flavored vodkas. In a partnership with John Scharffenberger, they produce "Qi" tea liqueurs and "Essence of Cacao" perfume. Taste carefully.
If a chocolate maker and a distiller aren't enough, you'll have to wait until Tuesday (4/29). They're more than enough for any single day.
If you stay until Tuesday, you can ensure your California visit is complete. Our Tuesday food & beverage tour is wine tasting. Forget Napa and Sonoma, though; they're a long drive and expensive to boot. Much closer to San Jose is the Livermore Valley, home to Lawrence Livermore Labs and the oldest wine-growing region in California.
Livermore is still a town of boutique wineries where 5000 cases a year is big production and folks squander their retirement making small amounts of great wine. Bent Creek Winery is a great example of this, run by best friends who retired from the Livermore School district, and wizards with Syrah. Cedar Mountain Winery has been making wine a bit longer, and this pair of retired physicists from Lawrence Livermore Lab are well-known for their award winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Finally, it wouldn't be Livermore without someone who retired from the wine business to run a winery, and Thomas Coyne Winery, housed in the oldest standing winery in California, has made a name working with ugly-duckling grapes like Malbec, Petit Verdot and Mourvédre. We'll be stopping at all three, and (like almost every day in almost every tasting room in Livermore) the wine makers will be present.
Please, plan to stay the extra days and enjoy the region. As the convention approaches, we'll be working out the logistics of these trips. If you're interested in going on either tour, email firstname.lastname@example.org
On the web:
Scharffen Berger Chocolate Makers
St. George Spirits
Hangar One Vodka
Bent Creek Winery
Cedar Mountain Winery
Thomas Coyne Winery