Butterfly wine: In 2011, inspired by thousands of monarch butterflies that cluster in the limbs of a grove of eucalyptus trees in Pismo Beach, Joe and Cherie Wais opened Monarch Grove Winery, the first winery in Grover Beach. While the monarchs overwinter in the grove, a few miles down the road, the Wais family's small lots of Rhone varietals, including a $15 spicy Grenache, syrah, and mourvedre blend, go through their own metamorphosis in oak barrels. The winery, neighboring an Amtrak train station overlooking the beach, collaborated with Jan Wolfinger Design in Atascadero to create the artwork and label design, a simple drawing of the black and orange beauty midflight. They're one of a half dozen wineries with butterflies on their labels, but we found theirs particularly enchanting and their wines a perfect pairing for a day of monarch scouting on the Central Coast. The winery is open from noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays at 180 Highway One; www.monarchgrovewinery.com.
Winemaker-for-the-day: Most wine camps cost mega bucks, but the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay is offering a wine blending workshop where you can get a taste of cuvee creation for $75. Quite reasonable. A wine expert will lead you as you swirl, sniff, and sample single varietal cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc before blending them together to create a personal wine using graduated cylinders and beakers. Then, bottle, cork and create a label to decorate your wine. The workshop includes education and instruction, light hors d'oeuvres and a 750-ml bottle of wine to take home. Details: 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 18., One Miramontes Point Road, Half Moon Bay. Reservations required: 650-712-7000.
Eat your lunch (drink it, too): Napa's historic Franciscan Estate is launching a reserve lunch program at the pristine winery with three-course meals prepared by Franciscan's estate chef Brett Young. The lunches, held from noon to 2 p.m. on Fridays, will highlight the fresh, seasonal local bounty. Each course will be paired with one of Franciscan's estate wines, like the elegant 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or creamy 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay. Stay for a tour or a winter wine tasting on the shaded patio. Details: Highway 29 at Galleron Road in St. Helena. $125. For reservations, call 707-967-3993 or book online at www.franciscan.com.
-- Jessica Yadegaran