Thursday, September 10, 2009

We Have Moved!

While I have enjoyed using Blogger, I have decided that I needed a little bit more robust blogging program. I will now be using WordPress, and the new url for the How We Roll Blog will be simply www.luxxlimo.com/blog.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September Wine Month Guest Blog by Dave Cancilla

Today's blogger Dave Cancilla has been in the wine business for 38 years. His start came in his father's liquor store, and from there he has been experienced every aspect of the wine business - from production to marketing, from wholesale to retail. In between, he has found time to work in the hospitality industry and has selected wines for service at the White House. You can now find him at one of the friendliest wine stores in Sacramento - Beyond Napa Wine Merchants which is located in the Lyon Village Shopping center on Fair Oaks. He will be picking wines for an upcoming issue of Sacramento Magazine.

My Favorite California Wine

This kind of question is almost impossible for me to answer because of all the amazing wines I have been lucky enough to encounter over the years. But if you put my feet to the fire I would have say to say Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon from the Monte Bello Vineyard.

Do I consider it the very greatest of all California wines? No, but I wouldn’t make that statement about any other wine either, there are just too many great wines. It is my favorite for more personal reasons than just how transcendentally rich, powerful, elegant, and distinctive it can be.
You see when I was growing up I could see Monte Bello Ridge above the town of Cupertino from my bedroom window. As I grew into adolescence and became interested in wine it was so exciting to think of great wine being produced that close to home. Then I grew old enough that they would actually serve me in the tasting room, and the excitement only increased!

To be honest I don’t remember the first vintage of Monte Bello I ever tasted, but I do remember that I have tasted every vintage ever produced commercially. The first vintage of Monte Bello was the 1962 and at the time I tried it, it was the oldest California wine I had ever tasted.

The vintages at the top of the list for me would be the 1966, 1967, 1985, 1991, and 1999, but don’t make me pick between those. My favorite Monte Bello memory (maybe my favorite wine memory period) is drinking the 1977 on its 15th birthday while sitting in the vineyard leaning against a vine.

The 1982 vintage actually taught me a lesson about great wine. Nobody would call it a great Monte Bello (they lowered the price from $50 to $15), but when you drank it (which we did plenty of) you could tell it was a Monte Bello. And that for me defines greatness in wine, not only that it is delicious, but that it is unmistakable in its character and singularity.

Funny that’s a pretty good way to define Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon, no wonder I dig it so much!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

September Wine Month Guest Blog by Treven Tilbury

Today's guest blog is by our friend Treven Tilbury. Treven is a Partner at the Law Firm of Downey Brand and is also quite the cook. His eight or more course meals are legendary among his friends. Personally, I never turn down an invitation when "Chef Trev" is cooking and if you ever get the chance to attend one of his dinners, you will now know what to wine to bring!

2005 Gemstone Proprietary Red

James Laube, a noted expert on Napa Valley wines, described the 2005 Gemstone:

"An absolutely gorgeous wine is the blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot, the 2005 Proprietary Red. Pure, vivid notes of black currants, crushed rocks, acacia flowers, and some subtle barrique smells are followed by a wine with hints of hot stones and a gravelly character. The wine has superb intensity, beautiful purity, and full-bodied power, but uncanny elegance and symmetry. This wine needs 2-3 years of bottle age, and should drink well for 25 years."

I don't know what crushed rocks taste like, whether I should want my wine to taste like acacia flowers, or what "barrique smells" are. What I do know is that the first time I tasted Gemstone, I was blown away. I had heard about the wine and the stories about how difficult it was to find because of the limited production and high demand.

Usually I chalk up such rumors to clever marketing, and a feeding frenzy by rare-wine collectors to obtain the most scarce offerings out there. In this case, I could not have been more wrong. For a friend's birthday, I offered to cook some steaks, and my friend's step father brought a bottle of Gemstone.

As soon as I watched it poured into the glass, I could tell it was something different. It was dark -- almost inky. The smell -- what oenephiles would call the "nose" -- was different. To me, most wines smell like, well, wine. This was different; it was complex in a way I typically am unable to discern. The flavors were even more complex, as even I could detect different flavors in the wine. I'm still not certain what they were, but they were there.

But the real magic came when the wine accompanied a slice of medium-rare prime beef. Delicious.

Monday, September 7, 2009

September Wine Month - My Own Selection

On Friday, one of our readers described how an off-beat name (Quackenbush) led her to discover a wonderful little wine. I have a similar story.

During a wine tasting trip to Napa about a year ago, out party stopped at Dean & Deluca for lunch. While waiting for our sandwiches to be made, I wondered over to their wine area, where I quickly became lost in the in the seemingly endless rows of reds.

While I recognized a few of the larger wineries, quite honestly virtually all of the bottles seemed to be simply variations on a theme – same size bottle, semi-interesting label and price points that were a little on the high side for me take a chance on.

However, all of that changed in an instant, when I came across a bottle that simply had a black and white picture of a man’s hands as its label. The name of the name of the wine – “Papillon” appeared to have been tattooed (hopefully temporarily!) on each of his visible fingers.

Two things struck me immediately – first “Papillon” brought to mind the movie by the same name which stared a very young Dustin Hoffman, and one of my all time favorite actors, Steve McQueen. Second, the man’s hands were filthy! I wondered why on earth would a winery choose to make dirty hands its selling point?

Whatever it was, their marketing ploy worked on me, as I picked up this one bottle out of literally thousands to choose from for a closer examination. After examining the hands a little bit closer, I turned the bottle over and immediately smiled – there was a familiar name – Orin Swift! Their marketing of first release – “The Prisoner” (which was the subject of an previous guest blogger) also featured a unique picture of a man in chains.

Without even checking the price, I headed to the cash register. I simply had to share this bottle with my friends who were with me. Of course I did get a another little surprise at the register – the price was only in the $50 range – not bad at all for a Napa Valley Red Wine that contains over 50% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Returning to our limo, I proudly showed off my purchase, and before the bottle came back my way, it was nearly gone as we simply enjoyed it with our sandwiches as we headed off to our next winery.

This wine is still one of my favorites – I especially like its finish, which seems to last forever, which is about as long as I hope to remember the how, why and when I first picked up a bottle of this wine. (PS - the dirty hands? I later learned that they were the hands of a field worker who had picked some of the grapes that went into Papillon - and yes, the tattoo was temporary).

Sunday, September 6, 2009

California Wine Month Guest Blog by Angelina our Wine Concierge

One of Angelina's duties as our Wine Concierge is to plan our customers wine tours, so that their experience matches their tastes as well as their budgets. As such, she has had to acquire an extensive knowledge of not only the largest wineries throughout Northern California, but also the smaller boutique wineries that may often go overlooked. Here is a short story of how one of her days ended with finding a new "friend" that she now shares with us.

A New Friend

As I only recently moved to this great state, my knowledge of California wines was actually pretty much limited to the well known producers, especially the big and bold Cabs that California is renowned for. However, now that I live here, I am struck by all the varieties of grapes that are grown throughout Northern California.

That is why it was extremely hard for me to choose just one wine for this review.
However, after narrowing done my selections, I choose a wine that I associated with a unexpected but yet wonderful experience. Here is the story.

About two months ago, I was working in Napa on a Wednesday afternoon when I looked at my watch and realized that traffic was going to get the better of me so I stopped at a local restaurant off Hwy 29 called Press.

Being a first time diner, I didn’t know what to expect but as luck would have it, Wednesday is the night that Press features a “Blue Plate Special” for only $10 and wines at half price!

The “Special” that Wednesday was Chicken Milanese topped with micro greens and fresh tomato. The Milanese breading was perfectly crunchy with a hint of Italian spices, the chicken extremely tender and the tomatoes garden fresh.

Since I still had to drive back to Sacramento, I consulted with the bartender regarding their half bottle selections. Since I was having chicken, we decided on a half bottle of Robert Sinskey Pinot Blanc.

Now, I’ve had my share of Pinot Blancs but this particular style was bright and had enough sugar to tame the Italian spice on the breading so that each bite was enjoyable. The acidity was low so it didn’t attack my mouth after a bite of tomato while still allowing the micro greens to burst with minerals. It was a smooth wine and could easily have gone with Thai food - which I find can be one of the most troublesome of foods to pair wine with.

I don’t particularly like dining alone but this wine has now become my friend and I thoroughly enjoyed its company. I think you will too!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

California Wine Month Guest Blog by Kara

When I first announced that we would be having guest bloggers writing about their favorite California wines, I requested that our readers also submit their own stories. Here is one from Kara, about a surprising little $20 wine that she tried on a lark. If you have a story that you would like to share, please do so by simply using the comment button below or by sending an email to bill@luxxlimo.com.

Here is Kara's story:

Just the other night I picked up a bottle of CA Zinfandel by the name of Quackenbush. I admit that the name made me laugh and that is why I picked up the bottle, but after reading the back I decided to give it a shot.

The label said they grow Zinfandel and Petite Sirah in Lake County. I was intrigued by the little synopsis on the back as well as the $20 price tag. I figured this could go either way. We were barbecuing that evening and had a bunch of grilled veggies along with some bratwurst. I figured, why not? Let's open this bottle up. Being the only true wine drinker there, I figured that I would get most of the bottle to myself. I was wrong!

After tasting it myself I offered it up to the beer and Tequila drinkers hanging out with me. They all tried it and two of them even switched to the wine. I was pretty impressed. The wine had a lot of complexity, beautiful fruit on the nose and a great finish that lasted longer than I expected. While it was high in alcohol that certainly wasn't the only thing it had going on. All in all I decided that I would definitely buy this wine again.

The next day I decided to do some research on this Quackenbush Zinfandel and realized it is a second label for Rutherford Grove. With the beautiful wines they put out there I am not surprised that they managed a winner from their Clear Lake vineyards also.
Editors Note: The full name of the wine is Quackenbush Mountain Vineyards Zinfandel and it may be purchased through Rutherford Grove's On Line Store.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Champagne is Fizzling in France!

While we celebrate California Wine Month here in the States, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the French Champagne industry in suffering.
With worldwide sales expected to be down almost 25% from the high set in 2007 of 339 million bottles, the French Champagne producers have agreed to let almost a third of this year's crop rot on the ground rather than add to their backlog of unsold product or even worse in their minds, discount their product.

According to the Journal, this is the first time since the bumper crop of 1955, that the French have not harvested all of the usable grapes. Since it takes at least two years for the grapes being picked now to actually reach market as Champagne, we can only hope that next two years crops don't fail, or there could be a severe shortage of one of the finest regional products in the world.




California Wine Month Guest Blog by Sam Malhotra

Today's guest blogger is Sam Malhotra, propertior of Lakeside Beverage. If you haven't been to Lakeside, I would suggest stopping by on a Friday or Saturday night when he hosts an informal wine tasting. I should also disclose that Sam owns the vineyard that produces the wine he is featuring - however, I made a trip up to Lakeside (for quality control purposes of course!), and I can assure you that the wine matches his story.

A Memorable Wine and Memorable Moment

I have a soft spot for WORK VINEYARD 2003 NAPA CABERNET SAUVIGNON. A true Bordeaux Blend - 90% Cabernet, 5% Merlot, 3% Syrah and 2% Malbec. Only 170 cases were made. The wine is exceptional with a complex character. This deep, dark and profoundly concentrated wine boasts a dense ruby/purple-tinged color as well as a gorgeous nose similar to that of a French Bordeaux that is intermixed with notions of crushed blueberries and violets. Full bodied and unctuously-textured wine with flavors of dust, leather and chocolate, it is a terrific, full throttle, palate staining, impeccably well balanced wine that can be drunk for the next 10-15 years. But the reason I love this wine has a little to do with its full bodied taste and more to do with my family. Here is our story...

One evening, Lamya (my wife), Zina (our daughter) and myself were dining at the Calistoga Inn in downtown Calistoga. Our son, John and his girlfriend Jackie arrived and started screaming "Dad I did it".....Mom I did it." When we asked what, he replied that he proposed to Jackie! It was "yes" and he had given her a beautiful 3.5 karat diamond ring.

During the happy news, Lamya stood up from our table and addressed all the people in the restaurant by knocking on the rim of the glass and saying "Hello everybody. My name is Lamya and I have happy news to celebrate with you! Our son John proposed to his girlfriend Jackie and they are going to marry next year and I want all of you to know that the wine is on the house.”

Meanwhile, I am kicking Lamya's foot trying to tell her that we only had one bottle of wine on our table and how are we going to serve 60 plus people? All of a sudden I saw the restaurant manager approaching us and asking what kind of wine we were going to serve and I replied 2003 Work Vineyard Reserve Cabernet which we produce at our Vineyard. I sent our son to the vineyard, which was next door to the restaurant, to bring a case of wine to share with our fellow diners. John was there and back in the 15 minutes and brought a whole case of wine which we shared with everyone! Everybody enjoyed the wine and we encouraged them to visit our Vineyard and family the next day. The restaurant was filled with hugs and blessing to John and Jackie. It was a simple dinner that turned into a big celebration...and a wine to remember.

Editors note: Work Vineyard Reserve Cabernet is exclusively available at Lakeside Beverages, and is priced at a very reasonable $44.95 per bottle.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

California Wine Month Guest Blog by Scot Pollard

OK, who doesn't love ex-King Scot Pollard? From his ever changing hair styles (my personal favorite was "Samurai Scott"), to his bone jarring picks, there has never been a player in Kings History (dare I say NBA History?), quite like Scot! So if you are like me and have missed watching him on the court, here is a little dose of his humor, combined with a very funny story about a wine tasting and buying adventure.

So Many Great Wines I Can’t Choose Just One!

This spring I was invited to attend the Premier Napa Valley Wine Auctin by my very good friend and ''wine guy'' Marcus Graziano. Marcus owns Capital Cellars in Roseville. This event features 200 wineries who make a barrel or two of their best. They then have a barrel tasting, and afterwards an auction (always a great idea to serve alcohol before the auction!).

We thought we would make it to all 200 wines. Apparently the buckets they keep next to the barrel are for spitting the wine into after you taste it. No one in our group felt that the deliciousness we were enjoying should be spat out! Thus, we made it to just 20 or so wines. After the tasting, we rushed to grab a bite to eat, before returning for the auction and make a play at our favorites. Marcus is old hat at this, since he has consistently been among the top purchasers of wine at the event. He had some wines in mind he wanted to purchase for his business, and I decided that I would split a couple of the purchases with him. We both agreed on our ''breaking points'' for each wine.

Soon I discovered that the price jumps quickly when the wine is so good and so rare (and then you factor in a little inebriation!). In fact, Marcus and I indirectly helped set a new Premier record for 5 cases of Scarecrow wine. I’m not gonna say how much, but i will say I have purchased nice cars for less! It ended up going to a man behind us who was simply not going home without the wine. Thank goodness for that! I didn't want to have to explain the small capital investment to my Financial Advisor!

We ended up being able to snatch up the barrel of 2005 from Realm Vineyards which I hadn’t previously heard of. It tasted wonderful, and I can't wait to receive it next spring after they bottle it. We were also able to “win'' the bid for a special Robert Foley/Switchback Ridge blend. (I put that in quotes because in an auction, a "win" means you paid more. How is that winning?) While tasting this wine, Kelly Peterson of Switchback Ridge came over to tell us about it and asked for a pic. She's a cute lil thing so I picked her up like I do my kids for photos. Hope I didn’t embarrass her too much!

I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting this release this fall, and I’m super excited to enjoy this vintage as well! The Premier Napa Valley event was one of the greatest days of my life! I learned so many things about wine, the auction, and mostly the people who make it. How great is it that a beverage can bring so many people together to celebrate it, food, and life?

I can't describe the texture, flavors, and depth of a wine. I know what I like, and I try new stuff all the time to see if I like it too. What I do know is that I've made a lot of friends talking about and trying new wines. If you can measure a man by the company he keeps, than I owe a large debt to the liquid that has introduced me to the best people on the Planet.

Editor's Note: Speaking of Planets (and Scot Pollard), follow Pollard on his Blog or on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

California Wine Month Guest Blog by Neil Swinney

This is the second in our series of guest bloggers describing their favorite California wines. Today's blogger is our friend Neil Swinney, the General Manager of Morton's.

When I first ask Neil to write for this series, he told me that he would, but I should be warned that his "favorite wine was actually Scotch." Of course I didn't believe him, and true to form, he has decided to write about a wonderful winnery that produces only Cabernet Sauvignon. Here is what he has to say:

As the Maitre'd' D for Morton's of Sacramento, my guest's often ask me what my favorite winery of all time is. My reply has always been Diamond Creek. To me, this is the quintessential Napa wine with a great story behind it.

Founded by Kenny G's uncle, the late Al Brounstein in 1968, Diamond Creek from the first release has been special. With it's three unique micro vineyards (each with its own distinct climate and soil), the winemaker at Diamond Creek truly shows that the French are not the only ones who appreciate great terroir.

In 2005 each of the vineyard's fruits are already coming tantalizing close to a three digit score (a perfect 100)! However, my current favorite remains the 1979 Volcanic Hill. It is still drinking well with good minerality and a "Paulliac cigar box" profile emerging as it sheds it's youthful baby fat.

Best paired with a heavy debate on politics and religion. (Editor's Note - "and a Bone-in Rib Eye" should be added to that last sentence!).




Stiletto Crawl

For the ladies that went on Sacramento's First Stiletto Crawl last month, here is a little video montage of the event.

For those of you who missed it, the next crawl is scheduled for the Roseville area on October 14th.

Luxury Limousines is proud to have chosen as the exclusive transportation provider for these fun events.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

California Wine Month Guest Blog by Craig Amazeen

In honor of California Wine Month, How We Roll and Luxury Limousines have asked some of our friends and customers to tell us about their favorite California wines. Each day we will feature a new guest blogger and a new wine. We hope you enjoy these stories and encourage you to share them with your friends or send us your comments. Cheers!

Leading off we have noted Red Sox Fan (who also happens to be the Vice-President of Broadcast Operations & Production for YOUR Sacramento Kings), Craig Amazeen.

The CONNECTIVE FORCE of THE PRISONER

When my friend Bill Murray at Luxury Limousines asked me to write a blog about wine, I askedmyself what could I possibly contribute?

I had a gnawing sense of wine ignorance magnified by minimal understanding of the wine language...horticulture?, enology? Malolectic Fermentation?...yikes... and thus a lack of confidence about what to write.

And then it dawned on me like the moment a strong mountain cab explodes on your tongue...rippling a squadron of flavors across your mouth. I like wine. I really like it. And more importantly I know why I like it.

Wine in my life has become a connective force. Whether it's having a post-work glass of The Prisoner with Kimberly while watching Top Chef Masters, a bottle at dinner (Jarvis maybe) with close friends selected to enhance the brilliance of Patrick Mulvaney's menu (or a Morton's Steak) or a Luxury Limousines journey to Napa to see old friends (Hello Ralph at Krug!!) and make some new ones (Hello Collin at Larkmead), wine sharing is a comfortable, centering method of life enhancement. It's a social endeavor with no rights, no wrongs...just opinions, tastes which leads to discussions, which leads to friendships...and isn't that what life is about?

So with that as a backdrop...no wine has been a deeper connective force for me than "The Prisoner" by Orin Swift Cellars. During one of my many tastings some less than sober cat once blabbed every wine should have a story...even BE a story. For me The Prisoner is that wine...that story.

So here's the story.

Picture if you will, sitting with a group of friends at Auberge du Soleil. Outside patio. Scent of flowers and great conversation permeating the perfect 73 degree afternoon. The current bottle of BV reserve is running dry and by your internal calculations you're next to order/purchase. The wallet is a little thinner than you wish it was and worse the wine list of over 1500 carefully selected bottles is beyond intimidating. It's considered by many to be the finest wine list in the country.

So I do what my old hockey coach told me. KISS theory. Keep It Simple Stupid.

1. Recognize that everyone at the table had been enjoying the red blends.
2. Assume there are red blends somewhere in their book (crazy wine list).
3. Pray there's one under $100.
4. Hope that the server doesn't laugh at you when you order.

As you may know 'assume', 'pray' and 'hope' are all bad strategies....but it was all I had.

So halfway down the page, amidst the Hills, the Cellars, the Reserves, and the Vineyards I came across "The Prisoner". Seriously, who names their wine "THE PRISONER". A little Goth, a little morbid. A little crazy.....hmmmm...I like that. I also like the $66 price tag.

Let's take a chance on a wine that took a chance. Maybe I'm stumbling onto a new generation of rogue winemakers who don't spend their time and money on decorating their tasting room but rather on good old fashion R&D. At this point, in my head I already had a story. I ordered a wine with the most ludicrous name I had ever seen.

Six to seven minutes later, our server emerged from the cellar and stood by me with a strange smirk that only I had spotted through the glass tilting conversation that distracted the others. The table silenced as I inquired, "why the wry smile?"

"The servers here taste almost all the wines, it's part of the job", she said. "This one has become a cult favorite amongst the staff...and when I was making my way back from the cellar, the other servers were giving me head nods and finger points...We're big fans". So for the one AND only time in my life, I felt like a wine connoisseur.

The best part of the story and the real magic of the experience though is that THE PRISONER delivered. Layers and layers of flavors with the strength of a pure cabernet, a tobacco, blackberry spice with a slender, plush, multi-flavored finish. We all loved it.

Quick note here...The Prisoner is a featured wine on the Auberge du Soleil Private Menu.

THE PRISONER (and it's story) has now become local legend amongst my friends, a connective force if you will, as we have all shared it with others on birthdays, holidays, special dinners and gifts as well (think MAGNUM!).

Craig Amazeen is a frequent client of Luxury Limousines when in need of some Prisoner.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Want To Get Messy This Weekend?

Then the annual grape stomp at Vino Con Brio in Lodi is just the event for you and your family. It starts at noon on Sunday and runs through 4PM. The cost is only is only $20 ($10 for children and club members) and includes food, music and games.

Be sure to wear your grubbies, and if you decide to take a limo, be prepared, as we may want to hose you down before you come back! (Just kidding!).


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Comments From a Recent Wine Tour Participant

Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of taking a bachelorette party wine tasting in through the rolling hills of Amador County. The ladie are pictured here enjoying the wines of Karmere Vineyards and Winery.

Angelina, our Wine Concierge planned their excursion, and this is what they had to say about their experience:

We had the best time!! I even had a girl ask me if I could do her bachelorette. We had so much fun and were even able to fit in one more winery. Our chauffeur was fantastic - he was very accommodating and was a wonderful driver. I have attached some photos of the great event. Thanks so much for all your help!

If you would like to have a similar experience for your next wine tasting or for that matter, or just want to make any upcoming occasion special, just give us a call.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Staff Appreciation Night at Raley Field

Our Chauffeurs have been really working hard lately. Many of their trips require them to be away from home at night and on weekends.

To help make up for that, we have invited our staff and their families to Raley Field tonight for a little R & R. Hopefully they will be able to watch our River Cats get one step closer to the playoffs by defeating the Portland Beavers tonight. I hope they enjoy the game and if you happen to see someone who has driven you in the past, make sure you say hello.





Saturday, August 22, 2009

Limousine Company Information

The latest issue of one our industry publications has some interesting facts about limousine companies. The Limousine Digest reports that as of the first of the year, there were 11,866 limousine companies in the United States. Of these, 1,602 were in California, 1,388 in New York and 1,011 were Florida. The states with the fewest? No real surprise - South Dakota had 15, Montana had 12 and Wyoming had only 10 (wonder how many of those were pickups that had been converted to limousines?!).


Other stats of interest were that only 7.5% of the limousine company owners had a Masters or Professional Degree (not to toot my own horn, but I have both), 41% of the companies have between 4 to 10 vehicles (we currently have 8), and only 54.1% of customers report that they are very satisfied with the service they received from their limo company (this is exactly the reason why I got into the business - I was unsatisfied with the service that I received as a customer).


Speaking of customer satisfaction, only 39.6% of limousine operators report that they treat their chauffeurs as employees. I believe that if chauffeur is not an employee, it is much more difficult to control his or her behavior - that is why we treat all of our chauffeurs as employees, not independent contractors. In addition, as a CPA, I know all to well how the IRS makes distinctions between employees and contractors, and believe me, the other 60.4% of limousine companies would have a hard time justifying their tax treatment of their chauffeurs.


Finally, only 68.6% of the companies report that they utilize a chauffeur training system. Interestingly, the system we use (The Smith System) is used by only a little over 8% of these companies. This is despite the fact that the Smith System is the mostly widely used system by Fortune 500 Companies.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Stiletto Crawl Was A Huge Success!

On Wednesday night, we had the privilege of chauffeuring 71 ladies in five of our limousines for Sacramento's first Stiletto Crawl. This ladies night out was the brainchild of Rachel and Sarah Campbell of Twin Soup fame.

The ladies started the evening off with a private shopping event at Madame Butterfly in the Pavilions. From there they sipped Champagne courtesy of Luxury Limousines and Muscat Blanc courtesy of James David Cellars as they headed to the best pizza place in town, Hot Italian.

After Hot Italian, it was off to Mix for some dancing and socializing. Apparently there must have been a lot of cyber hype about the Crawl, as I understand there was a long line of men waiting to get into Mix for what must have been a "Target Rich Environment"!

Pictured here are some of the ladies enjoying some of the bubbly on our Party Bus. For more information about the Crawl, check out Sacramento Press Article, "March of the Stilettos" and for more pictures from this fun evening, check out our Facebook page.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Want to Tast Over 100 Great California Wines in One Location?

The good news is that you can do just that on August 23rd at the Family Winemakers of California annual tasting event held at Fort Mason in the City. The bad news, is that the event is only open to the public from 3-6PM on that Sunday. So that will give you less than a minute to visit each of the wineries that will be participating.

However, my advice would be to use this opportunity to try some wines from wineries that you have wanted to visit but never have. For example, maybe you have never made it all the way up to the top of Spring Mountain, but have always wanted to try the wines from Barnett or Keenan (two of our personal favorites!).

Or maybe you have always wanted to meet the owners or winemakers from a little bit more distant winery such as the makers of the wonderful Pinot Noirs from Pisoni. Well, this is your opportunity.

The cost is only $50 per person in advance, or $45 if you have a group of 10 or more (hello, Party Bus!). Click here for more info.






Great Article on our Wine Concierge

Writing in yesterday's Sacramento Bee, Rick Kushman describes Angelina our Wine Concierge as "a bright example of the new face of American wine, and of wine in this region - young, enthused, comfortable teaching, thrilled to learn".

If you would like to experience her enthusiasm first hand, just give her a call at our office or email her at angelina@luxxlimo.com. She will be happy to help book your next wine tour, or for that matter, just chat about anything wine related.

If you mention this article when you book any ride of three hours or more between now and September 30th, we will also take an additional 10% off our hourly or package rates.


Friday, August 14, 2009

September is California Wine Month!

California is the world's fourth largest producer of wine in the world, producing over $18 Billion in annual sales for our state. To celebrate, Governor Schwarzenegger has declared September to be California Wine Month.

Here at How We Roll, we will be celebrating by featuring a guest blogger each day describing their favorite California Wines. We will also be inviting our readers to participate, so if you want to get a head start, feel free to submit your wine recommendations - you can include your own tasting notes, places where you have enjoyed the wine, and maybe even a food paring if you have one!
You can make your submissions either by replying to this post or emailing them to bill@luxxlimo.com.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Bay Bridge is Closing Again This Labor Day



For the third time in four years, the Bay Bridge will be closed on Labor Day Weekend. According to Cal Trans. the bridge will close on Thursday September 3rd at 8PM, and will reopen at 5AM on Tuesday September 8th.

During this closure, a football size portion of the eastern span will be cut and rolled away to make room for a double-deck detour that will be used until the new bridge opens sometime in 2013. For a great simulation of how this engineering feat will take place (including a time-lapse sequence of a similar procedure performed back on Labor Day Weekend in 1997) check out the Cal Trans video by clicking here.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Very Much Planned - Plan B

Most of us have a Plan B when it comes to decisions. Lucky for those in the Arden-Arcade area, their “Plan B” is a restaurant featuring European culinary experience and New York business savvy.

Lionel Lucas, Plan B’s co-owner, greeted my friend and me with a smile as we entered and admired the restaurant’s contemporary atmosphere, clean lines and open space. Even though it was a lazy weekday evening, my gut (and not just its growling) and nose led me to believe this would be an enjoyable dining experience.

I am a big believer that every great dining adventure begins with a cocktail. The toughest part is deciding which one! Admiring a beautiful bar manned by a skilled mixologist is like shoe shopping at Nordstroms. So many pretty bottles, textures and colors to choose from that you want to try each one. Our bartender Matt, like any good cocktail consultant, created the “Perfect” Perfect Manhattan; with just the right amount of vermouth and that hint of bourbon. For my companions drink, he chose Patron’s favorite companion, the Margarita. Although Matt created one that most bartenders would be proud to shake, my friend’s discerning taste and more importantly his sampling of my own ‘rita concoction, has spoiled his taste buds. My Jimmy Buffet loving uncle taught me that all girls should know two things in life; how to change a tire and make a Margarita. Thank goodness I have AAA!

We were one of the first diners to arrive and I was utterly impressed to see that Lionel, who prefers to be called Lucas, was taking orders and juggling roles and plates in his own place. I’ve learned through my own hospitality industry experience, it should be admired when an owner roles up his sleeves to know first hand what the troops face on the battlefield.

A butter lettuce salad with blue cheese, dried cherries, walnuts and a dijon vinaigrette caught my eye and taste buds. I have been obsessed with butter lettuce lately and by far this salad continued that obsession. For our wining and dining pleasures, I complimented my salad with a bottle of Arrogant Frog Rose. This French wine and its rosewater essence brought me to les domaines de Provence and complimented the blue cheese and cherries perfectly.

My cohort had the half chicken breast with ratatouille. We learned that in addition to his charm, smile and Perfect Manhattan, Matt could also recommend the perfect wine. In this case the Deloach Pinot Noir. The succulent chicken fell off the bone allowing one to try and capture the juices between the tasty pieces of skin and white meat. The flavorful broth was unable to be soaked up any more because the chicken was already so juicy. The ratatouille with all its rustic Italian flavors made each bite one to savor . Even the side of “skinny” fries were rave-able!

We retired to the patio to finish our wine and enjoy the last hints of flavor that it brought out from our meal. To my surprise, my friend ordered cheesecake as the final note. I was too engulfed in the last bits of strawberry, rosemary and floral tastes of my Arrogant Frog to desire something sweet and creamy. However, the presentation enticed me towards a bite and I can’t say I regretted it. Plan B is a Luxx recommendation for those wanting to experience a great meal with an equally great setting. Don’t forget to tell Matt we said hello!

Plan B Restaurant – 555 La Sierra Dr, Sacramento

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Meet the "Top Chef Masters" on Sunday

This Sunday the four "Top Chef Masters" from Northern California are hosting a Zin 'Ribs' Party at the Bottega Restaurant in Yountville.

Michael Chiarello, Cindy Pawlcyn, Herbert Keller and Elizabeth Flakner will all be there to sign books or bottles at 11:30 which will be followed by a cooking demonstration at 1. Guests will dine on Tuscan BBQ Ribs will enjoying Chiarello's 91 Point Zinfandel.

You can even bring kids as there will be lawn games for them. Best of all, the cost is only $30 ($35 day of the event). Kids under 6 are free and those over 6 but under 21 are only $15.

For even more information on this event, check out


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

1st Stiletto Crawl is Coming Up!


Our friends over at Twin Soup are sponsoring a Girls' Night Out on August 19th. The ladies will start with a private shopping party at Madam Butterfly in The Pavilions, and then head down to my favorite pizza place, Hot Italian.

From there it is on to Mix Downtown, where they will enjoy their own VIP Section and bottle service. All this for only $50! (No, that is not a typo - $50 gets all of this!).

Sorry dudes - ladies only!


Monday, August 3, 2009

Great Comments About Chauffeur Adrian

After their game on Saturday (which they almost pulled out in the final seconds), Jodi Bacon from KHTK took some of the Monarchs out in our Hummer. Pictured here from left to right are DeMya Walker, Assistant Coach Monique Ambers and Jodi.

From their Facebook postings, I think they all had a good time, and they especially liked their Chauffeur, Adrian. Here is what they had to say:

Jodi - Adrian from Luxury Limo best...my headache, the worst!

Yesterday at 11:54am · Comment ·

like this.

Lisa A.
Adrian is amazing..lets invite him over for the bbq!
Yesterday at 12:15pm

Laura A.
Love Adrian..he is the best!! Can't wait until we go out again
Yesterday at 1:04pm

Ac W.
he was....and he was fine!
Yesterday at 2:20pm

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Another Great Day in Napa

Eight of us spent the day in the Napa Valley yesterday visiting three of our favorite wineries, Nickel & Nickel, Far Niente, and Larkmead.

Both Nickel & Nickel and Far Niente were having their 2006 Cabernet Release Parties. At Nickel & Nickel, we sampled 13 of their single vineyard Cabs. Of the 13, our favorites were the Cooper Streak (named for the red, copper like streaks found in the vineyard soil), Tench (sorry, I really don't know how this vineyard got its name, but I can tell you it is the only one of the 13 Cabernets sampled that didn't really need to accompany food), and the Sullenger (which is named for the original settler of the Nickel & Nickel property). One other note - while enjoyable, we think these wines will be even better in 3-4 years or perhaps even longer.

At Far Niente, they were only serving three wines - their one 2006 Cab, their 2007 Chardonnay, and their wonderful, albeit expensive dessert wine, Dolce. Our time at Far Niente was highlighted by very briefly meeting Beth Nickel as well as getting a tour of her late husband's garage which included such historic vehicles as a 67 Shelby Mustang, a 61 Vette (the last year "scoops" were available), and two historic Ferraris. We also took advantage of the almost unheard of 25% discount they were offering on their Chardonnay.

Our last Vineyard stop was at Larkmead. You may not have heard of this winery, but Robert Parker has - two of their current vintages received 95+ from him - a very rare feat! Pictured above is the Winery Manager, Colin MacPhail who conducted a tour of the vineyard and winery for us. If you look closely at the Merlot grapes Colin is holding, you can see that some of them have already started to turn from green to a yellowish color, while some others are already purple. Colin estimated that it would only be another two weeks or so until all of their Merlot grapes were ready for harvest.

After the tour, we spent almost two hours on their veranda just chatting among ourselves with Colin coming over every so often to bring us a taste of another of their wines. While all of their wines were wonderful, we especially enjoyed the 07 Tocai Friulano. This is a white wine originally grown in the North Eastern parts of Italy. Perhaps it was because we had been tasting almost all reds earlier in the day, we found the Tocai to be refreshing with hints of pear, apples and even a little almond. Available only at the winery, this wine alone is worth the stop!














Friday, July 31, 2009

Harvest Anticipation Time in Auburn


If you are looking for something to do close by tomorrow or Sunday, I suggest you check out the "Anticipation Weekend - Harvest in the Hills" event in and around Auburn. As I mentioned on Monday, Angelina our Wine Concierge headed up north to preview some of the wineries last Sunday. Here are her notes on two of her favorites:


Naggier Vineyards and Winery has a gorgeous 3600 square foot tasting room complete with kitchen, deck and private dining area. Owners Mike and Diane Naggier have planted 62 acres of vines, and sell most of their grapes to larger wineries located either in Napa or Sonoma, However, they do produce some outstanding wines themselves - my favorite of which was their 2006 Reserve Syrah which is actually a blend of 85% Syrah, 11% Mouvedre and 4% Malbec. I found this one to be extremely luscious with blackberry and spiced plum flavors and most important of all, a long smooth finish.


Vina Castellano's tasting room is in a cave that is lined with large granite stones removed from the property during the planting of the vineyard. Here our entire group had a hard time determining which of their wines was our favorite, but after a little arm twisting, we went with the ’05 Tempranillo. The description on their website perfectly describes this wine - "fruit driven, spicy and soft" - I would pare this wine either ham, lamb or most any Tapa. I should also point out that up a small hill and around the bend from the tasting room is a pond that is a perfect place to enjoy a picnic.

Catch Him Before He Is Gone!

I have only seen him play in two games, but I have to tell you, the River Cats new third baseman, Brett Wallace looks like the real deal. Considered as one of the Top 50 Prospects in the Minor Leagues, Brett was acquired last week as part of the deal that sent Matt Holiday to the Cardinals.

I am not sure if it is a consequence of not, but Brett's batting stance reminds me of that of another third baseball also named Brett - none other than Royals Hall of Famer George Brett (but he doesn't seem to use as much pine tar!).

Brett went 3 for 4 last night, and my sources tell me that with a little bit more seasoning in the field, he will likely be playing in Oakland next year, so that means we have about a month to see him in action here.

Update: I just heard that Brett will be a guest on Jim Kozimor's Show on Monday afternoon.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Look for us at Raley Field Tonight

We will have a booth at Raley Field tonight where we will be taking entries for our last Office Day Getaway of the Year. One lucky winner and 19 of their co-workers will be attending the August 12th afternoon game between our Division Leading River Cats and the New Orleans Zephyers.

Their day will include round trip transportation in one of our limousines and their very own suite at Raley Field. If you can't make it in person to register tonight, then click here to enter on line.
Pictured here are the one of our previous winners from Intel in Folsom. As you can tell from the smiles on their faces, they all had a wonderful time.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Win a Trip for Two Wine Tasting in St. Helena!

On Aug 7th we are taking a lucky few on our luxurious Party Bus for a ride to St. Helena. The first Friday of the month, St. Helena has a series of events and promotions similar to Midtown's Second Saturdays...but with even more WINE. They call it Cheers St. Helena!

VIP tickets for this event are normally $35 for an "all you can taste" glass, but we are also including luxury transportation on our Party Bus for a total of $100 per person. Certainly worth it (and a lot cheaper than taking a taxi from Napa). Great opportunity for a date, girls night out or "just because."

Our wine sommelier Angelina will also be including some tips on wine etiquette and tasting. It will be an amazing experience!

Forward the info to your friends and ask them to become a FAN on our Facebook Page. We will pick one lucky person on August 5th from our "friends" to join us on the bus for FREE. (Now the legal stuff - Must be 21 and over. Winner is allowed to bring one guest. Cannot be exchanged for cash or any other substitute). To become a FAN, simply click here.

To book your spot, call 916.997.5226 or email angelina@luxxlimo.com before the trip is full.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Harvest is around the Corner

August is a great time to head to the wine country - not only are grapes starting to turn, but also the wineries are busy transporting last years vintages from barrels to bottles. By scheduling a tour (rather than just dropping by for a tasting) you can view this process and get a better understanding of winemaking.

Speaking of winemaking, here are a few fun facts to take with you on your next trip to wine country:



  • One acre of land is home to between 900-1300 grape vines.

  • One vine annually produces about 4-6 bottles of wine, or 20-30 glasses.

  • A ton of grapes makes about 720 bottles of wine or 60 cases.

  • One barrel of wine equals roughly 20 cases or about 1200 glasses.

  • Each bottle of wine contains about 2.8 pounds of grapes; Each 5 ounce glass holding a little over half of a pound.

For more fun facts, or to schedule your own private tour, give me a call.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Off to Auburn!


In preparation for next weekends "Anticipation Weekend - Harvest in the Hills" event, Angelina, our Wine Concierge is off to Auburn today to visit some Placer County Wineries. Although not as well known, the area just north of Sacramento is starting to produce some outstanding Syrahs, Sauvignon Blancs and even some Italian varietals.

Among the wineries that Angelina will be visiting are Ophir and Vina Castellano. If you have any other suggestions, please let us know. Otherwise, check back later this week for her tasting notes.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Let the Buyer Beware!

I have previously blogged about the hazards of buying used vehicles. Here is another reason.

Special Agents of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB - an organization that I didn't even know existed!), recently seized the Escalade Limo pictured here from an unsuspecting limo company in Texas. The problem? When the limo company went to register the vehicle the VIN turned out to be counterfeit.

Investigating further, the NCIB found that the limo company thought they had legitimately purchased the vehicle from a Southern California limo manufacturer who had purchased it from a "popular online auction site" (Can anyone say "eBay"?). The problem however was that the unstretched Escalade had been stolen in Coral Gables, Florida on February 1, 2008. Now the Texas company is out $125,000.

To prevent this from happening to you, I suggest that you check out the NCIB's VIN Check system. Its free, and only takes a moment to find out whether the vehicle you are considering has been reported stolen and not recovered, or reported as "salvage".


Monday, July 20, 2009

Ella's..A staff & wine list that makes you feel Luxxurious...

My dining companion finally let me pick! And of course I wanted to venture to downtown Sacramento for big lights in the big city! (or at least out of a strip mall). So I picked Ella Dining Room and Bar.

Welcomed there by a very courteous and professional staff and provided with a wine list that would make any novice drinker drool made this an experience fit for a Queen. Which, by the way, my dining companion claims me to be!

While wine is always at the top of our list we did have to try what Ella’s bar is famous for, specialty cocktails. When I say that, I don’t mean your average bar that boasts “specialty” with it's variations on a Cosmopolitan, Margarita or Long Island. I mean “special” in the way of using fresh juice, herbs, fruit, house made grenadine and simple syrup. A lot of work goes into these fabulous cocktails and some even have a small “garden” to complement. Like the Gin Blossom that is garnished with onion slices, cucumber and fresh cracked pepper. I had a Negroni and Partner in Crime had Randall's Margarita. I laugh as I say this since they are both traditional but the flavors were exotic.

We then had a bottle of Elizabeth Spencer Cabernet with luscious berry flavors and a silky finish. Coupled with Meatballs, Braised Shortribs, Paparadelle Pasta, Hangar Steak all that came out in the fashionable European style that Ella's boasts. You eat, enjoy and share with your neighbor! Dinner had hit well so we thought dessert would be comparable but we were wrong... It was beyond what we had expected! A trio of chocolate that our bartender Rene served with grace a glass Madeira.

We thoroughly enjoyed Ella's and its fabulous staff and will return!



Friday, July 17, 2009

Last Chance to be an Office Hero!

Our last Office Day Getaway Promo with the league leading Sacramento River Cats is coming up August 12th.

One lucky winner and 19 of their co-workers will ride in style in a Luxury Limousine to their very own suite as the River Cats host the New Orleans Zephyrs. The suite will be furnished with hot dogs, burgers and non-alcoholic beverages. Past winners have included Intel and the Sacramento Area Commerce & Trade Organization

To enter, stop by our booth this Sunday at Raley Field or simply follow this link and enter on line.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Firehouse..Is this Heaven?

This week our regular Monday night excursion took us to a Sacramento institution, The Firehouse. Located on the same street as the noisy and bustling bars Old Sac is known for, we had dinner on their patio which reminds me more of a small European village than pedestrian Old Sacramento. Serene water fountains drown out any sounds from the outside and birds chirp as if Snow White herself was present.

Although we had a great dinner (the high point of which was the opening course of foie gras paired with a Sauternes) the real evening got under way after dinner when we were escorted through both of The Firehouse's Wine Cellars by Mario Ortiz, who holds not one, but three titles - General Manager, Wine Manager and Sommelier.

Quite honestly, I was unaware that there was a wine collection this extensive in Sacramento - combined, the two cellars hold over 16,000 bottles of wine - easily the largest collection in Northern California outside of San Francisco.

The collection was built almost entirely by Mario, who started at the Firehouse as a bus boy at age 16. I was given an opening to order something off the list so after much debate, I went with a 2003 Harlan "Bond". I seriously started crying when I smelled the bouquet on this wine since the palette was not too far off of pure ecstasy.

We then tried a 2002 Scarecrow and found it to be equally as delightful with a silky velvet texture - and although the cellar itself looked more like a dungeon, I literally imagined that this could easily be my heaven.

My companion almost got the best of me and wanted to cap the evening off by opening up a Lokoya, but I put a halt to the festivities to save it for our hands down return to Firehouse which will happen very, very soon and I hope to see you there!

Take a "Jaunt In Yount"

Napa has its style, St. Helena has its charm, Calistoga has its history but nothing beats taking time to Visit Yountville.

Not only is it surrounded by the Culinary Masterpieces of Thomas Keller, Michael Chiarello and Keller's fiance Laura Cunningham, but the art galleries feature landscapes that literally explode with vibrant color. Not to mention the great wines of Hope and Grace, Cornerstone, and Hill Family Estate.

One of the fabulous hidden experiences in Yountville is one that won’t even break the bank. It is a “garden tour” at the boutique winery of Hill Family Estate. On my recent visit, Ryan Hill narrated a tasting and tour of the gardens that none other than Mr. Keller himself uses for both the French Laundry and Bouchon. After the tour, Ryan leads you back and conducts a private tasting of his family wines.

A trip like this can easily satisfy the Monday "Blues", "Toots" of a Tuesday, "Woes" of a Wednesday and as my favorite boys do, a "Thirsty" Thursday. Call me and we'll get this exotic day underway!







Monday, July 13, 2009

"On Your Best Day, You Are Not As Smart As I Am On My Worst Day"

This is Judge Judy's statement to the owners of a limousine service that totally screwed up a young couple's prom. Quite honestly, if Luxury Limousines made these types of mistakes, we would be out of business!







Monday, July 6, 2009

Sacramento Capitals Cell Phone for Soldiers Event


As I mentioned last week, we are the official transportation company for the Sacramento Capitals. At their upcoming match on July 18th, the Capitals ask that you bring a used cell phone to their match against the Philadelphia Freedoms. All donated phones will go to the Cell Phones for Soldiers Organization. According to Cell Phones for Soldiers website each donated phone is turned into the equivalent of one hour of talk for a soldier abroad.

Personally, I know I must have at least three or four old cell phones laying around and gathering dust, so I will be donating them. All donors will receive an entry into a raffle for tickets to see the Bryan Brothers play on July 21st. (For those of you whom missed Wimbledon, Bryan Brothers were runners up in the men's doubles championship).

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Blogging From My New iPhone

First, let me say that I am an orginal "Crack-Berry" addict. I am known for carrying it with me at all times and returning emails at all hours of the night. However, I think Steve Jobs & Co. may finally have cured me.

I finally broke down last week and purchased my first iPhone and as my one of my friends kept saying as he watched me playing with it the "phone's techknowledgy is almost alien!"

The interface is extremely easy to use, the intelligent spell checker is scary smart, and the ability to automatically find and connect to Wi Fi hot spots makes browsing and blogging at least 10 times faster than I was used to with my Blackberry. Couple these features with the thousands of free or very low cost apps (including the one I am using to write this post) and it makes me think that I should call my broker tomorrow morning and sell my stock in Rim, and replace it with Apple!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Cheers! St. Helena

Last night Angelina our Wine Concierge and I ventured up to St. Helena to check out Cheers! St. Helena. Taking place on the 1st Friday of the month from April through October, this event features over 60 wineries pouring tastes in the local shops, galleries and even offices that line Main Street (Think Second Saturday but with wine!).

Our first stop was Calafia Cellars. Pictured here with Angelina is Proprietor Randal Johnson (who also doubles as the Cheif Winemaker at Hess Collection). From here we wondered up and down Main Street sampling such fine wines as Faust, Pride, Barnett and Scherwin Family. We were also able to meet many of the actual winemakers in a very relaxed atmosphere.

We enjoyed this event so much, that we plan to offer shuttle service to the next event on August 7th. If you would like more information, contact Angelina via email: angelina@luxxlimo.com.




Friday, July 3, 2009

Wine & Dine Starts Tomorrow!

Sacramento's Annual Restaurant Week starts tomorrow, July 4th and runs through July 12th. Over 50 of the best restaurants in the area will offer fixed price menus including wine pairings starting at just $30 per person!

When I say "best restaurants", I do mean the best! For example Biba, Ella, The Firehouse, Hawks, Mortons, Mulvaneys, Sofia and Spartaro are all participating (you can tell where I am going to be!).

For more information including other participating restaurants and their menus, follow this link, and if you decide to make a party of it, we have cars available!

Monday, June 29, 2009

2nd Office Day Getaway Winners

Andi B. and friends from SACTO (Sacramento Area Commerce & Trade Organization) were the lucky winners of our second of three Office Day Getaways. Andi and 19 of her co-workers enjoyed a beautiful Sacramento afternoon last Wednesday (i.e. before the temperatures went ballistic!), at Raley Field.

If you would like to enter our third and final Office Day Getaway contest, simply email Kris Stringfellow at kstringfellow@rivercats.com or follow this link. If you are the luck winner, you and 20 of your friends will be picked up and taken to and from the game in one of our luxury vehicles and will enjoy the game from your own private suite complete with food and non-alcohol beverages.

Good Luck!

Sacramento Capitals

We are pleased to have been chosen as the official transportation company of the Sacramento Capitals. The Capitals season begins on Wednesday with a Charity Challenge with their first official match taking place on Friday.

This years team includes returning Capitals veterans Mark Knowles and Sam Warburg. In addition, Hall of Famer, Michael Chang will play for the Caps on July 10th, and Anna Kournikova will play against the Caps on July 13th.

Matches take place at the Galleria in Roseville, with gates opening at 6PM, with the matches beginning at 7:30.

Hope to see you there.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Cure For Mondays!

It finally happened. I found my way out of a strip mall for dinner!

Overcome with the "Monday Blues" my companion and I ventured out to Roxy Restaurant and Bar which we hoped would have just the "Cure" for our blues. We were in luck as we found that every Monday Roxy offers drink specials that include $3 Margaritas and $2 drafts as well as appetizers that include $2 tacos (which were great) and $4 pulled pork sliders (which were even better!). Luckily we saved a little room, and our main courses were a Bledsoe Farms Pork Chop and Braised Short Ribs.

The owner Ron Gilliland and wife Terri were both raised in the country - Terri here in the States and Ron in Ireland. Having worked several summers in Ireland, I know what they mean when they say they like to serve fresh dairy and hormone free meats. Roxy does an outstanding job in obtaining their meats from local farms including their own, Lucky Dog Ranch in Dixon. Roxy does an equally outstanding job of preparing the excellently sourced local ingredients as evidenced by the delicious Short Ribs and Pork Chop my companion and I were able to enjoy.

A Luxx "two thumbs" up and a promising return.

Taste of Howell Mountain

Charles Krug Winery hosted a "Taste of Howell Mountain" last Saturday. This was a great event, as over 40 different wineries from Howell Mountain were represented in one location. In case you are not familiar with Howell Mountain, it forms the eastern ridge of the the Napa Valley, and was actually the first sub-appellation of the Valley.

Howell Mountain grapes are generally grown at elevations of 1,200 to 2,00 feet above sea level. Consequently, the vines enjoy a direct breeze from the Pacific Ocean which results in cooler temperatures than vines that are grown on the Valley Floor receive. The drainage is generally superb and the rich volcanic soil makes this an excellent location for some tasty Cabernet.

Among the favorites at the tasting were Cabs from Dunn Vineyards, O'Shaughnessy Wine Estate, CADE and SPENCE. Most of the wineries in Howell Mountain are set back in such a beautiful landscape overlooking the valley it would be a shame not to plan a trip and spend the day up in Howell.

Traveling With A Cell Phone?

Here is a link to a great article about traveling with a cell phone from a Chauffeur we follow on Twitter.

Although the article is "Denver centric", the five emergency tips he gives could prove to be invaluable wherever you might be.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

So Much To Do - So Little Time

There are a lot of fun things happening this weekend in the wine country.

Solarbration takes place Saturday night from 6-9pm at Bardessono Resort and Spa in Yountville. Ten Napa Wineries that practice sustainable farming will be celebrating the Solstice with live music, tastings and sustainably grown gourmet cuisines. Participating wineries include Peju, Honig, ZD (one of our newest "friends" on Twitter), and one of our personal favs, Larkmead. The cost is $50 per person.

Sustainable? Biodynamic? These terms can be fairly confusing when you are new to the "Green Wines". Visit the CIA at Greystone Saturday before you head to Solarbration from 2-4 p.m. where they are offering a class, "Understanding Organic, Biodynamic & Sustainable Wine Growing." Here you can decipher terms and labels and taste a variety of wines grown by people committed to making a great impact in the glass with the least impact on the environment.

And as I always say, there is nothing better in life than bubbly! This Sunday you can join Mayo Family Winery as they host their annual "Oysters and Bubbles Bash" from 12-5 p.m. Feast on Fried Oysters, Raw Oysters and even BBQ'd Oysters with their Estate Bottled Sparkling Wine and others that bode well with the delicious bivalve mollusks! If you are a wine club member the cost is free for you and a guest and only $10 otherwise!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Green Awareness Wrap-Up

On Sunday, we participated in the Sacramento River Cats Annual Green Awareness Weekend. We had our Hybrid Tahoe on display and we distributed over 3,000 baseball shaped fans to those in attendance. These came in handy, as Sunday was actually the first day in quite a while where if finally felt like summer.

Pictured here is our newest employee, Joey Campodonico handing out fans to some our future prom goers and brides!

We are proud to be Sacramento's only transportation company that is a member of both Green ride Global as we as the EPA's Climate Leaders Program. If you would like to know more about our green commitment, check it out here.






Backyard BBQ

Coming into the season of BBQ it can be hard to think of a wine that would help bring out the flavor of grilled meats, slow cooked pork, but would still hold up well with coleslaw and potato salad. However, over the weekend, I found two that I believe would go well with any type of outdoor gathering - and get this - they are both red, and you serve both of them cold!

My first recommendation is Cakebread Cellars Rubaiyat, which is a blend of 83% Pinot Noir, 15% Zinfandel and 2% Syrah. The unusual name comes not from the grape itself, but rather from a famous verse in a book of poems by Persian philosopher Omar Khayyam. With flavors of fresh strawberries and cherries with a hint of spice this wine is sure to complement any type of picnic fare.

My second recommendation is Peju's Provence. This red and white blend of Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and French Colombard has bright fruit notes with a finish of strawberry rhubarb pie.

If neither of these strike your fancy, then you can always turn to my personal favorite - bubbly, which I think goes with any type of food be it fried, raw, roasted or BBQ!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekday Wine

A great way to see Napa, Amador or any wine region is to see it during the week. As with most Hospitality sectors, wine country can be packed tight with visitors from all over on the weekends. Getting to a tasting room and finding that your Host is busy serving up 2 sometimes 4 others besides yourself can be a disappointment if you are there to get some insight.

Visiting a winery Monday thru Thursday can be exciting because it is almost as if you have the Valley to yourself. You get into a tasting room and find that all the attention is yours, all the questions you can think of answered, and this time its you who could have 2 Hosts!

Some wineries are so happy to see guests this time of the week they may even be inclined to offer a few extra tastes maybe even from the barrel and aren't afraid to take you "behind the scenes" to see where the magic happens. For a different kind of winery experience plan a weekday trip with friends! Especially with Harvest Season coming up it could be a fun way to really get to know wine!

Entries Due Tomorrow For Our Office Day Getaway

Tomorrow is the deadline for entry into our second of three of Office Day Getaway Prizes we are offering in conjunction with the Sacramento River Cats. The winner will be chosen on Wednesday and along with 19 associates will be picked up at work in our party bus on June 24th and taken to the River Cats game where they will watch from the privacy of their own Luxury Suite.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided, as will free wi-fi (this was a big hit with last months winners from Intel!). To enter, simply either follow this link, or email Kris Stringfellow at kstringfellow@rivercats.com with your name, your companies name and contact information. It is just that simple!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Green Awareness Weekend At Raley Field

Join us on Sunday as we take part in the River Cats Annual Green Awareness Weekend. We will be displaying our Tahoe Hybrid and handing out fans to the first 3,000 "fans" who stop by.

Our Green Commitment goes much further than participation in this event. We are the Sacramento areas only member of Green Ride Global. GRG as we refer to them, independently monitors our Green House Gas Emissions and provides us with a quarterly report. Our last quarterly report showed that our miles per gallon have increased 26% and our emissions have decreased by 10% despite having a 72% increase in the number of miles traveled.
Hope to see you on Sunday.

Nascar Mates With Wine

A recent visit to August Briggs Winery in Calistoga brought to my attention that the same winemaker August "Joe" Briggs also makes wines for Jeff Gordon. Specializing in Zinfandels and Pinot Noirs, this boutique winery was pleasant not only on the palate but for my eyes as well with Joe's nephews, Jesse and Aaron pouring for us. Also worth noting is that they make a Charbono that is available for their wine club members only.

Curiosity got the better of me and after researching a bit about Jeff Gordon's wine I came across Bennett Lane Winery which actually sponsors a car that races in Nascar! And from there I was directed to a Nielsen Sports survey that said wine consumption among Nascar enthusiast is up 22%!

Sunday June 21st this car will be racing at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma and I think I may have to check this out and enjoy some wine!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Larkmead & Bagpipes

This was my first visit to the 145 acre site of Larkmead Vineyards, but it certainly will not be my last. Upon arrival we were greeted by the Winery Manger, Colin, who just happened to be walking out as we were walking in. Apparently he liked us, as he decided to stay and chat for awhile.
Colin's spoke with a distinctive Scottish brogue, and after we learned that the winemaker is also from Scotland (and more recently from Gemstone), it didn't surprise us at all to hear bagpipes playing in the distance (that is Colin, Steve the Bagpipe Player, and yours truly in the picture).

In addition to Colin, we were also hosted by Sonny, who had us first taste the Larkmead Sauvignon Blanc. This was only the second time Larkmead had produced this wine, and unfortunately, only 873 cases were made. Luckily some are still available!

The next wine that Sonny brought to us really caught our attention. The "Firebelle" is made from 100% estate grown grapes. It is a Bordeaux- style blend and was sumptuous. There is also quite a "scantily" tale, of how the wine got its name, which I will leave to Sonny to repeat to you but here is a hint - it involves the Coit Tower in SF!

The tasting fee is waived at Larkmead if you decide to purchase 3 or more bottles or become a wine club member. The prices range from $30 to $75 and are actually quite a steal when compared to the enjoyment these wines bring.