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 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 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.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kara Lawson Relates A Great Story Of A Limo Ride

Kara along with her husband Damien are our new corporate spokespersons. Here is a short video of Kara taking about her first limo ride to a sporting event. Hope you enjoy and maybe it will give you an idea on how to make an ever lasting impression on your son or daughter.

CIA Greystone rolls out the (quick) Red Carpet

Although my partner in crime and I didn't have any set course for our trip to Napa we did make it to the restaurant at the CIA Greystone. Both of our courses delectable, White Grape Gazpacho and King Salmon with Fresh Crab for me, and Crispy Dumplings and an extremely tender Hangar Steak for my friend.

Of course we had expected the food to be sumptuous, I mean, we were at the Culinary Institute of America, but it went beyond our expectations. Not to mention 2 courses, a bottle of wine and water for under $140! For the service and flavor experience you can't beat that! And in under an hour!

Had we made an itinerary for the day I would have been skeptical to stop at such a nice location because I would have thought it would be a "dining" experience, meaning we would be there for at least 2 hours.

A Luxx "2 thumbs up" and a must stop for Napa! Call me and I'll set up your tour!

Enter To Win A Limo Ride & VIP Tickets To The VIP Premiere Party Of Expereince El Dorado

Luxury Limousines has teamed up with the Producers of "Experience El Dorado" to provide limousine service for two to the show's VIP Premiere Party which is being held on July 5th at the Red Hawk casino. In addition to the Limousine ride and VIP admittance, the winners will also receive $200 in gambling credits courtesy of Red Hawk.

For more information on this locally produced show including how to enter this contest, follow this link.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Karmere, Sobon and Terra D'oro

We made three other tasting room stops while visiting Amador on Saturday - Karmere, Sobon and Terra D'oro.

Karmere is a family owned and operated winery on 150 acres of gorgeous rolling hills. Their wines are named after the women in the family. Because they produce so many varietals, the naming process is now all the way down to grand-daughters. Our tasting room host, Mark, proved to be extremely knowledgeable in soil and flavor profiles.

Though Sobon may not exhibit the wide open space as the other tasting rooms, you will find their entire back wall boasting several silver, gold and even double gold awards from the State Fair. A great steal for a fabulously lush Zinfandel is their '07 "Old Vines" sold at this California designated Historic Landmark property for only $12! One word of caution, beware of the tiny frogs that inhabit the property!

As we had just eaten at Villa Toscano, we unfortunately couldn't partake of the BBQ that Terra D'oro was hosting on their picnic friendly patio. However, we still enjoyed a marvelous nebbiolo/syrah rose. This wine's brisk acidity and balanced fruit is assured to go with a melange of summertime foods.

Adding any of these three wineries to your Amador itinerary will serve you well.

Villa Toscano & Bella Piazza

Our first stop on our Amador Wine Tour was Villa Toscano and fittingly, our last stop was its sister winery, Bella Piazza. Both facilities are among the nicest in Amador, and although they share the same winemaker, Susan Farrington, the wines she creates for each are so different stylistically that I think both wineries should seriously be included on any wine tasting trip to Amador.

At Villa Toscano, our tasting host was “John, the Barrel Guy”. We found John to be both enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable. He led us "behind the scenes" where we were able to taste the '07 Rattlesnake Rock Zinfandel. Although this full bodied jammy Zinfandel won't be ready for another 8 months you can order some now. Another must try was the Viognier. If hosting a bbq this exotic wine will be perfect to enjoy!Before returning to our hybrid Tahoe, we made a quick detour to Villa Toscano’s “cucina” where we grabbed one of the best tri tip sandwiches I have had. It was piled high with tender meat, mushrooms, onions and just the right amount of sauce for only $7.95! A steal! They also offered paninis, pizza, antipasti, pasta salad and wine available to enjoy.

We also give Bella Piazza a Luxx “two thumbs up” rating. The setting is just as beautiful as Villa Toscano, and once again we found our tasting room experience enhanced by the knowledge of Vanessa, our tasting room host. Here the Viognier has a little more acidity but was equally enjoyable. The Primitivo, which is the Italian version of Zinfandel, has excellent aging potential if you are looking to add to your collection. The sophisticated Barbera with its berry flavors was my personal favorite.Both wineries can host an array of private events and parties with spectacular views of their vineyards, and next to a Koi Pond at Villa Toscano.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Amador Wines

I made my first journey to the Amador Wine Region, and came away quite utterly impressed. I knew they made spectacular Zinfandels, but I did not realize the region should also be known as "Little Italy"!

Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Barbera. Primitivo and yes, even the mother of all Italian grapes, Montepulciano showed her face, so much so that we even added a case to Bill's home cellar. Neither the Napa or Sonoma Wine Regions can successfully grow these varietals as they do not have the heat nor the decomposed granite soil that is found in Amador County.

In my next few blog posts I will provide and in depth "taste" of the four wineries that we visited.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Local Wine Events

Whether you are looking to get out locally, or get some friends together for a short jaunt, here are some exciting things happening this weekend:

Cesar Chavez park in downtown Sacramento is hosting a "Grape Escape" from 4-7 p.m. this Saturday featuring 60 wineries with over 200 wines and 40 restaurants. For ticket info go to click here.

Celebrating their 25th year, Fair Play is presenting their "Weekend with a Winemaker Festival". Held Saturday and Sunday from 11-5. For further information check out the Fairplay Winemakers Association website. If you would like to make this trip even more care free, consider having one of our chauffeurs pick you up and deliver you back safely in the comfort of one of our limos. We still have limited availability both days, so call today!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


The second period of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals didn’t feature any scoring, but I sure as heck did!

Tuesday night, I found myself once again at a restaurant in a strip mall (maybe I need to get a new dining companion?). This time it was Chinois, located at the intersection of Watt and Fair Oaks; however my experience here was completely different from the night before (see my review of Il Forno Classico below).

Our server was Becca (yes, we even got a name this time!) From her welcoming smile, to her perfectly created cocktails in a pint glass (sorry Bo!), to the Asian Cuisine both from the menu and the“ala Bayer” creations, Chinois was perfect.

We didn't have to worry about the “2 minutes, 2 bites rule” as Becca was attentive enough to see our satisfied expressions. She also had enough sense to realize that my companion and I were into the hockey game so much that she served our food onto our plates for us, and even came out from behind the bar so as to not break our eye contact with the hockey game.

Although their wine list doesnot rival Il Forno Classico, it still contains the staples, with a great selection of half bottles. If you venture into mixed drinks, have a driver ready as Becca has a lead hand! Might I suggest Luxx Limo?

Kudos to Chinois and Becca. We will be back soon, and so should you!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hot, Hot, Hot

Check out the excellent video montage of the Cinco de Mayo Bridal Expo held at David Girard Vineyards. The event sponsored by the Association for Wedding Professionals International, and we were pleased to provide transporation services for the gathering.

First and possibly last look at Il Forno Classico

I want you all to know, that I am generally a positive person. That being said, I would have expected my first review for How We Roll to be positive. So let me just say this - the wine was great! Here is our experience at Il Forno Classico

Since I am fairly new to the area, my friend took me to a place off the beaten path nestled in a strip mall. When he first said we are headed to an Italian restaurant in a Strip Mall, I immediately cringed at the thought of a high traffic area with nothing to look at but highway. However, I was utterly impressed by the lush surroundings once we reached the restaurant on Sunrise Blvd.

Tucked away, Il Forno Classico and Wine bar showed promise. On arrival, we noticed that no one was utilizing the outside seating despite the beautiful evening and equally beautiful sunset. The Host immediately greeted us and began walking us into the dining room before even asking if we wanted to sit outside. I only mention that because for a fleeting moment I thought about enjoying the patio. We were offered a booth which neither one of us really enjoy and after craning our heads and noticing seats at the bar we inquired if there was a full menu served there. Since both of us are bar rats, we were pleased that the answer was yes, and it took us only a second to "belly up".

The wine list at Il Forno Classico proved to be extensive with a vast Cabernet section; I was also delighted to see an array of Italian wines being offered as well as a mix of interesting whites and reds. Unfortunately, this is where our evening started to veer off course. With a wine list this extensive, it would have been appropriate for the bartender to offer his suggestions and recommendations, especially since there is a small tasting and sales room off to the side; however, we were left to fend for ourselves. Thankfully we can both navigate a wine list, but for those who have not yet opened the wine love box, such a list can seem a bit forceful and daunting.

We decided to order a bottle of the 2005 Shafer Relentless, a blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah grapes grown on ridge tops and foothills along the Vaca Mountains in Napa. This big black berry fruited wine with meatiness and long tannins was something I hadn't enjoyed in awhile.

The actual serving of the wine was also a little off. After properly decanting the wine, the bartender poured each of us a full glass. In my opinion, it would have been better if he would have only poured about half a glass, and left the rest to decant further.

The food menu at Il Forno Classico was your typical Italian-American fare, boasting such items as calamari, sausage cannelloni, Caesar salads, tomato and mozzarella salads, entrees of pasta, veal and chicken each served both parmesan and picatta style. (While we were not offered a dessert menu, I would suspect tiramisu being the highlight.)

I will skip the details of the bread/ balsamic/ butter incident, but suffice it to say, our bartender/waiter’s tip started to seriously decrease when he ignored us, and then admittedly forgot that we had asked for butter.

Just after finally receiving our long lost pats of butter, our sausage cannelloni appetizer arrived. We found it to be overloaded with a bland tomato sauce and what tasted like sausages from a can of Chef Boyardee. My cohort and I started to wonder if the "B" team was working this Monday night shift.

Our dinner of Veal Parmigiana and Butternut Squash arrived shortly thereafter. Now being a hockey fan, I was really excited about the Red Wings win the night before, but I don’t think the kitchen should have celebrated the win by serving hockey pucks in lieu of the veal. To put it kindly, it was burnt to a crisp. After once again hunting down our bartender/waiter (who had totally violated the "2 minutes 2 bites" rule generally applied in restaurants) we sent the veal back.

Round 2 of the veal turned out to be fork tender (as I think veal should be) but it was still covered with the same bland tomato sauce that was used with the cannelloni.

While eating, we noticed Il Forno boasted a wine tasting featuring the wines of Sbragia this Thursday. We have had a chance to visit this amazing vineyard with a gorgeous deck and talk with one of the jovial owners so we asked if the winery's owners or winemakers would be in attendance. Though Il Forno Classico's food had not impressed, getting a chance to talk with a winery owner/maker is always a treat. However, we were told the restaurant itself puts on the tastings mainly because wineries will bring in other wines not offered in the store and the point of their tasting is to sell wine from their store.

We weren't offered dessert, or even an espresso. We instead took the last of our Relentless and headed to their wine room to see what was in the collection. Had our bartender or a tasting room employee come over and offered a little insight, I'm sure we wouldn't have been hard pressed for a sale. Wine bars can be such a fun and exciting way to try, experience, and learn wine, but once again we were disappointed.

In summary, perhaps we just experienced an “off” night. However, I think it will be long time before we go back and try Il Forno Classico again.

Restrauant And Tasting Room Reviews

I am pleased to announce that Angelina Brittain has joined our staff as Wine Concierge. Angleina is a second level sommelier and is studying for her Certification as a wine educator. Not only will she be coordinating our wine tours, but she will also be contributing wine and food related articles to our blog.

Her first article will appear later today. You can reach Angelina at