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 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:

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!