What's great in wine, beer, fine dining,
places to stay, & places to visit
in California State

Trolley Inside Picmonkey

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 10, 2016 – Sterling Transportation has announced the official launch of the Sterling Trolley, a vintage street trolley that will enrich Sacramento’s transportation options for tourists and locals for downtown events, sports games, weddings and private tours.

The Sterling Trolley is Sacramento’s only vintage street trolley, featuring 15 wooden benches accommodating 30 total passengers. With classic origins such as hardwood floors and a backside balcony, this retrofitted trolley possesses modern features such as a Bluetooth stereo, and overhead LED multi-colored lighting.

bike trail Sacto Picmonkey 2Bike trail follows American River for nearly 30 miles

by Matthew Guillory

May 24, 2016 - When you are planning your visit to Sacramento, remember that “California Begins Here.” That does not only refer to the history of California and our designation as the capital city – it also refers to the Sacramento lifestyle. Sacramento celebrates the California lifestyle in a laid-back, approachable way that its visitors can enjoy as well.

Friday, 13 November 2015 13:23

November 13, 2015 Wine Pick of the Week

barefoot zinfandel Picmonkey

Zinfandel (N/V)

 

Barefoot

Lodi

Suggested Retail: 750ml $7, 1.5L $10.*

*average retail prices nationwide

 

“Recently we saw long-time wine writer Dan Berger’s comments about Barefoot Zinfandel and figured with his recommendation it had to be good. It is.

“Fruit for this wine comes from the Lodi appellation, which is about 45 miles south of Sacramento. In recent years vineyard acreage has increased hugely in the area. Though many varieties are grown successfully here, Zinfandel has always been regarded as Lodi’s signature grape.

Thursday, 10 September 2015 18:41

Five Reasons to Travel to Sacramento by Train

CapitalCorridor passengers Picmonkeyby Matthew Guillory

What if your trip to Sacramento was part of the fun? The Capitol Corridor is an excellent and convenient way to travel to Sacramento from the Bay Area and the Central Valley. Whether you are planning a trip for a large group or a small family gathering, there are several reasons you should consider using Amtrak and the Capitol Corridor when planning your next trip to Sacramento.

Sunday, 02 August 2015 00:08

Serrano Concours Set for October

Classics at Serrano Concours Picmonkey

TASTE News Service August 2, 2015 - Niello Concours at Serrano will celebrate its 12th anniversary on October 4, 2015. The setting will be Serrano Country Club in El Dorado Hills, just east of Sacramento. Featured will be Cadillac automobiles and a salute to 60 years of Ferrari in America.

Deemed last year’s Best of Show was a 1952 Bentley Mark VI convertible entered by Leon Garoyan of Davis, California. Among the other presentations were the Honorary Judges Award, which went to Raymond Lacy III of Arcata for his 1957 Triumph TR 3. The Tour Award was taken by Lynn Kissel of Cameron Park who drove his 1933 Pierce Arrow. Scott Schneider’s 1959 Porsche 356 D Convertible received the nod as the Richard Niello Sr. Outstanding Porsche. Meguiar’s Best Finish Award went to the 1960 Chrysler 300 F entered by Frank Messina. The Most Elegant Motor Car accolade went to the 1938 Mercedes 540K Special Roadster of Roger Orton of Sacramento. Another Mercedes, a 1957 300 SL roadster entered by Ted Voight of Pebble Beach was the SCCA 2014 High Point Championship winner. More information about the 2015 edition of this event can be found at http://www.nielloconcoursatserrano.com.

Editor’s Note: If you’ll be visiting the Sacramento or Sierra Foothills area for this event, check out the listings in Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to Wineries and Craft Beer producers in the area.

CA State Fair rosette

By Dan Clarke

Sacramento, California June 18, 2015 - Today the California State Fair announced winners of its 2015 Commercial Wine judging. Wines selected as Best of Show in both red and white categories were made from varieties native to Spain and relatively obscure in this country. Moreover, the grapes were grown and vinified in regions obviously capable of producing great wine, though perhaps not well-known by the average consumer.

Picked as Best of Show Red was the 2012 Tempranillo from El Dorado County’s Lewis Grace (Grace Patriot) winery. Honors for Best of Show White went to the 2014 Albarino entry from Oak Farms Vineyards in the Lodi appellation.

While many “Cult Cabernets” are now priced way over $100 a bottle, 72 of the best wine judges in California chose a wine retailing at $30 as 2015’s best red wine. Though top quality Chardonnay, California’s most popular and most prestigious white wine, can approach—and even exceed—$50, those same judges declared that the $19 Oak Farms Vineyards Albarino is the best white wine of 2015.

This year's wine competition consisted of 2,881 wine entries received from 743 participating winery brands. Seventy-two judges on 18 panels awarded 57 Double Golds and 254 Golds, and the top winners showed the diversity of California wine, coming from around the state and from wineries of every size.

“California's 78,000 farms and ranches produce roughly half of all the fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the United States; and our grape industry accounts for 90 percent of all wine consumed in America. As one of the oldest professional wine competitions in the nation, we are extremely pleased that for the second year in a row the State Fair has seen increased participation in our prestigious wine competition,” said Rick Pickering, CEO of the California State Fair. “With more than 2,800 wine entries from 700 plus wineries, the State Fair continues to be an enormous showcase of the Best of California."

The first State Fair Wine Competition was held in 1855. The competition is the oldest and one of the most prestigious wine events in the country. Top wines, including Best of Region and Best of California winners, will be featured at the State Fair in Sacramento ain the Save Mart Supermarkets Wine Garden for visitors to enjoy July 10-26.

Comprehensive information on all the winners of this year’s California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition is available here.

Editor’s Note: If you’re planning to visit the wine country of El Dorado County or of the Lodi appellation, first check out Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of all the Wineries, as well as links to the websites of hundreds of nearby Lodging and Dining options.

Buffalo Brewery lithoSacramento's Buffalo Brewery

TASTE News Service, May 14, 2015 - Once home to the largest brewery in the Golden State, Sacramento's beer scene is back – in a big way. Home to more than 40 breweries, the Sacramento region is embracing its agricultural roots to create homegrown beers that are quickly attracting international attention. Beyond a staggering selection of local brews to choose from, Sacramento visitors will find some of the country's best beer events and activities that are sure to quench their thirst.

“In many ways, Sacramento is the birthplace of beer in California,” said Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau Tourism Director Nick Leonti. “It's only fitting that the region has reclaimed its title as one of the best craft beer destinations in the Golden State. There's enough variety here to please any beer fan, and it's not every day that you can enjoy an ale that was crafted from hops grown only a few miles away.”  

History

Prior to prohibition, Sacramento was the beer capital of the West. The region's abundant fresh water supply, coupled with ideal growing conditions for California's first hops fields, led to more than 16 breweries in the city's downtown alone. Chief among them was Buffalo Brewing Company, the largest brewery west of the Mississippi River. Captain Frank Ruhstaller was a leader in Sacramento's beer production, helping to found several breweries including his namesake, Ruhstaller Brewery. Prohibition came, and the land formerly used to grow hops was converted to other crops. These crops can still be found throughout the region's farmland today, including almonds, pears, tomatoes and rice.

The Return of Sacramento's Beer Scene

Today's Sacramento beer scene is vibrant, and craft brew tasting rooms are scattered throughout the city's downtown and Midtown core, and across the region. Stalwart Sacramento breweries such as River City Brewing and Rubicon Brewing Company have been around for more than a decade, and they're still going strong as new breweries join the scene. Over the past five years, beer makers such as Track 7 and Bike Dog have added to the mix, while Ruhstaller Beer and New Helvetia Brewing Company have also opened, paying homage to Sacramento's rich brewing past.

Ruhstallers beer sign PicmonkeyHops-to-Pint

Captain Ruhstaller's legacy can still be seen today in the region's remerging brew scene, with a new iteration of Ruhstaller returning to Sacramento in 2013. The modern day Ruhstaller's founder J-E Paino established a hops farm and yard in 2013 just outside of the city, and brews his beer locally. During harvest season, beer fans can tour the farm and see how the growing hops go on to become of the region's most popular brews. And Ruhstaller's fan base extends well beyond the Sacramento region, with distribution of its brews extending as far as Great Britain.

Beer Events

It's no surprise that the Sacramento region is also home to some of the country's best beer events. From the annual Sacramento Beer & Chili Festival, to the city’s own “Sactoberfest,” there's always something beer-related on the Sacramento region's calendar.

In March, beer fans flock to Sacramento for Beer Week – a non-stop, city-wide party designed to showcase the region's brews. Run by the Northern California Brewers Guild, Sacramento Beer Week is an 11-day celebration boasting everything from beer and food pairings to a festival on Capitol Mall with breweries from all over the state and beyond.

Coming to Sacramento in 2015 is the first annual California Craft Beer Summit and Showcase,Sac Brew Bike Picmonkey hosted by the California Craft Brewers Association. The new event, open to both the industry and the public, will be the first time craft beer enthusiasts can come together in the same room with the master brewers to see, touch, taste and learn the process of creating craft beers.

Sacramento's food scene hits a high point in September during the annual Farm-to-Fork Celebration, a two-week event designed to highlight the region's robust agriculture and fresh-food scene. A favorite attraction during the Celebration is the Farm-to-Fork Festival, a massive outdoor fair held on the city's Capitol Mall featuring booths and interactive exhibits from farms, restaurants, grocers and more. As one would expect, food and drink take center stage at the Farm-to-Fork Festival, and beer is a main attraction. The Festival boasts a packed brewer's alley that showcases beers from across the region, and many of the 20,000+ attendees head straight for the alley to get a glass of their favorite ale to enjoy while checking out the Festival.

Beer Activities

Beer-enthusiasts can do more than just sip their pints in Sacramento; the region offers a host of activities that showcase the region's brew scene. Thirsty fans can tour the region's breweries and pedal for their pints aboard Sac Brew Bike, a newer addition to the city. Or, you can sit back and sip your craft brew aboard the Sacramento Beer Train, which takes travelers along the rails through rural West Sacramento. Restaurants across the region also offer monthly beer pairing dinners, providing beer fans with a chance to sample the region's cuisine and local brews.

Editor’s Note: Planning a beer-inspired visit to the state capital? First check out California Wine and Food’s Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to the sites of local craft beer purveyors and area wineries.

Ella dining room interior PicmonkeyUrban and airy feeling at Ella

TASTE News Service May 4, 2015 - Local, seasonal, sustainable: These may be culinary buzzwords in many places, but Sacramento restaurateurs have been cooking by these principles for decades. Surrounded by unparalleled agricultural bounty, Sacramento's restaurants showcase the region's best products, from juicy tomatoes to lush old-vine Zinfandel, sweet peaches to crisp corn, nutty almonds to succulent lamb. That cornucopia inspires Sacramento's talented chefs year-round, and the city's dining scene—especially in the convenient, central downtown and Midtown areas—has boomed in recent years. The city's fresh, new dining venues and its longtime favorite haunts alike offer top-notch, inventive fare and high style, together with the welcoming vibe that characterizes this friendly city.

Downtown

In the neighborhood that surrounds the State Capitol, power-lunch places are now jointed by happening hot spots like Ella Dining Room and Bar, a venture from Randall Selland and family (the powers behind high-end stalwart The Kitchen). Ella's refined, luxe style (its signature is hundreds of wooden shutters, sourced from Europe) was created by an Amsterdam design team, and its distinctive look has been featured in magazines worldwide. The perfectly crafted small-plates fare and upscale cocktails (like a refreshing gin with house-made tonic) are just as sophisticated as the airy interior. Grange, situated in the showpiece Citizen Hotel, serves ever-changing, strictly local menus at breakfast, lunch, and dinner including well-priced nightly prix-fixe specials. The warmly lit, mod interior is framed by dramatic high windows and carved from the Citizen's renovated historic quarters. New to Sacramento in January 2014, Mother is now the can't-miss place to dine in the area. The restaurant offers a full, locally-sourced vegetarian and vegan menu.

Zocalo sidewalk dining PicmonkeySidewalk dining at ZocaloMidtown

Sacramento's hippest neighborhood draws nightly crowds not just to its art galleries and boutiques, but its hot restaurants as well. Gems abound in this dining-rich neighborhood, but two local favorites are Mulvaney's Building and Loan and The Waterboy, both of which reflect the personalities of their chef-owners with fresh, seasonal cooking. Patrick Mulvaney's intimate restaurant, which features a central display kitchen, is located in a historic brick firehouse and showcases local producers like Bledsoe Pork and Riverdog Farms on its compact but inviting menu. Rick Mahan's airy Waterboy is a favorite of locals, thanks to Mahan's local sourcing and impeccable but often adventurous California-Mediterranean cooking; the menu changes often, but he's as well known for dishes like steak tartare and sweetbreads as for a luscious, perfect burger. Local favorite Shady Lady, a speakeasy-style bar-restaurant pouring just-so traditional cocktails and serving small plates inspired by classic American fare, is the anchor for the vibrant, revitalized R Street Corridor, now packed with fun restaurants and bars that draw young crowds. Nearby Hook & Ladder highlights handcrafted cocktails and local craft beer along with its farm-fresh California cuisine. More top Midtown destinations include the longtime favorite Biba, featuring seasonally driven, meticulous Northern Italian specialties from cookbook author and TV personality Biba Caggiano; popular wine bar 58 Degrees & Holding Co., and bustling, beautifully decorated Mexican spot Zocalo. When it's time for dessert, tempt your sweet-tooth at Ginger Elizabeth. This downtown chocolatier and sweet shop, specializes in chocolates and macaroons, and many of the boutique's offerings are made with locally-sourced ingredients.

Old Sacramento and Other Areas

Squash BisqueFirehouse Squash BisqueDowntown and Midtown Sacramento may be replete with great food, but Sacramento's other neighborhoods are equally mouthwatering. Historic Old Sacramento is home to the ultra-refined The Firehouse, famed for its deep wine cellar, high-end fare from award-winning chef Deneb Williams, and special-occasion-worthy tasting menus. Another perfect pick for a big night out is The Kitchen in Arden-Arcade, where the spectacular multicourse dinners are a show in and of themselves. Plan your visit a few weeks in advance! Craving a waterfront table? Try Pearl on the River, which overlooks the romantic Sacramento River and features impeccable service and a changing “live menu” concept of locally sourced ingredients. All these, and many more, combine to make Sacramento and its diverse restaurant scene a delicious destination.

 

Editor’s Note: To meet some of the people responsible for creating Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork identity, see article by Dan Clarke. If you’re planning on visiting Sacramento visit Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory first. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to area Wineries and Craft Beer Purveyors.

Sunday, 09 November 2014 19:59

Gina Gallo Honored by American Wine Society

Gina Gallo PicmonkeyGina Gallo

TASTE News Service November 10, 2014 - Gina Gallo of the E & J Gallo Winery received the American Wine Society's 2014 Award of Merit at the organization's national conference in Concord, N.C. Nov. 1.

Part of the third generation of the family that helped shape the world of wine, Gina Gallo distinguished herself through the Gallo Signature Series, limited production wines made with the best grapes from Gallo's estate vineyards.

Granddaughter of company co-founder Julio Gallo, Gina began her life in agriculture at the age of 10, working in the family's vegetable garden. Farm and vineyard became both a school and playground.  She earned her bachelor's degree from Notre Dame de Namur University and studied winemaking at University of California at Davis, later apprenticing at the Gallo family's experimental micro-winery in Modesto, California, and developing the Gallo Signature label.

Before the crowd of 570 at the Embassy Suites Golf Resort & Spa in Concord, Gina Gallo explained how she had recently left harvest, trading her jeans for a skirt to accept the award. 

"My grandfather, Julio, and great uncle Ernest, taught us to tend to the fields and left us a legacy that we continue to learn from," she said.  "I am truly humbled and honored to receive the Award of Merit from the American Wine Society."

The AWS presents the Award of Merit in recognition of significant and meritorious contributions to the wine industry.  "Throughout the history of E&J Gallo, the Gallo family has shown an ability to evolve with consumers and the market," said Jane Duralia, president of the American Wine Society. "Gina has continued that tradition through her passion and incredible wine making abilities, helping Gallo continue as major force in wine industry."

About the American Wine Society

Founded in 1967, the American Wine Society (AWS) is the largest consumer-based organization in the U.S. dedicated to promoting wine appreciation through education. AWS is a non-profit organization of over 4,300 wine enthusiasts, from novice to expert, in 130 chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada. Membership is open to any adult interested in wine. For more information visit American Wine Society.

Saturday, 08 November 2014 13:40

November 7, 2014 Beer Pick of the Week

Berryessa tap handle Picmonkey

Freshie

 

Berryessa Brewing Co.

Winters, California

Style: American IPA

Alcohol: 5%

IBUs: 45

Serving Style: Kegs

Availability: Seasonal at the time of fresh hop harvest. Good distribution in Winters/Davis/Sacramento area and some in San Francisco Bay Area

 

Appearance:  “Light hay color. Thick off-white head.”

Aroma:  “Citrus and spice.”

Taste:  “A somewhat bitter pink grapefruit quality that is balanced with some gorgeous hops—they complement each other.”

Food Affinity:  “Fish, especially fish & chips. The wet hop component would be a good interplay with the battered fish.”

Chris Delgado Nov 2014 Picmonkey

 

 

Reviewed by Chris Delgado

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