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Thursday, 27 June 2013 23:19

2015 U.S. Senior Open Set for Sacramento


Del Paso CC PicmonkeyDel Paso Country Club in Sacramento.

The United States Golf Association has announcedthat Sacramento's storied Del Paso Country Club will play host to the 2015 U.S. Senior Open Championship June 22-28, 2015, .

With a list of past champions that includes such legends as Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin, the U.S. Senior Open is considered the world's premier championship in men's senior (ages 50 and over) golf.

A recent economic impact study done on the championship estimates that the U.S. Senior Open will pump an estimated $17 million into the Sacramento region's economy over seven days. More than 150,000 spectators are expected at Del Paso over the full week.

Del Paso, which underwent an $11.5 million makeover in 2007, has held USGA events before - the 1957 and 1976 U.S. Women's Amateurs, the 1960 Senior Women's Amateur and the 1982 U.S. Women's Open.  Thirty-three years after the USGA last set up shop at Del Paso, the 2015 U.S. Senior Open will come to Northern California for the first time ever.

The U.S. Senior Open features more than 15 hours of live television coverage on network and cable television and will be seen in 50 countries worldwide.

Tom Watson chipping PicmonkeyTom Watson is expected to be in the field for 2015 Senior Open at Del Paso.Current Champions Tour stars who can be expected to play in Sacramento are Fred Couples, Curtis Strange, Nick Price, Bernhard Langer, Peter Jacobsen, Mark O'Meara, Mark Calcavecchia and the ageless Irwin. Three-time major champion Vijay Singh turns 50 in 2013. Davis Love III turns 50 in 2014 and will be eligible to play, as will Sacramento native and Del Paso member Kevin Sutherland.

Since its inception in 1980, the U.S. Senior Open has been contested on some of the most famous courses in the world - Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, N.C., Oakland Hills Country Club in Birmingham, Mich., Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills, Colo., and Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

"Sacramento looks forward to hosting the 2015 U.S. Senior Open," said Mayor Kevin Johnson. "It's an exciting opportunity both to support our regional economy and to showcase Sacramento on a national and international stage."

Del Paso Country Club opened in 1916, making it the oldest private course in the Sacramento Valley. Renowned golf-course designer Kyle Phillips oversaw the re-design that was completed in 2006. The course was lengthened to the extent that it now measures more than 7,100 yards from the back tees. The renovation included switching to rye-grass fairways and bent-grass greens and constructing a first-rate practice facility that will be popular with the U.S. Senior Open contestants.

"With the estimated hotel room nights upwards of 25,000, this will be one of the largest sporting events that Sacramento has ever hosted," said Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO Steve Hammond.  "The duration of the tournament, coupled with the international television exposure, positions Sacramento to realize the benefits of this event even after its conclusion."

The field at Del Paso will feature 156 professionals and amateurs, including all of the top players on the Champions Tour.

In the years leading up to 2015, the U.S. Senior Open will be held at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich. (2012); Omaha Country Club in Omaha, Neb. (2013); and Oak Tree National in Edmond, Okla. (2014).


Editor's Note: Readers anticipating a visit to the Sacramento area may want to check out Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. In it are links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well links to area wineries and brewpubs.

Saturday, 08 June 2013 22:49

Tasting in Classic Circumstances

by Dan Clarke

Sometimes I have to work on the weekends. Sometimes this is not such a bad thing.

Editing a publication that covers both wines and cars, I couldn't pass up Wine, Tunes & Classics. The wineries of Lake County had put together this event, which was to be held at the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento. The museum is open year-round and has a fine permanent collection of cars. They also feature rotating exhibits and on this day they were to be celebrating the opening of Elegance in Motion: Cars of the Golden Age. Lake County wineries would be pouring. There would be some food and a live band, too. I had not visited a vineyard or winery in Lake County in a couple of years and it had been even longer since I'd been to the museum. It was time.Cad V16 nose iewCadillac elegance on a massive scale.

Entering the museum I hear music coming from an adjacent room. The band isn't playing the music of the age of elegance defined by the automobiles featured, but it s playing music I remember—tunes from the 50s and 60s. Happy music.

Winery pouring tables are arrayed against the walls of the main hall around the centerpiece exhibit, the roped-off display of these gorgeous cars that were joining the museum's ongoing collection through October 13th. When I get to the rope I am nose-to-nose with a Cadillac. It is a blue four-door convertible, a 1939 model, I think. It seems as big as a float in the Rose Parade. Years earlier when I acquired a pre-owned Coupe de Ville with a 500-cubic inch V8 engine, I thought I was really styling. This blue beauty is a V16 and way cooler.

Pierce Arrow front PicmonkeyArcher on radiator cap and headlamps springing from fenders are distinctive Pierce Arrow features.Inside the ropes there are other examples of this Golden Age of motoring, many whose names might be unfamiliar these days: Stutz, Deusenberg, Hispano-Suiza, Cord, Auburn, La Salle, Pierce Arrow, Packard—they might not be in motion, but they are undeniably elegant.

Driving down to this event I was thinking about Lake County. My first awareness of the wines was probably the Kendall Jackson Chardonnay that made such a spectacular debut 30 years ago. In those days the winery was in Lakeport. K-J has since become hugely successful, moved to Sonoma County and now sources grapes from all over the state. A few years later I was attending a dinner at the Buena Vista . Their Sauvignon Blanc was wonderful. Winemaker Jill Davis said that the grapes came not from the winery's own estate in Sonoma, but from Lake County. The wine had a purer expression of fruit than I had ever experienced with this variety. So I began paying more attention to Lake County.

When compared to the wine experience in neighboring Napa and Sonoma, Lake County has always been sort of a stepchild. It doesn't have the cachet of these regions, but important things are going on there. If those bent on making a lifestyle statements aren't developing vineyards and wineries in Lake County, savvy professionals in the wine business are.

I thought of Lake County people I had met over the years. I knew that some, like the late Bob Romougiere, wouldn't be in attendance. Orville and Karen McGoon had sold their Guenoc property a few years ago and presumably were living in happy retirement. The Holdenreids of Wildhurst Winery were among the first Lake County vintners I had met years ago. Might they be here? How about Jerry Brassfield and Kaj Ahlmann? They own neighboring properties (Brassfield Estates and Six Sigma) and Don Neal, another writer, and I had enjoyed an overhead tour of their vineyards in Jerry's helicopter a few years ago. As it turns out, many of the people in my Lake County memories aren't at this tasting. But most are still alive, at least, and still in the wine business. If I won't be renewing old acquaintances, I'll enjoy making new ones.

I see a name I recognize, if not a face. The sign says Rosa d'Oro Vineyards and I remember that they had sent wine samples for review a few years ago. The recollection is less than vivid, but I'm pretty sure that I liked their wines. I meet owner Nick Buttitta, who is pouring several of his wines, one of which is a Barbera, a variety that appeals to both of us. After some talk about farming and food-friendly wines, we realize that we'll both be at the upcoming Barbera Festival in Amador County and decide to continue our conversation there.

Jed Steele is likely the longest-serving and best-known Lake County winemaker. One of the bottles on the table under the sign reading Steele Wines is a Zinfandel labeled “Writer's Block.” Of course I want to know more, but Jed isn't here and the women pouring, while very attractive, are considerably less knowledgeable than he is. The wine is tasty, but since it takes me two weeks to begin this article, a sip of Writer's Block doesn't appear to be an antidote for the condition.

At the Alienor table I meet owners Bonnie and David Weiss. David explains that they are involved primarily in the grape farming part of the operation. They are pouring a nice Sauvignon Blanc and their 2008 Grand Vin, an excellent proprietary blend, which seems very right bankish to me. Bonnie seems pleased that I have noticed and says that it is mostly Merlot and Cabernet Franc and that a St. Emilion style is the intention of the winemaker.Tasters at Obsidian Ridge tableTasters get perspective from Clark Smith of Diamond Ridge.

In the two to three hours available to me I try to hit every one of the 19 winery tables. This would be difficult enough to accomplish, even without the distractions of the band and all those beautiful cars. As I appear in front of one table, the pourer and I do double takes, both thinking something like, “Don't I know you?” We share similar handles, his a first name and mine a surname. Clark Smith is a triple-threat performer in the wine game—a winemaker, an adjunct professor and an author (his Postmodern Winemaking is being published this summer) . We talk about the Diamond Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Franc and the composition of the 2008 “Aspects” he is pouring and the advantages of Lake County vineyards. He's damned knowledgeable about the winemaking process and often looks at issues in ways that fascinate me, yet seem to be just slightly beyond my ability to fully understand. Sometimes I feel that if I have one more glass of wine, I'll get it. On the other hand, maybe one less would clear the path to my enlightenment.

At another table I make the acquaintance of Bill Brunetti, and though he doesn't seem to have any direct connection to the winery for which he is pouring, he really knows about vineyards and wineries in the area and knows most of the people I mention having met from earlier visits. Turns out he is a Member of the Board of the Lake County Wine Grape Commission.

Couple Tasting by DeusenbergEven if it's not Jay and Daisy, the Deusenberg sets a Gatsbyesque toneBullion Creek Vineyards is another operation unfamiliar to me, but at their table I meet proprietor Richard Brand. He and his wife Gail grow Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on the north side of Mount St. Helena in the Middletown area. He pours me a taste of their estate-bottled Cab and we spend some time discussing grape growing. Since his property is in the southern part of the county and not too far from Guenoc, I ask if he knew Orville and Karen, the former owners. He did and says to the best of his knowledge they are fully retired and living in Hawaii. Richard concurs when I say they were nice people. He tells me that in addition to their public involvement in ways civic and philanthropic, Orville contributed anonymously to many families in the area when they were in need.

Part of me thinks it would be just fine to stick around. The winery folks are convivial people and the tasters are becoming ever more so as the afternoon moves into evening. The band still sounds good. The finger food served to pair with some of the wines has been excellent and there may yet be some more of it. A few of the docents from the museum are here and could answer my questions about the cars. But timing an exit can be tricky business. I decide to leave on a high note and know that I'll return to both the California Automobile Museum and to the wine country of Lake County.

Friday, 22 February 2013 13:13

Sacramento Hosts Annual Autorama

by Dan Clarke

President of the Capitol City Auto Club Thunderbolts, Harold “Baggy” Bagdasarian talked his fellow members into sponsoring a car show in November of 1950. Twenty-two entries were displayed at a downtown Chevrolet dealership and 500 spectators paid 74-cents each to attend (apparently, a price of 75 cents or more would have subjected the sponsors to a federal amusement tax). While the Thunderbolts car club backed out of involvement after a couple of years, Bagdasarian decided to go it alone, using the name “Autorama” for the first time in 1953 (that year Hollywood was experimenting with “Cinerama,” a revolutionary process that had the country abuzz with anticipation). Ownership and management of the show eventually passed to others, but every year the Sacramento Autorama, now held at Cal Expo, continues to display dazzling hot rods and custom cars.

While interest in modifying cars is pretty much world-wide these days, the phenomenon has its roots in California's car culture. A few of the cars entered in this February's show that we found interesting included:


Autorama Oldie RoadsterFord Roadster, an oldie.

40 Caddie Sophia Picmonkey"Sophia," a sleek 1940 Cadillac Coupe


















60 Dodge Dart Picmonkey1960 Dodge Dart awarded the H.A. Bagdasarian trophy as World's Most Beautiful Custom

Candy Apple Red MercMercury from the '49-'51 era. Candy Apple Red and Lake Pipes--Wow!

Friday, 25 January 2013 22:18

January 11, 2013 Wine Pick of the Week

Camelot Cab S bottle Picmonkey



Cabernet Sauvignon (N/V)


Producer: Camelot Vineyards & Winery

Appellation: California

Alcohol: 13.5%

Suggested Retail: $7


“Actually, this is a pretty nice Cabernet in a lighter style. Slightly herbal overtones with predominant blackberry and cherry flavors. Good value.”

Food affinity: “Stuffed breast of veal, Grilled chicken marinated in oil and vinegar dressing with red pepper flakes.”

Friday, 25 January 2013 22:13

January 04, 2013 Wine Pick of the Week

Dry Creek 2011 Chenin Blanc Bottle Picmonkey

2011 Dry Chenin Blanc


Producer: Dry Creek Vineyard

Appellation: Clarksburg

Alcohol: 12.5%

Suggested Retail: $12


“Dry Creek Vineyard is situated, fittingly enough, in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County, but for years the winery has sourced Chenin Blanc grapes from an area more than a two-hour drive to the southeast. Clarksburg's vineyards lie along the banks of the Sacramento River just south of the State Captiol. Other grape varieties grown there produce good quality wines, but Chenin Blanc is the star of their show. Once very popular in California when made in a slightly sweet style, Chenin Blanc fell out of favor a couple of decades ago. What a shame. Wines like this dry Chenin Blanc merit comparison to examples from France's Loire Valley. They're worthy alternatives to the ubiquitous Chardonnay and much more affordable, but they deserve recognition for their own qualities.”

“The 2011 Dry Creek Chenin Blanc exhibits aromas of melon, with a little peach and citrus. Crisp and clean favors reminiscent of apple and citrus are there. Serve chilled, but not too col, so that the minerality will show through.”

Food Affinity: Would be fine with many chicken and fish dishes and even lighter treatments of veal. It's an absolutely wonderful choice with oysters and has been a frequent winner in a nationwide oyster and wine pairing competition sponsored by Washington's Taylor Shellfish Company.

Friday, 25 January 2013 22:07

December 28, 2012 Wine Pick of the Week


MET cab 09 bottle Picmonkey


2009 Cabernet Sauvignon


Producer: Mettler Family Vineyards

Appelleation: Lodi


Suggested Retail: $24.99


“A big wine and an attractive one. The Lodi appellation has long held a fine reputation for Zinfandel, but Cabernets like this show the region should not be dismissed lightly when considering their other varieties. Composition is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petite Sirah, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. We have tasted several vintages of Mettler Cabernet and this one seems the best yet.”

“Big—lots of fruit. Blueberry and plum qualities with some cedar and leather aspects.”

“More power than finesse, but a good example of the powerful, fruit-forward style at a decent price.”

Food Affinity: Many bold, red meat dishes come to mind. How about some prime rib beef bones slowly roasted in the oven or a Webber kettle?”

Sequoia Winter shot PicmonkeySequoia in Winter

Several tourism entities and representatives from three National Parks have unveiled a new cooperative promotion highlighting Kings, Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks during a recent press conference held at Fresno/Yosemite International Airport.

The program, called Majestic Mountain Loop, will help visitors looking to experience some of California’s most popular attractions, was created by Visalia Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau, and Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

“We see a lot of people who come through the area looking to see as much as they can during the limited time they have on their trips. The Majestic Mountain Loop website and other marketing material focuses on the highlights of each park, showing those time-crunched visitors what they can see in three national parks in three days,” said Rhonda Salisbury with the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau.

Danika Heatherly, Convention and Visitors Bureau Manager for the Visalia CVB, agreed.

“These parks are immensely popular and people want to see them, but so many travelers have such limited vacation time. The Majestic Mountain Loop shows they can do it all,” she said.

Yosemite Falls PicmonkeyYosemite Falls The itinerary starts in Sequoia National Park, with stops at popular highlights such as the Giant Forest Museum, Moro Rock and the General Sherman Tree. The next attraction is Kings Canyon boasting popular spots like Boyden Cavern, Roaring River Falls and Zumwalt Meadow. Day three takes travelers to Yosemite National Park and such iconic spots as Tunnel View, Glacier Point and the Wawona Pioneer History Village. If a guest is traveling from the north, they can simply reverse the order.

“We’ve mapped out the best route for people who have big travel aspirations but small time budgets,” said Rhonda Jorn, Marketing and PR Manager for Fresno Yosemite International Airport. “As the gateway airport for to all three National Parks, it’s the most convenient air facility for vacationers to fly in to, rent a car and then have the opportunity to experience the unique beauty of each individual park.”

The agencies are also crafting a unique way to add excitement to the trip.

“We are working on a fun passport for those who complete the loop,” said Salisbury.

“Travelers will be able to get a stamp at various locations showing they visited the parks and in turn will receive a Majestic Mountain Loop souvenir.”

For travelers with more time, the two visitor bureaus have additional resources to equip visitors with the best information to maximize their vacation.Roaring Falls2 PicmonkeyRoaring Falls at Kings Canyon

“Guests can custom-craft their own itineraries with as little or as much as they could possibly want to see in whatever time they have. The longer the stay, the more they can see and do. We certainly have enough to fill however long they are staying,” said Salisbury.

While the promotions is just getting started, what started as a partnership between two visitors bureaus has quickly grown in to a coalition of both public and private entities, including the leadership at all three National Parks.

“Officials from each of the parks have been great to work with on this project,” said Salisbury.

“They are fully invested and have each eagerly come to the table while bringing their considerable resources to make this project successful. We are excited to have such buy-in from the National Parks,” added Heatherly.

Several private entities have joined the efforts as well, some even dedicating funds for marketing, such as Wuksachi Lodge. Located in the heart of Sequoia National Park on the western slope of the Central Sierra at 7,200 feet, the 102-room Wuksachi Lodge operated by Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts features a panoramic mountain setting as well as full-service restaurant. The hotel is also one of the stops along the Majestic Mountain Loop.

To learn more about the Majestic Mountain Loop, visit

Editor's note: Visitors to Fresno and Visalia and the national parks east of them can access links to the websites of hundreds of lodging and dining options in the area at Taste California Travel's Resource Directory.

Sunday, 06 January 2013 15:59

June 16-25, 2017 Sacramento French Film Festival

Region: Central Valley     City: Sacramento     Contact:

Sunday, 06 January 2013 13:55

April 21-23, 2017 Fresno State Vintage Days

Region: Central Valley     City: Fresno     Contact:

Sunday, 06 January 2013 13:52

April 21-23, 2017 97th Ann. Red Bluff Round Up

Region: Central Valley     City: Red Bluff     City:

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