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December 28, 2007

Wine: No Longer a Stowaway at the Movies

by Courtney Cochran

theatres_1_icon.jpgIf you're like me, you may have stashed a bottle of vino in your purse or overcoat on occasion before heading into the movies.  Sure, you felt a bit sheepish about your contraband, but when the opening credits rolled to the tune of a lush Santa Rita Hills Pinot, you knew you’d taken the risk for good reason.  Still, sipping from the Styrofoam cup you snagged at the concession made your reward seem less sweet.

With the opening of Sundance Cinemas San Francisco at the old AMC Kabuki Theater in Japantown (sundancecinemas.com ), you can purchase wine by the half glass or glass and take it right into the theater with you, no smuggling required.  The first theater in the city to snag a liquor license, Sundance offers moviegoers an eclectic lineup of 25 wines sourced from both local and global producers, many of them made from organic or sustainably farmed grapes.  

Even better, they’ll give you a real glass, too.  

Full disclosure: I am the sommelier who selected the wines for Sundance Cinemas. 

December 26, 2007

NYE in Wine Country – A Festive Affair

by Courtney Cochran

Most of the time, wine country is where you go to relax, take a breather from the bustle of the real world and – if you're lucky – perhaps even catch up on some sleep.  But come New Year's Eve, even wine country kicks things up a notch.  Read on for what are sure to be some of this year's most festive affairs in wine country. 

You can sleep later - after all, you'll have all year to catch up.

Mask Optional

Dubbed "Midwinter's Night", the 2nd annual New Year's Eve benefit at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is a masquerade ball boasting a vodka and caviar bar, seated dinner catered by The Girl and the Fig, midnight Champagne & chocolate bar and dancing.  Tickets don't come cheap ($500/head), but with all these goodies plus a portion of proceeds going to charity, it's tough to resist this festive fête. 

(707) 939-7862

A Beastly Affair

Not to be outdone, Santa Rosa's Safari West delivers the ultimate in adventure with its annual dinner dance held in the company of exotic animals.  Overnight guests enjoy a safari on the 31st plus continental breakfast and mimosas the next day, and all guests get to groove alongside the likes of giraffes, gazelles, oryxes and ostriches – to name just a few of the fellow revelers expected at the affair. 

$80/head or $486.50/couple overnight  (707) 579-2551

December 19, 2007

When Life Bubbles Over

By Robert Farmer

Nothing prepared me for the sheer joy of it. Nothing anybody told me – and believe me, lots of people told me lots about it – prepared me for what really to expect. Nothing. Even the best, most well-meaning advice about “getting plenty of sleep while you can,” and about how to “enjoy my freedom while it’s still available, was able to adequately capture the true nature of the Event and life immediately after the Event. It turns out that having a child is something – to employ a rather hackneyed cliché – one must experience to appreciate.

 And that is exactly what happened to Yours Truly in early December when my wife delivered after no shortage of agonizing labor our first child, a beautiful daughter. She was north of ten pounds and her size seemed to belie her sweet innocence while it also underscored the magnitude with which she impacted our life. People go on and on about how a baby will change your life. But mostly they mean the nuts and bolts of it. Gone are the blissful, slumbering nights and long leisurely weekend mornings. Gone is the narcissistic focus on Self. It’s all replaced by an incredibly unexpected and unwavering need to care for someone else. I now know they’re talking about when they speak of unconditional love. Nothing anybody told me prepared me for that part of it. It's life bubbling over, and I’m there to scoop it all up.

And, it's also the reason I have been saving a bottle of 1998 Schramsberg Reserve sparkling wine to commemorate the occasion. Sure, there are bigger names in the “celebratory” wines world. But like the emotions I’ve experienced with this child, wines like this are something one must experience to appreciate. This is a truly great sparkler, befitting any great occasion. It represents just 2% of the winery’s production, but it’s their best pinot noir-based sparkling wine. It’s wonderful, a thing of beauty, and I hope you can appreciate my analogy here.

December 13, 2007

Winter Resort Golf

By Robert Farmer

silverado_golf2.jpgI'm not among the dying breed of global warming deniers, and I happen to believe that the issue is a serious one. But if I had to see the bright side (and I usually do), then I’d say one of the benefits of the earth getting warmer would be year-round golf without chasing down to Palm Springs for the winter.

Here it is December and there have been dozens of great golf days so far this fall — like summer all over. So it's in this spirit that I am glad to report that one of my favorite Wine Country golf destinations has announced a rather warm offer to people like me. Napa Valley’s Silverado Resort (800-532-0500; www.silveradoresort.com) has dropped like a ten-foot birdie putt its prices on popular golf and spa packages. Through Feb. 29, the resort is offering a roomy suite and golf for two with cart for each night's stay for the screaming-deal-price of $289 on Friday and Saturdays. It's even cheaper on weekdays. It's a great price and an excellent chance to don the long-sleeve gear (it might be sunny, but it can get chilly), and experience one of the region's great golf outings. And come summer, you'll be tuned up and ready for more heated competition.