Sacramento Urban Flights of Wine & Dine

Frasinetti Winery 2016 Barbara Steinberg103In the late 1800s, Sacramento’s viticulture commerce was booming. With thousands of acres of grapes and an urban winery producing 500,000 gallons of wine, it already had an oenophile reputation. President Teddy Roosevelt was served Sacramento wine in 1903 and said he would “drink them as long as he lived”! Small wineries flourished in the region until Prohibition and then survived by selling table grapes or producing sacramental or medicinal wines, but eventually urban vineyards and wineries declined. Today, four urban wineries continue Sacramento’s proud wine tradition. The vineyards are gone, but regionally sourced grapes are fermented, blended, and bottled within our urban borders and provide contemporary wine and dine experiences. Wine bars and tasting rooms offer more options to explore vintages both locally and worldwide.

My Sacramento  - Kate’s path to Downtown & Vine
Kate Downtown & Vine Credit Larry Dalton 2016
Surrounded by wine appellations, Sacramento urbanites have countless offerings to sample a bit of the grape but with busy schedules those scenic drives are often bucket-listed. Sacramento’s urban wine bars and wineries provide a quick escape via bike, Uber, taxi or designated driver to hundreds of wine selections.

Kate Chomko made a circuitous route to Sacramento by way of Europe and Napa. Honing culinary skills at the Cordon Bleu and Culinary Institute of America – her credentials are rock solid. A friend and I dreamed about opening a tasting room. Sacramento made sense – it’s the center of California with millions of visitors, but no one was really telling the story about the regional wines. I moved here from Napa to open Downtown & Vine. This was the tasting room for 12 regional wineries!  We do wines from other places, but try to focus on local, small producers and family-owned wineries. Our wine flights are themed – Highway 101 Flight – or winery or region specific – to make it an experience so someone can really learn something and have fun.  Visitors who can’t get away to taste wine, can come here or take local home – we ship to 48 states. Our new Harvest Room features live entertainment to pair with local wine, cuisine and desserts.

Wine & Dine Urban Wineries

Frasinetti’s Winery & Restaurant – Sacramento Valley’s oldest family-owned and operated winery hasFrasinetti Winery 2016 Barbara Steinberg124
produced classic Italian wines since 1897. Once surrounded by 480 acres of grapes, the winery and restaurant are secluded in an industrial corner of Old Florin.  The restaurant features traditional Italian fare including Grandma’s pot roast and a scrumptious meatball sandwich – mangia, mangia! Traditional wines such as Chianti, Burgundy and a signature Port are available only at the restaurant and tasting room. The restaurant was carved out of old fermentation tanks surrounded by redwood barrels. Old world charm, but Frasinetti is absolutely in vogue!   
7385 Frasinetti Road; 916-383-2444

Revolution Wines – From crush to bottle, the first full-production winery to operate in the city of Sacramento
Revolution Wines 2016 Barbara STeinberg7since Prohibition
.  Take your time with urban wines and seasonal menus. Local ingredients are sourced for small, shared, and large plates. Build your own Burger Thursday and seasonal Friday Night Specials paired with vino just $15. Think green! Award-winning Revolution Wines available on tap and one-liter refillable growlers. Or get educated at a Tasting Sensory Class.

2831 S Street; 916-444-7711

RailBridge Cellars & Company
– A dozen varietals are blended and bottled at North 16th urban winery and retailed at eatery and Penthouse Lounge in historic Elk’s Tower.   Railbridge cellars kitchen 2016 Barbara Steinberg3Overlooking the Underground Lounge (aka old swimming pool), the dining room is très cool. A very personal endeavor for owners Michael Gelber and Michael Chandler naming three wines – Sienna, Ella and Nathan Michael –for their children. By the glass prices are extremely reasonable. The Levine – house pastrami sandwich on double-baked rye – is Sacramento’s best – yummy paired with the 2013  ‘3 Strands’ Pinot Noir. Monthly tastings five wines for $10; 1st and 3rd Thursday, 4pm-6pm.

921 – 11th Street; 916-476-5225

Cabana Winery Courtesy of CabanaCabana Winery Wine Bar & Kitchen –Robert Smerling, winemaker and owner, traded his wine country roots for this urban winery. On the edge of East Sacramento, this diminutive winery has a huge neighborhood following.  Educating customers about Wines of Cabana is the name of the game. Their Sauvignon Blanc and Boston-style Pizza are both “double-gold”.  Wine flights and elegant charcuteries are a perfect pair on the dog-friendly patio. 
5610 Elvas Avenue; 916-476-5492

A Taste of Urban Wine Bars

Award-winning farm-to-glass ports from America’s oldest port winery at Midtown’s Ficklin-Wilcox.
920-20th Street; 916-341-0240 

Underground Tasting Room features Twisted Twig and Rendez-vous wine tastings at their subterranean wine bar in Old Sacramento. 900 – 2nd Street; 916-444-2349

Relish seasonal red and white wine flights at 58 Degrees & Holding Co. wine bar where imported and local wines are artfully curated. 1217 -18th Street; 916-442-5858

French wine spoken at The Grand. Don’t blink, you just might miss this comfy and cozy wine bar near Capitol Park. 1600 L Street; 916-444-0472

WHIRED Wine Sacramento’s newest wine bar scene. Flights and bites plus Golden 1 Center half-court an easy one-block away. 410 L Street, 916-823-5008

Sacramento's Best Ice Cream Sandwich

Barbara's Bites on the Best Ice Cream Sandwich in Sacramento It was true then and it's true now!

If you haven't figured it out by now, I am very specific when it comes food. Not all things food, but there are those things I would say, "I am a snob when it comes to ______,"  You can fill in the blank. Now don't misunderstand. I love to eat just about anything and everything. But some things, well, I have my standards.

Ice cream is one of those things where my standards are high. But particularly, and in this case, ice cream sandwiches. It's all about the sandwich AND the ice cream. I must say I have been jaded because Sacramento has a FABULOUS cookie shop where they also make ice Goodie Tuchew Ice Cream Sandwich Credit Barbara Steinberg 2009 cream sandwiches right before your eyes and taste buds. Goodie Tuchews isn't alone in this world of ice cream sandwich creations, but what owner Terry O'Reilly has is more than 35 years in the cookie kingdom, producing 19 (yes, that's a one and a nine) varieties of cookies from which to assemble a luscious ice cream sandwich.

The combinations are nearly endless. How about Snickerdoodle top and Milk Chocolate Chip bottom? Hmmm, how do you determine which end is up?! It doesn't matter, it's still delicious. Or an Oatmeal Everything (that would be raisins, nuts and chocolate chips) and Chocolate Peanut Butter. Yeoweeeee! My personal fave is the Snickerdoodle top and bottom. Terry only has one ice cream flavor but it's an excellent choice and also VERY local, the wonderfully smooth and creamy vanilla ice cream from the landmark of 77 years of ice cream joy, Gunther's.  If you want a special order, then Terry is happy to provide other Gunther's ice cream flavors, but be sure to plan ahead.  A sure winner, Goodie Tuchews ice cream sandwiches have been dessert at more than one of my family celebrations. Located in downtown Sacramento at 1015 L Street, you need to get your ice cream sandwich fix Monday through Friday. Come early or call ahead, 916/444-6048.

Nixtaco street tacos in Roseville, yes, Mexican perfected

Rating: Star!Star!Star!Star!Star!

Pork Belly Taco with pickled onions Credit Are You That WomanI fell in love with Nixtaco last year at the Auburn Farmers Market. The owner, Patricio Wise, had a small booth with a limited menu. Despite it's diminutive size, the descriptions were so delicious I couldn't decide and asked for guidance. He suggested the pork belly taco with pickled onions. I'll keep this brief and simply say, "OMG!" An explosion of flavors danced in my mouth. Sadly, the party was over too soon. And that's what I kept saying to everyone I met.

Elated to hear a storefront was in the making, I whined and begged a bit, "Please come to Sacramento!" But Patricio and Nixtaco opted for an obscure corner in Roseville — damn you Placer County! I waited with bated breath. Once I heard that opening bell, I made the drive from downtown Sacramento. Wild horses wouldn't/couldn't keep me away. And so, as part of my birth-month celebration, I posted to Patricio, "I'm on the way!"

The location is generic, but that's where it ends and deliciousness begins. Everything — I mean everything — is made with love and true to its Mexican roots. Honestly, most ethnic foods are dumbed- or watered-down for American taste buds. Plus, Americans expect huge portions heaped and spreading over the edges of plates. At Nixtaco, diminutive street tacos and burritos are bountiful and flavorful as they should be. Not stuffed to the point of exploding — three perfect bites — eat them slowly savoring every morsel.

IMAG0892On this birthday lunch, friend Barbara R. joined in as a first-timer and was thrilled. We both opted for the three-taco special(s) and over-lapped in some choices which included: Pork Belly, Pollo en Mole, Short Rib Barbacoa and Asado Norteño. I love, love, LOVE the black beans. We watched fresh tortillas being made, ate too many house-made chips, guacamole and salsa(s), and chatted away happily long after finishing every scrap. I like the simplicity service on metal trays and mason jars for the salsa. Less waste in our landfills or water wasted washing dishes. I would love to see some really fabulous art - maybe a cool mural by friend Dos Hermano/Gabriel Romo next time he visits from Mexico!

For those who commented about prices being high and portions small:  This is a small, locally grown, genuine experience. Quality. You get what you pay for which doesn't always mean a plate piled sky high. Nothing artificial here. Everything is made in-house. And just like any new business, there are bound to be hiccups. The owners are there watching carefully and putting heart and soul into what I hope will be a very successful venture.

Their website says, "Three bites of pleasure!" Are You That Woman is here to say three thumbs up along with those five (5) stars above. Patricio you'll forgive me if I continue to whine just a little, "Please come to Sacramento...after you catch your breath!"

1805 Cirby Way, #12
Roseville, CA  95661


California pears and rice are Sacramento's Farm-to-Fork

Food, fun, wildlife and nature travel the best of Yuba-Sutter counties

Summer and autumn mean luscious blackberries - fresh fruit, jams, and pies.
Summer and autumn mean luscious blackberries - fresh fruit, jams, and pies.
Courtesy of Visit Yuba-Sutter

Sacramento's Cafe Soleil has a new home near UC Davis Medical Center

Street tacos - chicken and carne asada -- with homemade salsa and chips.
Street tacos — chicken and carne asada with homemade salsa and chips.
California Travel Insider @ Are You That Woman

Chuck's Coffee Shop still locally famous 52 years later

Chuck's Locally Belmont Weasel Credit AreYouThatWoman.comChuck"s! Going strong since 1964. I had the great good fortune to find my way back March 2016 -- year 52. Not to disappoint, yes, Chuck was there! So that said, wanted to redeliver the best of classic California

Gleefully we found a parking space curbside outside Chuck's. After years away, it was time to return and ask, "Is Chuck here?" Not sure where or when, someone had said Chuck's had closed. That myth was put to rest over a bowl of house-made chili and head bump from Chuck. Lunch companion enjoyed a plump tuna and avo sandwich with bowl house-made navy bean soup thick with ham. No scrimping here.

Chuck and yours truly at Chuck's Locally World Famous Credit AreYouThatWoman.comThe beach views and breezes were delicious. The happy regulars coming and going. Neighborly. Laughing. It doesn't get much better than this. I'm thinking it shouldn't take me another eight years to get back to Chuck or Chuck's! Long may they (continue) to reign along Belmont Shore!

If you want to see I say what I mean and mean what I say, six years ago -- I fell in love with Chuck's Coffee Shop Locally World Famous            ....

Chocolatiers make life sweet: Chocolate elixir of the gods

Back road adventures @ Taste of Visit Yuba-Sutter California

Oregon House Grocery Deli Taste of Visit Yuba Sutter Calfiornia 2015 Credit Are You That Woamn3Yes, I'm hanging 5 stars on this out-of-the-way grocery, deli, gas station aka  Oregon House Grocery & Deli.  Employees and owner have hit this one right on the mark. We were ravenous by the time we arrived and the very local OHGD went above and beyond to satisfy our taste buds and tummies.

We ordered deli sandwiches. Were they gourmet? Define gourmet. They were fresh. Made to order. First thing for any sandwich is the bread. Just you're basic sliced rye -- but it was exceedingly fresh and we all noticed. Two of us had the veggie -- adding cheese -- all the veggies were cold, crisp and (one more time) FRESH! All the extras pickles, onions. We snatched it down. Our third lunch guest had sliced turkey (yes, pressed) but was Veggie Sandwich Oregon House Grocery Deli Taste of Visit Yuba Sutter Calfiornia 2015 Credit Are You That Woamn4perfectly content with the results -- not a scrap left. 

While we waited for our lunch we explored and were amazed at what we discovered. Overlooking all the usual sodas and snack food, we found an amazing number of local/regional goods from wine, chocolate, fruits and veggies,  We jumped on and bought loaves of local North Yuba Bakery bread -- that was a real treasure and another review coming up soon.  Great chocolates and other taste-tempting treats. Local farms of North Yuba Grown should be part of this locavore adventure. 

North Yuba logoOne last thing: Staff was friendly. Sandwiches delivered timely. Now we were there well-after the lunch rush, but still need to acknowledge good service. When we inquired about other local products they were quick to respond and happily so. Good selection of local wines, beer, coffee, jerky, produce. Much of the store is given over to what you would expect in a rural destination such as this -- but they have clearly made an effort to support locavore, farm-to-fork mantras. I can only hope it continues.

The back roads leading to Oregon House Grocery & Deli are a cyclist's dream. Along the way, make haste and get to this oasis of Visit Yuba-Sutter.  FYI - Deli closes at 3pm. Grocery store is open until 8:30pm but I always recommend calling ahead. Despite being a bit on the remote side of life, prices were exceedingly reasonable -- three of us agreed. That said, one should expect slightly higher costs for places off the beaten trail. 

I am saying loud and proud to be Omni-local @ Oregon House, California! There is much to see and do in this unexplored corner of the Golden State. I'll get it done! You should, too!


Yuba Sutter Logo

Capay Valley farm trail leads to new Séka Hills Tasting Room

Seka Hills Capay Valley Brooks Calfiornia 2015 Credit Barbara L Steinberg SizedGrand Opening Information

Take the long and winding road up Capay Valley to local farms, wineries, and restaurants. Breath it in, slowly, and enjoy.  Capay Valley is a place of pure joy! And it just got more joyful! The new Séka Hills Tasting Room is the reason. This beautiful new facility is state-of-the-art but thoughtfully and spiritually designed. From the outside, the industrial design is that of a large barn -- inside and out it is stunning. Wide open spaces full of sunlight and creatively conceived. The tasting room floors are the most fantastic reclaimed barn wood. The tasting bar is chic but respectful of the natural surroundings. Okay, I'm done waxing poetic.

To the important issues: olive oil, wine, and honey -- all locally grown, sourced, created, presented and delicious! The estate-grown Arbequina extra virgin California olive oil is sublime. Harvested locally the olives are milled at the 14,000 square foot Séka Hills olive mill facility. Add to this wine tasting Séka Hills wines and handcrafted local wildflower honey -- yes, definitely a 5-star Seka Hills Capay Valley Brooks Calfiornia 2015 Credit Barbara L Steinberg16experience.

The Tasting Room also features many Capay Valley seasonal nuts and produce as well as Made in California gift items including Fire & Light Handmade Glass. It's a perfect destination to eat, drink, shop, and be merry. A shaded and welcoming patio has picnic tables to enjoy lunch or snacks.

Long and narrow, Capay Valley it is framed by the California Blue Ridge Mountains and the Capay Hills. Owned and operated by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the blue hills inspired the name Séka Hills -- Séka means 'blue" in the Tribe's naitve Patwin language.

19326 Country Road 78
Brooks, CA 95606
(530) 796-2810

 Are You That Woman @California Travel Insider