January 2002

Welcome Note
Travel to Safari West
Ramekins Cooking Class
Events For January
Battle of the Appellations
Bistro Don Giovanni
Tasting At Franciscan...
Newsletter Contest Info

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Welcome Note

Greetings from! This January brings you the best of the best! The best places to eat, the best wineries to visit, and the best wine and food pairings! We have included ideas to make your next visit that much more exceptional with the latest information on Franciscan Oakville Estate, details about the greatest dining in the area such as Tastings Restaurant and Bistro Don Giovanni, as well as stories to inspire, which include a Wine Country Safari with Safari West and culinary instruction at the beautiful Sonoma Valley, Ramekins Culinary School.

As always, we invite you to explore all that the Wine Country has to offer, as the possibilities are endless! The Wine Country embraces new travelers, and for those on a returning journey, we're positive the Wine Country will entice you all over again!

The Wine Country is our home, our workplace and our inspiration…Enjoy!!

The Lifestyle Newsletter is brought to you by the division of FreeRun Technologies, Inc.


Crab Season Inspires Weeklong Mendocino Celebration Crab Season Inspires Weeklong Mendocino Celebration.

The third annual 10-day countywide Mendocino Crab and Wine Days takes place January 25 through February 3, 2002. Crab and whale watching cruises, historic coast fishing exhibit and Skunk Train rides through to redwoods to feast on crab Louis with a Mendocino winemaker.

Participating restaurants host winemaker dinners and offer Mendocino wines to go with their crab specialties. Cooking demonstrations take place at the Little River Inn, Mendocino Specialty Vineyards and the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek. A new addition this year is the Crab Cake Cookoff on January 26 at Crown Hall in Mendocino.

Many of the winery tasting rooms in Mendocino County will have crab appetizers to taste with their wine. Visitors can pick up an official Crab & Wine Days Passport and have it stamped at the tasting rooms or winemaker dinners for a chance to win lodging, dinners and wine.

Crab lovers call toll free 1-866-GoMendo (466-3636) for a complete list of participants and activities and to get a Wine & Brewery Passport. Or visit Mendocino County's Official Website: Email:


Winter in Monterey Only the fog and crowds are gone during the winter in Monterey.

Except for the week of January 28 to February 4 when half the celebrity world descends on the Monterey Peninsula for the annual AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament; visitors find themselves virtually alone while visiting. Imagine sitting on the above beach between the rocks for hours with your spouse watching the waves crash - or touring the vineyards of Southern Monterey County and not passing another car for hours. Winter is truly one of the best times to visit.

Incredible travel deals can also be had this winter in Monterey. One of the best examples of winter bargains can be found at the Cypress Gardens Resort Inn. This Resort Inn features the largest heated hotel pool and spa in Monterey and was refurbished in 2001 with all new furniture, carpets, draperies, and appliances. A complementary deluxe continental buffet breakfast is served fireside in an intimate dining room. Click on the attached links for many photos of the beautiful resort Inn. You may also call toll free at 877-922-1150. Plan a visit this winter before all the tourist return in the spring!

Travel to Safari West

Wine Country Safari - A Truly Unique Experience

Four-month old baby cheetah

Bush Buck

If you are looking for that something special, that something different, that something incredible as you plan your next excursion to the wine country look no further than
Safari West. Located in Santa Rosa, California, Safari West is one of the most unique and inspiring experiences the wine country has to offer.
In 1978 Peter Lang, founder of Safari West, created this private, one-of-a-kind wildlife preserve. Set on 400 acres, Safari West is a member of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. It is one of only six private facilities in all of North America that has acquired this hard to attain membership. With the primary purpose of wildlife conservation through breeding, education and research, Safari West offers you a getaway adventure like never before.

Members of's staff recently had the opportunity to tour the facility of Safari West and visit with the two baby girl cheetahs, the newest addition to the wildlife reserve. was able to visit the creatures that live at Safari West and learn more about this extraordinary place and the incredible opportunities available to the public.

Safari West in Santa Rosa, CA

Visitors are invited to stay on the property with more than 300 exotic, endangered and extinct-in-the-wild African mammals and birds. As you hop on an authentic safari jeep and tour the 400-acre reserve you will return to the Tent Camp which is an African-style oasis offering authentic safari accommodations. The Tent Camp at Safari West is charming with amazing attention to detail and authenticity as the African safari tents are made of canvas exteriors and hardwood floors.

You can experience ultimate luxury in outdoor living. Each private tent is equipped with a sumptuous king-size bed or two double beds, custom built wood furniture and en-suite bathroom with shower. All tents are in close proximity to but separated from the exotic wildlife that inhabits the local hills and plains area.

Safari West can also serve as the perfect location for a corporate off-site meeting. The setting of the facility allows for effective team building exercises, efficient and inspiring meeting rooms and retreat lodging. Businesses can book groups and of various sizes and organize a corporate event unlikely to be forgotten.


Ramekins Cooking Class

Ramekins kitchen area

Ramekins - Sonoma Valley Culinary School

On January 4, 2002 participated in the Ramekins Culinary School course offering, Skill Session: Stocks, Soups and More! taught by Therese Clark Nugent. With a fully attended class, Nugent demonstrated four soups, Beaf Barley Vegetable Soup, Chicken Soup with Wide Ribbon Noodles, Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup and Bouillabiasse.

With a practical foundation, Nugent strives to relate to those who love to eat delicious food and enjoy preparing beautiful meals, as well as teach her students recipes that can be easily recreated at home. Nugent's teaching style is incredibly welcoming and honest-it is as if you're taking cooking tips from an old friend.

Therese Clark Nugent

In the three-hour session the course covered the easiest way to peal garlic to the best ways to make and store your own soup stock. With Nugent's down-to-earth relaxed nature the class participants were eager to ask questions and learn Nugent's tricks of the trade. Nugent has been with Ramekins from the early days of the culinary school, but is also accompanied by Ramekins' staff of highly acclaimed chefs, famous restaurateurs, cookbook authors, and TV personalities, all of whom teach both demonstration and hands-on classes for all levels of home cooks.

The Great Hall

What makes Ramekins truly unique is that aside from being a sophisticated culinary school, it is also a charming and lovely bed and breakfast. Ramekins invite guests to stay in one of their six beautifully decorated guestrooms as they spend their afternoons learning about pastries or fine tuning their knife skills. Each room is decorated with unique and original interiors, along with custom-made furniture and one-of-a-kind artwork.

Ramekins is an excellent addition to any wine country experience. As you travel throughout the valley tasting wine and experience the joy of pairing food and wine, you can take you experience to the next level and enjoy a weekend stay at Ramekins and learn how you can take wine country dining home with you.

Visit Ramekins at

Events For January


January 26 -- Crab & Wine Days Train Ride
The Skunk Train departs the Ft. Bragg Depot for a ride to Camp Mendocino where you'll enjoy a Crab Louie lunch, served with wine.
Fee: Call Time: Train Departs at 10:45 AM Phone Number: 800-77-SKUNK

January 28 -- Crazy About Crab Cooking Demo
Crab cooking demonstration and menu by Peter Selaya, chef of New Moon Cafe in Nevada City. Wines from McDowell Valley Vineyards. At the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek, Little River. Call for reservations and additional information.
Fee: $30.00 Time: 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM Phone Number: 707-937-5525


January 18 - 19 -- Steinbeck's Valley of the World Wine Festival
Come enjoy live music, a silent auction and hors d'oeuvres at the Valley of the World Wine Festival. There will be a Wine Blending Seminar on the 18th at 5:00 PM for $20 per person. At the National Steinbeck Center, One Main Street, Monterey.
Fee: $50.00 Time: 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM Phone Number: 831-757-3995

January 28 - February 3 -- AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am Golf Tournament
A host of top celebrities have committed to play in the 2002 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Oscar winning actor/director Michael Douglas, Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood and Carson Daly will lead a star-studded field. Come see your favorites play on the Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills golf courses! Ticket sales Will Be Limited. Reserve yours early!
Fee: Varies According to Event Time: Daily Phone Number: 800-541-9091

Napa Valley:

January 12 -- Rogues Gallery Champagne Reception
Mumm Cuvee Napa presents the Harold Lloyd's "Rogues Gallery" Champagne Opening Night Reception. Please call to RSVP. Mumm Cuvee Napa is located at 8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford.
Fee: No Admission Fee Time: Call Phone Number: 707-942-3534

Every Saturday and Sunday morning -- Merryvale's Weekend Wine Seminars
Recommended by Sunset magazine, Merryvale's wine seminars are a fun way to learn about balance in wine while mapping your own palate. Held in the winery's beautiful 'Cask Room'. Includes a tour of the historic winery. Reservations required. (Must be over 21 years of age.)
Fee: $10.00 (Free to Club Members!) Time: 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM Phone Number: 800-326-6069 x 439

Santa Barbara:

January 11 - 12 -- Solvang Blues Festival
Two renowned Blues bands will make their way to Solvang and dazzle guests of the Royal Scandinavian Inn with concerts and food events. Hotel packages available. Call for event time and admission fee.
Fee: Call Time: Call Phone Number: 805-688-8000

Ongoing -- Backstage Tours at The Lobero Theatre
The Lobero offers free docent guided tours upon request. Get the inside scoop on what happens behind the scenes of California's oldest, continously operating theatre. Tour takes approximately 50 minutes and is a great alternative lunchtime activity. 33 East Canon Perdido Street, Santa Barbara.
Fee: Call Time: Daily Phone Number: 805-966-4946 x 613

Santa Cruz:

Each Thursday Evening -- Terry Riversong at Shadowbrook Restaurant
Terry Riversong performs his repertoire each Thursday evening, consisting of his original songs, as well as music by James Taylor, Kenny Loggins, Cat Stevens, The Beatles, Van Morrison, The Eagles and many other favorites. At Shadowbrook Restaurant, 1750 Wharf Road, Capitola-by-the-Sea.
Fee: No Admission Fee Time: 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM Phone Number: 831-475-1511

January 18 - February 3 -- Evita at the American Musical Theatre
The Academy Award-winning film comes to our stage... livelier and larger than life! Experience the story of a struggling actress who seduces and connives her way from Buenos Aires alleys to the presidential palace and virtual sainthood, Evita will sweep you away in a whirlwind of emotion. At the American Musical Theatre of San Jose, 255 Almaden Boulevard, San Jose.
Fee: Varies According to Seat Selection Time: Varies According to Performance Time Phone Number: 408-453-1526


January 19 - 20 -- Winter Wineland
Winter Wineland offers a bright, fun weekend of wine tasting, information, talks by winemakers, wine & food pairing, vineyard and winery tours (weather permitting) and more. The Winery and Lodging members of the Russian River Wine Road are delighted to share their wines and hospitality with you. Ticket prices are: $30 before January 11th; $40 after January 11th or on the day of the event; $15.00 for Designated Drivers. Call for additional information.
Fee: Varies - See Description Time: Daily Phone Number: 800-723-6336 OR 707-433-4374

January 4 - 25 -- Gilbert & Sullivan... a la Carte at Cinnabar Theater
San Francisco's Lamplighters have delighted audiences with their renditions of Gilbert and Sullivan for 50 years; Cinnabar Opera Theater has presented the great and rare gems of the operatic repertoire for 30 of those 50 years. Performance dates are 1/4, 1/5, 1/11, 1/12, 1/18, 1/19 & 1/25 at 8 PM and 1/13 & 1/20 at 3 PM. Cinnabar Theatre is located at 3333 Petaluma Boulevard North, Petaluma.
Fee: $22.00, $20.00, $17.00 Time: Varies Phone Number: 707-763-8920

Battle of the Appellations

Congratulations to Meador Estate and Rodney Strong,
January winners of Battle of the Appellations Contest!

These wines were paired with two delicious menu items prepared by Tastings Restaurant of Healdsburg, CA. The Meador Estate 2000 Dry Chenin Blanc "Old Vine" from Monterey was the perfect pairing to Tastings Spiced Ahi seared rare with wood-grilled porcini. The strong presence of mango, lime and papaya provided tropical characteristics and enhanced the flavors of the lemon spices in the Spiced Ahi dish. The various spices of thyme, rosemary and garlic in the vinaigrette and porcini shined through with the subtleties of the Chenin Blanc.

The Rodney Strong 1999 Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley was chosen hands down as the perfect pairing to Tastings' red wine marinated lamb chops with blue lake beans and pomegranate. As with both dishes the food prepared by Tastings was absolutely exceptional. Head chef, Derek McCarthy truly understands the art and science of mixing exotic flavors together to not only tease your palate, but surprise your taste buds with some of the most well blended and beautifully served meals. This 1999 Pinot Noir from Rodney Strong is a medium-bodied wine with hints of dark cherry and pepper which enhanced the spices of thyme and rosemary of the lamb; but the surprising fruitiness of orange and raspberry mixed incredibly well with the pomegranate seeds of the sauce.

Tastings Restaurant is one of Healdsburg's best kept secrets, which may not be so secret. The food is entertaining and the ambiance forces you to believe you have stepped out of the world of cement parking lots and into a private treat. highly suggests that you invite the delicious and food friendly wines of Meador Estate and Rodney Strong to your next dinner party, as well as placing Tastings Restaurant on your must see list during your next visit to the Wine Country.

Tastings Restaurant --
Meador Estate --
Rodney Strong --

Bistro Don Giovanni is your dinner date…

This past weekend members of the editorial staff at decided to check out the buzz and dine at Bistro Don Giovanni located on St. Helena Highway in Napa, CA. Upon entering you are met with a faux rustic and fun ambiance. On this particular dinner date the Napa Valley was experiencing winter rain making the warm and inviting restaurant exceptionally appealing.

The service was superior as with the wine list. With more than just local wines to choose from you are able to gain a sense of the wide variety of dishes prepared at the restaurant. With a menu that is primarily Italian with a splash of French here and there, the meals are prepared with every detail considered and a knowledgeable server is eager to offer suggestions and answer questions. The selections for this dining experience was a pork dish and the famous ravioli served with a lemon crème sauce-a restaurant specialty. The wine of the evening was a Luna 2000 Pinot Grigio that complimented the pork served with a light peppery tomato reduction and roasted potatoes, as well as the raviolis with the lemon crème sauce.

The dessert list featured an incredible bread pudding and a classically prepared tiramisu. With a never empty water glass, and an equally full wineglass, the service matched the exceptional food. Bistro Don Giovanni is a moderately upscale restaurant that serves delicious upscale food. With a comfortable and relaxed environment patrons are made to feel at ease and truly enjoy their company as well as their meal. The weekends seem to be steadily full, so a reservation is recommended. Bistro Don Giovanni has a warm, inviting and romantic familiarity that makes dining there feel as though you have never stepped far from home-- just far enough to feel pampered.

Bistro Don Giovanni is located at 4110 St. Helena Highway, Napa, CA and reservations can be made by calling 1-707-224-3300.

Tasting Room Recommendation

Franciscan Oakville Estate - More than just great wine

Riedel Stemware Seminar

This past weekend had the pleasure of visiting the tasting room at Franciscan Oakville Estate. Franciscan Oakville Estate includes five other wineries throughout the network, such as Quintessa, Simi, Estancia, Mount Veeder Winery and Veramonte. The tasting room provides fun ways for the visitor to become acquainted with the estates and learn about the rich winery history.

This particular visit to Franciscan Oakville Estate included an in-depth Riedel stemware seminar featuring various wines throughout the estates. The Riedel seminars take place every hour on the hour and take the visitor through a lesson of tasting using all parts of the tongue and understanding the palate. The seminar also highlights a comparison tasting of the wines in Riedel stemware versus the same wines in average stemware, allowing the visitor to not only experience the wine but to also gain a skill in effective and appropriate stemware-making the next dinner party that much more fun.

Inside the Tasting Room also participated in a blending seminar where the participants of this session were given an intimate look at the Franciscan Oakville Estate and gained knowledge and an appreciation for the founder's dream and the winemaker's passion. The blending seminar used the Magnificat, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petite Verdot as the lesson feature. The Magnificat is a red Meritage wine that has a delicious nose and rich blackberry and plum flavors, with shy hints of cinnamon and chocolate.

Inside the Tasting Room

The participants of the seminar were asked not to taste the Magnificat until they had finished creating their specific blend using the same grape selections. This was an exceptional experience allowing the guest to feel the excitement of creating a special and unique wine blend as well as an insider look to the science of blending a delicious and palatable wine. Learning how to balance the various properties of each wine used in a blend and how the percentages of each could affect the tannin level of the wine or the placement of where the wine is tasted on the tongue was very informative and insightful.

Located in Rutherford, CA, Franciscan Oakville Estate has a beautiful newly remodeled facility as well as warm and knowledgeable personnel. The employees at Franciscan Oakville Estate are passionate about the wine and vision of winery. While visiting the estate it will be difficult not to catch the fire and passion of the staff, making your experience there all the more exceptional.

Franciscan Oakville Estate --

Newsletter Contest

Congratulations to Dr. Gerald Seebach of Lexington, Kentucky the lucky winner of the once in a lifetime Wine Country getaway! Dr. Seebach is the winner of a two night stay at the Napa Valley Marriott, dinner for two on the historic Napa Valley Wine Train and a private tasting at the exclusive Koves-Newlan Vineyards. We wish Dr. Seebach the very best on his next Wine Country excursion!

The next winner could be you!! Simply enter to win...

Set Your Wild Side Free and Experience the WineCountry Like Never Before!

Escape from the ordinary… Avoid the predictable… Expect the unexpected!

On March 11, 2002 you could be selected to win a weekend getaway and tour for two to the exotic Safari West. The tent camp adventure at Safari West is a deluxe safari camping experience at a premiere safari park. Located in California's lush Sonoma County, it is the only accommodation of its kind in North America. Situated on 400 acres of breathtaking hillside in the heart of California's Wine Country, Safari West is home to over 300 exotic, endangered and extinct-in-the-wild African mammals and birds. The Tent Camp at Safari West is an African-style oasis, offering authentic safari accommodations, cuisine and wildlife tours for a complete safari experience, all within the boundaries of a unique wildlife reserve.

As an added bonus, you will also win a $100 gift certificate for a luxury dinner to the fabulous John Ash & Co. Restaurant located nearby in Santa Rosa, CA. At John Ash & Co. you will experience the incredible creations of Executive Chef Jeffrey Madura and the award winning wine list including some of the best Sonoma and Napa have to offer!

***NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Must be at least 21 years old to enter. Only one entry per person permitted. Winner will be selected March 11, 2002 by random drawing. Winner will be notified by email. Employees of FreeRun Technologies are ineligible. Void where prohibited by law. Your visit to Safari West is by reservation only and dependent upon availability, excludes holidays and cannot be combined with any other promotion.

Visit Safari West at --

Check out John Ash & Co. at -- Info

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