Tasting Notes: Sbragia Sauvignon Blanc

It’s been a very long while since I’ve posted, mostly due to lack of time and Twitter.  For those of you who know me, I drink a LOT of wine.  And, some of you have asked for wine recommendations, as well as winery tour recommendations in Sonoma and Napa Valleys.

A few weeks ago I did a significant wine tasting tour throughout Sonoma – Russian River, Dry Creek, Anderson Valley, and the tip of Rockpile – and bought a lot of wine.  So, I’ll be posting my notes from the wine over the next month or two.  Also, I’m taking a trip to Oregon in a few weeks for a family reunion, in the Willamette Valley, so I have to plan a one-day tasting tour.  Recommendations are welcome, and I’ll post the schedule once I have it.

Sbragia Family Vineyards 2007 Home Ranch Sauvignon Blanc

We found this wine at the end of a very long day of wine tasting.  The winery has a beautiful view of the Valley from the outside patio and inside tasting room.  Earlier in the year, they held a great barrel tasting on their patio, complete with a great tasting of their current releases and food pairings.  It’s a nice winery to visit if you make it up to the north end of Dry Creek.

This is a great summer afternoon wine!  Bright, crisp, pineapple, and very mild lemongrass are the most prominent.  The first night I had it with herbed chicken, but it paired really well with Alaskan King Crab on the second night.  It’s really easy to drink, and really opens up once it’s been breathing for 20-30 minutes, and at near room temperature. And, at $20 (I think it was less at the winery) it really is good for a relaxing afternoon.  This is a great wine for your “wine snob” friends and those who aren’t.

Check it out if you are up in Geyserville. An interesting point, this wine is bottled with a glass top.  No need for a corkscrew, and the top is standard sized, and can be re-used on other bottles.  Good stuff!

Blogtropol.us is on @ Web 2.0 Expo

It’s official, TCG is producing the Blogtropol.us Lounge at Web 2.0 Expo, starting April 23 here in San Francisco. This is shaping up to be a great event, although it will be different from past tech event lounges. Our very generous sponsors are providing some great stuff for the lounge attendees – libations, chair massages, yoga sessions, and of course LOTS of bandwidth. You can expect some interesting and fun activities to take place as well…most of it will be bloggable… 😉

More information is below. Registration for the Expo and the Lounge is required. Discount Expo passes were still available as of today. Let me know if you need help getting one…

Blogtropol.us Lounge presented by The Conversation Group – “The Social Hub at Web 2.0 Expo”

WHEN: Wednesday, April 23 – Friday, April 25

WHERE: Web 2.0 Expo, 3rd Floor, Room 3018

WHAT: Web 2.0 Expo is just two weeks away – will you be there? More importantly, will you be in the one place where you are guaranteed to connect with the rest of the social media leaders who are at the conference? Now is your chance to register for the Web 2.0 Expo Blogtropol.us blogger lounge!

Blogtropol.us is the dedicated media and networking lounge for bloggers, content producers, and journalists during Web 2.0 Expo 2008. In a private suite, in the middle of the conference action, Blogtropol.us is designed for you to host and share conversations among digital influencers – both online and offline.

Open to all digital media-makers attending Web 2.0 Expo, Blogtropol.us is the exclusive venue for creating media and discussing conference happenings. Daily live streamed and on-demand video shows will be broadcast to cover the most important conversations of the conference for online discussion and sharing.

CONNECT: Free bandwidth, power, workstations and superior Internet connectivity provided

RE-CHARGE: Food, refreshments, beverages, and afternoon happy hour

RELAX: Daily yoga sessions and chair massages

FOLLOW: @blogtropolus on Twitter to keep up with all of the Blogtropol.us and Web 2 action, as it happens

Blogtropol.us is brought to you by: Snap, Mzinga, Something Simpler Systems, BottleNotes, Pandora, Socialtext, Radian6, Elephant Pharmacy, and CNET Webware.

RSVP REQUIRED: In order to participate you must have a Web 2.0 Expo Pass or conference pass AND you must register for the lounge at – http://blogtropolus.eventbrite.com. Space is limited!

It’s Just Another MUNI Monday

I tend to dread Monday’s commute via the 21 line on MUNI.  Between the hours of 8am and 9am, it’s a crap shoot as to how many buses it will take to make the trip down to TCG’s SOMA office.  Of course, sometimes I get lucky and I get on the first one, but this morning, like many mornings, I wasn’t so lucky.  I got on the third bus only because someone was nice enough to open the back door so I could squeeze onto the stepwell (yes, I do have a FastPass so I wasn’t stealing a ride).  Add to this that your life is in the hands of the drivers, and sometimes I have to wonder where they learned to  drive.  They have to pass a driving test, right?

In what world would three, yes three, buses pass my stop outbound, almost back to back, in the time it took ONE inbound bus.  How do the MUNI controllers think that makes any sense?  Knowing that the 21, along with several other lines, have heavy ridership in the morning, why wouldn’t they more closely stagger the buses going downtown?  Or, why couldn’t drivers notify the main control when they are at (or beyond) capacity and are passing stops?  (I could just hear the bus nazi this morning saying, “no stop for you!)

According to the Chronicle, MUNI’s on-time rate has dropped below 70%.  For a morning commuter, that just isn’t acceptable.  And, the SFMTA board is thinking about raising rates across the already inflated city transport service costs and fines.  Yes, the increased income will help offset the MUNI budget deficit, but it negatively impacts the sky-high cost-of-living in the city.

Isn’t it the city’s official policy to promote public transit over private transport?  Things need to change, and despite the officials’ public comments, I’m not seeing any action to remedy the situation.  Do you?

Amphibian Hops onto the Scene


The past few of weeks have been pretty busy, as the TCG team prepared to launch Ribbit’s new consumer service – Amphibian – on Monday.  We got some great coverage here and here, and yesterday, the Ribbit co-founders demoed the new service at DEMO 08 conference in Palm Desert, to a very warm reception.  There are rumors floating around that Ribbit is in the running for a coveted DEMOgod award.  Stay tuned on that one… 

Ribbit…Tales from the Road

Last week, the Ribbit team was on a media tour for their new consumer service – Amphibian – that we announced on Monday.  The week started out with meetings here in San Francisco, and then we headed to NYC and Washington DC.  I think I may be in love with Virgin America, and I’m not sure how I can go back… 

I was very excited to head to Manhattan, as it was my first visit.  Of course being on tour didn’t allow for much sight-seeing, but it was an interesting trip nonetheless.  The first night there, Ted, Crick, and I went to the world-famous Carnegie Deli at 55th and 7th.  I had their corned beef sandwich, and it was amazing.  (I only eat beef once a year, usually on St. Patrick’s Day, so this was a big deal for me).  Of course, I had to order cheesecake, but I wasn’t really prepared for the 1+lb. slice.  (It was good though).  We ended up sitting next to John Long, and hearing his tales about working/hanging with Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison (apparently the Jane Fonda story is true), and helping to launch Angelina Jolie’s career in Gia.  Very interesting first night.

A day later, we were in DC, and I got to see my good friend Katie and hung out in her office at 463 Communications.  The highlight of the day came a few hours later, when we met with personal tech guru, Walt Mossberg.  We watched his CNBC review of the gorgeous new Macbook Air, while we waited in the WSJ lobby to meet him.  Once we got into his office, he gave us a personal review of the Air.  I’m not a Mac user, but after that, I was almost turned to the dark side. 🙂  One wall of his office is dedicated as “Walt’s Computer Museum,” complete with Commodores, an Apple II, the original Palm, and even a Macintosh SE (my first computer way back in the 80s).   Frogger was great on that 8″ b/w screen…

We covered a lot of ground in a few short days, but it’s looking like it definitely paid off…

Hanging in the BlogHaus

I’m in the BlogHaus in the Bellagio, listening to Bob Marley and 80’s hits with about 20 other bloggers.  Robert Scoble stopped by about 30 minutes ago, and gave an update on his trip to date.  And, it sounds like the Blogger Bus was an interesting trip.  The community atmosphere here is great.  I forgot my mini USB cord, and someone was nice enough to lend me one to upload my photos.  Good people.

My trip to Las Vegas last night was pretty uneventful.  The plan was to head over to the Palms for the CNET party that I RSVP’d for and received a confirmation from.  I showed up with a few others that also RSVP’d and was DENIED, and told to contact an ad rep to get in.  Sure… I’m not quite sure what happened there.  We headed up to the Basketball Suite for the Digital Freedom party.  Very cool place which goes for $100,000 a night or something like that.  I highly recommend it for a get-together, if needed.

We’re headed to the CES Expo to check out the new gadgets, telco and home networking toys, and maybe even Panasonic’s 150″ Plasma; 11 feet of high definition beauty.  Tonight we’re headed to the “It Won’t Stay in Vegas” party, hosted by Intel.  It comes complete with a shuttle from the BlogHaus.  So far it’s been like any other SF tech party, but in a bigger setting.  We’ll see what happens later. Stay tuned…

8 Things You Don’t Know About Me (Or Maybe You Do)

Last week, I was tagged by Giovanni Rodriguez.  It’s been a while since I’ve been pulled into this, and I’m off to Sin City, so let’s get to it:

8) This year will be my first trip to CES.  I’ve almost gone with clients a time or two, but it never quite worked out.  I’m here with Don Thorson, Ribbit’s marketing master.  Say hi if you see me.

7) I learned to ski on Bear Mountain in Southern California when I was 4 years old.  Tow ropes, pink bibs, and a beanie with a poof on top.  Gotta love the 1980’s.

6) I’m not a fan of open bodies of water.  I think it might have something to do with watching “Jaws” at a very young age.

5) At times, I can play a mean game of pool.  It’s hit or miss, but when I’m on, I’ve been labeled a hustler. Anyone game to play? J

4) Growing up, I wanted to be an equine veterinarian, lawyer, or journalist.  I’m still not totally sure how I got into PR…

3) I’ve worked in two casinos – Caesar’s Tahoe (now MontBleu) and Pechanga Resort & Casino.  I learned a LOT about human behavior in an additive environment – gaming, smoking, drinking, etc.  You won’t see me at a table or slot machine, even in Las Vegas.

2) I learned to tap a keg when I was under 10.  It was more of a party trick, and it proved very useful in college. 🙂

1)  I was born at the Naval Hospital in San Diego.  I was raised throughout Southern California, and I always love going back to San Diego.

Top 5 Things Californians Should Be Happy They Don’t Need to Worry About in the Winter

Last night, I packed myself up and headed down to SFO for a lovely red-eye flight to Boston.  Of course, being the holidays, my flight was delayed about 2 hours, so I didn’t get into Boston until after 9am ET.  I’m sure it could have been much worse.  At least there weren’t any crying babies next to me, so I was able to sleep for most of the flight.

Driving to my parents’ home from Logan International, the landscape was covered in at least a foot of fresh snow.  It’s beautiful to look at, since I don’t really think about what’s involved when living in New England in winter.  So, these are the Top 5 things I’m very happy I don’t have to worry about during the San Francisco winters, with a little help from my dad:

5.  Snow in general.  Havingto get up in the morning to shovel the driveway or sidewalks, after a heavy snow fall is not Flick on The Postmy idea of a relaxing morning.  Add to that snow-blowing, de-icing windshields, exploding freezing pipes, and of course the possibility of your tongue freezing to metal posts.  Maybe I can understand why New Englanders don’t enjoy the snow as much as visitors…

4. Icicles. They are a pretty rare sight in CA, and can grow to be several feet long, although they tend to look like a sculpture.  But, they’ve been known to damage buildings and other property, and even injure people when they fall. 

3. Injury by snowplow.  I hadn’t heard of snowplow hit-and-runs, but apparently it’s a problem here in Massachusetts.

2. Dressing for sub-freezing weather.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I love a great coat.  But, scarves wound up to your eyes, long underwear under a long sleeve shirt, under a wool sweater, under a coat, and adding a scarf, gloves and a hat?  I know, I know, it’s all about the layers.

1. Yellow snow.  I remember taking trips to Tahoe during college, and we’d joke about it.  Of course, this doesn’t count flocked Christmas trees, because my dog took care of that one in Southern California one year – bad Jazz.  Stay warm, stay well, and stay away from the yellow snow…

Bubble? Someone Find a Pin to Check

Last week I was driving down 101 to Mountain View and saw McAfee’s new billboards – “Hackers are bad, we’re badass.”  A few days later I was in a meeting with a few Silicon Valley veterans, and the infamous Bubble topic came up, as it just happens to do.  I mentioned the billboards, and there were a few affirming laughs to the thought that you know you are in a Bubble when companies publicly start using “kick ass,” “bad ass,” or any sort of “ass” in marketing materials.  Solid marketing communications usually steer clear of references to donkeys or the many other meanings

Yeah, Silicon Valley is a giddy environment full of $15 billion valuations, too many sub-25 year old CEOs to name, and corporate parties weirdly accented with live farm animals (you had to be there).   It really is a “me” culture, as I’ve heard a dear friend emphatically state on many occasions “it’s all about me.”

 The Richter Scales put out a video with some of our local favorites that sums it up very nicely.  Enjoy!

Black Friday… A Bit of a Bust

After waking from the “turkey coma” that resulted from the incredible Thanksgiving meal with my parents and grandparents, someone had a great idea – “let’s do some shopping on Black Friday.”  This is significant, because for years, my family has avoided any sort of public activity that is associated for large crowds.  Weekend trips to amusement parks (lots in Southern California) and opening day for newly released movies were pretty much vetoed.  No one likes standing in line, but, in certain situations, it can be worth the wait…especially when a spanking new Nordstrom is involved. 😉

After much discussion, we decided to take the plunge, and get up at 5am EST for a 6:30am start time.  Natick Mall/Collection is the nearest mall with the right conditions – several mid to high end department stores, good food court, and a good selection of my favorites such as BCBG and Banana Republic.  The Boston Globe even gave it a good review for Black Friday shopping.

 To be honest, the 5am wake-up call was not really welcomed, but I got up anyway. By 6am, my mom, grandmother, and I were bundled up against the 32 degree weather, and on our way to battle the crowd.  At the mall by 6:30am, we were pretty amazed by the lack of crowds, and the sales were somewhat disappointing – no super early bird specials.  And, Nordstrom didn’t have any Black Friday sales…it was business as usual.  More than a little anti-climatic.

 One year at Fashion Valley in San Diego, I was the 100+ person in line waiting to get into Macy’s, at about 4:30am for a 5am opening.  This early start was required for the 50-70% discounts for those hardcore enough to be in the store before 8am.  And, you had to watch out for flailing elbows and swinging purses…

Despite the lack of incredible sales overall, I did manage to score a few things I’ve had on my list.  Would I do it again?  Yes, if I were in California.  I think Californians take their holiday shopping a little more seriously, which makes the challenge to find the best deals that much more fun. 

You have to wonder though, in today’s world of ubiquitous online shopping, is it worth it to get up at the crack of dawn for this commerce ritual?  Or, is it better to sit in front of your laptop, in pajamas, without worrying about getting an elbow in the eye?  Or, maybe it really is the “it’s better if you win it” idea.