March 9, 2007
Old Sac Nails a Wine Bar

blogIMGP0858_edited.jpgThe hammering continues, but Vickie Allen and John Hicklin nonetheless are putting out Riedel stemware and pulling corks from bottles at Sacramento's newest wine bar, the 114th to open so far this year in and about the city, but the first in Old Sacramento.

The hammering is on an interior stairway being built to connect Allen's street-level Discover California gift shop to subterranean quarters that long had been occupied by Hogshead Brew Pub. (While the shift from beer to wine aptly reflects the country's changing drinking habits, beer isn't being abandoned entirely in the makeover; several are on tap in Discover California's Wine Bar & Tasting Room, including three by River City Brewing Co., along with River City's root beer.)

Until the stairway is completed, expected in another week or so, access to the wine bar is available by a second stairway next to Discover California, as well as by an elevator.

What visitors find is the old Hogshead bar gleaming with a new coat of varnish and the building's red-brick walls enclosing shelves stocked with bottles of wine, tables and chairs for up to 44 guests, and a private room for parties of 20 or so.

Flights of any three of the nine to 12 wines poured daily can be purchased for $5. Visitors also have the option of selecting a three-ounce taste, a six-ounce pour or an entire bottle from a wine list of 55 selections. A pinot noir by Bogle Vineyards of Clarksburg, for example, can be sampled for $5 for three ounces, $9 for six ounces, and $24 for the bottle. Small plates of food also are available.

Vickie Allen, a fifth generation Californian, opened Discover California in 1992 to offer specialty products produced only in the Golden State, from chocolate body frosting to pickled asparagus spears. The store long has had a wine-tasting counter, but prompted by accelerating wine sales over the past two years she decided to expand the concept downstairs.

The grand opening, when a wine vine rather than the customary red ribbon is to be cut, will be at 5 p.m. April 12. In the meantime, the wine bar, 114 J St., will be open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. The store is open to all ages, the wine bar to persons 21 and older.

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