August 9, 2007
Knocks on Fleming's Premature

firestoneOverall.JPGAfter Bee colleague Bob Shallit reported this past weekend that an entertainment complex is to take over the historic Art Deco Firestone Building at 16th and L, some people predictably complained because the two restaurants at the site will be outlets of chains.

Despite my own reservations about the proliferation of deep-pocket chains
at the expense of independent, individually owned restaurants, I'm delighted that one of the restaurants to move into the Firestone will be Sacramento's first branch of Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, based in Newport Beach.

More than a steak enthusiast, I'm a wine enthusiast, and Fleming's boasts one of the more industrious restaurant wine programs in the country. That program includes 100 wines by the glass at each of its 51 restaurants. To promote not only its wine list but understanding of efforts by viticulturists and winemakers to produce wines representative of place, Fleming's also just has launched VineVoyage, a Web site with a series of videos in which vintners talk about their wines and how they came to be. Just five wineries initially are featured, but eventually the site is to include videos on all the wineries that Fleming's uses for its 100 wines by the glass, according to

VineVoyage also includes a link to the Fleming's Web site, including the chain's wine list, where viewers can get an idea of the treats in store for Sacramento, even though the local branch isn't expected to open before 2009. Maybe by then the list will include more Sacramento-area wineries - and VineVoyage will include some local winemakers ambling through vineyard and winery, talking about how they make their wines.

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