January 25, 2008
Wine Alert!

With no NFL game this weekend, what's a sporting fellow to do for his wagering amusement? If he's a wine enthusiast, he could guide a pal to the new Total Wine & More in Roseville and bet that he or she can't get out of the place without buying at least a half-dozen bottles of wine, beer and spirits.

With little fanfare, the first California branch of Total Wine opened yesterday in Fairway Commons Shopping Center along Five Star Drive just off Stanford Ranch Road. We were on our way to dinner in Rocklin when we decided to swing by to see if we could find out when the place would be ready for customers, only to discover the lights on, the doors sliding open, and a fair number of people pushing carts between boxes and bins.

Total Wine, based out of Potomac, Maryland, bills itself as "America's Wine Superstore," and the 25,000-square-foot facility lives up to that claim with some 8,000 wines, 2,000 spirits and 1,000 beers. I couldn't pass up a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a Gigondas and a couple of rieslings, one a vineyard-designated release from Washington state, the other from New York's Finger Lakes district, customarily virtually impossible to find hereabouts. Interestingly, 47 percent of the chain's sales are imported wines.

"Team members" wear white shirts and ties, and two we saw are newly hired veterans of the Sacramento wine scene - Harry Fisher, former sommelier at the long-gone Horseshoe Bar Grill in Loomis, and Carrie Boyle, formerly of The Wine Merchant in Roseville and Folsom.

Coincidental with the opening of the Roseville store, the chain's 51st, Beverage Dynamics magazine named Total Wine its Retailer of the Year for 2008. The accompanying article notes that Total Wine moves more than 24 million bottles of wine per year through its doors, employs more than 1,500 persons, and encourages its wine clerks to enter the rigorous Master of Wine certification program.

The article also notes that the chain gives away 300,000 copies a year of its nearly 200-page Guide to Wine, a sweeping and smart survey of grape varietals, food and wine pairing, wine regions and related topics. In March, the store also will start a series of wine classes for consumers.

Total Wine is at 5791 Five Star Blvd., Roseville; (916) 791-2488. It's open 9 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. As soon as you enter, grab a map of the layout; you'll need it, I'm wagering.

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