Best Time to Join Our Wine Club is Today!

cv_wineclub_home_button.155505The Holiday Tasting and Holiday Party are two great reasons to become a Wine Club member. . .plus our “Wine Thing” mega tasting early in February. All of these are Wine Club exclusives, as are our free tastings hosted by Jay Johnstone every Saturday at the Wine Bar.

Wine Club memberships make great gifts, and there are many options to suit just about any wine preference and price point.  To get all of the details about benefits, click here, or contact Wine Club Manager Jana Kosmata at 530-823-0320.

Wine Clubbers Rejoice…It’s Time To Party

(Note, these are Wine Club exclusives: You must be a member to participate; two people per membership; no guests.)


Don’t Miss Our Annual Holiday Tasting on December 2

Join us next Tuesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. when we’re opening 50 wines in all flavors and price points to encourage you to stock up for your holiday entertaining.  This is as much fun as you’ll have anywhere, including the Galleria!

Special Guests: Meet Auburn’s very own racecar driver Scott and Judy Pruett, and taster their new releases.  The Pruetts just earned an astonishing 96 points for their 2012 Championship Cuvee. . .plus they had four more 90 pointers. Check it out!

Our Annual Wine Club Holiday Party is December 7

Join us for our signature Wine Club event at the Blue Goose Event Center in Loomis, 3550 Taylor Road in Loomis.  Wine and food flow for three hours on what is anything but a Day of Infamy!

We’ve had as many as 400 revelers crowd the event center, but there is plenty of room for everyone.  Chef Alexander will be strutting his stuff and Drew and I will be setting a land speed record when we open wine bottles for your amusement.  No need to RSVP, just show up!

BTW. . .no Scrooges, please.

$15 BUCKS For “Wine Spectator” Top 100 Wine!

a-to-z-oregon-pinot-noirYesterday afternoon around 3:30pm I received a call from one of my distributors.  I found it peculiar because he never calls that late because it is near “cut off” time and he is usually scrambling to make last minute orders to be delivered the next day.

“DREW…I got a deal for you that you are gonna love!”

Knowing that this guy is the king of deals I was instantly intrigued.  He continues, “I have 20 cases of the 2011 A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir from Oregon which received 90 Points and was named #55 on the 2013 Wine Spectator Top 100!”  ***Side note, the 2014 Wine Spectator Top 100 was just released this week.***

He then told me the price and without hesitation I said, “SOLD…ship that baby for tomorrow!”

So…right now I am sitting next to a stack of 20 cases or 240 bottles that need a happy home.  I can’t think of a better Thanksgiving wine for you to enjoy while indulging on that beautiful bird, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberries and all of the other fixins!

A little note about A to Z…their whole motto is to offer Aristocratic Wines at Democratic Prices blending one cuvee each vintage of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris that deliver the Essence of Oregon.  Owned by several “Who’s Who” of the Oregon Wine Community – Deb Hatcher (Eyrie), Bill Hatcher (Domaine Drouhin Oregon), Sam Tannahill (Archery Summit) and Cheryl Francis (Chehalem) and Gregg Popovich (Coach of the San Antonio Spurs) they are accomplishing this feat on a yearly basis!

2011 A to Z WineWorks Pinot Noir (Oregon)

$19.99/bottle or $14.99/bottle on 6+

“Wine Spectator” 90 Points and #55 Top 100 2013 – “This sleek red is tightly packed, with delicate layers of cherry, tobacco and cocoa flavors that mingle against refined tannins, persisting pleasantly on the light-stepping finish. Drink now through 2017.”



The Perfect T-Day Wine is Pinot from Albatross Ridge

albatross.203513Here’s the deal:  If you are looking for a killer pinot noir to accompany your Thanksgiving bird (it’s the perfect pairing), I’ve got the answer:  the 2012 Albatross Ridge Pinot Noir.  This wine was a selection for our $75 Wine Clubs in November, and we’re getting behind it in a big way.  Priced at $55 at the winery, you can take home three bottles for just $40 each.  We have just 10 cases remaining, so don’t delay.





Here’s the story behind this wine:

Though these days Drew purchases the vast majority of what we offer at Carpe Vino, I’m always on the hunt for tasty stuff whenever I’m on the road in Wine Country (which seems to be just anyplace in California these days).  Back in August, I was visiting a friend and faux cousin, Dan Moffat of Santa Cruz, and ended up having a great wine experience that resulted in a major purchase.

photo 2

Dan and I bonded years ago when we worked in the telecom industry, and we get together more frequently now that we both live here in paradise (that would be California).  During my stay, Dan served as matchmaker and introduced me to Albatross Ridge winemaker, Garrett Bowlus, a water polo teammate of his.

Garrett invited us up to his hilltop vineyard to taste his wines, and the timing of our drive just happened to overlap with the Pebble Beach Concurs d’Elegance.  We pulled over for 20 minutes to watch an entourage of incredible classic cars stream into Carmel.  I’m a life-long car guy, so blending two of my favorite things into one day was heaven.

So was the Bowlus Vineyard, perched at about 1,250 feet, where we sipped pinot and chardonnay with cool breezes in our faces, surrounded by 360-degree views of deep valleys.  Garrett’s grandfather piloted sailplanes off the ridges of Carmel Valley in the 1930s, hence the name and the image on the bottle. . .it is easy to imagine an intrepid adventurer taking flight here.

 Expansive views of fog-shrouded Carmel Valley reach right to the ocean.

Expansive views of fog-shrouded Carmel Valley reach
right to the ocean.

Garrett, 31, is a very big man, and he is totally immersed in winemaking.  In the photos accompanying this piece, you can see how much taller Dan is than me (he is wearing sunglasses).  Yet Garrett towers over in him in the other photo.  If the setting didn’t make me feel small, the company sure did.

We sat in the shade of a huge tree and tasted two vintages each of pinot and chardonnay.   We lingered there for a long time, and Garrett and I compared notes about being part of a father/son team (his dad is his partner).  My gut was this wine had all of the deliverables:  fabulous flavors, great back-story, ultra-limited supply.  I planted the seed of doing a deal, and though it took several months, we eventually came to terms.

One element of the agreement was I would pick up the wine.  Garrett gave me an address in Pacific Grove, which seemed odd to me.  It ended up being his house, and the 25 cases were sitting in his living room.

Now that’s boutique.

photo 3At the end of the day, it’s all about the wine, and this juice transports your palate somewhere it’s never been before.  Actually, the wine has not been released yet; though it has been in the bottle for a year, Albatross Ridge won’t start selling it until later in November.  We’ll be the only retailer in this part of the world, and since we purchased 25 cases, we took almost 10% of the 300 cases comprising the 2012 vintage.

Winery Tasting Notes:  “Bright aromatics of red fruits, red cherry, earth and sandalwood lead into flavors of tart cherry and wild raspberry framed by a long mineral-driven acidity with a touch of spice.”

By the numbers:

Alcohol Level: 13.5%
Cases Produced: 300
Blend:  100% pinot noir
Winemaker: Garrett Bowlus

I’ve got my three bottles reserved for Thanksgiving—just in case we sell out—which is what I expect will happen.  You can come into the shop for a taste, or just embrace my story and give the “Buy Now” button a peck.




Cheers & Happy Thanksgiving,

Best Time to Join Our Wine Club is Today!

cv_wineclub_home_button.155420The Holiday Tasting and Holiday Party are two great reasons to become a Wine Club member. . .plus our “Wine Thing” mega tasting early in February.  All of these are Wine Club exclusives, as are our free tastings hosted by Jay Johnstone every Saturday at the Wine bar.

Wine Club memberships make great gifts, and there are many options to suit just about any wine preference and price point.  To get all of the details about benefits, click here, or contact
Wine Club Manager Jana Kosmata at 530-823-0320.

Lock In Your Datebook for these Holiday Events:

(Note, these are Wine Club exclusives:  You must be a member to participate; two people per membership; no guests.)

December 2, 6 to 8 p.m., Holiday Tasting:  We’re opening 50 wines in all flavors and price points to encourage you to stock up for your holiday entertaining.  Meet Auburn’s very own racecar driver Scott and Judy Pruett, and taster their new releases.

December 7, 3 to 7 p.m., our annual Wine Club Holiday Party at the Blue Goose Event Center in Loomis.  Wine and food flow for three hours!


New England Comes to Carpe Vino Starting Tonight

It’s last call time:  “Fall in New England,” is our final, four-course prix-fixe dinner for 2014.  It starts tonight and features authentic Yankee dishes brought to the table with Chef Alexander’s unique spin.  Join us for this special event from November 18 to 23, starting a 5 p.m. each evening.

This dinner reprises the menu Chef developed more than two years ago.  In the summer of 2013, I spent a week traveling in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts and had the opportunity to taste many of the dishes where they were first imagined.  Carpe Vino’s version is spot on, principally because Chef Alexander grew up in upstate New York, so he knows the real deal!

From lobster to clams to Boston baked beans to Yankee pot roast, you’ll have the opportunity to experience it all.  This is a four-course culinary pageant, with choices and vegetarian options for just $59 per person plus tax and tip.  Our staff will be delighted to help you select wine to accompany your dinner, or use our digital wine line list to explore more than 300 options.

How does this sound for an entrée: Sunday Roast Chicken with seared pumpkin, mushrooms, savoy cabbage and Cape Cod cranberries?  Or, how about Waygu Beef Brisket “Yankee Pot Roast” with glazed root vegetables, potato puree and maple-porter sauce?  Celebrate the finish with either Vermont Cheddar Apple Crisp with vanilla ice cream or Boston Cream Pie with dark chocolate and caramelized banana.

Click here for the entire menu.

Call 530-823-0320 or go to right now and make your reservations ASAP. . .Friday and Saturday evenings are booking solid, but Wednesday and Thursday still have availability.  This is going to be another sellout!

“The Other Side of Auburn” is Back in Business


The Other Side of Auburn” is Back in Business

With this email, I’m reviving a blog I wrote for several years called The Other Side of Auburn that I used as a tool to do what I could to expose important stories in this town that were ignored or buried by commercial news outlets serving the community.  I was trained as a journalist and worked in publishing for much of my career.  I just can’t help myself when I see critical news being ignored or twisted. . .I’ve got to do what I can to tell the story from an independent perspective.

It is essential that I get my first, two-part blog entry out quickly, so I am sending it to Carpe Vino’s Window on Old Town list for the sake of expediency.  My goal is to build an independent list for The Other Side of Auburn, so other than access to my initial two blog posts, you will not receive additional emails.

You will, however, have an opportunity to opt-in and be added to my new list and receive future posts, which will be announced in editions of Window on Old Town and linked to my new site (now under construction).

Clearly, I recognize many of my Window on Old Town readers will have no interest in Auburn-centric stories that are unrelated to wine and food.  But many people do, and I hope you’ll register to receive my future blog posts.

Below is the first of two parts of my leadoff story.  To read the entire piece, click the “Read More” link at the bottom of the page.


Gary Moffat
November 12, 2014


Inside Auburn PD: 

Veteran Officers Depict a Gutted Department

During one of the most frightening days in the experience of modern-day Auburn, I was driving through the vast empty spaces of rural South Dakota, glued to my iPhone as it streamed KCRA3 video images of a murderous rampage that began in Sacramento and ended with the shooting death of a Placer County sheriff’s detective a few doors from my girl friend’s home in Auburn.

The hours-long pursuit, a tense standoff with the suspected murderer in a house on Belmont Dr. and his eventual capture have altered this community forever.  Such unprecedented violence demonstrates just how vulnerable Auburn—or any small town—can be.

Throughout the grueling day and weekend following the surrender of alleged assailant Marcelo Marquez, sheriff’s officers from Placer and Sacramento Counties directed the ensuing investigation, along with agents and officers from the FBI, Homeland Security and ATF.  Although a major crime was committed in our town, the Auburn Police Department deferred to the resources of larger, more capable jurisdictions.

It had absolutely no choice.

Four days earlier, I had filed my monthly column for the Auburn Journal, reproduced below exactly as I submitted it:  “Inside Auburn PD: veteran officers depict a gutted department”.  I emailed the story to my editor fully expecting that it would never be printed because the subject matter was so volatile.  In recent months, the Auburn Journal had become increasingly reticent about running my every-Friday column because of negative feedback from the city’s entrenched power structure.  My outspokenness resulted in a new edict from the San Diego corporate office of Brehm Communication:  no more weekly columns from non-staff; maximum once per month from contributors.

After you read my column, you’ll understand why I was so personally moved by the violent incident in Auburn.  I had been approached by a group of officers who were so concerned about the degradation of the community’s police services, they were willing to put their careers at risk by blowing the whistle on their department.  The major issues were a 40%, pre-recession reduction in staffing; the resulting impact on officer back up; the loss of key positions; and the degradation of resources, systems and supplies.

Bottom line, the department was understaffed, ill-equipped and lacked the necessary funding to provide the kind of police service the community expected, much less the titanic needs experienced on October 24.

On that day, a rookie officer was the only person on patrol and the police chief was on vacation at Disney World.

(Note:  This column was filed with Auburn Journal Senior Editor Dennis Noone on October 20 at 9:17 a.m.; it has not been published, nor has the newspaper followed through on any of the hard news components revealed.)

Inside Auburn PD: veteran officers depict a gutted department

Candidates for three contested seats on the Auburn City Council have harmonized on an essential campaign theme—the urgency of maintaining critical public safety services to protect our community.

This is a well founded concern, because my interaction recently with five veteran members of the Auburn Police Department paints a disturbing picture of an organization that has essentially been gutted both in terms of law-enforcement personnel on the streets and the fundamental equipment necessary to perform their duties.  This dangerous combination has created a tense situation where many officers are apprehensive about not only their own safety, but also the well being of citizens and an endemic morale problem that is causing many officers to retire or seek employment with other law enforcement agencies.

Over the past three years, five officers have fled to other police forces; three others retired or left due to injury.  Right now, five officers are in play and have their résumés on the street.

Cleary, these are not just a few disgruntled staff. . .there is a widespread sense of concern in the department, especially among those seasoned cops assigned to the street.  All with whom I communicated agreed to do so only after being assured of complete anonymity; most were anxious about potential disciplinary blowback, the consequence of coming forward publicly about their deepest concerns:

–Decimation of Staffing:  Pre-economic downturn, the Auburn Police Department had a complement of as many as 25 sworn officers.  Today, that number has plummeted to what will soon be just 15, a whopping reduction of 40%.  The most disturbing issue is that the thin blue line protecting our city’s borders will amount to just nine patrol officers assigned to 12-hour shifts (four shifts one week, three the next).  Except for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights when there are three officers on duty (two patrol, one supervisor), there are just two officers on duty over night. . .and that number could drop to a lone officer from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. if “operational streamlining” solutions currently under consideration are deployed.

The overriding concern among police officers is the issue of back up:  in an emergency situation with just one colleague on duty, there is radically diminishing confidence that help will arrive in time.  The city recently lost a veteran officer who suffered a career-ending back injury when, during the early morning hours in the middle of the intersection of Center and High Streets, he engaged with a PCP-addled man.  The fight was over in two minutes, and so was his career. . .even though his back-up was just four minutes away.

One officer characterized Auburn as “a one-call town,” which means a single call for service effectively eliminates police coverage for the rest of the community.  For example, if a disturbance in a bar Downtown engages both the patrol officer and the supervising sergeant, the rest of the seven square miles of Auburn are without police coverage, as is Auburn’s island airport which at best receives sporadic patrols.  (Yes, there are “mutual aid” pacts with Placer County and nearby jurisdictions, but response times are often slow because neighboring departments are facing similar staffing challenges.)

–Loss of Basic Services.  At this moment, the Auburn Police Department staff is so thin, it strains to keep officers on the street, a situation made more dire by simple issues like vacations, sick days and officers who must go to court or training programs.  Quite simply, we have no bench.

This translates to a wholesale loss of services elemental in maintaining the peace.  The list of jettisoned positions in the department is alarming:  two SROs (school resource officers who covered Placer High and other schools); two motorcycle patrol officers (in fact, there is currently virtually no tactical traffic enforcement in the city; issuing of traffic citations has, since October 2011, essentially ended); DUI enforcement officer; D.A.R.E. officer (Drug Abuse Resistance Education); canine officer; S.W.A.T. team; and even the police department’s honor guard and exhibition presence at public events such as the Gold Country Fair.  All gone.

If you want to get away with a crime—like the dumping of the body of a murder victim from San Francisco in Old Town, unsolved since October 9, 2012—Auburn is a prime location thanks to convenient freeway access and the fact that we have just one detective on staff, down from two.   And, unfortunately, that officer is not currently available for investigations because of back-filling patrol.

The net is, if the criminal element gets wind of our grossly diminished police veil in Auburn, we’re in trouble.  In fact, one officer told me, “If the average citizens knew the level of service we are providing, they would have a fit.”

Despite our critically eroded personnel resources, two sworn officers are assigned full time to a Rocklin-based Special Investigations Unit that is seldom seen in Auburn.  This joint task force is dedicated to drug interdiction, an initiative the Roseville Police Department is not currently supporting.

–Equipment and Services Status is Abysmal.  True police strength and readiness is further diminished by a department burdened with archaic systems and equipment.  I was told that the computer-aided dispatch system is grossly outdated, as is the department’s record-management system, which is more than 20 years old.  The telephone system, until recently, could not transfer or hold calls; it is still plagued by frequent dropped calls, an untenable situation when handling emergencies.  And except for calls from landlines, caller ID does not function.

An intercom system at the police station has not worked for more than three years, and the closed-circuit security system is so antiquated, grainy monitor resolution makes it impossible to clearly distinguish faces.  Basic computers and printers are ancient, and police radios are useless in some areas of the city because of dead spots, forcing officers to communicate by cell phone.

But perhaps the most telling revelation is that officers must supply their own flashlights and batteries, plus purchase their personal body armor (officers receive a $200 per quarter uniform allowance).

So what’s the answer?  Auburn’s cash-strapped finances in recent years have taken a toll in every city department, all of which are much more visible than what goes on behind the locked gates of police headquarters on Lincoln Way.  But the department management’s mantra of “do more with less,” clearly isn’t working.

It is incumbent on the next Auburn City Council to take a hard look at staffing and logistics, and be prepared to make a substantial investment in our community’s safety, rather than blindly accept the status quo. . .assuming tax payers can afford it.


Next: The Aftermath

Trying to get this story told through the Auburn Journal has been futile.  Next time, I’ll recount how the paper handled the story; how the police department and city management reacted; and details about how our department stacks up in comparison to other city police forces in Placer County in terms of staffing levels and area served.

There will be skeptics who feel I have a personal axe to grind, so I’ll make clear my relationship with sources (without naming most of them).  I’ll also briefly describe my experience as a true “meddler” in this town.

Gary Moffat
November 12, 2014


“Fall in New England” is 2014 Prix-Fixe Finale

So, here we go . . .the finale of Carpe Vino’s series of fabulous prix-fixe events in 2014.  We’re closing out the season with a classic:  “Fall in New England,” running from November 18 to 23, starting at 5 p.m. each evening.  If it seems like we just did our Greek dinner, well you’d be correct.  Because Thanksgiving falls during the final week of November, we had to move our schedule up one week.

For epicureans, wine aficionados and people who just love to party, this shouldn’t be a problem.  SOP is four courses, with choices, for $59++ per person.  We do, of course, make an additional charge for any wine your wish to consume.

Click here to see the full menu, Chef Alexander’s up-close-and-personal take on true New England delights:  he was born and raised in Binghamton, New York, which is not technically in New England, but it’s close enough.

If you’ve been to Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut or Rhode Island, you know this is the real deal.  We’ve got everything from Lobster Roll, the chef’s take on Boston Baked Beans, Yankee Pot Roast and wonderful desserts from our very own Pastry Chef Courtney McDonald:  Vermont Cheddar and Apple Crisp plus Boston Cream Pie.

You don’t have to be a patriot to embrace this menu. . .just a zealot.  We’ll have a rundown on each menu item next week, but don’t wait to make your ressies now by calling 530-823-0320 or go to

Wine Club Holiday Party is Coming December 7

SONY DSCCarpe Vino’s signature Wine Club event is our holiday party hosted again this year at the Blue Goose Events Center in Loomis on Taylor Road.  Wine will flow freely and Chef Alexander will keep the chafing dishes full from 4 to 7 p.m. on December 7.

Hosting this event is our way of saying “thank you” to the nearly 1,200 members who comprise our Wine Club.  Our member loyalty—through both wine purchases and enjoying our restaurant—has been the basis for driving our business.  Drew and I, along with our entire staff, are immensely grateful.  We appreciate your patronage and this is one way to demonstrate the depth of our feeling.

So please join us for this special event, and please understand that it is for Wine Club members only. . .non-member family and friends, regrettably, will not be admitted.  Thanks for your cooperation!

More information
Carpe Vino (Find Us) 1568 Lincoln Way Auburn, CA 95603
Phone Number: 530-823-0320
Get Directions to Carpe Vino
Bar & Restaurant Hours Tuesday - Saturday
4:00pm - 10:00 p.m.
Closed: Sunday and Monday
Dining Room Hours Tuesday - Saturday
5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Closed: Sunday and Monday
Make A Reservation Guests must be 21 years of age or older.
Reservations are suggested for preferred seating, especially on weekends.