Before I joined Comstock’s two years ago, while enjoying eight
months of being unemployed (my longest stretch without a job
since I was 14), I discovered a new favorite pastime, wine
tasting, and I also traveled frequently. Both of those industries
have suffered greatly during the coronavirus pandemic, but both
are poised for dramatic comebacks, as reported in this month’s
stories “A Blend for Success” (page 34) and “Smoother Ride Ahead”
Napa and Sonoma counties have earned a worldwide reputation for
producing excellent wines. That region also is known for large
crowds and expensive wines, and going there takes most of a day
(or more) for visitors from the Capital Region. But, as writer
Daniel Barnes points out in this issue, oenophiles from our
region can stay close to home and still enjoy exceptional wine.
Within an hour drive of downtown Sacramento, wine lovers can
visit a handful of wine regions, including the Shenandoah Valley,
Lodi, Clarksburg, Placer County and Fair Play.
On a beautiful spring day, the drive to Ironstone Vineyards in
Murphys or Helwig Winery in Plymouth is serene. The buildings and
grounds at Ironstone match almost anything Napa has to offer, and
the view at Helwig is breathtaking. Clarksburg, just 20 minutes
from downtown Sacramento, is home to the Old Sugar Mill and its
14 tasting rooms, plus more than a handful of other wineries,
including Scribner Bend Vineyards and nationally known Bogle
Vineyards. And about 35 miles south of Clarksburg, Lodi has more
than 80 wineries.
Eric Johnson’s story about Sacramento International Airport
points out the dramatic decline of passengers due to the
pandemic, but it also details ways airport officials have
lessened the financial pain. In my experience, the best thing
Sacramento International has going for it is how easy it is to
get to and park there, and it draws travelers from across
Northern California. As the shutdown due to the pandemic slowly
eases, Sacramento International will likely return to its busy
ways with people eager to travel again.
Sears’ Sad Farewell
When Sears announced in February it was closing its only
remaining full-line store in the Sacramento area, it brought back
a flood of memories. No matter where you were raised, you likely
grew up with Sears. And if you didn’t have one in your town, you
most likely ordered through its immense catalog, which seemingly
was delivered to every home in the country during Sears’ heyday.
One could buy nearly anything at Sears, which was a big-box store
before that term existed: appliances, tools, clothing, lawn and
garden equipment, sporting goods, auto parts, and more. And from
1908 to 1940, Sears sold about 70,000 kit homes in 447 styles
through its Modern Homes catalog. One of those homes is in the
unincorporated Franklin area of Sacramento County southwest of
Elk Grove. According to Dennis Buscher, a board member of the Elk
Grove Historical Society, the Smith family purchased the Maytown
model, No. 167 in the 1913 Sears Modern Homes catalog, listed for
$823, which included everything except labor, cement, brick and
plaster. Buscher says the home was shipped by rail to the
Franklin Western Pacific Railroad station, and the Smith family
had to haul everything to the building site.
Even the biggest of today’s most successful big-box stores, such
as Walmart, Costco, Target and Home Depot, don’t sell kit homes.
Readers’ Responses Are In
In January, we published a reader feedback survey on our website,
comstocksmag.com. Here are some interesting highlights:
• More than half (53.4 percent) of respondents say they visit our
website at least monthly.
• According to the respondents, the most appealing topics are
food and drink, arts and culture, nonprofits and philanthropy,
and agriculture and environment.
• Annual themes that interested our respondents the most are
Innovation, Women in Leadership, Housing and Family Business.
• We were surprised by the number of respondents who don’t
receive our weekly newsletter or listen to our podcasts. We
encourage you to sign up for our newsletter at comstocksmag.com/newsletter. And each month,
our podcast, “Comstock’s Talks,” features audio versions of two
or more stories. Check it out at comstocksmag.com/podcasts.
Thanks to all of those who participated, and the editorial team
will use the results to help shape some of our coverage this
year. Two respondents, Lorretta Laslo and Heather Foreman, were
randomly selected to receive $100 gift certificates to the
Mexican restaurant Mayahuel in Sacramento. Congratulations, and
thanks to everyone for reading.
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