Thursday, October 31, 2013

Placer County's gold country a hidden treasure for wine lovers.

Did you know there's a special place, nestled in Northern California's foothills, close enough to the ocean but with enough sunshine and just the right temperatures to grow some of the best grapes and produce some of the best wine in the world?  No, were not talking about Napa Valley - it's all about wine country in our own Placer County, California.

Napa may be a household name when it comes to wine, but Placer County's grape country holds some of the best kept secrets in vino.  Follow the Placer Wine Trail (map included here) on a perfect autumn Sunday to find your favorite red.  Or, there's no better way to spend a chilly winter day than visiting several wineries in our own Gold Country backyard.  Whether they are big, established vineyards with grand tours and sprawling grounds, or small, family-owned shops driven by passion and love of grapes, drink a Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, or Reisling with great food and great friends.  And remember, always have a safe driver on your wine tasting excursions!

Here is a list of some of our favorite vineyards and wineries in Placer County.

Bear River Winery

2751 Combie Road
Meadow Vista, CA 95722
530 878-8959
Tastings: Saturday - Sunday 12:00 - 5:00

Bonitata Boutique Wine

291 Auburn Folsom Road
Auburn, CA 95603
530 305-0449
Tastings Wednesday - Sunday 1:00 - 6:00

Casque Wines

9280 Horseshoe Bar Road
Loomis, CA 95650
916 652-2250
Tastings Friday 11:00 - 8:00 Saturday & Sunday 11:00 - 5:00

Ciotti Cellars

3750 Taylor Road
Loomis, CA 95650 
916 534-8780
Tastings Wednesday - Sunday 12:00 - 5:00

Cristaldi Vineyards

3750 Taylor Road
Loomis, CA 95650
916 759-1291
Tastings Saturday - Sunday 12:00 - 5:00

Davis Dean Cellars

Rocklin, CA 95765
530 888-0101
Tastings: By Appointment

Dono Dal Cielo Vineyard & Winery

6100 Wise Road
Newcastle, CA 95658
530 888-0101
Tastings Thursday - Sunday, 12:00 - 5:00

Fawnridge Winery

5560 Fawnridge Road
Auburn, CA 95602
530 887-9522
Tastings Friday - Sunday, 10:00 - 5:00

Green Family Winery

3420 Pine Ridge Lane
Auburn, CA 95603
530 888-8866
Tastings Saturday - Sunday, 12:00- 4:30

Lone Buffalo Vineyards

7505 Wise Road
Auburn, CA 95603
916 663-4486
Tastings Friday - Sunday, 12:00 - 5:00

Mt. Vernon Winery

10850 Mt. Vernon Road
Auburn, CA 95603
530 823-1111
Tastings Thursday - Sunday, 11:00 - 5 :00

PaZa Vineyard & Winery

3357 Ayres Holmes Road
Auburn, CA 95602
916 834-0565
Tastings Saturday - Sunday 12:00 - 5:00

Pescatore Vineyard & Winery

7055 Ridge Road
Newcastle, CA 95658
916 663-1422
Tastings Saturday - Sunday 12:00 - 5:00 

Popie Wines

3750 Taylor Road
Loomis, CA 95650
916 768-7643
Tastings Wednesday - Sunday 12:00 - 5:00

Rancho Roble Vineyards & Winery

340 Fleming Road
Lincoln, CA 95648
916 645-2075
Tastings Saturday 12:00 - 4:00

River Rock Ranch Lindemann Winery

6024 Prairie Way
Lincoln, CA 95648
916 410-7105
Tastings Saturday - Sunday 12:00 - 5:00

Rock Hill Winery

2970 Delmar Ave
Loomis, CA 95650
916 410-7105
Tastings Saturday - Sunday 12:00 - 5:00

Secret Ravine Vineyard & Winery

4390 Gold Trail Way
Loomis, CA 95650
916 652-6015
Tastings Saturday - Sunday 12:00 - 5:00

Vina Castellano Winery

4590 Bell Road
Auburn, CA 95603
530 889-2855
Tastings Thursday - Sunday, 12:00 - 5:00

Wise Villa Winery

4100 Wise Road
Lincoln, CA 95648
916 543-0323
Tastings Thursday - Sunday, 11:00 - 5:00

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

5 Ways the Federal Housing Administration changed mortgages forever.

In the dark days of the United States Great Depression, banks had failed, the monetary system all but collapsed, and the real estate marketing was in shambles.  Home ownership was a rarity in those days to being with – by some estimates up to 70% of people rented.  But as people lost their jobs, their incomes, and their trust in the banking system, foreclosures and defaults on mortgages reached epidemic proportions.  So many people walked away from their homes that the banks were forced to “call due” existing notes in an attempt to gobble up whatever cash and assets they could.  But this just quickened the cycle of values plummeting and more people losing their homes.  No banks wanted to lend because of the risk and certainly few people wanted to buy a home under those conditions.  

Something had to be done, so the Federal Government, under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, initiated the Housing Act of 1934, with the aim to insure loans made by private banks and commercial lending institutions to trigger home buying and home building again.  They knew no amount of monetary policy would be effective if they didn’t build in insurances for banks and consumers – creating confidence in the system, once again.  Part of this Act was the creation of the Federal Housing Administration, the FHA, who’s sole purpose was (and is) to stabilize the mortgage market, regulate rates of interest, and promote home buying.

Here are 5 ways the Federal Housing Administration changed mortgages forever: 

1. Lower down payments.
Prior to the FHA’s new mortgage plan, home buyers traditionally put up to 50% of the home’s value down as a deposit. That means you had to come up with half the value of the property in cash!  But the FHA changed that by lowering down payment requirements, offering mortgages with only 20%, 10%, or even lower deposits.  Thus, 80% and 90% Loan To Value mortgages were born, allowing access for a huge new group of home buyers. 

2. A qualification process.
In the old days, small town banks did business based on a borrower’s reputation in the community.  Basically, they knew the person and the kind of business they did, so they’d vouch for them and approve the loan based on anecdotal information.  The FHA did away with that, instead setting up a structured qualification process based on their ability to repay.  That’s where income qualification ratios and employment verifications factors came in, and later, credit score.

3. Lengthened loan terms.
Up to the time of the Great Depression, mortgage loans were only for 3-5 years, or up to 5-7 for a longer-term loan.  The FHA lengthened the term of the loans to 15 years, and later to 30 years.  Like many of these changes, once the FHA offered these new, improved mortgage provisions, traditional lenders and banks all followed step, to stay competitive.

4. Standards of quality.
In order to bolster confidence and assure the value of a property, the FHA put in play standards of construction.  They mandated a qualified inspection before they allowed a mortgage loan on a home. FHA appraisals factor in 8 criteria, with “Relative Economic Stability," constituting 40% of the appraisal value, and "protection from adverse influences,” another 20%.

5. Amortization.
Traditionally, mortgages only had Interest Only payments, and after the 3-5 year term was up, a big balloon payment for the rest of the balance.  Of course we can see how this led to mass defaults, so the FHA instituted the novel concept of amortization, meaning a set schedule of interest and principal payments every month.  The mortgage started out with heavy interest payments, but as they stayed in the loan and time went down, started paying off their principal more and more.

These measures were wildly successful in turning around the momentum of home ownership in the United States.  In 1935, Colonial Village in Arlington, Virginia was the first large-scale rental housing project built and funded with the Federal Housing Administration’s backing and insurance. From there the economy rebounded and home ownership rates rose to all-time highs a decade later as soldiers came back from World War II and settled back in to their American Dream, with the help of FHA-backed mortgages.  


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Will winning the lottery make you happy?

Most of you reading this are probably saying saying “Heck, yes!” right now, but studies cast a shadow of doubt on that premise.  In fact, people who win it big with the lottery (like the Powerball or mega jackpot – we’re not talking about a $50 scratcher ticket) often cite complications, problems, and issues in their lives that they never experienced before, causing a certain level of unhappiness.

With the odds of winning a big jackpot 1 in more than 175 million (about the same odds of you being struck by lightning or having identical quadruplets) its not likely you’ll have that problem, but still, 25 percent of the population say they play weekly.  In fact the more financially challenged the demographic, the more they play the lottery.

Studies show that lottery winners experience a rush of euphoria with winning, but that quickly retracts as problems with taxes, being targeted by predators, and family problems arise.

“Winning will release some pleasurable chemicals in your brain over the short term,” said Scott Bea, clinical psychologist with the Cleveland Clinic. “Unfortunately, your brain will likely revert back to the same old same old before too long.”

Lets look at statistics compiled from a survey of 34 national lottery winners:

Effect on Individual Happiness

Percent of lottery winner who were happier after winning: 55%
No effect on happiness:  43%
Are less happy:  2%

Of the 55% of winners who are happier…
Claimed they were happier because of improved financial security and fewer worries:  65%
Claimed they were happier because they could buy what they wanted and life was easier:  23%

Effect on Family Life
Percent who remained married after winning:  95%
Percent of winners who have given some money to their family: 83%
Percent of winners who’s family claims to be happier:  58%
Percent of family’s who claim to be less happy:  37%

Probability that new family wealth will be gone by third generation: 90%
Percentage of lottery winner who had spent their entire winnings within 5 years:  44%
Percent of winners who have gained weight:  32%

Percent of winners who stay in their same job:  48%
Percent of lottery winners who still play the lottery on a weekly basis:  68%

Percent of winners who have given some money to their family:  83%
Percent of families who asked lottery winners for money: 29 %
Average number of friends men winners gave money to:  3
Average number of friends women winners gave money to: 1

What’s the conclusion?  A person probably will not significantly more happy because of winning the lottery, but they do have the capacity to sink into life’s new problems.  Family problems, stress about maintaining wealth, and dealing with the greed of others are the particular leading causes. 

Empirical research in the field of psychology and economics has found that people do get happier as their income increases only up to the point where they are financially comfortable.  Statistics show that level is about $75,000, after which happiness and life satisfaction ratings level off.

We wish you luck playing the lottery next time, and hope you win it big – but don’t expect it to make you happy in life.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Placer County, California is gold country for golf enthusiasts.

Placer County, California is often called Gold Country for the scenic beauty of its lakes, rolling hills, and entertainment options like wine tasting, hiking, or just a drive up the Sierras to Lake Tahoe.  But it's also golden for golf enthusiasts - home to over 20 golf courses in the area that range from inviting pubic courses to exclusive private resorts, Pro Am and even a Championship LPGA course.  So we recommend adding a nice day swinging the clubs to your weekend To Do list, and you can start by checking out each course here: 

The Valley

Catta Verdera Country Club

1111 Catta Verdera Drive
Lincoln, CA 95648
916 645-7200
Membership Club Open for Non-Member on Tuesday through Friday and Sunday anytime after 11:00 a.m. and Sundays after 12 noon. 18 - Hole

Diamond Oaks Golf Course

349 Diamond Oaks Road
Roseville, CA 95678
916 771-4653
Public - 18 Hole

Lincoln Hills Golf Club

1005 Sun City Lane
Lincoln, CA 95648
916 543-9200
Public - 36 Holes

Rolling Greens Golf Club

5572 Eureka Road
Granite Bay, CA 95746
916 797-9986

Public -9 Holes

Sierra Pines at Sun City Roseville

7600 Whistlestop Way
Roseville, CA 95747
916 774-3850
Public - 9 Holes

Sunset Whitney Country Club

4201 Midas Ave
Rocklin, CA 95677
916 624-2610
Membership Club Open for Non-Member, 18 Hole

Timber Creek at Sun City Roseville

7050 Del Webb Boulevard
Roseville, CA 95747
916 774-3850
Public - 18 Hole

Turkey Creek Golf Club

1525 Highway 193
Lincoln, CA 95648
916 434-9100
Public - 18 Hole

Whitney Oaks Golf Club

2305 Clubhouse Drive
Rocklin, CA 95677
916 632-8333
Public - 18 Hole

Woodcreek Golf Club

5880 Woodcreek Oaks Boulevard
Roseville, CA 95747
916 771-4662
Public - 18 Hole

The Gold Country

Auburn Valley Golf Club

8800 Auburn Valley Road
Auburn, CA 95603
530 269-2775 or 877 307-2060
Private - Public play is available, please contact 530-269-2776 for tee time.

Black Oak Golf Course

2455 Black Oak Road
Auburn, CA 95602
530 878-1900
Public - 9 Hole

Gator Creek at Dingus McGee's Golf Course

14500 Musso Road
Auburn, CA 95603
530 878-1110
Public - 9 Hole

Indian Creek Country Club

4487 Barton Road
Loomis, CA 95650
916 652-5546
Public - 9 Hole

The Ridge Golf Course

2020 Golf Course Road
Auburn, CA 95603
530 888-7888
Public - 18 Hole

Winchester Country Club

3030 Legends Drive
Meadow Vista, CA 95722
530 878-3000
Membership Club Open for Non-Member afer 11:00 a.m., 18 Hole

The High Sierras

Northstar California Golf Course

168 Basque Dr.
Truckee, CA 96161
530 562-3290
Public - 18 Hole

Old Brockway Golf Course

7900 North Lake Boulevard
Kings Beach, CA 96143
530 546-9909
Public - 9 Hole 

Resort at Squaw Creek 

400 Squaw Creek Road
Olympic Valley, CA 96146
530 583-6300

Public - 18 Hole

Tahoe City Golf Course

251 N. Lake Boulevard
Tahoe City, CA 96145
530 538-1516
Public - 9 Hole