For Over 105 Years Emigh Hardware Stays Committed to Its Customers and Community

Celebrating its 105th anniversary this year, Emigh Ace Hardware continues to focus on the things that have made it successful for all these years — great customer service and love of its surrounding community.

“That’s really what’s kept us in business — taking care of our customers and being a part of the community,” says President Rich Lawrence, who first began working at Emigh in 1969 as it was his father-in-law’s business. “That’s what’s unique about Emigh Hardware.”

Founded in 1908, Emigh Hardware is a fourth-generation family business started by two brothers with a location on J Street in downtown Sacramento, according to General Manager Craig Franklin, who has been with the company since 1986. The store later moved to the Arden area in the mid 1950s, and then moved to its current location in 1973.

Franklin says the business is actually Emigh Ace Hardware as they are part of the Ace dealer-owned cooperative. “We have have the buying power, resources, training, advertising and product resourcing of a much larger company, but we’re still fully independent, fully family-operated here in Sacramento, he explains.

Customer Service
When it comes to providing great customer service, Franklin feels that is one of Emigh’s strong points. He says they work hard to have numerous knowledgeable employees on the floor to help customers when they have questions. “Our goal is to be the most convenient, the most helpful, and the friendliest store, and that’s reinforced through our employees and that’s really our motivation,” he adds.

Providing great customer service comes with hiring the right people for the job, says Rich’s son Brian Lawrence, vice president of Emigh Hardware and manager of Emigh’s Outdoor Living. He explains they look for employees that enjoy working with the public and taking care of customers. If a customer is looking for a particular product, employees are trained to walk the customer to what they are looking for if they have the time. Employees also communicate by radio to help customers find what they need quickly.

“Our customers expect that service level – they’ve been coming here for a long time,” Brian says. “And that’s just something that we strive to continue to be good at and continue to strive to be great at.”

Everyone Welcome
Another part of Emigh’s customer service is making everyone feel welcome in the store, including kids.

Franklin says they always have free popcorn and balloons for kids. And they have a fishpond in the back of the store where many children feed the large goldfish. Then each June to celebrate its anniversary, Emigh Hardware has a community celebration with clowns, face painting, cotton candy, ice cream, hot dogs and more, Franklin says.

“Our clientele is growing older and we want to get young people in the store,” Brian explains. “It’s exciting when you see little kids come in and they’re excited to be here.”

And Rich says he constantly hears adult customers talk about how they used to be excited to come with their parents to Emigh Hardware. “So there are a lot of memories,” he adds.

Giving Back
And Emigh Hardware also supports the youth in its surrounding community, as well as adults, through its charitable giving.

Franklin says for years Emigh has provided donations and support to local schools, youth groups and churches in the community. For example, if they have slightly damaged products or products they no longer need, Franklin says they will donate them to Habitat for Humanity or other local charities such as the Lions Club or Rotary. They also donate Christmas products to local churches and the local Children’s Receiving Home.

Rich says Emigh has continued to support local Little League teams and swim teams. They also recently donated plants and tools to a local program for autistic children and adults for their garden.

Brian says the store is very involved with the River Oak Center for Children, for whom they do a Christmas wish tree each year. They have also continued to support the local Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, as well as Children’s Miracle Network through their association with Ace Hardware.

Another fun thing Emigh provides is tours for local preschool and kindergarten classes and Cub Scout troops. “We’ll walk them through the store and tell them a bit about our business,” he explains.

Brian says they are so involved in their community because they want to give back to the community that has been supporting them for so many years. “We want to give back to the people who shop in our store – they are neighborhood people and their kids are very involved in local sports and local scouts,” he explains. “When they come into the store, we want them to know that we’re part of that community. We just think it’s really important to give back to the community and we strive to do that on a continual basis.”

Rotary of Pocket/Greenhaven prepared meals at St. John’s shelter

The Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven’s prepared and served meals on Thursday, Nov. 15 and Thursday, Dec. 15 at St. John’s Shelter.  On the November date, six rotarians participated and approximately 50 residents of the shelter were fed.  The Club has been involved with St. John’s Shelter for the past four years, due to a recommendation from one of our members.

In addition to St. John’s Shelter, the Pocket/Greenhaven Rotary Club is active in the community with projects such as presenting dictionaries to third graders at Yav Pem Suab Academy, volunteering at the Pocket/Greenhaven Library, volunteering and participating in the Pocket July 4th Parade, providing Ice Cream Socials for residents of the ACC Nursing Home, sponsoring a high school student for a week at the Rotary Youth Leadership Camp, sponsoring and hosting high school students for a year abroad on a Rotary Youth Exchange program, sponsoring a high school INTERACT club at Kennedy High School, staging a High School Speech Competition, supporting the Home Depot Health Fair and ACC 10th Annual Celebration, and donating blood to BloodSource.

The Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven was recently honored as one of three outstanding clubs in the Sacramento metro area. Additionally, one of the members, Judy Foote, was recognized as the Rotarian of the Year.  The club meets on Thursdays at 7:30 a.m. at Aviator’s Restaurant, located in the Sacramento Executive Airport.

For information, contact President Keiko Wong (kwong@cookrealty.net) or visit the Pocket/Greenhaven Rotary website (pocketgreenhavenrotary.org).

Kennedy students compete in Rotary speech contest

This year’s Rotary Club theme is “Reach Within to Embrace Humanity,” and that is exactly what Daniel Li did Thursday morning, Feb. 9, at the Aviator’s Restaurant located at the Executive Airport.

REACHING WITHIN, Kennedy High School upperclassmen Daniel Li and Simon Lal (left to right) competed in the Rotary Club of Pocket-Greenhaven’s annual speech contest. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Sally King

REACHING WITHIN, Kennedy High School upperclassmen Daniel Li and Simon Lal (left to right) competed in the Rotary Club of Pocket-Greenhaven’s annual speech contest. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Sally King

Li, a junior at Kennedy High School competed against Simon Lal in the annual Rotary Speech contest. His speech touched on the shallowness of society as a whole.

“I looked at the theme and I wanted to get looser with the style of my writing,” Li said. “This year’s theme took a lot of thinking and it was a fun process.”

Li lives in the Greenhaven Pocket area and said he plans on getting a business degree and might follow the footsteps of his two older brothers who attend UC Berkeley. The Rotary Club awarded him first place with a gift of $200.

Lal, a senior at Kennedy High School said he wants to become a stunt director and actor. His theme was being true to self and others. Lal lives in South Sacramento. He received $100 for his speech.

“I decided to be in the speech contest because I tend to be shy and sometimes stutter and slur my words,” Lal said. “I figured this would help me improve my public speaking.”

Speaking well in public takes years of practice and begins with experience. These are two reasons the Rotary Club has an annual speech contest for young people. The Rotary Website explains the contest is an opportunity to spread the themes and motto of Rotary, “Service Above Self.”

The Rotary Club rules state contestants must be in grades 9 to 12. The speaker must give a five to eight minute speech without displays, prompts or prompting. The speaker must convince listeners how he/she will reach within and find their inner strength to accomplish great things within their community and around the world. They are allowed to use notes for the first round, after that notes are not allowed.

There were three judges; Linda Whitney, retired principal of Caroline Wenzel Elementary School, Terry Thomas, retired teacher from Alice Birney Elementary School and Marilee Bellotti, retired principal of Holy Spirit Parish School.

Li advances to the Area 4 Level Semi-final Contest to be held Thursday, March 29 at 7 p.m. in the SMUD auditorium.

The winner of that contest advances to the District Level Contest, held at the Grand Sierra Resort, Reno Nev. on Saturday, May 19. The district level first place award is $1000 and second place is $700.

Pocket-Greenhaven Rotary generous with dictionaries

Ms. Moore and Ms. Saechao’s third grade classes at Yav Pem Suab Academy School were in for a big surprise on Jan. 5.

Judy Foote, treasurer of the Rotary Club of Pocket Greenhaven, presented each child and teacher with a new picture dictionary.

Pam Whipple, school nurse and safety coordinator said the quality of the dictionaries was impressive.

“I watched the students reactions to receiving the dictionaries and they were immediately engaged,” Whipple said. “The illustrations in the dictionaries help bring the words to life.”

Foote began the morning by introducing the five Rotary Club members who came to present the dictionaries to the children. Each member talked to the students about the importance of a good education and how they too were excited that each child was receiving a new dictionary. Foote gave a short speech to the students explaining what the Rotary Club is about and that it is an international organization of business people who serve others locally, nationally and internationally. She asked the children if they could explain the purpose of a dictionary. Many students raised their hands eagerly, hoping to be called on.

Clarence Parkins, District Foundation Chair, said the dictionary project started in 2004 with two clubs participating with 167 books purchased for three elementary classes in two schools. In 2011, 35 District Rotary clubs purchased 9,990 books, providing dictionaries to approximately 96 area elementary schools.

Foote says the Rotarians enjoy giving the dictionaries away just as much as the kids enjoy receiving them.

Third grade teachers Ms. Moore and Ms. Saechao said they are thankful to the Rotary Club for donating the dictionaries. Moore said the colorful picture dictionaries are amazing.

“Before the Rotary Club came to distribute the dictionaries, there was one dictionary the class had to share,” Moore said. “Now the students can’t stop using their dictionaries. One child told me the day he received his dictionary was the best day of class.”

One of the highlights for Rotary International is literacy and passing out the dictionaries to the third graders at Yav Pem Suab Academy was truly a highlight.

East Sac Rotarians gift dictionaries to Phoebe Hearst Elementary School third graders

When you are in the first and second grades, you are learning to read.

When you are in the third grade, you are reading to learn.

With this thought firmly in mind, the Rotary Club of East Sacramento presented every third grader at Phoebe Hearst Elementary School – 101 kids – a brand-new, “Macmillan Dictionary for Children” on Jan. 13. It was a gift from the Rotarians to each child. The book is his or hers to keep – forever.

Dinger, the Sacramento River Cats mascot, was on hand to help with the distribution. The kids learned that Dinger is literate and that he likes to read about baseball.

The hardcover book features some 35,000 entries, with over 1,100 photographs and images in full color. Words such as “Internet” and “Website” are defined. The kids were excited to get their own books.

“Now I’ve got a brand new dictionary,” said Clayton Ketcher, 9. “This will replace my old one.”

“We can look up words on our own for homework,” said Claudia Daponde, 9.

Some 203 additional dictionaries will be gifted by the East Sac Rotarians to third graders at David Lubin, Tahoe Elementary and Caleb Greenwood Elementary schools.

Chandler Copps Amphitheater dedicated at Camp Mokitana

The first phase of the renovation of Camp Mokitana – the old Camp Fire Girls camp located in River Bend (formerly Goethe) Park – was celebrated when the camp’s amphitheater was dedicated in memory of Rotarian Chandler Copps on Sept. 15.

DEDICATION. Members of the community gathered to dedicate the Clarence Copps Amphitheater at Camp Mokitana in River Bend Park. Those attending included Rotarians, representatives from SaveMart Supermarkets and the American River Parkway Foundation and former members of Camp Fire Boys and Girls. Rotary and SaveMart have committed to raise $500,000 for the restoration effort over five years. / Photo courtesy, Rotary District 5180

DEDICATION. Members of the community gathered to dedicate the Clarence Copps Amphitheater at Camp Mokitana in River Bend Park. Those attending included Rotarians, representatives from SaveMart Supermarkets and the American River Parkway Foundation and former members of Camp Fire Boys and Girls. Rotary and SaveMart have committed to raise $500,000 for the restoration effort over five years. / Photo courtesy, Rotary District 5180

Dignitaries from the county, Rotary District 5180 and SaveMart Supermarkets were on hand for the dedication – as were members of the American River Parkway Foundation, which had voted just the night before to become partners in the restoration of the facility.

Located in the heart of River Bend Park, Camp Mokitana’s 10 acres are in the heart of the bend of the river. In effect, the rest of the park “barbells” around it. The restoration of the old camp by the Rotarians and their partners will restore this prime property to the Sacramento community, for use by scouting groups, Boys and Girls clubs, church youth groups and other family groups.

Rotary District 5180 and SaveMart have jointly committed to raise $500,000 to the restoration effort over a five-year period.

The camp site is significant and holds great sentimental importance to generations of Sacramento area children – now adults – who attended summer Camp Fire camps at Camp Mokitana for well over a half century.

The property was originally gifted to the Camp Fire Girls by Charles M. Goethe, a strong believer in conservation. The Sacramento-Sierra Camp Fire Council ran decades of successful day camp and overnight camp programs for Sacramento Valley youth there.

When the council closed in 2008, the property reverted back to Sacramento County – with the provision that it remain a camp for youth in the region, and that any future Camp Fire youth would have access to the camp.

At the dedication, eyes grew misty as a Dutchman’s Pipevine butterfly flew over the heads of those dedicating the renovated camp amphitheater in memory of Rotarian Chandler Copps, who saw the need to restore this resource to the community – and took action to make it happen. The butterfly’s caterpillar, called “Charley” by campers, can only survive on Dutchman’s Pipevine, which grows abundantly at Camp Mokitana. It is a precious habitat.

“We’ve become friends, working together on this project,” said Don Bean, director of community relations for SaveMart Supermarkets. “Our primary giving interests center around health, wellness and feeding the hungry. This project really fit into ‘health and wellness’ for young people and families. We’ve been here four years and we are doing our best to get involved with the community. We are proud to be working with Rotary, because they always take on the tough projects.”

“I want to acknowledge and thank to Rotary and SaveMart and others for supporting the renovation,” said County Supervisor Don Nottoli. “We now have an opportunity with a strong local cadre involved in the restoration and improvement, and hopefully once it is completed it will be an area in the American River Parkway where people can come enjoy the natural setting and get a better sense of what a crown jewel this really is. We tend to forget that young people in the area don’t get to experience something like this.”

“We are over 40 Rotary clubs in the area and almost 2,000 Rotarians strong,” said Jack Taylor, District 5180 governor. “Rotary has been successful because of the partnerships we’ve formed with SaveMart and others. Our theme for this year is ‘Share Your Rotary Passion.’ This is one example of the many, many ways Rotarians share their passion for the community.”

Elaine Copps, Chandler’s widow, perhaps summarized things best at the dedication.

“Not too long ago, I found a note in Chandler’s desk, in his hand,” she said. “It said: You do not get love. You give love. And it returns the favor.”

Rotarians restoring historical Camp Fire camp for today’s youth

The first phase of the renovation of Camp Mokitana – the old Camp Fire Girls camp located in River Bend (formerly Goethe) Park – will be celebrated when the camp’s amphitheater is dedicated in memory of Rotarian Chandler Copps on Sept. 15 at 10 a.m.

HAPPY CAMPERS. These Sacramento area children were among the last to attend traditional day camp at Camp Fire’s Camp Mokitana in Goethe (now River Bend) Park in 1999. / Photo courtesy

HAPPY CAMPERS. These Sacramento area children were among the last to attend traditional day camp at Camp Fire’s Camp Mokitana in Goethe (now River Bend) Park in 1999. / Photo courtesy

The renovation is the result of the hard work of the Sacramento area’s local Rotary clubs. Last year, Rotary District 5180 entered into a five year partnership with SaveMart Supermarkets for the purpose of raising funds to restore Camp Mokitana in Rancho Cordova.

The camp site is significant and holds great sentimental importance to generations of Sacramento area children – now adults – who attended summer Camp Fire camps at Camp Mokitana for well over a half century. Camp Fire was particularly strong in Sacramento from the 1910s up until the early 2000s, serving thousands of children and making many resources available to the community. In fact, in the early 20th century, Camp Fire Girls partnered with its “brother” organization, the Boy Scouts of America – as both organizations were founded in 1910. For example, scouting groups leased the property from Camp Fire for their outdoor programs from time to time.

It was at Camp Mokitana that children discovered “Charley” – the caterpillar who can only eat Dutchman’s Pipevine, who later spins a chrysalis (complete with hold-fasts) to later emerge as the Dutchman’s Pipevine Butterfly. Camp Mokitana is Charley’s habitat, and young people learned how threatening the habitat could threaten the life of the butterflies. Kids learned the importance of conservation. Many made “We camp with Charley!” their rallying cry.

Camp Mokitana campers made their first friendship bracelets, honed their archery skills, learned outdoor skills, hiked together…and made new friends as they ate their first s’mores and sang camp songs around the bonfire in the old amphitheater.

The Camp Fire Girls became co-educational in 1974, becoming Camp Fire Boys and Girls. During the 1990s, the council was headquartered in East Sacramento. A decline in membership and lack of community funding for Camp Fire programs eventually led to the sale of the Sacramento-Sierra Council’s other camp, Camp Minaluta, in 2004. Eventually the Sacramento-Sierra Camp Fire USA Council closed in 2008, ending nearly a century of service to the Sacramento region.

As the council declined, Camp Mokitana fell into a state of disrepair. Rattlesnakes were no longer the only hazard. Trails to the American River were overgrown, the block house was in shambles, the Climbing Trees needed a safety check and the camp sites all needed repair. A valuable resource for children’s education was lost to the community.

It is, in some ways, appropriate that the organization whose motto is “Service Above Self” – Rotary – would come to the rescue of a facility of an organization whose slogan was “Give Service” – the Camp Fire Girls. Rotary is a worldwide organization of more than 1.2 million business, professional, and community leaders. Members of Rotary clubs, known as Rotarians, provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. To restore Camp Mokitana to serve the community made sense to one local Rotarian in particular.

Chandler Copps, the founding president of the Rotary Club of Rancho Murietta, saw the need to restore this outdoor resource to the children of the community. He spearheaded

MAKE NEW FRIENDS. Camp Mokitana was a place where children could learn new games, study the natural world and build friendships – as these children in 1999 did. Rotary District 5180’s efforts will restore the camp for use by youth organizations in the Sacramento community. / Photo courtesy

MAKE NEW FRIENDS. Camp Mokitana was a place where children could learn new games, study the natural world and build friendships – as these children in 1999 did. Rotary District 5180’s efforts will restore the camp for use by youth organizations in the Sacramento regional community. / Photo courtesy

the effort to persuade members of Rotary’s District 5180 to support this effort. Funds would need to be raised, he realized, and strategic partnerships made with local authorities and businesses. Copps also reached out to SaveMart Supermarkets, which in turn stepped up to help.

A golf tournament held last October successfully raised over $57,000 for the restoration project. This money has helped the first phase of the restoration to near completion.

Phase 1 of the project includes the renovation of the camp’s parking area, the path leading to the river, and the amphitheater. When completed, Camp Mokitana will again be useable by scout groups, church groups, Boys and Girls Clubs, and other youth groups as a camping facility in a rural area within an urban setting. The property is now owned by Sacramento County.

Chandler Copps, a respected Rotarian and member of the Paul Harris Society, passed away in early 2011.

“Chandler was an outstanding Rotarian who was responsible for getting us involved with SaveMart and the partnership that made this project a reality,” said Clarence Parkins, Rotarian and past district governor. “The amphitheater will henceforth be known as the Chandler Copps Amphitheater in his memory.”

Members of Rotary District 5180 will continue to hold future work days at Camp Mokitana as their work to renew the facility continues. They will also host the 2011 SaveMart/Governor’s Cup Golf Tournament at the Rancho Murieta Country Club on Sept. 23. Funds from the tournament will help Rotary to continue to raise the funds necessary to rebuild this camping facility for the community. To purchase tickets, make a donation or for more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/rotarytournament.

Sign up for Annual Petersen Cup golf tournament

Golf lovers everywhere are invited to mark their calendars for Friday, June 3 – the date of the Fifth annual Petersen Cup held at Timber Creek Golf Club in Roseville. This fun event benefits the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento, the Laurel Ruff School and the Rotary Club of Arden Arcade’s dictionary project for third grade students.
Enjoy a fantastic day on the green and help children in need at the Fifth annual Petersen Cup golf tournament on June 3. / Photo iStockphoto

Enjoy a fantastic day on the green and help children in need at the Fifth annual Petersen Cup golf tournament on June 3. / Photo iStockphoto

The annual memorial golf tournament is named for late Sam Petersen. He was a past president of the Rotary Club of Arden Arcade. As a resident of the Arden Arcade community, an owner of a local brewery and a constant supporter of Children’s Receiving Home, Sam gave his time, talent and hard-earned cash to disadvantaged children in Sacramento.

Incoming President of the Arden Arcade Rotary Club Jeri Petersen – and widow of Sam – continues to lead this golf fund-raiser as an embodiment of Sam’s good works.

There’s a Dimple Drop, live and silent auctions and a dinner following 18 holes of golf.

Shotgun start is schedule for 12:30 p.m. The tournament is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Arden Arcade and the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento.

Players may sign up at www.crhkids.org or contact Jeri Petersen at jerisen@gmail.com.

Sacramento’s Urban Winery: Rail Bridge Cellars

 
Arden Park resident and local winemaker Jon Affonso check the bouquet of a recently poured Rail Bridge Cellars “boutique wine” called “Lattice.” Boutique wines are wines that are created from blending a variety of grapes. Lattice is 73 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 23 percent Merlot, two percent Cabernet Franc, one percent Malbec and one percent Petit Verdot. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Stephen Crowley
Arden Park resident and local winemaker Jon Affonso check the bouquet of a recently poured Rail Bridge Cellars “boutique wine” called “Lattice.” Boutique wines are wines that are created from blending a variety of grapes. Lattice is 73 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 23 percent Merlot, two percent Cabernet Franc, one percent Malbec and one percent Petit Verdot. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Stephen Crowley

Starting your own business and making it successful has risks. When the economy is in a slump it can seem even riskier – even if the business happens to be making a great wine.

Jon Affonso, who lives in Arden Park, started the Rail Bridge Cellars urban winery and crush facility in 2004. Located at 400 North 16th St. in Sacramento, he is proving success can happen in a down economy.

Chris Chenco, owner and winemaker of Driven Cellars in Plymouth, California, said he has known Affonso for four years.

“Jon is very confident and an extremely qualified winemaker,” Chenco said. “As winemakers we are always trying to improve our product and Jon likes to share ideas. He has a vast amount of knowledge in the wine industry.”

Affonso said he grew up with foreign exchange students and knew he wanted to study abroad. He attended Jesuit High School and graduated in 1988. He attributes much of his success being able to complete a fifth year of high school in France, which was supported by the members of Rotary District 5180. This international program, today known as Rotary Youth Exchange, annually sends some 8,000 students on exchange. The primary goal of the program is to foster world understanding by way of intercultural exchange.

In France, Affonso was given the opportunity to work as an intern helping make Bordeaux at Chateau Angelus, a stone’s throw from many prestigious wineries. He said working there gave him valuable insight to the winemaking business. He said it also opened doors to other wineries.

Rail Bridge Cellars founder Jon Affonso discusses wine with local oenophiles (wine lovers) at a recent wine tasting at his wine and crush facility that is located in the Old Sacramento Rail Yards. The Victorian brick building that houses Rail Bridge Cellars used to be a leather tanning facility. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Stephen Crowley

Rail Bridge Cellars founder Jon Affonso discusses wine with local oenophiles (wine lovers) at a recent wine tasting at his wine and crush facility that is located in the Old Sacramento Rail Yards. The Victorian brick building that houses Rail Bridge Cellars used to be a leather tanning facility. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Stephen Crowley

When Affonso came back from France, he attended Sacramento State University. He decided to get a degree in geology because he enjoyed the outdoors and loved science classes. He said his junior year he realized he wanted to become a winemaker but felt he had invested too much time in geology, so he filled in the holes with chemistry classes to finish school. He went on to get another degree in enology at Fresno state and an MBA in wine business at Sonoma State. He figured he needed to know the business end if he was going to own a winery.

Delving in chemistry wasn’t new to Affonso. Growing up he worked with his dad, Stan, who roasted and sold coffee beans wholesale.

“It was fun to work with my dad,” Affonso said. “We would experiment with the different coffee beans, coming up with new flavors.”

Affonso said while working on his MBA at Sonoma State, he worked as a research assistant at Sutter Home Winery. He explained this job was based more on the chemistry of winemaking than on how to tend the vineyards. He said it was a fantastic experience.

As part of his thesis, Affonso wrote a business plan developing an urban winery in Sacramento. His professor

Rail Bridge Cellars wines are both affordable and excellent. Both of these wines, Lattice and Sauvignon Blanc, are carried in local stores, including Corti Brothers. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Stephen Crowley

Rail Bridge Cellars wines are both affordable and excellent. Both of these wines, Lattice and Sauvignon Blanc, are carried in local stores, including Corti Brothers. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Stephen Crowley

thought it was a great idea and Rail Bridge was born.

When Affonso was looking for a building in Sacramento to house his wine and crush facility, he found an old run-down, red brick building. The building was originally a tannery in the 1920’s. He chose to renovate it because of the thick walls (which helps the cooling system) and easy access to electricity.

During the planning stages of his winery, Affonso did some research on the wine market at local restaurants in Sacramento. He wanted to fill the gaps. At that time, Affonso said people were into Cabernets, but not so much the red blends. Chardonnay was the white wine of choice, but there was not a lot of Sauvignon Blanc. He decided to make a blend that could compare to the Cabs in taste, but not have the higher price tag. He saw an opportunity for making a Sauvignon Blanc that had structure and layers to enhance the food it would be paired with.

“I look for food-friendly wines,” Affonso said. “I want the wine to enhance the flavor of the food.”

Affonso said he likes a crisp, clean, citrus Sauvignon Blanc that integrates well with food. He likes a red with balanced fruit and spices. He said his reds have soft tannins.

Jon Affonso pours for the crowd assembled at Rail Bridge Cellars at a recent wine tasting. The Jesuit High School grad spent an additional year of high school in France as a Rotary Youth Exchange student. While in France, worked as an intern to make Bordeaux at Chateau Angelus. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Stephen Crowley

Jon Affonso pours for the crowd assembled at Rail Bridge Cellars at a recent wine tasting. The Jesuit High School grad spent an additional year of high school in France as a Rotary Youth Exchange student. While in France, worked as an intern to make Bordeaux at Chateau Angelus. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Stephen Crowley

In this lean economy, Affonso said people are not buying the more expensive wines. He said there a larger variety of wines now being offered that are a good value.

James Balke, who owns a local Sacramento winery, uses Affonso’s crush facility.

“He is a joy to work with,” Blake said. “He makes great wine. To succeed in this economy is a testimony to the work he has done.”

Scott Lascher, a local auto dealership owner, said he enjoys making his own private label of wine. He said Affonso has given him helpful tips with winemaking. Lascher said Affonso brought a lot of wine knowledge back with him from France.

“Jon owns the right equipment, which makes winemaking a painless experience,” Lascher said. “I have used his facility for a couple of years and find it terrific to work with Jon.”

Affonso said for 2010 he produced 2,000 cases of wine and 1,000 cases of custom wine for his clients. He has around 350 wine club members and tastings are by appointment. He also hosts weddings and private parties.

The thick, brick walls at Rail Bridge Cellars provide a perfect working environment for crafting excellent wines. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Stephen Crowley

The thick, brick walls at Rail Bridge Cellars provide a perfect working environment for crafting excellent wines. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Stephen Crowley

Students ‘Dare Mighty Things’ in speech contest

Daniel Li was the winner of the Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven’s recent speech competition. He will move on to an area competition on March 19 and possibly to the Rotary District 5180 Competition in April.
Daniel Li and Simon Lal, both from John F. Kennedy High School, presented speeches on the topic, “Dare Mighty Things” as part of the speech competition held by the Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven in February. Li won the competition and will advance to the next level in the regional competition. Left to right, Li, Lal and Rotarian Judy Foote. / Photo courtesy

Daniel Li and Simon Lal, both from John F. Kennedy High School, presented speeches on the topic, “Dare Mighty Things” as part of the speech competition held by the Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven in February. Li won the competition and will advance to the next level in the regional competition. Left to right, Li, Lal and Rotarian Judy Foote. / Photo courtesy

Li, a JFK sophomore, is interested in psychology and enjoys music, especially playing the guitar. 

Li’s speech began with the thought that people today, especially teenagers, often “dare” to do things for fame, money or the thrill of the experience. This concept has been promoted through many reality shows currently on television. He suggested that this has led to broken bones, brain damage, and other types of physical harm, as well as no recognition.

He proposed that this type of “high” is fleeting and another direction is needed to do “mighty things.” After mentioning various service opportunities that can make lasting changes, such as helping the homeless, feeding the hungry or working with an organization like Rotary to help eradicate polio, he left the audience with a challenge: Dare to Dream that your efforts can make a difference.