I am a mom. It’s a fact that may belie my bias when I tell you that sometimes a girl simply needs a break. Children, husbands, work, the unending demands of every single day… it catches up with you. Even the oft-offered advice, “You must make time for yourself!” can feel like just another pressure.
The anecdote to the mayhem? A few relaxing days away in wine country, visiting family and friends. With our two young children in tow, my husband and I headed to Napa, where we whiled away the days wining, dining and spending quality time with the kids and engaging in adult endeavors like wine tasting and fine dining.
You might not think of Napa Valley wine country as a family-friendly travel destination, but there’s plenty to keep the kiddos entertained, particularly at both of the premier properties we experienced on a recent visit: The Silverado Resort and Spa (www.silveradoresort.com) and The Meritage Resort and Spa (www.themeritageresort.com) - more on both later.
Napa is known for its panoramic vistas, fine dining and history. Because we were only in town for a few days, we wanted to be able to sample the best of the region’s varietals without having to drive from winery to winery. Having friends with local knowledge proved to be a particular boon - they turned us onto what was arguably the highlight of the trip: the Napa Valley Wine Train.
What better way to experience the views and vintages, enjoy a gourmet meal and step back in time to a bygone era of luxury, class and nostalgic train travel in the days when rails ruled as the preferred mode of getting around than to step aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train (www.winetrain.com)?
The Napa Valley railway dates back to the late 19th century and eventually became part of the Southern Pacific Railroad (the original passenger service was discontinued in 1929). Sixty years later, when Southern Pacific petitioned to abandon the line, a group of local investors formed the Napa Valley Railroad (NVRR) and purchased the right of way to preserve a piece of history for future generations.
With 100-year-old railcars and a 150-year-old rail corridor, the NVRR has evolved into one of the most popular excursion trains in the country. The Wine Train’s gourmet lunch and dinner trains began service in 1989 and the line, which now includes 36 miles of track, rolls by 26 different wineries at about 10 miles an hour (the trip, which lasted just shy of three, started and ended at the downtown Napa station).
Diners enjoy a delicious, multiple course gourmet meal prepared in one of the antique train’s trio of on-board kitchens, where the Wine Train’s passionate culinary team cooks up fresh, California cuisine made to order for each guest.
Our friends also turned us on to a pair of distinctly different and equally wonderful accommodations options: The Silverado Resort and Spa and The Meritage Resort and Spa.
Situated along Napa Valley’s scenic Silverado Trail, the Silverado Resort and Spa (www.silveradoresort.com) features four different family-friendly “neighborhoods” to choose from - the two-bedroom condo we stayed at came with perks like a fully-equipped kitchen, refrigerator, dishwasher, toaster and microwave and a dining area with a table for four for the convenience of eating in and plenty of square footage for everyone to have their own space.
There is nothing understated about this gorgeous, rambling property - from the palm-tree-lined drive winding its way up to the “mansion,” the resort’s white antebellum-style main building and the 390 rooms scattered across 1,200 acres to the sheer abundance of outdoor and indoor activities for enthusiasts of all ages, including two 18-hole golf courses, 10 swimming pools, three restaurants, 13 tennis courts, nearby hiking and jogging trails, bike rentals and onsite bocce.
Set against the rolling vineyards of California’s wine country, The Meritage Resort and Spa (www.meritageresort.com) proved to be an all-inclusive amenity-rich experience: the Four-Diamond Napa Valley property features wine tasting, award-winning cuisine, rejuvenating spa treatments, bowling and luxurious accommodations - all without ever venturing off the property’s 32+ acres of stunning real estate.
The Meritage Resort and Spa opened in July 2006 to become one of Napa Valley’s top luxury hotels and resorts. Situated in front of nine acres of hillside vineyards, The Meritage Resort opened in July 2006 along with the adjacent Vino Bello Resort, creating an ultimate Wine County destination. Combined, the Napa resorts feature 502 luxury guestrooms and suites (322 at The Meritage Resort and Spa; 180 at Vino Bello), a gourmet restaurant, casual dining options (including Crush Ultra Lounge which serves up signature cocktails and sports entertainment), two swimming pools, a premier meeting and event space.
In 2007, Spa Terra opened at The Meritage Resort, making hotel history with its unique location - 40 feet below the iconic Grape Crusher statue, the world’s first entirely underground spa was built. The 9,500 square foot, $7.5 million project features steam grottos, soaking pools, water walls, and lavishly appointed private treatment rooms for individuals and couples.
In today’s high-paced, high-stress society, we are accustomed to treating health problems after they negatively impact our lives, rather than proactively caring for our bodies. Unfortunately, waiting until a problem develops (such as weight gain) puts your overall health at risk. Poor nutrition, fatigue and stress can send your body on a downward spiral, leaving many people feeling hopeless and frustrated.
Imagine your ideal self. Would you weigh less? Have more energy? No longer struggle with chronic fatigue? Dr. Richard Mantell and the wellness team at RCMC Weight Loss are there to guide you to take control of your life and regain a healthy lifestyle. Whether you need assistance with medical weight loss, nutritional counseling and balancing stress, they can help. For several years, the clinic had aided many patients to successfully lose weight and change their lives through a truly transformative approach to “whole body wellness” aimed at helping them get healthy and stay healthy for life.
Since opening his first weight loss office in 1995, Dr. Richard Mantell has recognized that being overweight is a medical condition. At RCMC Weight Loss OC, he and his partner, Dr. Bryan Veirs (they co-own both RCMC clinics - the original location in Rancho Cucamonga and their new office which opened in San Juan Capistrano last June) determine the underlying cause of each individual’s weight gain. For many patients, eating healthy and exercising is simply not enough to take off the pounds. Dr. Mantell and the RCMC wellness team take the mystery out of weight loss by using a medical weight-loss program designed to help patients lose one to two pounds a day for up to 45 days - and most importantly - keep it off.
“Losing weight is more than just diet and exercise,” says Dr. Mantell, who graduated medical school with a specialty in Internal Medicine and completed his medical residency at University of California, Irvine. “It is simply overwhelming without guidance and direction. The program will provide you with a private nutritional counselor to help keep you accountable for achieving your weight loss goals. Many patients have failed numerous times in their past dieting attempts, but are amazed when they find real success here.”
RCMC’s cutting-edge medical weight loss treatments include integrating HCG injections, lipo injections, appetite control medication and nutritional counseling. The medically prescribed injections protect your lean muscle mass while turning your body into a fat burning machine. HCG is part of a fast track medical weight loss program which helps patients drop pounds fast and feel more energetic than they have in years. Most notably, nutrition counseling and lifestyle advice helps patients correct negative habits that may have led to their weight gain in the first place, so the pounds stay off for good.
“I’ve tried all kinds of diets and never thought I could make a life change,” says Annette P. “But thanks to everyone (at RCMC), I am doing it. I feel great. I’m loving the result. I would like to thank everyone (at RCMC) for giving me all the support I needed at times when I was going to give up.”
Rey R. of Ontario echoes Annette’s assessment and adds “It is sometimes difficult to describe such great experience. The staff is VERY welcoming every time I come for an appointment. They have always been informative and knowledgeable about the program I’m on. They are extremely encouraging and motivating to keep me on path without being pushy. I would like to mention my favorite person to talk to at RCMC, but I can not choose one - they are all awesome! Thanks again RCMC for helping me become a healthier me!”
“At RCMC, our patients are treated like family,” says Dr. Mantell. “We are available to our patients during and after hours. When our patients follow the advice we teach them, they will lose weight and keep it off.”
Certified Public Accountant Peter D. Prescott is single-minded: “I strive to make each client as tax efficient as possible. Using a client’s entire finances as a framework, we establish major goals and then combine tax savings techniques and professional financial planning to enhance the growth of their money!”
Peter’s background is impressive: A business degree from U.C. Berkeley, a Professional Financial Planning designation from U.C.L.A., a Masters in Taxation from Golden Gate University, Big 8 accounting experience at Price Waterhouse and the Personal Financial Specialist Designation (PFS) from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Overwhelming technical expertise belie the fact that Peter is a people person. His clients appreciate his professional knowledge of course, but love him for his down to earth sensibility, wit and humor. As a man who has participated in public speaking venues, stand-up comedy and a few game shows, Peter loves life and is not only dedicated to his profession, but also maintaining a balance of work and play. His most important priority is his own family. His wife Margie is a homemaker and formerly a special education teacher in San Clemente. Having three sons, Peter understands that early planning to meet family goals is critical.
Peter has been helping Southern Californians with their income tax returns, tax planning, and comprehensive financial planning needs for over 30 years. Peter is adamant when he says, “As long as the IRS keeps up with its annual “tax simplification” strategies, you will want to use a professional who understands the constantly changing tax and financial environment.”
Peter stresses that “the start of the year is the perfect time for tax planning. It enables us to achieve a good sense of direction and work together with my undivided attention. This is true for any individual, small business, or corporation seeking to become more tax efficient and a better financial consumer.”
Knowledge of the tax laws is of little value unless they can be applied wisely to fully meet your needs. That is why Peter Prescott follows a comprehensive approach combining effective tax savings, advance financial planning strategies and professional investment methodologies.
Why allow yourself to become anxious and stressed out about your taxes, retirement, college, or business planning? The best time to begin the process is now.
There are still many actions that can be taken to save you money this year and be better positioned for the future.
With Peter’s help you will benefit not only from his experience, but you’ll be able to relax a little more too! Call today to schedule a tax planning or tax return preparation meeting to take advantage of Peter’s New Client Offer.
I remember what it was like learning to drive. That’s why as a parent, I know my teenage kids haven’t a clue what they are doing behind the wheel.
I believe driver’s education is an imperative and to be honest, I think I (and they) would much prefer to learn the rules of the road from professionals rather than with their Nervous Nellie mother sitting beside them.
Having said that, I couldn’t think of better, more qualified instructors than current and retired law enforcement officers to help new drivers be safe on the street. And talk about revving up the fun factor (pun intended) – because Teen Road to Safety is connected with local Ford dealerships, young drivers get to put what they learn to the test behind the wheel of a new model Ford mustang.
As Southern California’s premier defensive driving and driver’s education programs, Teen Road to Safety is a unique driver’s education course that aims to teach teenagers safe driving techniques in a fun and exciting environment. The program promotes safe driving and educates teenagers on the rules of the road, as well as the responsibility of sharing the road with the public.
“Unfortunately, preventable traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States,” says Andrew Wunderlich, president and CEO of Teen Road to Safety. “We believe that with education and practical training, the number of teen accidents and teenage traffic fatalities can be reduced. What sets us apart from other drivers education is that our Instructors and the training we provide prepares young drivers for the real world of driving and preventing these young drivers from serious injuries and death.”
After 21 years in law enforcement, Andrew Wunderlich founded Teen Road to Safety after retiring from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2004. As a law enforcement officer he trained police recruits in defensive driving techniques.
Repeatedly at the top of his class in police drivers training, Andrew holds numerous commendations for safe driving and traffic awareness. He is certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation as a Drug Recognition Expert and is licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Andrew has also participated and advised in other professional driving schools. All of the instructors involved in Teen Road to Safety boast similar credentials.
“We offer the best qualified defensive driver training in Southern California,” says Wunderlich. “All of our instructors are current or retired police officers – each with over 25 years of driver safety experience. Each one of our instructors has a law enforcement background and are trained police officers, expert traffic investigators and have received hundreds hours of training in traffic and driver training.”
The Teen Road to Safety program involves classroom sessions on safe driving techniques and traffic laws. Teens will then have an opportunity to put the lessons they learned to the test.
“My son recently completed the (Teen Road to Safety) in-class Driver’s Education course,” says Teri Belmer. “Like many teenagers, my son is not normally a fan of the classroom environment, however, each day that I picked him up from class he enthusiastically shared with me something he had learned. I believe that taking the class not only helped him to pass his driver’s permit test - the first time - but has also encouraged him to be a responsible driver. We look forward to enrolling our son in the Advanced Driver’s course once he has obtained his license.”
For Wunderlich, the most satisfying aspect of owning and operating Teen Road to Safety comes from “knowing that we have saved lives, reduced the accident/death rates of a young driver by education and training by developing outstanding, skillful and knowledgeable drivers.”
What parent could ask for more?
The evolution of this iconic dining destination is defined by distinctive modern cuisine, live entertainment and delicious dishes with its youngest guests in mind
To remain at the forefront of any industry, it’s necessary to continually reinvent yourself. The same holds true in the restaurant business where success is found in continually evolving even the most popular of dining concepts.
For Celebrity Chef Chris Tzorin and General Manager Phil Roberson of Savannah Chop House in Laguna Niguel, this thought process is at the core of the many of the exciting changes taking place in every aspect of the eatery’s operation. While the restaurant still serves its signature steaks, chops, seafood and Southern specialties, it has incorporated a number of innovative new dishes, popular live entertainment and the introduction of a new kid-friendly menu.
For my part, Savannah has long been a favorite destination to spend “date night” with my husband. Whenever we have visitors in town, it’s at the top of the “wish list” of places to dine and now that the restaurant features dishes for our little ones, Savannah is sure to become a popular place for our family to dine together.
Tzorin, who brings more than 12 years of professional culinary experience and extensive knowledge of Orange County’s restaurant scene, recently unveiled dishes that are characterized as “contemporary coastal with elements of worldwide cuisine.” What that translates to wonderful seasonal starters including the Tempura Squash Blossom stuffed with herb goat cheese and sundried tomatoes atop baby mixed greens and paired with a Ponzu dipping sauce. The Shrimp Cocktail arrived with a trio of colossal gulf shrimp amid a flavorful Chipotle cocktail sauce and the Seared Sonoma County Foie Gras, Nectarine and Honey Gastrique over a Crostini was a huge hit with our dining companions who are self-professed “foie gras” aficionados.
The Lobster Bisque with Sherry Cream drizzle and chives always delivers with bites of fresh lobster and the new Watermelon Beet salad which arrived with candied pecans, goat cheese and a herbal vinaigrette was a delicious mix of tastes and textures that work well together.
Other great new dishes include the Pork Belly Cornbread, Skate Wing, Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Deconstructed Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp and Shredded Fried Chicken.
Savannah Chop House exudes a warm hospitality – from the clubhouse lodge vibe of its Lounge, featuring dark wood, half-round booths, soft lighting and stone fireplaces to the elegant white table cloth affair of its classic dining room. There is also a private dining room just adjacent to the main dining room - perfect for private parties, winemaker dinners and other special events.
But what many guests may not know about is the beautiful verandah – an expansive outdoor seating area with a fire pit from which guests can enjoy the ocean view and watch the sunset.
Imagine the meager amount of air you can contain by holding your breath. Now, imagine all the air that’s around you. It’s unlimited compared to what you can hold, right? It’s the same with energy; as essential to our lives, as unlimited as air and nearly as impossible to stockpile.
he vast abundance of energy around us doesn’t mean it comes easy and your monthly power bill clearly shows that it doesn’t come inexpensively. The skyrocketing costs of energy and the government incentives (currently scheduled to end December 2016) have many property owners taking a serious look at solar alternatives.
It’s seeing the reaction of his customers when they receive their first electric bill with a $0 balance due (or even a negative balance) that drives Vincent Curcie, President of the Orange-based Solar 360 Building Services Inc.
“It’s a truly rewarding feeling to know that what I do for a living results in helping people save real money every month,” says the City of Orange native. “The majority of the market today is focused on ‘leasing solar,’ but leasing just means the customer will spend twice as much for the cost of ownership. We help our customers finance their system so they can start saving money the very first month, but we also capitalize on all the available rebates and tax credits to ensure that we generate the maximum ROI (return on investment) for each client.”
As a residential solar installer, Curcie and his team at Solar 360 have designed and implemented custom power solutions for homeowners all over Orange County and Southern California. Every structure demands energy in a different way, spiking at various times of day for a host of reasons. The professionals at Solar 360 identify your current usage to determine your energy needs and in the future and help you make the necessary adjustments to your home to achieve power efficiency with solar technologies.
“When you go solar, you’re still hooked up to the electrical grid so when you need more energy than your solar panels can produce, you can still pull power from your utility provider,” says Frank Monteleone, partner at the renewable energy company. “But when you are away from the house and your panels are producing energy that you are not using, the grid picks it up, distributes it elsewhere and credits you for that energy. The net result is that your bill drops dramatically.”
“Many homeowners find that the installation of their solar energy system ends up being ‘budget-neutral’ for the duration of the financing period.”
Between the savings you realize from reducing your energy bill and taking advantage of the 30% tax credit from the federal government, the majority of customers are able to switch to solar and receive immediate savings and relief off their current electric bill without having to make any changes to their lifestyle. After that, your solar system should provide ongoing savings – a powerful offer at a time when energy costs continue to rise.
Another particularly gratifying aspect of operating his business in Orange is that Vince is able to personally “give back” into the community of his hometown (his current house is just around the corner from his childhood home near the intersection of Katella and Handy).
“I love living and working in Orange and being able to give back in a way that directly benefits our community’s residents and organizations and am proud to sponsor many local high school programs.”
What’s on the inside may be important, but like books, homes are often judged by their covers first. Whether you are considering putting your house on the market or intend to live in your abode for years to come, the condition of your home’s exterior says speaks volumes about the pride of its ownership.
One of the easiest ways to improve your home’s curb appeal is to remove the dirt, algae, rust and grime that builds up over time on the roof, walls and driveways. I suppose I could purchase or rent a pressure washer and try my hand at cleaning the outside of my home, but that’s a task I’d much rather leave to the professionals.
In business since 2012, Pressure Pros OC specializes in exterior pressure washing and surface sealing for homes and businesses throughout Orange County, with special emphasis in South County.
In the following interview, Owner Jeffery Goodwin addresses the common questions and concerns South County homeowners may have when considering an “exterior detail” for their home or business.
South County Magazine: What is “pressure washing?”
Jeffery Goodwin: Pressure washing, or ‘power washing’ as it’s often called, involves a high-pressure, pump operated sprayer designed to remove all forms of dirt, algae and grime from multiple surfaces on homes, buildings and vehicles across a wide variety of wood, metal, concrete, tile and paver surfaces. By using commercial-grade equipment, professional pressure washers are able to vary the temperature and amount of pressure applied, depending on the surface to be cleaned.
SCM: Are chemicals used in the pressure washing process?
JG: While a relatively low-velocity, consumer-grade power washing machine like one typically found at a home supply store may require the use of additional chemicals to be effective, professional power washing rarely requires the use of chemicals. More often than not, the combination of heat and high pressure will return a surface back to like new condition. When chemicals are required, our technicians use only bio-friendly chemicals, and always consult with clients prior to application.
SCM: Given current water restrictions, how eco-friendly is your process?
JG: Thanks to our state-of-the-art, trailer-mounted water recapture system, we’re able to capture, filter, recycle and reuse any run-off that would otherwise drain to the street. By doing so, we minimize water usage and ensure that any potential pollutants remain away from storm drains and out of our creeks and ocean. Bu using the recapture system, we remain in compliance with state and local water regulations.
SCM: Will cleaning a roof damage the shingles or roofing material?
JG: A weekend DIY’er with limited experience walking on a roof or using a pressure washer could certainly end up causing damage or, worse yet, get seriously hurt. Roof cleaning is one of our most popular services and our team is well versed in walking on and cleaning roofs safely and effectively, without damage. Red tile roofs are one of our specialties!
SCM: How long is the pressure washing process (i.e. if I wanted the house and driveway pressure washed prior to an event, how far in advance would I need to schedule)?
JG: Most residential properties can be fully detailed in under a day, with small jobs just taking a couple hours. Oversized homes or commercial properties may take longer, depending on the size and complexity of the project. And, while we’re certainly happy to accommodate last minute requests whenever possible, planning ahead will ensure that your home can be cleaned prior to any big events. If you elect to have a surface sealer applied to protect the surface once the pressure washing is complete, it will take one hour to dry and up to 24 hours to fully ‘set’ prior to use.
SCM: What exactly is a surface sealer and when is it necessary?
JG: A surface sealer is designed to seal, protect and beautify concrete and masonry surfaces while protecting them against moisture damage, corrosion and further staining (including oil and gas stains). A surface sealer enhances the natural color of brick, slate, stone, exposed aggregate, Saltillo, pavers and stamped concrete, and comes in either a high-gloss (a ‘wet’ look) or low-luster finish. Surface sealers should be applied approximately every three years, immediately after pressure washing is complete while the surface is clear and free of all dirt, stains and debris.
SCM: What sets your company apart from competitors in the market?
JG: I suspect that a lot of companies like ours would say their customer service sets them apart, but we believe great customer service is simply table stakes for a service-oriented business like ours. Ultimately, we want to cultivate advocates who are excited to recommend our company to their neighbors, friends and family. This only happens by providing an exceptional level of detail and care in every aspect of what we do.
Our mission is to surpass our client’s expectations from the moment we meet, until the job is complete. We have no interest in doing a sub-standard job, or cutting corners. As South County natives ourselves, we’re intensely focused on building local relationships for the long-term, and that means concentrating on excellence in every aspect of our business.
SCM: Why should a home be professionally pressure washed? And how often?
JG: Many people only consider the aesthetic value of pressure washing and there’s no denying that our client’s are typically shocked at how radically better their home looks after an exterior pressure wash. Some of the most important benefits of pressure washing, however, include reducing slip-hazards caused by oil stains and algae, improving health by removing exterior mold and other allergens, and extending the life of porous surfaces such as concrete, tile and stone, especially when a surface sealer is applied after pressure washing is complete. On average, a pressure wash should be repeated once every one to three years, depending on whether the surfaces are sealed or not.
SCM: What is the difference between pressure washing a deck vs. the exterior of a home?
JG: The process is essentially the same. By adjusting pressure and temperature manually, our technicians are able to clean each surface in the most optimal way possible.
Call me old fashioned, but I believe that physical photos are a medium worth preserving. When I recently sat down to put together my daughter’s baby book, I thought of how printed images might at times seem like a thing of the past. But then I can’t imagine showing off my family photos by scrolling through all the images I posted to Facebook once upon a time.
Scott and Diana Schmitt, co-founders of the San Juan Capistrano-based San Juan Photo and Digital and Accents Portraits by Diana understand the desire for individuals and families to preserve their most precious memories in more than merely a digital format.
Scott and his wife have long shared a love of photography. So when a then-Moto Photo franchise became available for purchase in 1989, the couple jumped at the chance to pursue their professional passion.
After six years of hard work building their initial business together, they opened a second, separate studio entity in the same shopping center to provide their clients a “one stop shop” to fulfill all facets of their clients’ photographic needs.
Scott continues to oversee the operation of San Juan Photo and Digital, while Diana focuses her attention and talent to in-studio and on location professional photography at Accent Portraits by Diana.
The pair initially launched their entrepreneurial endeavor with a fun and a creative outlet in mind, and the exploding photography industry and advancements in technology over the course of the subsequent two decades helped them continually evolve their business.
“The industry has changed dramatically since the inception of digital photography in that people continue to take more and more pictures as photography becomes increasingly accessible,” says Scott. “But a sad byproduct of this trend is that the focus on digital photography is creating a ‘lost generation’ of people who don’t and won’t have any printed family photos.”
The “Chief Historical Officers” of the home (usually the wives and mothers) comprise a large component of Scott’s clientele, women who feel strongly about preserving their family’s history and photography in physical form.
Toward that end, Scott is truly your “hometown digital expert” specializing in prints from your camera and phone, photo/slide scan, photo restoration, passport photos, camera repairs, digital camera classes, film/video to DVD and photo books, posters and canvas prints and they even still process film!
“We are so fortunate to have an amazing team who have been with us for so long that they are family,” says Scott. “Harvey Tarango is a master at photo manipulation and our lab manager Cheryl Wayland was with us before our children were even born – they all know her as ‘Auntie Cheryl’ and she’s been an amazing asset to our company for over 25 years.”
For her part, Diana has spent the better part of 30 years specializing in family portraits, wedding photos and capturing the most priceless of moments in all types of life celebrations.
With nearly 30 years of experience, Diana’s focus is families, and she always aims to deliver “extraordinary customer service.”
“Diana is amazing,” says Heidi Hitt. “She has taken so many special pictures over the years for me and my family. They all turn out so beautifully. I am so blessed to have someone I can trust to help me capture special moments in time. Everybody loves when we send out our Christmas cards; they can’t believe how beautiful the pictures are. Thank you Diana for all the beautiful memories.”
“The best part of working together is that we have been able to take a hobby that we love and turn it into a successful, long- running, thriving business in this wonderful community,” says Scott.