We Have Good News If You Love Big V8 Engines

One American automaker just put big money into building them.

General Motors has been making big moves over the past several months, announcing plant closures and the discontinuation of six models. Couple this announcement with the company’s renewed focus on building seven million electric cars by 2030 and plans to morph Cadillac into an all-electric brand and you wouldn’t be mistaken for believing there isn’t much room for big V8 engines in the future.

However, fans of big, pushrod V8 engines will be delighted to hear that GM has just invested big bucks in developing its 6.2-liter V8.

GM’s 6.2-liter V8 with Direct Fuel Management made it on Ward’s Top 10 Engines list for 2019 thanks to its advanced cylinder deactivation technology. DFM can seamlessly shut down cylinders in the engine with up to 17 different combinations to improve performance and fuel economy. Even though many automakers are focusing on downsized engines and EV powertrains, there may still be a future for the old school V8.

Source: CarBuzz.com ; JARED ROSENHOLTZ

Lickety-Split London Layover: The Three Hour Tour

Do you have the world’s shortest layover in London- but cling to big travel dreams?

Have you ever dreamed of being transported to another country for even just a few hours? How amazing would it be to wake up to breakfast in Paris or close the day with a nightcap in Rio?  I love long trips, but there’s also an intoxicating allure to the whirlwind visit, getting just a tantalizing taste of what a city has to offer. And lately, I’ve been thinking about the flavors of London. Specifically an ultra-short London layover.

I have a good friend who we’ll refer to as Graeme (because that is in fact his name!) who recently did just that. He had the briefest of layovers in London while on route to another European city. A layover so short that we even pondered if it was worth his time to leave the airport at all! In general, I rarely recommend layovers where you have less than 4 hours of leisure time but such sensible practicalities are lost on a wild soul like Graeme, who was determined to see London for the very first time.

And now Graeme isn’t the only traveler I know who’s embracing a lickety-split layover in London – my friend Valerie is considering it too! So if Graeme and Val sounds just like you and you have a devil-may-care approach to layovers – or if you simply have extremely limited free time to see the city on a business trip – here’s what you can do in London when you have just three hours, plus a few options to extend your day if you have five to six hours.

Is it really a good idea to try to see London on a super short layover? Can anyone see London in just three hours? Can you even see anything at all? YES! There are many overrated tourist sights in the world but the classics of London aren’t among them. And, happily, they are all within easy walking distance of one another, allowing you to see a lot in a short amount of time. I’ve never heard of anyone who hasn’t been thrilled with their first visit to London, no matter how short the layover is. We can make this work – here’s how.

(This itinerary assumes you’ll be traveling to and from London Heathrow airport. We’re talking 3 or more hours of leisure time, not just 3 hours between flights. You have to take into account your time getting to and from the airport, clearing customs, checking back in, and so on. Before diving into any layover make sure you have your logistical ducks in a row. Research your transportation options, double check your flight times, and come up with a solid plan for your luggage.

Take the subway (the “Tube”) from Heathrow airport directly to Green Park station.  If you’re lucky and the timing works out, you might just be able to see the Changing of the Guard at nearby Buckingham Palace. The music begins at 11:15 and the event itself at 11:30.

If you’re going to miss it, take heart. This is still a great place to start a quick London layover tour. You’ll get a much better look at the palace when the Changing of the Guard is not taking place.  Take some time to look around and take photos of the palace and the surrounding area.

(Got tons of time? Grab a hotel. One of our favourite places to stay is the The Rubens At The Palace, just steps from Buckingham Palace. It is very posh, very English, and the perfect place to splurge on a proper high tea or a full English breakfast. We loved staying here. If your budget is very limited, not all that far away is an “EasyHotel”, run by the same folks as the EasyJet discount airlines.

Walk to Trafalgar Square via Whitehall and Downing Street.

From Westminster and Big Ben, walk up Whitehall towards Trafalgar Square. On your left, you’ll see Downing Street (home to the British Prime Minister) and the Household Calvary Museum, as well as the grounds for the Horse Guard Parade and the Changing of the Queen’s Life Guard.

In short, the Horse Guard Parade and the Changing of the Queen’s Life Guard have all the spectacular pageantry of Buckingham Palace’s Changing of the Guard, but with a fraction of the crowds. So take heart if you missed the fanfare at Buckingham Place! You can see this activity weekdays at 11:00, Sundays at 10:00 (learn more here).(A shout out to my battered copy of Lonely Planet London for this smart tip).

(Got lots of time – and politics isn’t your thing? Take this alternative route instead. Walk along the River Thames on Victoria Embankment and take a glimpse at the river’s traffic and the Whitehall Gardens. Turn left at the Embankment tube station, walk through the station’s foyer and out the other side, and take Villiers Street up to Charing Cross Station (peeking into the Victoria Embankment Gardens as you do) and emerge at Trafalgar Square – our next London Layover stop.)

Source: TurnipSeedTravel.com

Why a Funky Old Gas Station in Napa Valley Is Now a Mecca for Millennial Wine Drinkers

Tank Garage challenges tradition and draws younger oenophiles

Some entrepreneurs plan out their next business venture in their heads and on their laptops. James Harder spotted his from behind the wheel of his car.

It was 2012, and Harder was driving Foothill Boulevard, a meandering ribbon of asphalt that threads the tiny Napa Valley town of Calistoga, Calif. With a population of 5,311, Calistoga has little in the way of major industry, except of course for wine.

Chateau Montelena, the Kenefick Ranch Winery, Castello di Amorosa—these and scores of other vineyards nestle in the rolling countryside surrounding the town. Wine was the reason Harder was there, too. He and business partner Jim Regusci, scion of the highly respected Regusci Winery, had already collaborated on a number of successful ventures including the T-Vine Winery. But Harder was looking for a new project, a departure from what he’d already done.

That’s when he spotted the abandoned gas station.

Harder had resolved to take that independent blending style to California, to be a renegade himself. He’d spent his career in the regimented world of traditional winemaking where a cabernet was a cabernet and a merlot was a merlot.

“It was done to death,” he said. By contrast, blending was “an opportunity to remove the handcuffs of conformity.”

So, Harder bought the garage, turned it into a bohemian tasting room and made it the centerpiece of his new brand. Tank Garage Winery, which opened for business in May of 2014, is a small operation that sells one-off wines, some online but mostly inside the old filling station (more on that later). It is not a brand that’s likely to threaten the preeminence of a Colgin Cellars or the dominance of an E. & J. Gallo. But in its colorful nonconformity and manifest coolness, Tank Garage nevertheless represents a significant development in the highly stratified business of wine, one Americans support to the tune of $32 billion annually. It suggests that artfully blended wines can find a place between the established segments of premium labels and mass-market jugs. And perhaps more significantly, Tank Garage also exemplifies how millennial drinkers and their tastes are changing the hidebound world of wine.

The brand is only three years old, but it’s gotten plenty of attention both locally and nationally.

“Tank Garage speaks volumes to the new wave of the region’s wine tasting culture,” Sonoma alternative weekly the North Bay Bohemian reported.

Source: adweek.comRobert Klara

Top Recommended Sunday Brunch Spots

Listed in Alphabetical Order

Links to the brunch menus and pages are found by clicking the restaurant’s name below.

The omelet station during Sunday brunch at Robard’s in The Woodlands. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

So you’re thinking about Mimosas and delicious food this Sunday? What are the top recommended options according to Woodlands Area Foodies (WAF)? We’ll list them here in alphabetical order for you. Know these spots and recommend any must-have items? Let us know in the comments below.

April Sound Country Club

Your search for great restaurants ends right here at your own Club. At April Sound, we strive to provide you with an extraordinary Club experience each and every day – this includes our phenomenal array of daily dining options. Whether in the mood for formal or informal fine dining, your options for world-class cuisine at April Sound are virtually endless. 

Black Walnut Cafe (Conroe)

With an inventive, extensive menu and a put-you-at-ease atmosphere, Black Walnut Cafe emerged in 2002 as a contemporary destination for hungry Houstonians, and we’ve been savoring the fun ever since.

Encouraged by our fellow Black Wal-“nuts”, we have since expanded across Texas (with locations in Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin) and into Georgia with our newest restaurants in Atlanta. Since our creation we’ve had the continued desire to create a space where casual comfort welcomes a cultivated palate — your go-to place for a quick burger, a leisurely brunch, or simply just because.

From handcrafted sandwiches and freshly tossed salads to chilled local craft brews and swirly rows of gelato, you have at your fingertips an option for every appetite and any occasion — and a favorable chance that during your next visit, you’ll happen upon something entirely new.

We serve breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week, happy hour twice daily with a wide selection of beer and wine, and To-Go and Catering service when you’re on the run or in a hurry.

Browse our menus, see what we’re up to in the community, and always feel free to let us know how we’re doing.

After all, this is your place.

Image Credit @BrunchNoir, Twitter

Established in 1988, Churrascos offers the bold flavors of the South American Parilla with all its fire and passion. From appetizers like empanadas and ceviches to our signature chimichurri marinated center-cut tenderloin and famous Tres Leches. Paired with distinct wines, Churrascos warmly transports you to an orchestra of flavor celebrating the grill, fresh ingredients, and your guests.

Cru Wine Bar

Yes, you can brunch at lots of places. And yes, many of them will serve you a mimo-so-so-sa-like beverage, made with (gasp) sparkling wine from a box. But at CRÚ, we’ve elevated brunch to the casually elegant dining experience you imagine it to be (and wish for) after a weekend of hardy partying. Oh, and our Mimosas are made from charming prosecco and grove stand orange juice. Cheers!

Crush Wine Lounge

All You Can Eat Sunday Brunch Buffet is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Crush is located at 20 Waterway Avenue Suite 200 in The Woodlands, Texas on the beautiful Woodlands Waterway.

We offer hundreds of treasures and one-of-a-kind wines personally selected by our wine specialists:

Boutique wines, limited production, up-and-comers, and other wines that you just will not find elsewhere. All are reasonably priced.  A vast selection of wines by the glass, combined with the best view in The Woodlands create a unique lounge experience second to none.

We also have an extensive Spirits, Beer, and Cigar menu, bringing an eclectic mix of the classics along side various craft selections.

We believe the service we provide is just as important as the drink in your glass.  Let our staff introduce you to new beer, spirits and wine,.   We welcome you to the premier wine destination in The Woodlands.

Fielding’s Local

At Fielding’s local kitchen + bar, fresh is everything. We source our products from 44 Farms, Houston Dairymaids, Mill King Family Creamery, small wineries and craft brewers everywhere. We hand cut our own steaks, we dry-age our own beef, we make our own pasta and we bake all our breads and pastries daily.

Our restaurant was built using as many repurposed and energy efficient materials as possible. The main wood is reclaimed Douglas fir, while part of the bar is made of a reclaimed white washed wood and all booths and bar stools are recycled leather. The majority of lights are LEDs, the heating and air conditioning system is environmentally friendly and the grill itself only uses wood as it energy source. We even have a filtering water system for cooking and drinking water.

The Goose’s Acre Bistro and Irish Pub

While back in Ireland visiting relations, Brian Young and Colm O’Neill proposed purchasing the contents of the pub, to include both bars, from the previous owner who was distraught over the pending loss of the pub’s history and heritage. Although it meant shipping the pub across the Atlantic Ocean, the previous owner was ecstatic that The Goose’s Acre Irish Pub would continue its traditions of bygone times.

Brian Young and Colm O’Neill made the decision to bring this authentic pub to The Woodlands to share the romance and history of years past. We welcome you to pull up a chair and enjoy the experience of The Woodlands Only Authentic European Pub.

Robard’s Steakhouse

“Do the impossible, because almost everyone has told me my ideas are merely fantasies.” – Howard Hughes

Howard Hughes constantly challenged what he could be and devoted himself to every endeavor with a zeal that excluded all else. Much like he redefined what it is to be a businessman, Robard’s is redefining the classic American steakhouse. An evening at Robard’s is an experience that unleashes the adventurous spirit in all of us – whether through a wonderful meal, a social hour spent on our inviting patio, or an evening relaxing by the firepit. Our commitment to pushing the boundaries of what a steakhouse can be makes for unforgettable dining moments that embrace the extraordinary.

Walden Yacht Club

Walden Yacht Club is open to the public, its the best kept secret in Montgomery Texas. If you’re in the mood for a fine dining restaurant overlooking Lake Conroe, with great food such as seafood, steaks, Walden Yacht Club is what you need. Reservations are recommended and children are always welcome. A special menu for children under age 10 is available. “Take-out” from the Dining Room is another service offered by the Walden as well a great family night.

Walden on Lake Conroe is the hub of the Walden social activity. The 17,000 square-foot building contains the spectacular Lakeview Dining Room with a great view of Lake Conroe, as well as smaller rooms for meetings and private parties and weddings. Walden on Lake Conroe boasts an award-winning executive chef, a superb service staff and a full-time banquet event coordinator. Providing full-service, Walden on Lake Conroe also offers catering service for all types of events.

Introducing The NOMOS Club Campus Neomatik, Club Campus Neomatik 39, And Club Campus 39 Midnight Blue

NOMOS releases its first range of watches featuring a bracelet.

Quick Take

From the time it was announced two years ago, the Club Campus line from NOMOS has been about finding younger mechanical watch buyers, and in particular, recent graduates. Today we have three new references in the line to introduce. All of these new releases come with the self-winding NOMOS Caliber DUW 3001, a first for the Club Campus line. The DUW 3001 is a sturdy yet thin caliber that has already proven itself in several of the brand’s lines. With prices roughly twice that of the first Club Campuses, which still feature NOMOS’s hand-wound Alpha caliber, these new automatics are a higher-end offering with the same familiar case shape and California-style dial. Two of the new additions to Club Campus also have NOMOS’s first ever stainless steel bracelets. And as with the first Club Campus watches from two years ago, these new models have closed stainless steel backs rather than open views of the movements inside. The idea here was to leave room for engraving and personalization.

The new stainless steel bracelet is a major part of this release.
Initial Thoughts

Bringing its higher-end automatic movement, which also come with an proprietary escapement called the Swing System, feels like a logical progression for NOMOS’s Club Campus.  Nomos has been rolling its in house automatic movements into more and more of its collections in recent years. The simple hand-wound versions of the Club are still there to provide a value-oriented way to get into to the company’s catalog. But what really caught my eye is that two of these new watches are the first models from NOMOS to feature bracelets. I’m looking at press photos as I write this post and, I haven’t had the opportunity yet to see these watches in the metal, but these bracelets definitely look the part of a NOMOS bracelet, which is to say they are thin, appear to be well made, and have a “designy” look to them. They also come with a tool-free removal system, which should make transitioning from the bracelet to your favorite strap a simple enough undertaking. I’m interested to see how they look in person and whether other collections might soon have a bracelet as an option.

The Basics

Brand: NOMOS
Models:  Club Campus Neomatik, Club Campus Neomatik 39, Club Campus Neomatik 39 Midnight Blue
Reference Numbers: Club Campus Neomatik: 748; Club Campus Neomatik 39: 765, Club Campus Neomatik 39 Midnight Blue: 767

Diameter: Club Campus Neomatik: 37mm stainless steel; Club Campus neomatik 39: 39.5mm; Club Campus 39 Midnight Blue: 39.5mm
Thickness: Club Campus Neomatik 8.3mm; Club Campus Neomatik 39: 8.4mm; Club Campus Neomatik 39 Midnight Blue: 8.4mm
Case Material: Stainless steel
Dial Color: Club Campus Neomatik: galvanized, white silver- plated Arabic and Roman numerals and indexes with silver Super-LumiNova; Club Campus Neomatik 39: galvanized, white silver-plated
Arabic and Roman numerals and indexes with dark blue Super-LumiNova; Club Campus Neomatik 39 Midnight Blue: midnight blue Arabic and Roman numerals and indexes with light blue Super-LumiNova
Lume: Yes, on hands and hour markers
Water Resistance: 200 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Stainless steel bracelets on all but the Club Campus Neomatik 39 Midnight Blue, which comes on a blue-black textile strap

The caseback is left mostly open in order to accommodate custom engravings.
The Movement

Caliber: DUW 3001
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
Diameter: 28.8mm
Thickness: 3.2mm
Power Reserve: 43 hours
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 3 Hz (21,600vph)
Jewels: 27

What each of the three watches looks like in the dark.
Pricing & Availability

Price: Club Campus Neomatik: €2,240; Club Campus Neomatik 39: €2,380; Club Campus Neomatik 39 Midnight Blue: €2,340
Availability: Available for order now. Delivering in two months.

Source: hodinkee.com ; JON BUES

Top 15 Tenders and RIBS

Tuesday Cruise Day

You need a Tender or a RIBS?

Here’s the best of Southern Boating’s List.

Tougher fabrics, lighter accessories and more powerful engines have continued the trend of making today’s tenders and RIBs more versatile than ever. For some, a RIB is their only vessel, a do-it-all wonder that is easy to operate, gentle around other boats because of the rubber collar, and filled with features (like a head) that make them comfortable for all.

Here’s a look at some of today’s top RIB builders and their models, and how one may perfectly suit your needs.

Without further ado, our Top 15 Tenders and RIBs! While the highly functional 12-foot RIB has become popular, one builder has expanded the idea further to make a RIB that also goes on dryland—Sealegs’ Interceptor 9000. Equipped with three retractable wheels, the Interceptor 9000 can transition from the water to shore and the roads, and back again. While a boat with wheels may not be what you’re looking for, today’s top RIB models for 2017 are sure to offer a surprise or two.

By Doug Thompson, Southern Boating Magazine March 2017

Nautilus 12 DLX

The new Nautilus 12 DLX (12′ LOA, 6′ beam) blends thoughtful design, striking lines and elegant style. Powered by a 50-hp outboard engine, the Nautilus 12 DLX has snappy maneuverability that makes it an exhilarating ride behind the wheel and good range with the 13-gallon NMMA-certified aluminum fuel tank. The boat’s V-hull design cuts through rough water and offers a dry ride. Key features include a mechanical steering system, stainless-steel steering wheel, LED navigation lights, and LED anchor lights that extend around the boat. In addition, comfortable upholstery, built-in coolers and ample storage make days on the water exploring coves more enjoyable. Models in AB Inflatables’ flagship Nautilus line range from 11 to 19 feet. abinflatables.com

Achilles HB-310AX

The new HB-310AX (10’2″ LOA, 5’2″ beam) takes the builders’ popular HB-AL series to the next level by adding a full-length deck liner and a roomy bow locker both of which have non-skid patches for better traction, safety, and comfort. The bow locker provides both ample storage and acts as a “step”, making it easier to get into or out of the boat from a dock or another boat. The tough powder-coated marine-grade aluminum hull with keel guard will stand up to frequent landings on rocky coastlines or beaches, and the double heavy-duty rubbing strake offers additional protection from docks and pilings. In addition, standard features include Achilles’ CSM reinforced fabric, four-layer seam construction, and powder-coated aluminum hull with keel guard. achillesboats.com

Airship 330

Airship 330 As the largest model in the builder’s line, the Airship 330 (33′ LOA, 10′ beam) rides on a twin-step hull design that is built with a vacuum-resin infusion process. The tapered tubes offer the benefits of a RIB yet also provide unique styling that makes the Airship 330 stand out on the water. This construction features varying density foam cores and vinylester resins that help make the boat lightweight and extremely strong. A result of the lightweight structure is a 50-mph cruise speed and fuel economy of two miles per gallon. The 200-gallon fuel capacity allows for extended time for cruising, fishing and water sports. With the standard tow eye the craft exhibits excellent towing characteristics for use as a yacht tender. The base Airship 330 comes nicely equipped and has numerous options to support virtually any use for this rugged SUV of the water.airshipribs.com

Aquascan Storm 17 

Aquascan Storm 17 The Storm 17 (17′ LOA, 7′ beam) serves as a yacht tender to take guests from the yacht to shore in safety. The fiberglass hull of each model is carefully designed and made of hand-laid composite materials. Quality and performance have been carefully constructed in this rigid hull inflatable tender following the exact specifications of the client. Aquascan Storm 17 tubes are made of Hypalon neoprene and double-seamed at the hull with two trims providing a double-barrier point. The Storm 17 offers a dry ride even in the worst sea conditions or at full speed with large waves. Maximum power for the Storm 17 is a 115-hp outboard, and the boat carries a 30-gallon fuel tank. All Aquascan inflatables are hand-built to customer specifications at manufacturing plants in South Florida from the highest quality materials. aquascanribs.com

Argos Nautica 396

Argos Nautic’s new flagship is the 396 (13′ LOA, 6’8″ beam), which offers contemporary styling from the pen of famed yacht designer Patrizio Facheris. A master of the use of space, Facheris created a boat that seats five and has ample storage. Powered by a single outboard engine ranging from 40- to 70-hp, the 396 runs to a top speed of 36 mph. Weighing in at approximately 925 pounds, the boat offers the stability needed when going ashore. High-end components on the 396 include stainless-steel Italian cleats and fittings, a tilting Isotta steering wheel, supple upholstery, teak and holly flooring, and an audiophile-quality Fusion sound system. Argos Nautic builds semi-custom luxury RIB tenders, including the 11-foot long 305 model.argosnautic.com

Avon Seasport 400 Deluxe

The new Seasport 400 Deluxe (13’1″ LOA, 5’10” beam) is one of eight boats in the Seasport series that is the evolution of the proven Zodiac Yachtline Deluxe. The 400 Deluxe and her sister ships range from the 320 (11’2″ LOA) to the new 490 (16’11” LOA). They offer improved styling and added comfort, which are the crowning touches to an already successful deluxe tender line. The Seasport 400 Deluxe benefits from the aid of Zodiac-Nautic’s “slide on, slide off” tube system. This allows the Seasport Deluxe line to be available in three different shades of tube sets, with a choice of grey, blue or camel accent tubes. The Seasport 400 Deluxe’s standard features include bilge pump, navigation lights, lifting points, color matched upholstery, courtesy lighting, internal fuel reservoir, glove box, and 12-volt receptacle. The Seasport 400 Deluxe is powered by a 50-hp outboard for a top speed of 35 mph and a cruising range of more than 100 miles.avonmarine.com

Caribe Nautica DL11

The Caribe Nautica DL11 (11’1″ LOA, 5’7″ beam) is one of more than 35 models built in 13 different sizes by this manufacturer that’s been in business since 1983. The DL11’s construction places a premium owner usability, with a fuel tank located in the bow compartment allowing for easy access for maintenance and fuel service. The DL11 also has a built-in water tank that feeds a handheld shower attachment for rinsing off after a swim or a dive, and the boat is also equipped with a swim ladder. Other standard features include a bilge pump and an ice box for storing drinks, food or the day’s catch. The DL11 carries a maximum of five passengers including the driver and is powered by a 40-hp motor equipped with a 20-inch shaft. caribenautica.com

Highfield DL340

The new DL340 (11’5″ LOA, 5’7″ beam) is the latest in the builder’s deluxe line and the smallest in the lineup that includes eight models, the largest of which is the DL640 with an LOA of 21’1″. All Highfield RIBs feature aluminum hulls and transoms—a lightweight alternative to heavier fiberglass-hulled RIBs. While marine-grade aluminum is highly resistant to corrosion and does not rust, Highfield goes one step further and powder coats all aluminum parts. The powder coating process electrostatically bonds the powder to the aluminum. Every Highfield model includes a high-volume air pump, aluminum paddle and a repair kit, and tubes feature a heavy-duty fender or rub rail, flush-mounted valves for each chamber and are available in either CSM synthetic rubber or PVC fabrics. highfieldboats.com

Mercury M350

The M350 (11’5″ LOA, 6′ beam), a blend of comfort and performance, is the smallest in the M-Series line that includes the M400, M570 and M620. The M350’s hull consists of a deep-V and strategically placed lifting strakes. This results in a race-engineered aft-hull geometry for outstanding performance. Powered by a Mercury 40-hp FourStroke outboard, the M350 runs to a top speed of more than 40 mph and weighs 675 pounds. The M-Series is manufactured in the U.S. using state-of-the-art fiberglass techniques such as resin infusion and bagging, and materials used in the construction include vinylester and foam core. A custom interior, designed to impress tender owners, features marine-grade stainless steel, LED lights and a carbon-fiber gauge panel. The EPA-approved, pressurized eight-gallon fuel tank eliminates overflow and hazardous fumes. mercurymarine.com

Novurania Catamaran 24 Diesel

Novurania’s newest addition is the Catamaran 24 Diesel IO (23’7″ LOA, 8’6″ beam), and is powered by a Volvo Penta D3 220-hp diesel engine. This engine package pushes the Catamaran 24 to a top speed of 45 mph; cruising speed is 30 mph for a range of 271 nm. This 24 Catamaran is a versatile vessel with a twin hull design and inflatable collar. The opening bow ramp is operated at the push of a button and fulfills many functions for loading or offloading guests at the dock, on the water or at the beach. The construction process includes a fiberglass, vacuum-bagged and cored hull and deck. Standard features on the Catamaran 24 include a self-bailing deck, navigational and deck lights, boating steps, compass, and fresh water tank with pressure pump and extendable hose. The Catamaran series is available in several lengths from 18 to 28 feet with various configurations, options and engine packages to meet the needs of yacht owners. novurania.com

Ribcraft 9.0

The newly designed Ribcraft 9.0 (29’7″ LOA, 10’3″ beam) is built for rough offshore conditions. The 9.0 is a performance machine featuring a deep-V hull and full-length lifting strakes. Powered by twin 300-hp Yamaha outboard engines, the Ribcraft 9.0 runs to a top speed of 64 mph; cruising speed is 42 mph and a range of 400 miles. The 9.0 features an updated deck arrangement, and the new layout includes a large wraparound bow seating area, teak table that converts into a generous sunpad and improved comfortable helm and aft seating. An oversized T-top with hard top helps protect occupants from the sun and weather, and the boat features an onboard head. Ribcraft is a leading manufacturer of professional-grade RIBs for military agencies, safety professionals and recreational cruisers. ribcraftusa.com

Sealegs Interceptor 9000

The Interceptor 9000 (30′ LOA, 10’3″ beam) is the largest amphibious RIB ever built according to the manufacturer. The Interceptor 9000 follows the proven Sealegs’ formula, constructed with a marine-grade aluminum (5083) hull and flotation via two, three-chambered Hypalon tubes. Where it breaks from the mold is the size—the Interceptor with wheels up offers users unparalleled internal space for seating, gear and more. The Interceptor 9000 is powered by a single Yamaha 300-hp outboard engine and has a 66-gallon fuel capacity. The Interceptor runs to a top speed of 40 knots, with a cruising speed of 28 knots and a range of 158 nautical miles. A large center console allows for all manner of electronics, while the transom bulkhead offers space for rod holders, lights and tow-eye for watersports. Sealegs operates out of Bristol, Rhode Island. Other Sealegs models start at 20′ LOA and come in both RIB or full aluminum hull versions. sealegs.com

Walker Bay Generation 525

In celebration of Walker Bay’s 20th anniversary, the builder launched the Generation 525(17’2″ LOA, 8’4″ beam) RIB that drives like a sports car. The proprietary polyurethane composite, micro stringer system makes for a smooth ride as the Generation 525 hops on plane. The builder’s proprietary jig-and-alignment process absorbs wave chop and makes the boat easier to handle. Powered by a 115-hp outboard engine, top speed is 44 mph. Practical features include a 32-gallon fuel tank, flip-up driver’s seat, hydraulic tilt steering, stainless steel handrails for boarding and safety, and five gear lockers.  Stylish luxury features include teak boarding steps, fresh water shower, insulated cooler locker, stainless-steel cup holders, and deluxe cushions. Retractable ski pole, boarding ladder and sunpad are optional features.walkerbay.com

 Williams Minijet 280

The new Minijet 280 (9’2″ LOA, 5’1″ beam) is the latest model to join the extensive range of Williams jet tenders. This lightweight model has been designed to function as an exhilarating and practical tender for yachts 38 feet and longer. With a dry weight of under 500 pounds, the boat is powered by a 45-hp Rotax ACE 900 engine and runs to a top speed of 36 mph. The Minijet 280 offers seating for four including the driver. The Williams model lineup of jet propulsion boats allows for a much larger tender in the space available onboard the yacht because there is no tilted outboard or outdrive wasting valuable space.williamsjettenders.com

 ZAR Tender ZF-3

The new Minijet 280 (9’2″ LOA, 5’1″ beam) is the latest model to join the extensive range of Williams jet tenders. This lightweight model has been designed to function as an exhilarating and practical tender for yachts 38 feet and longer. With a dry weight of under 500 pounds, the boat is powered by a 45-hp Rotax ACE 900 engine and runs to a top speed of 36 mph. The Minijet 280 offers seating for four including the driver. The Williams model lineup of jet propulsion boats allows for a much larger tender in the space available onboard the yacht because there is no tilted outboard or outdrive wasting valuable space.williamsjettenders.com

Source: SouthernBoating.com

Lotus Has Found Its Hypercar Partner

And chances are you’ve heard of it.

Early last month we learned that Lotus is preparing to up its game by building a new electric hypercar with 1,000 hp on tap. This would clearly be new territory for Lotus, which is now owned by Chinese carmaker Geely (guess where the development money is coming from). And because this is a whole new level for Lotus, most often known for its outstanding suspension and chassis work and lightweight expertise, it needs a partner with other areas of know-how.

Today, Lotus has formally announced a partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering. The two companies have inked a deal where they will share research and development regarding “advanced propulsion technologies,” which very likely means electrification to some degree.

“Our new technology partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering is part of a strategy to expand our knowledge and capability in the rapidly changing automotive landscape,” said recently appointed Lotus CEO Phil Popham. “Applying advanced propulsion powertrains can provide numerous exciting solutions across multiple vehicle sectors. Our combined and complementary experiences make this a very compelling match of engineering talent, technical ability and pioneering British spirit.”

Williams has a strong Formula 1 racing heritage, as does Lotus, so the combined effort of these two companies has the potential to produce something extraordinary.

Unfortunately, no new details have been provided regarding the eventual car itself. What we’re most interested in seeing is the likely reinterpretation of Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s “adding lightness” philosophy. As we all know, electric propulsion systems are anything but light due to the heavy batteries.

That said, the potential of this new partnership is promising and could have wide-ranging effects for the hypercar market as a whole. No time frame was given regarding the unnamed hypercar’s launch, but hopefully, things will get moving soon.

Source: JAY TRAUGOTT ; CarBuzz.com

MEMPHIS IN THREE DAYS (Saturday Travel Blog)

Make the most of your time – these are the sights and sounds of Memphis you must experience before leaving.

Sun Studio / Alex Shansky

Day 1

Really, you could do these days in any order you’d like. We’ll start with music, because much of Memphis’ history, culture and community revolves around tunes. 


The perfect start to your Memphis musical journey. Curated by the Smithsonian Institute, the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum gives you the whole story from the blues coming out of the delta, to the first licks of rock ‘n’ roll coming out of Sun and that soulful hit records that made the Stax sound world famous. Take the self guided tour  and learn about the body of music that had the most influence on the culture and lifestyles of the world during the middle 20th Century and even today. 


In 1954, an unknown Elvis Presley grabbed a mic and sang his heart out, making Sun Studio the most famous recording studio in the world. Take a guided tour through the tiny studio where you will experience outtakes from recording sessions, touch Elvis’ first microphone and hear the real story of the studio that launched the careers of not only Elvis Presley, but Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, B.B. King, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, and many others.

Tours at Sun Studio start at the bottom of every hour and typically last about 45 minutes.


You know Memphis soul music when you hear it. From 1959 to 1974, this movie theater-turned-recording studio produced a string of hits that still reside today – we’re talking Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the M.G’s, and many more. Don’t miss this huge collection of more than 2,000 artifacts, memorabilia, galleries interactive exhibits and, of course, Isaac Hayes’ gold-plated, peacock-blue 1972 Superfly Cadillac El Dorado. Expect to spend approximately 2-3 hours at Stax.


Fresh blood and a new energy have Overton Square back and better than ever. Clean your plate at Indian Pass Raw Bar for fresh gulf oysters, fine dining at Bari Ristorante, or double-dip on delicious, casual fare at Babalu and Local Gastropub. Knock back a local craft beer on the patio at Bosco’s and catch a flick at Studio on the Square, or settle in for a high-quality theatrical performance at Playhouse on the Square. There’s no shortage of deliciousness in Overton Square.

History, culture and the sweet smell of Memphis barbecue is on today’s agenda. See how Civil Rights shaped Memphis, bask in the neon of Beale Street, and see our city by land and sea. 


Housed in the Lorraine Motel, site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the National Civil Rights Museum presents a timeline of Civil Rights struggles relating to African Americans and concentrating on the events of the 1950s and 1960s.

The museum has been renovated with more modernized displays – think a “smart” table with touch panels, stunning visual programs, and ample audio and video snippets. The National Civil Rights Museum still offers the same iconic exhibits and fixtures, but beefed up with interactive screens that offer a richer educational experience than ever before.

The self-guided tour of the National Civil Rights Museum lasts 1-2 hours. 


Why has it taken it this long to mention barbecue? If you haven’t already popped some pork by now, we’ve got the skinny on some of the best barbecue in Memphis.

Central BBQ tends to win quite a few local awards. You can’t go wrong with ribs or shoulders at Central. They have a handful of other delicious options, including delish wings, smoked sausage, homemade potato chips and a special 8-inch portobello that is marinated, grilled, and topped with smoked Gouda cheese (for any vegetarians in your party).

Rendezvous is TV-famous and the spot you’ve most likely seen on the Travel Channel or Food Network. With its dry-rub ribs and wall-to-wall flair, Rendezvous is the essential first stop for every barbecue lover who visits Memphis. The front door of this hole in the wall is in an alley about a block away from thePeabody Hotel and AutoZone Park, home to our Triple-A Redbirds.

If your definition of good barbecue starts with sticky tables and sweet smoke bellowing out of the roof, then Cozy Corner is your place. This joint is pretty nondescript with its plain building and common furnishings, but the food is anything but average.

The barbecue at Cozy Corner is cooked on a Chicago-style smoker, meaning the coals are placed farther from the grill. The meat is placed on the lowest rack, then progresses upward until it is smoked to perfection and ready to serve. Not into ribs? Try the Cornish game hen. 


Once you’ve got your belly full of barbecue, hop aboard a vintage trolley and ride down Main Street. The clickety-clack of the track takes you past notable attractions like Beale StreetOrpheum Theatre, downtown hotels and the authentic Arcade Restaurant. The Main Street line is just $1.


The Beale Street Landing complex at the junction of Beale Street and the river is combination riverboat dock, playground and green space – you can even trek atop its grassy roof.

Let kids climb, slide and splash in the play area complete with water features. Chaperones can chill beneath shady structures or snap pictures with the iconic bridge in the backdrop. 

Memphis Riverboats are housed at Beale Street Landing and cruise nearly every day at 2:30. Find the ticket office inside Beale Street Landing’s central building and relax on a 90-minute tour full of river commentary, tidbits and fascinating facts. 


In the core of Downtown Memphis with three blocks of clubs, live music, neon, restaurants and retail shops, the Beale Street Entertainment District stirs a melting pot of delta blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, R&B and gospel music. You won’t find another local landmark that has held such mystique, intrigue, fame and infamy over the years. 

Beale Street is the most visited attraction in Tennessee. In 1966 Beale Street was declared a National Historic Landmark, and in 1977 Beale Street was declared the Home of the Blues by an act of Congress.

Regardless of the weather, Beale Street is one of the coolest places in Memphis and a must-see for any visitor. 

Did you know that Memphis has more sunny days per year than Miami? We aren’t kidding. On day three, work off some of that barbecue by exploring  Shelby Farms Park and no trip to Memphis would complete without a trip to Graceland. 


Shelby Farms Park is big! We’re talking the largest urban park in the United States big. So with all that space, there’s plenty to do. Shelby Farms has biking and hiking trails, horseback riding, fishing, a lake for kayaking and canoeing, and plenty of space to fly kites. Something you don’t usually see – Shelby Farms is home to a herd of American Bison. 

Rent a bike and cruise the Greenline. Get climbing on the ropes course and zip lines of Go Ape. Bring your kids. They’ll love to run, jump and play at the Woodland Discovery Playground, open sunrise to sunset each day.


Welcome to the home of Elvis Presley. Graceland was purchased by Elvis for $102,000 in 1957 (Elvis was 22 years old). The Graceland experience takes you from Elvis’ humble beginnings through his rise to super stardom. See how a rock ‘n’ roll legend lived and relaxed with family and friends. The full Elvis experience includes a tour of the mansion and the Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex which allows you to immerse yourself in Elvis’ life and career like never before. Entry into the state-of-the-art entertainment and exhibit complex includes the Elvis The Entertainer Career Museum, Presley Motors Automobile Museum and themed discovery spaces showcase Elvis’ influences in the Elvis Discovery Exhibits. And with two restaurants in the complex you’ll be able to refuel. 

Source: memphistravel.com 

Au Sommet Napa Valley

Au Sommet is a 45-acre property located high on the slopes of Atlas Peak (2,100 feet). Nine acres of vines are planted; the majority being Cabernet Sauvignon with two small blocks of Petit Verdot. These are vines with incredible views at times – on clear days they look east into the Central Valley, on very clear days the snow capped mountains of some of the Sierra Nevada’s can be seen from the property including a tiny view directly into Yosemite and Half Dome. Because of their elevation, the property sees a dusting of snow at times (including the day before one of our latest visits).

And we have to mention this; their normal rainfall is about 20 inches pear year but in 2016/2017 they received nearly 70 inches. These are rocky soils – and despite the higher rainfall, their vineyards drain nicely. The vines are farmed organically – chicken hutches are moved at times throughout the vineyard rows. A garden on site supplies fresh produce and goats produce milk which they turn into cheese.

Au Sommet (inaugural vintage 2008) is a partnership between vintner John Schwartz, viticulturist Jim Barbour and winemaker, Heidi Peterson Barrett – one of America’s foremost winemakers. Heidi’s father is Richard Peterson, an icon in the industry and her mother was an artist. Wine making is both an art and a science and Heidi has used her talents in both disciplines to build an extremely successful career in the Napa Valley.

She began her wine making studies at UC Davis, graduating in 1980 with a degree in Fermentation Science. She worked for several wineries in the Napa Valley until she became an independent/consulting winemaker in 1988. Her work with Dalla Valle Vineyards and Screaming Eagle was noteworthy – producing two 100 point scored wines (by Robert Parker) for both wineries. Today her talents are as sought after as ever – besides her own labels she continues to consult and make wine for a number of smaller producers in the valley.

Heidi and John have known each other for years; they first met when they were children. John is an extremely talented individual who has made food and wine an integral part of his life for several decades. His parents sent him to France to learn the culinary arts when he was young – later in his life he lived with noted chef, Julia Child for several months. He is involved in remarkable number of food & wine related projects. He is an avid traveler, collector of fine art, fine wines and proprietor of Napa Pearls Caviar. He is also involved with the American Assistance for Cambodia, an organization which is dedicated to providing opportunities for Cambodian youth and the impoverished living in rural parts of the country.

In addition to Au Sommet, both Heidi and John are associated with a number of well-regarded wines including Amuse Bouche with the following labels sold through Amuse Bouche: Prêt à Boire, Richard G. Peterson and Vin Perdu. And John is the proprietor of Coup de Foudre.

The name Au Sommet in French translates to “at the top” – in their case this has multiple meanings; the estate vineyard’s lofty elevation high on the slopes of Atlas Peak and also refers to the high standard of excellence they set for themselves. This wine features a Cabernet Sauvignon based blend each year. Only estate grapes are used and in addition, no grapes from the property are sold to other vintners.

Amuse Bouche (meaning “appetizer” in French) was founded in 2002 (the first vintage). The focus of this wine is on producing a premium Napa Merlot (simply called Red Wine) to rival some of France’s best Merlot’s (and perhaps a taste of this wine will change your perception of Merlot) in a very good way. This wine is a part of their artist series – a wine where the label changes each year, displaying a painting picked out by Heidi and John. One year featured a painting by Heidi’s mother, noted Chef Jacques Pépin, George Rodrigue (of blue dog fame) and the 2016 vintage features one of Heidi’s own paintings.

Coup de Foudre (is available for tasting at Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley in Yountville) and translates from French as “something that happens quickly, not foreseen – usually love at first sight”. As it is written on the label, “is best enjoyed when you want to capture a special moment in time and remember it forever”. John met his wife while in France and the labels for this wine are images of his early letters to her (in French) written during their courtship. John also developed the ‘peel back label’ on this wine to further treasure the memories from when it is consumed – simply peel off the front label for a keepsake (marked with Who, Where, When, and Why on its back”, leaving behind the ‘real’ label still adhered to the bottle. Heidi does not make these wines.

Prêt à Boire is a Napa Valley Rosé made from a blend of mountain grown Syrah and Grenache grapes (eastern hills of Rutherford). Appropriately named for this type of wine, it means “ready to drink” in French.

Richard G. Peterson is made by Heidi’s father Dick Peterson and features two extremely rare wines because of their particular clone – a Pinot Noir and a Brut Rosé. Dick Peterson found an ancient clone of Pinot Noir growing in the village of Wrotham (south of London) in the early 1980’s when he was in the UK judging a wine contest. He brought back several cuttings of this clone and dated it to nearly 2,000 years ago when the Romans introduced it to this part of what is now England. He planted three acres in Yountville (calling it his ‘diddly squat vineyard’). It is resistant to powdery mildew (never has to spray sulfur) and makes one of the most unique wines you will ever find in the Napa Valley (based on both the clone and the winemaker’s fascinating pedigrees).

The Brut Rosé is made from his Yountville vineyard. Dick gave some cuttings of this clone to a friend in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA (Monterey County to the south of Napa County) – today his friend now has 8 acres of this and one other Pinot Noir clone. The Pinot Noir is made from this vineyard in Monterey County.

Vin Perdu (pronounced van perdoo) translates to “lost wine” from French. This wine is made each year with premium wines that do not fit into their other portfolios. These components might be “lost” each year when they create their other blends – but they are certainly found when they build the final Vin Perdu blend. Take note of the one of a kind lenticular label – the artwork ‘changes’ when you tilt the bottle. For example the 2014 vintage shows a loose interpretation of the God Bacchus holding a glass. As you tilt the bottle, the wine glass rotates to catch the now dripping grape juice from the grapes above his hand. The labels on previous years are equally as intriguing.

The 2015 Coupe du Foudre Sauvignon Blanc is 100% varietal and is made somewhat atypical of Napa Valley produced Sauvignon Blancs. It was aged 8 months sur lie. The aromas tend to be more tropical in nature then citrus like, with notes of white pineapple and a more subtle citrus nuance. The mouth feel is what sets this apart from lighter Sauvignon blancs – it is creamy, almost oily with both a richness of weight and flavor. Peach/pear flavors show mid palate through to the long clean finish.

The 2014 Santa Lucia Highlands Richard G. Peterson Pinot Noir is ruby red in color with pretty pink tinges on the edge of the wine’s rim. Shows pleasing aromatics (sweet at times) including red cherry and cranberry and an earth spice component. Very balanced on the palate it shows red cherry, currant and a cardamom spice that Dick has identified often showing in his Wrotham clone. Drinks very well by itself.

The 2013 Amuse Bouche Red Wine is 96% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. The vineyard source for these grapes is about 1,600 feet in the hills of eastern Rutherford. Opens immediately with appealing floral and a core of sweet spice notes including fig and brown sugar interwoven with subtle oak influences. Great acidity and bright lively fruit with flavors of red cherry and blackberry. There is a lingering tartness with well-integrated slightly chewy tannins (supple on the palate).

The 2013 Au Sommet Cabernet Sauvignon is 97% Cabernet Sauvignon with 3% Petit Verdot (all estate fruit). The bouquet is brooding at first – earthy with a mushroom quality – showing deeper darker aromatics. Letting it breath reveals layers of aroma including cigar smoke, coffee and a hint of burnt toffee along with plenty of fruit. This is a muscular wine with power, structure and flavor. Mouth watering acidity. A very long finish with robust tannins. This is an ideal wine for someone from Texas (or anywhere else for that matter) who appreciates Cabernet Sauvignon with a good steak – and the power, yet balance of an exceptionally made Napa mountain wine.

Their wines appeal to serious wine enthusiasts and collectors and perhaps to those who are partial to fine art. And because John and Heidi produce a number of wines under various labels, collectors certainly have a diversity of wines to choose from in their portfolio. And a surprising offering for a Napa winery is their Lone Whisker, a 93.8 proof Bourbon Whiskey. Aged for 12 years in barrel, this whisky is remarkably smooth on the palate.

And check out PharohMoans – yet another project John is involved with. Joining efforts with chef Bryan Ogden and winemaker Guillaume Fabre, they produce central coast (Paso Robles) wines including a Syrah and a Grenache. Features one of the most creative play on words and packaging you will ever see – the wine comes in a pyramid shaped wooden box with a handle.

In early 2017 Amuse Bouche moved their offices slightly further north on Main Street in downtown Napa and in the process built out an art gallery (visits are by appointment). This elegant space is now used for hosting tastings for a variety of wine brands associated with Heidi. Indoor seating and several outdoor chairs, roped off from the sidewalk are used for tastings.

For more information about Au Sommet, visit www.ausommetwine.com, Amuse Bouche, visit: www.amusebouchewine.com and Coupe de Foudre, www.coupdefoudrewine.com

Source: napawineproject.com

Schilleci’s New Orleans Kitchen (Local Eats)

Classic Cajun Creole, Seafood, & Steak Specialties

Voted “Best of the Woodlands” every year since 2010 opening Schilleci’s New Orleans Kitchen is an intimate, elegant French Quarter-style restaurant on Market Street. Come enjoy our fresh fish from around the world with your favorite toppings. Our awards consist of our Smoked Crawfish Dip, Duck and Sausage Gumbo, and Bread Pudding. 
Schilleci’s is proud to offer a menu consisting of Louisiana classics, from seafood gumbo to crawfish etouffee, shrimp creole and red beans & rice.
The Schilleci goal is to use many New Orleans staples in our restaurant. A few of them consist of Gambino’s Bread, Blue Plate Mayonnaise, Community Coffee, Abita Beer, and Pat O’Briens Hurricanes We prepare our beignets with Cafe Du Monde’s famous recipe. 
Schilleci’s has an extensive wine list and offer $10 off any bottle of Wine or Champagne Wednesday and Thursday nights from 5-9pm. Our 3 Sommeliers on staff are eager to help in your wine and food pairing.

Stop in for lunch or make a reservation for dinner at the Market Street location in The Woodlands (Next Door to Charming Charlies).