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Mother Lode readies for New Year

STREAMERS AND GARLAND are some of the decorations Virginia Stamm (left) and Janet Hart are using to decorate cars at Railtown for tonight's ride. (Amy Alonzo/Copyright 2002, The Union Democrat).
STREAMERS AND GARLAND are some of the decorations Virginia Stamm (left) and Janet Hart are using to decorate cars at Railtown for tonight's ride. (Amy Alonzo/Copyright 2002, The Union Democrat).


While many people are still enjoying the afterglow of the Christmas holiday, others have moved on to prepare for the last day of 2002 — New Year's Eve.

"Our guests demand it," Stephen Willey, owner of the National Hotel in Jamestown, said of the inn's New Year's Eve event.

The bed-and-breakfast has a special menu and live music planned for this evening. Willey said the celebration, which has been in place for at least 28 years, usually has about 200 guests.

As for alcohol — a popular New Year's Eve party favor — Willey said his customers don't require any big orders to keep them happy.

"Maybe a little more champagne," he said. "But people are drinking in moderation these days, and rightfully so."

Sales of champagne — pretty much The Drink for New Year's Eve — soar as the year comes to a close. Half of all sparkling wine and champagne sales are made in the last quarter of the year, according to the Champagne Wine Information Bureau in New York.

Californians are the No. 1 consumers of champagnes and sparkling wines, buying 2.67 million 9-liter cases in 2000, according to a study by the Wine Institute in San Francisco. Illinois came in a distant second at 1.5 million 9-liter cases.

"We've been selling a lot of champagne, Bailey's, rum and brandy," said Don Hrdlicka, an employee at Mountain Liquors in Twain Harte.

Hrdlicka said many of his customers started stocking up for New Year's Eve in the middle of December. Although champagne sales have been good, Hrdlicka believes this is only the beginning.

"It's going to start selling a lot quicker this week," he said.

Valerie Hines, manager of Sierra Trading Post in Arnold, is also expecting a big rush of New Year's Eve customers, seeing as the other stores in town will close before hers on the big night.

"For Christmas, people were buying Schnapps and wine," Hines said.

She expects those drinks will stay a popular sell, as will champagne.

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