Also: Napa's Pica Pica expands; texting promos; Inn Marin wins green awardLike many looking to entrepreneurship in a climate of downsizing, former Kendall-Jackson project manager Greg Anderson this summer launched a wine and golf specialty tours concept called Golf Vino.

The Sonoma County native has for several years provided similar wine-infused golf tours through his previous employer but only recently had the opportunity to expand the program as his own business.

The entity was officially introduced last month and offers customized trips of about 10 to 15 people, including visits to exclusive golf clubs in Sonoma and Napa and behind-the-scenes tours of one, several or all of Golf Vino's nine winery partners.

The excursions include wine education and pairings from local chefs as well as accommodations with one of several luxury hotels in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg and other areas.

The 23-year PGA member and Foxtail Golf Club instructor also arranges transportation for the visitors either by van or limousine. Private vineyard tours include those with Matanzas Creek, Vèritè, Arrowood, Atalon, Stonestreet, Freemark Abbey, Cardinale, Hartford Family and Kendall-Jackson.

Fees for the trips vary depending on the accommodations and number of tours chosen. Most are between two and five days.

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The Pica Pica Maize Kitchen in Napa's Oxbow Public Market will unveil next month its 575-square-foot expansion, adding a "Latin-style" beverage bar to the Venezuelan eatery.

Open less than two years, owner Adriana Lopez Vermut hosted a celebration June 5 for the upcoming opening of the Pica Pica Bar, which will include a large lounge area serving specialty sangria, blended fruit cocktails and other beverages.

Pica's menu encompasses an array of traditional Venezuelan cuisine including the house specialty, arepas, or cheese, meat and vegetable-filled grilled corn cakes, along with empanadas, yucca fries, sweet plantains and other traditional dishes.

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A recent hospitality report by PKF Hospitality Research projects close to a 25 percent drop in revenue per available room for San Francisco and the North Bay in 2009, though all areas are expected to begin increasing by the end of the year for a positive average in 2010 and double-digit increases in 2011 and 2012.

According to research released last month, occupancy rates in Sonoma, Napa and Marin averaged about 13 percent less than those in April 2008, and room rates dropped by about 10 percent.

Marin's occupancy fell the most dramatically year over year, dropping by about 15 percent, followed by Sonoma with 12 percent and Napa with 10.7 percent. Conversely, Marin's room rates declined by 9.7 percent year over year, compared to 11 percent in Napa and 11.7 percent in Sonoma.

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The Sonoma County Tourism Bureau this summer launched a new, multifaceted ad campaign that targets Bay Area travelers through a customized text messaging concept.

"We recognize that people are scaling back travel in the U.S. because of the economy, so we are hitting hard the drive market-people within two or three hours-so we can capture them as they aren't going to Italy of France this year," said bureau spokesman Tim Zahner.

Beginning June 1, the county-funded bureau introduced the discount program through SFGate.com, Comcast and displays with BART, directing visitors to sign up for text message notifications of hotel, food or wine discounts, depending on the user's preference. The messages also include links to a mobile Web site that has other weekly specials.

The agency at the same time launched a campaign targeting the "younger generation" of wine travelers, including a food- and wine-inspired tattoo contest as part of the July 24-26 Wine Bloggers Conference. A video of someone receiving a grape tattoo and photos of other entries are available from the bureau's off-shoot site, www.inside-sonoma.com.

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After completing $2 million worth of sustainably minded renovations, Inn Marin this month became the fifth hotel to earn a Marin Green Business certification and the first in the state to garner a Green Lodging Program certificate from the state General Services Administration.

Among a long list of small changes, the owners of the Novato hotel originally constructed in 1949 added insulation to walls and roofing that has decreased energy costs by about 40 percent. The company also drastically reduced water usage and instigated a recycling program.

Submit items for this column to D. Ashley Furness at afurness@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4257 or fax 707-521-5292.