Summer Fun: Sacramento River Cruise

sacramento river cruise

Emil Gagliardi left his long career in restaurants (Tapa the World and 58 Degrees) four years ago to tap back into his coastal New England roots. A native of Bar Harbor, Maine, Gagliardi grew up around lobstermen and the sturdy workhorse boats that carried them to their sumptuous prey.

Today, he’s married his love for good wine and food service with his own charter lobster boat business as owner of Sacramento River Cruise, the only intimate wine-and-cheese cruise on the river.

“I want to give people something different,” says Gagliardi, a merchant mariner and credentialed charter boat captain. “I want to do something no one else in the community is doing.”

Gagliardi hauled the 22-foot boat Roccus on a U-Haul trailer all the way from Bridgeport, Conn., down I-80 to Garcia Bend in Clarksburg, where the business is based. He spent five months sprucing it up with benches and a table, then teamed with local wineries and purveyors of cheese, charcuterie, olives, nuts, dried fruits and freshly baked bread—all of which he serves to guests on board.

With three cruises daily, Sacramento River Cruise can accommodate up to six guests for two-hour excursions from Clarksburg to the Pocket and back. Since Gagliardi launched Sacramento River Cruise in August 2018, business continues to grow, especially at a time when people have been starved for adventure.

The captain’s customers get a good shot of that. And because Gagliardi has added “ordained minister” to his resume, a few go home with a little something extra. “So many of my passengers get engaged on board that I thought it was time to help them tie the knot,” he says.

Emil Gagliardi owner of Sacramento River Cruise

Sacramento River Cruise

Cruise times: 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 2:30–4:30 p.m., 6–8 p.m.
Price: Standard tasting $213­–$384 (depending on number in party), premium tasting $243–$424 (depending on number in party)
Reservations: (916) 800-7887
Location: Clarksburg Marina, 36339 Riverview Drive
More information:

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River Fox Train

Taking passengers slowly along Old Garden Highway and the river in West Sacramento to Woodland about 28 miles, the train offers various adventures, from family-friendly excursions (including a Gold Rush-themed trip) to adults-only wine, beer and happy hour rides. Masks are required unless riders are eating or drinking. Boarding at 18095 County Road 117, West Sacramento.

River City Queen

The charter and tour vessel is open for dinner, lunch and cookies-and-ice cream cruises, all departing from Old Sacramento Waterfront. Cruises are currently at 50% capacity; cocktail cruises should resume this summer. Tables are assigned and masks required for boarding or walking around the vessel.