News This Week: Wine Country Charm and Environmental Leadership

Posted on September 14, 2018 by Admin


Short & Beautiful Ride to Small Vines Wines
Try this 7.5 mile bike ride around Sebastopol to taste some great wine, and take in some of West Sonoma County’s charm. READ MORE

Open Space Protected Forever!
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors have approved an agreement to protect nearly 1000 acres of land adjacent to Tolay Lake Regional Park. READ MORE

Kitchen Design Details
Small details can make all the difference in your kitchen design. This guide will help you turn your kitchen into a stunning success. READ MORE

Carbon Free California
Governor Jerry Brown has signed a new law committing California to a carbon-free power grid by the year 2045. The law is one of part of California’s ambitious plan to fight climate change. READ MORE


Market Snapshot for September 12, 2018

Posted on September 12, 2018 by Admin

The visuals of these graphs are so interesting and illuminating and tell a story we all need to see if we are active participants in the Sonoma County real estate market.  We chose to highlight Sebastopol and Santa Rosa specifically because they represent a high (Sebastopol) and average (Santa Rosa) that gives a clearer picture of the overall marketplace. From the frenzy of the post-fire marketplace in Sonoma County to the relative ease that we see now in fall of 2018, it’s clear that our market is making a nice adjustment.  Nice because bubbles don’t work long-term.  And nice because it’s still a very strong market for Sellers and also for Buyers, who can proceed with a purchase knowing that their investment will almost surely have long-term rewards (predicted by some to gain another 4% in 2019.).  Finally, interest rates continue to be on the low side, especially when you look at them with a historical perspective of the last 20 years, so financing the American Dream at a price one can afford remains in reach for many.

Late Summer Hikes in Sonoma County

Posted on September 12, 2018 by Admin

There aren’t very many days of summer left, but there are still plenty of hot days ahead in Sonoma County. Here are some hikes that will help get you outside and beat the heat.

Sonoma Coast

The Kortum, Pomo Canyon, and Red Hill trails are all located in the same area of the Sonoma Coast, each trail offers something unique. For an easier stroll, try the Kortum—the flat trail offers 8.9 miles of hiking on the bluff above the Pacific. For expansive views hike to the top of Red Hill. From the summit you can see Napa County as well as the Farallon Islands on a clear day. Pomo Canyon is a showcase of the cooler forest ecosystems that can be found in Sonoma County, with bay trees, redwoods, and hillside streams that provide refreshing contrast to the open coastal hills.

Santa Rosa

Annadel and Spring Lake have a variety of trails to suit different hiking levels. The trail around Spring Lake is paved and offers views of the lake and wetlands along its length. Spring Lake features a swimming lagoon, a boat ramp, and boat rentals. For the more ambitious, head up through Annadel to Lake Ilsanjo. Swimming in it’s water provides a haven for hot hikers and mountain bikers.


Located on Eastside Road amongst vineyards and wineries is Riverfront Regional Park. The park is located at site of a former gravel mine, and the two abandoned gravel pits are now large ponds. The trail that loops around the second pond is mostly shaded, and has plenty of access for those who want to try their luck fishing. The Russian River forms the western border of the park and has a several good swimming holes, perfect for cooling dips. A redwood grove near the parking area is a great place for shaded picnics.

*images courtesy of

Why the Tasting Room is Dead

Posted on September 11, 2018 by Admin

California’s traditional tasting rooms are pivoting to more “maker” spaces, nature immersions and places for all-day casual hangs.

The Prisoner Wine Company is scheduled to open its doors this October along Highway 29 in Napa Valley. When it does, it will make a statement.

A popular brand for nearly 20 years, The Prisoner is known for its namesake big, bold blend and iconic label art, as well as wines like The SnitchCuttings and Dérangé under the general California appellation.

But The Prisoner has never had a home open to the public. Owned by Constellation Brands since 2016, The Prisoner Tasting Lounge and The Makery will plant its roots in the heart of Napa Valley, where it will occupy the St. Helena tasting space formerly home to Franciscan Estate.

Prisoner Wine
Prisoner’s Makers’ Hall / Photo by Matt Morris

The Prisoner’s Makers’ Hall will have four studios, each occupied by a “maker in residence” whose expertise will include art, music, design and cuisine, an environment “specifically designed to…challenge the wine-country status quo,” according to the company. The first set of makers will be Soap CauldronWine Lover’s JellyBayview Pasta and Amanda Wright Pottery.

The brand claims on its website, “We’ve reimagined the traditional tasting room by creating a comfortable lounge experience free from pomp and circumstance…a lounge is where we can be ourselves.”

Many of Napa Valley’s 3.5 million yearly visitors appear to want different things out of a winery experience than in days of old: More sit-down tastings, food pairings and places to hang out and Instagram their day. That’s not to mention more of a sense of belonging.

Scribe Winery / Photo by Leo Patrone

Scribe Winery, just over the Sonoma county line, created a more immersive experience for visitors years ago, and it has legions of devoted fans to show for it.

“What attracts people to Scribe and other wineries and farms is that they get to connect to the natural world and to the landscape,” says co-owner Andrew Mariani.

Scribe offers a relaxed, natural setting that overlooks its vineyards, where visitors often picnic under the trees.

“We’re stripping away what a tasting room was to have a simple, transparent experience that connects people to a place,” says Mariani. “They’re tasting wines from vines growing out front, having snacks from the gardens here. [Through that], the story of a place is being expressed and shared. It’s a really simple idea.”

Fabulous New Hiking Grounds: Jenner Headlands Preserve

Posted on September 11, 2018 by Admin

Plan your visit

WHERE: The Jenner Headlands gateway is located 2 miles north of the town of Jenner on Highway 1. The gate will be open every day from 8 a.m. to sunset. Parking is limited.

DOGS: Dogs on leash are allowed on the headlands, though not on the final mile of Sea to Sky, which is on Pole Mountain land.

BIKES, HORSES: Neither mountain bikes nor horses are currently allowed on the headlands except during guided rides scheduled several times each year.

For more information and to subscribe to the preserve newsletter, visit their website.

JENNER — Anyone who has ever driven past the hills that rise sharply here from the coast north of the Russian River outlet and wondered about the view from the top need wait little longer.

On Friday, the gates to the Jenner Headlands Preserve will be open to the public, adding an open space larger than Trione-Annadel State Park to the mix of protected, accessible lands lining the scenic Sonoma Coast.

The step marks the culmination of more than a decade of planning and development, and the preserve — set aside with public and private money — offers some of the most stunning vistas to be found north of the Golden Gate, with a full suite wildlife and natural habitat shielded in perpetuity from housing development.

And the highest peak on the Sonoma Coast, 2,204-foot Pole Mountain, overlooks it all, beckoning to hikers up for a strenuous 15-mile round-trip trek with significant elevation gain.

“The best of Sonoma County,” is how Neal Fishman describes it. Now a board member of the Sonoma Land Trust, which helped spearhead deals that protected the properties, he was formerly deputy executive officer of the California Coastal Conservancy, which provided funding toward the $36 million headlands purchase in 2009.

The grand opening may be the most significant in a generation for hikers and other local nature enthusiasts in a region rich with opportunities to get out on the land.

“It’s something that folks here in Sonoma County and beyond have been looking forward to for a long time,” said Dave Koehler, executive director of Sonoma Land Trust, the Santa Rosa-based nonprofit.

At 5,630 acres, the headlands property offers nearly 14 miles of trails across varied terrain that includes mixed conifer forest, coastal prairie and oak woodland.

It spans more than 2.5 miles of the coast just north of the Russian River mouth, with steep hills that rise from the eastern side of Highway 1, giving visitors sweeping views of the ocean and coastline stretching south to Point Reyes National Seashore.

Its link with Pole Mountain, set aside in a 238-acre property purchased in 2014 by Sonoma Land Trust, offers hearty trekkers a chance to test their lungs and legs on a rare sea-to-peak climb.

The mountaintop, with a working fire lookout, takes in 360-degree views reaching far across the North Bay — to Cobb Mountain in Lake County, Mount St. Helena in Napa County and Mount Diablo in Contra Costa County.

On days without fog, you can see the Farallon Islands 20 miles outside the Golden Gate, said Bill Keene, general manager of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. The taxpayer-supported agency provided more than $9 million toward the headlands purchase, which remains the highest-dollar public land deal on record in Sonoma County.

It was the crowning achievement of a public-private campaign that began in 2005 and involved 10 funding partners by the time the deal was completed four years later, at the height of the nation’s economic crisis.

Held initially by the Sonoma Land Trust, the land was transferred in 2013 to the Southern California-based Wildlands Conservancy, which floated and guaranteed a combined $10.6 million in loans to close the sale at the 11th hour, according to those involved in the acquisition. The conservancy now manages the preserve. Other lenders for the deal included the Save the Redwoods League and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Additional funding came from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Forest Service, totaling nearly $7 million; the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, at $4 million; and the state Coastal Conservancy and Wildlife Conservation Board, totaling $16 million.

“The Sonoma Coast is such an incredible landscape, and people have been living there, enjoying the headlands for millennia,” Koehler said. “To take the effort of our partners who were able to protect that land 10 years ago and now be in a place where it can be open to the public for all to enjoy, we’re just really thrilled that this has come about, and we’re anxious to see people enjoying it.”

The subsequent $2.35 million purchase of Pole Mountain, extended the open space to the north and connected the headlands with another Sonoma Land Trust property, the 500-acre Little Black Mountain Preserve. The Pole Mountain deal included $1 million from the Open Space District, $650,000 from the California Wildlife Conservation Board, $350,000 from the state Coastal Conservancy and $350,000 from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

The resulting expanse of contiguous open space is more than 6,300 acres — approaching half the size of Manhattan.

The area was vulnerable to subdivision and development, particularly the headlands ranch, for which plans already had been drawn up, said Brook Edwards, preserve manager and regional director for the nonprofit Wildlands Conservancy. The Pole Mountain site also had been evaluated for vineyard development.

After the acreage was acquired, the focus shifted to thinning overgrown forest, shoring up streambeds and other steps to assure preservation of native plant species. Public access was always in the plans, but it took years to figure out exactly how to incorporate such use on a sensitive coastal landscape subject to tighter regulations.

The new public trailhead, a 6-acre gateway just off Highway 1, includes 34 parking spots in a split-level lot, a restroom, 400 feet of wheelchair-accessible pathway, a scenic overlook and day-use area designed to blend in with the scenery. It features a complex drainage system of bioswales, an infiltration pond, and dozens of pipes buried in the hillside to prevent runoff and erosion.

Native plants were put in to soften the effects of the infrastructure and rock quarried from the site has been used to try to mask the restroom, which is dug into the side of the hill. It has a living roof that should sprout plans once rain arrives, Edwards said.

From the day-use area, looping trails lead to places such as Raptor Ridge, Hawk Hill and Sentinel Point, located above Highway 1, where a permanent telescope has been installed for whale-watching and other uses.

The trail system is part of the California Coastal Trail, an envisioned 1,200-mile ribbon of pathways along the length of the state, within sight, sound and scent of the ocean.

The demanding Sea to Sky Trail leads to Pole Mountain offers what it advertises: a taxing 15-mile round-trip hike with no water along the way.

Intrepid hikers should start early and be prepared, advised Sonoma Land Trust spokeswoman Sheri Cardo.

Those who do, said Keene, “are going to be rewarded with one of the most epic views that you can get in the Bay Area, for sure.”

Things To Do This Weekend

Posted on August 23, 2018 by Admin

Whether you want to groove with Motown legends or enjoy a night out with the family at a free movie, there’s plenty to do coming up in Sonoma County.

Friday, Aug. 24

Rita Hosking Trio: Country-folk stories told through songs at 8 p.m. at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center. Tickets are $20-$25. For more information call 707-824-1858 or visit

‘Raven 24/7’: Seven original 10-minute plays will be staged in 24 hours at 8 p.m. on Aug. 24-25 at the Raven Theater, Healdsburg. Tickets are $20 for both nights. For more information call 707-433-6335 or visit

Soulshine: Hear blues standards and original songs at the Funky Fridays summer concert series at 7 p.m. at Hood Mansion, Sonoma Valley. Tickets are $10. For more information call 707-833-6288 or visit

Locos por Juana: Latin jam band performs as part of the Friday Night Live summer concert series at 6:30 p.m. at the Cloverdale Plaza. Admission is free. For more information call 707-894-4410 or visit

Ada Limon: Author reads from “The Carrying,” at 7 p.m. on Aug. 24. Reception 6:30 p.m. at Readers’ Books, Sonoma. Event features poet Matthew Zapruder. Admission is free. For more information call 707-939-1779 or visit

Saturday, Aug. 25

Sonoma Food, Wine & History Tour: Guided walking tour, food and wine tastings, and local history in downtown Sonoma from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tickets are $92. For more information call 707-939-5849 or visit

“Avengers — Infinity War”: Free Movies on the Green at 7 p.m. at Weill Hall and Lawn, Green Music Center, Rohnert Park. $5 for parking. For more information call 866-955-6040 or visit

Kevin Camia: Los Angeles-based comedian performs at 7 p.m. at The Laugh Cellar, Santa Rosa. Tickets are $28. For more information call 707-843-3824 or visit

Bodega Seafood, Wine & Art Festival: Live music and entertainment, art, and tastings from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Aug. 25 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Aug. 26 at Watts Ranch, Bodega. Tickets are $10-$20. For more information visit

California Beach Boys: Tribute band performs as part of the Rockin’ Concerts series from noon-3 p.m. at the Village Court, Montgomery Village, Santa Rosa. Admission is free. For more information call 707-545-3844 or visit

Sean Hayes: Folk, soul, and indie-rock singer-songwriter performs at 5:30 The Barlow Event Center, Sebastopol. Chase McBride opens. Tickets are $15-$30 for lawn seating. For more information visit

The Bear Bones: Reggae, ska, and rock band performing from 4-6 p.m. at Chroma Gallery, Santa Rosa. Tickets are $10 (sliding scale). Proceeds benefit Santa Rosa Arts Center. For more information call 707-526-0135 or visit

Sunday, Aug. 26

The Temptations and The Four Tops: Motown legends performing at 5 p.m. at Rodney Strong Vineyards, Healdsburg. Tickets are $89-$129. For more information call 707-431-1533 or visit

Buck Thrifty: Hear fusion-style of punk, funk, blues and jazz at the Backyard BBQ Series at 6 p.m. at the Twin Oaks Roadhouse, Penngrove. Tickets are $10-$20. For more information call 707-795-5118 or visit



THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | August 22, 2018, 3:01PM
101 Morris Street, Suite 100, Sebastopol, CA 95472


DRE# 00971195