20 Tips for leaving your home safe while you travel

Posted on June 10, 2013 by Mark Stevens


As summer meets us again, it is the time of year where temptation lies in Princess Cruise commercials and that “too good to pass up” deal on airline tickets to Hawaii.  I say, go!  You work hard all year and deserve some time dedicated solely to good old-fashioned rest and relaxation.  Vacation can help rejuvenate the mind and body to be more refreshed when we get back to our day-to-day lives, which leads to more productivity, so why not take the opportunity to pack your bags and go somewhere new.  The excitement of getting ready for vacation becomes part of the trip, but it shouldn’t be your only focus before you leave.  Getting your home prepped for travel seems easy but it’s also easy to overlook the small tasks that could make the biggest difference.  Here is a list of 20 to-dos that will help your home stay safe and sound while giving you some peace of mind.  In the words of a wise gnome, go, and smell the roses! 

20 Tips Picture resized 600 gets a fresh new look!

Posted on May 24, 2013 by Mark Stevens

website Main resized 600I am thrilled to announce that I have officially launched my new and improved website!  My team and I have been working diligently to present you with something fantastic when searching for properties in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties.  With this new, fresh platform, I am able to deliver the best content in the most reliable way possible, while giving you a little “virtual insight” into California’s North Bay Area. 

With updated functionality, now features enhanced ways to view my listings, the incredible members of my team and a few of the properties that I have had the pleasure of selling recently.  You can also search for properties throughout the Bay Area using our property search function, supported by Bay Area Real Estate Information Services Inc.  The unique aspects of Sonoma, Napa or Mendocino counties may intrigue you; I’ve got it covered.  Explore each county in depth and see for yourself why these counties are such highly coveted places to live (or wine and dine, hike, go for a hot-air balloon ride, soak up the sun; the list goes on!)

With the ever-evolving world of technology that our nation is immersed in, I figured it a great time to revamp my own online presence, and I am so happy I did.  My goal is to create a memorable experience for my clients from start to finish in their search for the ideal property, whether it is an extravagant winery or a charming, quaint residence.  My hope with my newly renovated website is that it promotes excitement in my visitors’ search for property, as it should be a fun beginning to the experience as a whole.

So, without further adieu, I am virtually cutting the red ribbon to and I appreciate your pleasant golf claps.  What are you waiting for?  Come check it out! 

For more information about properties in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties or my wonderful website, feel free to contact me at 707.322.2000.  


Wellington Vineyards

Posted on May 16, 2013 by Mark Stevens

Circle of Vines

A unique opportunity arises with this well-established estate winery, Wellington Vineyards, located in the heart of Sonoma Valley/Valley of the Moon.  The 24± acre property features 21± planted acres of mixed grape varietals, a custom home with incredible views, a 10,000± square-foot winery with a 15,000 case permit and a public tasting room.  

Deck to Vineyard View

The residence has a separate entrance off of Henno Road allowing privacy from the winery facility, along with expansive views across the valley.  Unforgettable views can be enjoyed from each room of this home, incorporating the beautiful, outdoor scenery into the indoor living spaces seamlessly.  Wide, glass doors expand this home’s view to the scenic vineyards ahead creating a peaceful, Sonoma Wine Country experience.  A large, outdoor deck sits beyond the living room, providing shade and plenty of entertaining space. 

This historic location, appropriately named, “Valley of the Moon” is bordered by two stunning mountain ranges, the Mayacamas and the Sonoma Mountains.  Offering 18 different varieties of wine grapes, this property’s “old vine” blocks shine with diversity.

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The winery focuses on producing high quality wine sold at a reasonable price, generally sold around $20-$50 per bottle.  This offering includes the Wellington brand and inventory. 

The winery estate also prides itself on its energy production, housing over 2,400 square feet of solar panels, which provide 100% of the winery’s annual electricity needs. 

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If you are interested in finding out more information about Wellington Vineyards and estate, please contact me at 707.322.2000 and I will be happy to schedule a tour of the property!  

Moscato or Bust

Posted on April 30, 2013 by Mark Stevens

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One of my favorite things to do, especially in the springtime, is visit my cabin in Mendocino.  Aside from the memories of my kids growing up there and the beautiful “tree-house-esque” architecture of it, I have found that all of the splendor lies outside of it.  It is a place that I can go to ground myself, a place that takes me out of the day-to-day chaos (although a good problem to have) that I am so accustomed to.  Redwood grove forests that the drive takes me through and majestic plants that I find when I hike never cease to fascinate me, no matter how many times I am presented with them.  

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Recently, I took the drive to my cabin for the first time this year and made some stops along the way.  Lately I have been thinking a lot about “warm weather wines” and how they have changed so dramatically in California over the past couple of decades.  Long gone are the days of overly sweet, white zinfandel that had conformed to a California palate unknowing of all of the wonderful wines that were out there.  Intrigued, I dove deeper into the topic and found a fantastic article in Sunset Magazine’s April edition, which ultimately led me to one exciting stop on the way to my short retreat.  The article, titled “Moscato for grown-ups” written by Sara Schneider is a comical, short story about a mother, and her devotion to instilling good wine habits in her newly “of drinking age” daughter.  For Sara, the stigma of a “sweet” California wine lingered in her mind after her daughter requested Moscato for dinner.  Instead of trying to convince her daughter that Moscato was surely not what she wanted to be drinking, she took the request as a challenge.  

After reading the article, I decided I would put myself through the same test, determined to change my own mind about what I once believed to be cheap, sweet, summer wine.  After much research, I was anxious to stop at a winery that I was hoping would leave a good taste in my mouth.  Navarro Winery and Vineyards in Anderson Valley, California.  I walked in feeling confident, but still somewhat skeptical; nonetheless excited to be at a winery I haven’t visited before and to chat with people I’ve never met.  I was honest with the tasting room hostess, and told her that I needed to taste something specific, something that would make me remember Navarro.  So, there I was swirling a glass of 2011 Muscat Blanc, hoping that I wouldn’t have to force a fake smile and run out of there empty-handed falsely assuring them I would be back!  The nose, elegant, not overpoweringly fruity, but had a rather refreshing citrus quality that danced around the glass.  After the first sip, my mission had been justified.  The pleasant, acidic citrus flavors in the wine were perfectly balanced with apricot and peach layers.  This wine is a far cry from what I had remembered sipping on in my younger years.  I knew that I had grown and my palate had matured, but I guess I didn’t realize that California’s take on “warm weather” wine had been maturing too.

Overall, my first spring trip to my cabin was a memorable one, and I have to say, I left Navarro Winery with a bottle of the Muscat Blanc in hand, of course some Pinot Noir (which is another story!) and a very sincere smile on my face.

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If you are interested in taking a deeper look into Mendocino County, feel free to contact me and I would love to show you around!

The Barlow: A Charming Addition to Sebastopol

Posted on April 22, 2013 by Mark Stevens

Barlow picture Frankie Norstad
In no time at all the quaint town of Sebastopol will welcome a new friend, The Barlow.  For months, the anticipation of what new explorations will come with the completion of The Barlow has been swirling around Sonoma County.  I have been pleasantly surprised to see the belief and commitment that small business entrepreneurs have in The Barlow. It is very refreshing to see how much time and energy these companies are putting into making The Barlow a success.

What was once just an idea, is now unveiling in front of the eyes of Sebastopol natives and Sonoma County locals alike.  That special something that draws people into any city around the world will now be present in Sebastopol, and it will be incentive for people to come and find a whole host of other great activities and places to explore.  In a fascinating way, The Barlow will connect Sebastopol to the rest of Sonoma County, and will be high on the list of towns people think of when thinking about the North Bay.  What differentiates The Barlow from many other projects of its kind, is that the companies that will eventually fill the space are ones that pride themselves on creating their own product, as opposed to filling the space entirely with standard manufactured outside goods.  Being a local of the town of Sebastopol, I can see that this speaks to the core and values of this town and the individuality that nestles here.  Local companies, including a bakery, brewery and wineries, have made the choice to reside here and begin or extend a long-term relationship with the city of Sebastopol, and it is an honor to be a part of it all.  

It will be exciting to watch the attraction to our small town of Sebastopol grow, as well as the businesses within it.  I feel that The Barlow will bring people to Sebastopol for all of the right reasons, and we will have the opportunity to showcase what a fantastic town it is.  Because of the close proximity of The Barlow to Sebastopol’s downtown core, I feel that there will be an amazing benefit to the wonderful shops, boutiques and eateries that natives already know and love.  The natural inclination to explore will take locals and visitors from one end of Sebastopol to the other, and everywhere in between!  

A little change will go a long way for the city of Sebastopol and I am very confident that we will see a shift in productivity throughout each and every local business that calls Sebastopol home.  I foresee my charming hometown of Sebastopol becoming a popular stop for travelers making their way through the North Bay, and for good reason.  Having so many wonderful new outlets to explore will guide people through the town, and may even encourage them to stay!  

If you are interested in the Sebastopol or Sonoma County area, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to show you around.  Perhaps we can start with a Cup of Jo from Taylor Maid Farms at The Barlow!


Image courtesy of Frankie Norstad 2013

Spring Cleaning Checklist for Homeowners

Posted on April 11, 2013 by Mark Stevens

As we’re venturing quickly through the start of spring, I thought it would be a good time to share some very helpful tips on home maintenance that one can easily do to prepare for summer.  Famously, “spring cleaning” is a time when old, tattered shirts from college get thrown away, and that scary hall closet that has been stuffed to the brim all throughout winter gets to see the light of day again.  It is important to rid clothes from the 80s and organize closets inside your home, but it is just as important to maintain the home itself!  This simple list of maintenance ideas makes it easy to do so before the warm, long nights of summer enchant you.  

Here’s to spring maintenance and keeping your home in tip-top shape!

Spring Cleaning Checklist