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News This Week: Election Results

Posted on November 09, 2018 by Mark Stevens

EACH WEEK WE COLLECT TOP LOCAL NEWS AND RECENT REAL ESTATE STORIES. 

 

1) Sonoma County Voters Approve Funds for Parks

Voters approved Measure M by an overwhelming margin on Tuesday. The Measure increases sales tax in Sonoma County by one eighth of a percent. Revenues will be used to maintain county and municipal parks. READ MORE

2) Butte County Fire Darkens Sonoma County Skies

Smoke from the Camp Fire, burning over a hundred miles to the north east of Sonoma County, is reminding many residents of the devastation that we experienced 13 months ago during the Tubbs Fire. READ MORE

3) Mixed Success for Affordable Housing Ballot Measures

There were seven measures on the Napa County and Santa Rosa ballots that aimed to address affordable housing issues. Of the seven measures, three failed to get the necessary votes. READ MORE

4) Prop. 6 Defeat Allows Infrastructure Improvements in Sonoma County to Continue

The defeat of Proposition 6 means that local projects such as SMART train expansion and Highway 101 widening will continue to receive funding. READ MORE

featured image courtesy of pressdemocrat.com

History of the Sonoma Valley AVA: Making Wine For 150 Years

Posted on November 07, 2018 by Mark Stevens

The fledgling town of Glen Ellen has a post office, hotel and cooper shop. The area is home to “some of the most experienced vine-growers in the county . . . a radius of six miles, with Glen Ellen at its center, would, in the opinion of many, include the finest grape-growing section in the State of California.”
—Thompson’s Historical Atlas of Sonoma County, 1877

The Sonoma Valley AVA is the first winemaking region in Sonoma County. Home to one of the original commercial wineries in California (established in 1857), Sonoma Valley produces unparalleled, world class wines that bring in tourists from all around the globe.

*There are 18 AVAs in Sonoma County, encompassing 60,000± acres of planted vineyards & 425± wineries. The Sonoma Valley AVA is in the Southern portion of the county on the border of Napa County.

Sonoma Valley earned AVA status in 1981. It consists of 55 wineries and 14,000± vineyard acres along a 17± mile stretch of the Valley of Sonoma (also known as the Valley of the Moon). This unique and beautiful region is bordered by the Mayacama Mountains to the east and the Sonoma Mountains to the west. Significant towns of the region include Glen Ellen, Sonoma and the hamlet of Kenwood.

The vineyards are planted among groves of ancient Valley oaks. Established aquifers and seasonal creeks provide water year-round. Once home to Native American tribes, pioneers during the California Gold Rush era, grizzlies, Steelhead trout, salmon, migrating birds, tule elk, and pronghorn, the valley is rich in human and ecological history.

Known for its unique terroir, the vineyards of Sonoma Valley have long benefited from the cool air that flows through the valley from the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo bay. The valley has ideal growing conditions for the world-class Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes of the region. Sonoma Valley winemakers have, for decades, transformed these grapes into fine wines that are unparalleled in body and flavor.

Discover a Few of Our Favorite Historical Wineries in the Sonoma Valley AVA

Established in 1857, Gundlach Bundschu is the oldest continuously operating family winery in California. The walls of the tasting room showcase the deep history of the winery. Surrounding grounds offer some of the best picnicking in the area. The tasting room is open daily 11 am – 4:30 pm.

Buena Vista Winery opened just three months prior to Gundlach Bundschu. Now owned by the Boisset Family, you can travel back in time with a tour in the retrofitted original building and caves. Stop by the tasting room any day between 10 am – 5 pm.

In operation since 1904, Kunde Winery is currently run by 4th and 5th generations of the Kunde family. The original winery was located a few miles from the winery you see today. Still, the place is steeped in a deep knowledge and unique history. Tasting room open daily, 10:30 am – 4:30 pm.

Annadel Estate Winery was first established in 1880 by the Bolle family. The Bolle family home still stands. And the old stone walls of the original winery still grace the property. Purchased in 2007 and renovated over the past decade, this estate vineyard is a stunning example of Sonoma Valley history. Tasting is by appointment only.

We are thrilled to announce a new listing for Majestic Oaks Estate Winery in the Sonoma Valley AVA! View the listing: CLICK HERE

News This Week: Best Winery Experiences and Cabin Getaways

Posted on October 26, 2018 by Mark Stevens

EACH WEEK WE COLLECT TOP LOCAL NEWS AND RECENT REAL ESTATE STORIES

Best Sonoma County Wineries

With over 425 wineries in Sonoma County, it can be hard for a first time visitor to know where to go. This guide will help you experience the best wine tasting of the region. READ MORE

30 under 30

Check out this list of 30 inspiring future business leaders, politicians, and activists leading the way in Sonoma County. READ MORE

Cabin Getaways

Sad to see the end of Summer? Here are some extraordinary cabins that remind us that the point of cold nights is to cozy up by a fire and relax. READ MORE

Architectural Explainer

Sotheby’s International explores eight of the most common architectural styles that are available on the market today. READ MORE

*featured image courtesy of sunset.com

California’s Shenandoah Valley: Here Lies a Burgeoning Wine Scene

Posted on October 25, 2018 by Mark Stevens

A hundred miles east of both San Francisco and Napa Valley and 40 miles east of Sacramento grow some of the country’s oldest grape vines—one dating to 1869. Welcome to Amador County, home of California’s Shenandoah Valley AVA, famous for its “old growth” zinfandel vines. Its Barbera and Rhone varietals are renowned as well. Here, vineyards stretch from 1,200 to 2,400 feet above sea level. The rolling hills feature sandy clay-loam soils derived from decomposed granite (volcanic Sierra Series soils). These soils retain Amador’s 36-38 inches of annual rainfall, enabling most growers to dry-farm the vineyards. The soil composition is also low nitrogen and phosphorous and results in sparse vine canopies which allow high sunlight exposure. All of this combined creates vineyards that are naturally resistant to pxlloxera and ideal candidates for organic farming practices. (Amador boasts one of the highest percentages of organically farmed vineyards of any wine region in California.)

The majority of Amador’s vines are head-trained, spur-pruned and on low vigor rootstocks (like St. George) which produce intensely flavored red wines and the heady zinfandels for which Amador is renowned. Here lies a burgeoning wine scene.

The region was first settled during the California Gold Rush in the nineteenth century, and settlers in the region began planting the first grapevines and producing the first wine soon thereafter. In 1983 the region became a designated American Viticulture Area and was the launching ground for the Sutter Home brand and it’s popular zinfandel iterations.

As the least elevated and warmest region within the Sierra Foothills, Shenandoah Valley in known for high temperatures (what the French call “luminosity”) and low humidity resulting in very ripe fruit and full-bodied, high alcohol wines. While Amador heats up earlier in the day than appellations in Napa, it rarely exceeds 100 degrees during the growing season. Equally significant, temperatures typically drop 30-35 degrees in the evening as breezes cascade down the Sierras. This rapid cooling helps the grapes retain the acidity essential to balanced wines.

On paper in Amador, Zinfandel is king, with 60 percent of the county’s plantings dedicated to the grape and wineries vying for the recognition of whose Old Vine Zin is truly the “Esteemed Elder.” But under the layer of Zin’s dominance, it’s clear Amador’s niche is a land of seemingly infinite varietals, most considered “old world.”  The county’s climate and terroir most resemble that found in southern Europe — think Italy, Spain, Portugal and southern France’s Rhone Valley. So what you’ll find is a huge selection of bold-flavored, food-friendly wines associated with those cultures: Barbera, Sangiovese, Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache, Mourvedre, Tempranillo — and those are just some of the more common names.

In addition to a trending wine scene, Amador County is a pretty place to be–a patchwork of the rugged and serene. During the rainy months, the verdant rolling hills are pocked with vernal pools, mountain streams and more than a few herds of cattle. In the dry heat of summer, the grass is a long blonde shag scarred with rocky crags and dry culverts braced by live oaks. In most places, you can hear little but the rustling of the wind. Dilapidated stacked-stone fences and foundations of old adobe houses built by the placer miners line the winding roads. In wetter years, you can ski in the morning and make it back for lunch until June.

These days there’s a new surge of interest in the area. The overcrowding of Napa has tasting groups in Plymouth — spread languidly across the bar at the Plymouth Hotel, which serves Vino Noceto on tap  — lamenting. “You can’t even get in on a Monday in winter,” says one patron. There is a flurry of new wineries with different attitudes (and altitudes) focusing on different wines — from California heritage zinfandels to Iberian, Rhone and Italian varietals — being championed by roguish and talented winemakers and growers teeming with personality and expertise. The small town of Plymouth calls itself the Gateway to the Shenandoah Valley, fitting given its position at the fork in the road between the valley to the north and the idyllic Highway 49 towns of Amador City and Sutter Creek to the south. There are now 47 wineries in the surrounding hills, the number growing every year.

Sangioveses and barbera are among the most drinkable reds and few wineries sell anything above $30. The surprising Iberian newcomer, tempranillo, flows like water in the Spanish Rioja region of its origin. In Amador it’s bottled by at least seven wineries. As a region, this is a place that values its diverse microclimates as much as its diverse winemaking philosophies. With its very accessible wineries for the Sacramento-Metropolitan area and the discovery of Shenandoah (lately)by Reno-Tahoe folks, this is a place that promises more to come…..much, much more.

Take a look at our latest offering in Shenandoah AVA: Two State-of-the-Art Shenandoah Wineries

Sources for this article include: San Francisco Chronicle, SF Gate, Wikipedia

Wildlife Wineries of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties

Posted on October 24, 2018 by Mark Stevens

You may already be aware of the importance of sustainable agricultural practices for the longevity of our land, wildlife & communities. These practices minimize the use of pesticide and chemical fertilizers, protecting our waterways and topsoil; maintain wildlife habitat by setting aside acreage for wild plants and animals; and include efforts to reduce water, energy use and recycle material goods in all aspects of the business (aka vineyard & wineries).

Discover our favorite local wineries and vineyards that are making sustainable wines, and focusing on wildlife habitat conservation at the core of their land management plans.

Frey Vineyards

Frey Vineyards manages just 10% of their land as vineyards with the remaining acreage kept as wild forestland. They have placed bird boxes throughout their property, and have eight hives of honey bees.

Preston Winery

Preston produces more than just wine… they also grow olives, heirloom grains, apples, peaches, figs, walnuts, vegetables, sheep, chicken, and pigs. Beyond this agricultural diversity that supports insects and bird life, Preston Winery leaves some of their property wild. They have hedgerows that attract beneficial insects, and use annual cover crops—a method central to organic farming—to build healthy soil.

Parducci

The Parducci Winery Estate is a Certified Wildlife Habitat, allowing and even encouraging wildlife to life among the vines. To facilitate this partnership between wildlife and their land, they provide nesting boxes for owls and songbirds to help manage pests, and plant cover crops to attract beneficial insects.

Quivira

Quivira has been a leading voice in preserving and restoring the riparian corridor of Wine Creek, a Dry Creek tributary that has a native Steelhead trout and Coho salmon population. Beyond these restoration efforts, they are committed to composting. In fact, they maintain a 500 cubic yard compost pile that recycles waste from their gardens, animals, and vineyards.

 

If you enjoy this topic and want to do more for the wildlife in your neighborhood, check out my article from last week about simple steps to increase wildlife habitat in your own backyard: CLICK HERE