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News This Week: “Best Of” Sonoma County & Other News

Posted on October 12, 2018 by Mark Stevens

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

“Best Of” Sonoma County Awards
Award recipients—including Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery and Cowgirl Creamery (our fav)—were honored at the Luther Burbank Center on Wednesday evening. READ MORE

Explore Marin County
Find out the best places to eat, drink, play, shop, and stay. READ MORE

Best Remodeling Projects of 2018
Remodeling Magazine just announced their awards for the best remodeling work in the past year. Discover the top 5 home remodeling projects for smart design tips and trends. READ MORE

Sustainability Award for Jackson Family Wines
Jackson Family Wines has been given a Green Power Leadership Award from the US EPA for  their continued commitment to using renewable energy; the company uses 100% certified green power, including power coming from solar installed on their 12 wineries. READ MORE

 

*featured image courtesy of 7×7.com

News This Week: August Home Sales and Auction Success

Posted on September 28, 2018 by Admin

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

August Market Report

Reports are showing that August sales are still increasing over previous months. And that’s not all—comparative sales and home prices are higher than last year. READ MORE

Kosta Browne Hosting New Dinner Series

Beginning in November, Kosta Browne Winery will host exclusive dinners with custom menus created by renowned chefs. READ MORE

Newest American Viticulture Area in California

Winemakers in the new Petaluma Gap AVA are getting notice for the distinctive wines that are being made in the region. According to the Press Democrat, the cool climate produces “elegant, crisp and focused wines.” READ MORE

Record Set at Sonoma County Wine Auction

The love in the air is thicker than the smoke. This year’s Sonoma County Wine Auction raised $5.7 million for charity. Enthusiasm was fueled by the focus on rebuilding efforts after last years devastating wildfires. READ MORE

 

 

 

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.”

Veraison, Smoke Taint & Napa Vineyards

Posted on July 04, 2018 by Admin

© Daily Republic | The fire started in Yolo County and is already bigger than the Tubbs fire that ripped through Napa and Sonoma last year.

As most of you know, Napa is on fire.  Again.  And those in the “know” in regards to wine are busy postulating on the effects of smoke taint as it relates to “veraison.”  Is smoke taint becoming a thing with wine? Too early to tell and certainly interesting speculation for wine conversation.

Meanwhile, what is the meaning of the cryptic term “veraison?”  Veraison is defined this way:  “In viticulture (grape-growing), veraison is the onset of ripening. The term is originally French (véraison / veʀɛzɔ̃), but has been adopted into English use.” (Wikipedia).  Veraison has everything to do with the permeability of the grape skin.  Less ripened grapes have thicker skins, which suggests they are less susceptible to smoke taint.  That’s where we are right now, in the early part of the grape ripening season, so most likely smoke taint will not be a factor for the current fire.

Here’s more about the current fire affecting Napa County, courtesy of W. Blake Gray | Posted Tuesday, 03-Jul-2018:

Growers are keeping an anxious eye on two large fires in Wine Country

A huge wildfire has crossed over into Napa County, less than a year after the region was devastated by one of the worst fire outbreaks in northern California history.

The air was brown in San Francisco, about 60 miles south of Napa County, on Sunday morning from smoke from two Wine Country fires: the County Fire, which started in Yolo County east of Napa, and the Pawnee Fire in Lake County north of Napa.

The County Fire is growing like Godzilla: 60,000 acres as of Monday evening, with only 5 percent contained. It is already larger than the Tubbs Fire that last year devastated northern Napa Valley and neighboring Sonoma County, and it is growing at a faster rate – 33 percent on Monday alone. Cal Fire believes it started in dry vegetation; the cause is under investigation.

However, some of the news on the County Fire is so far, so good (cross fingers). CalFire says it threatens 700 structures – six times as many as 12 hours earlier – but so far has not destroyed any. At this point, no wineries are believed threatened, and we learned last year that vineyards are effective natural firebreaks.

“I’ve looked at the map many times here. It’s not anywhere in our grapegrowing vicinity,” Heidi Soldinger, marketing and communications manager for Napa Valley Grapegrowers, told Wine-Searcher. “At this time, we’re feeling like we’re pretty safe. But after what we experienced in October, I’m not going to make any predictions.”

For wineries, smoke taint is almost as big a concern as the fire itself. California wineries have had great interest in smoke taint research since last year’s wildfires.

Napa’s grapes have not yet gone through the process of veraison, where white grapes turn black, so they are less vulnerable to smoke taint than they will be soon. But that doesn’t exempt them from risk. In 2008, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir grapes were heavily smoke tainted by fires that occurred pre-veraison in June.

“We do not currently know exactly how much fresh smoke is needed for a real risk of smoke taint development in the wine,” Anita Oberholster, assistant cooperative extension specialist for UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, told Wine-Searcher. “However, we do know that pre-veraison it will take more fresh smoke and longer exposure times for smoke taint risk compared to post-veraison grapes. The less ripe the grapes, the smaller the risk. Green hard berries have low risk whereas larger, softer, green berries have medium risk, with post-veraison grapes having the highest risk.”

Fortunately, though the County Fire has leapt into Napa County, it is still north and east of Napa Valley, and the wind in Napa County tends to blow from the ocean (west) to east. Winds can change, and fires can leap, but for now it’s a worry for wineries more than a threat.

To the north of Napa, however, the Pawnee Fire has already destroyed 22 structures in Lake County. It’s only one-third the size of the County Fire, and it was 75 percent contained as of Monday morning. The cause of this fire is also under investigation.

It’s possible this fire might have more impact on 2018 Napa Cabernets than the County Fire, because much of the Cabernet Sauvignon grown in Lake County finds its way into Napa Valley bottlings. A wine labeled as “Napa Valley”, or any other AVA, must contain at least 85 percent grapes from that AVA. Lake County Cabernet grapes fetched an average of $2500 per ton last year; for Napa County Cabernet, the average was $7500 per ton. It’s also possible that the great majority of Lake County grapes won’t be affected at all.

California usually has dry summers – that’s why the wine is so good – and is thus vulnerable to fires. This season they seem to be early. The state had below-average rainfall again last winter after a rainy winter in 2016-17 ended a five-year drought. But rain might not matter: in 2017, after that wet winter, more than 500,000 acres burned in California, more than double the destruction of dry 2016.

Wednesday July 4 is the biggest fireworks day of the year in the US. Not, however, after last year in wine country.

“In Napa County we’re not having any fireworks this year,” Soldinger said. “Everyone is very aware. Our thoughts go out to everyone in Yolo and Lake County. We know how that feels.”

New Listing! Winner’s Circle Estate & Vineyard

Posted on June 27, 2018 by Admin

Spectacular Estate Home with Winery & Hospitality Potential


Asking price:
$12,950,000
Acreage: 60± Acres
Vineyard: Organic vineyards featuring 19.1± acres of Pinot Noir and 5.5± acres of Chardonnay recently planted to highest standards.

Winner’s Circle is a premier estate in the heart of the Russian River Valley. This 7,500± sq. ft. luxury home in Sebastopol embodies California contemporary design, and features panoramic mountain and valley views from every window.  A guest house, caretaker’s unit, and barn add value and interest to the property. Featuring 24.6± acres of organic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards plus a potential rental income through Inspirato, this is an incredible opportunity for the luxury home buyer and/or vineyard investor. 

The Main Residence was designed by architects Gerald C. Taylor of San Francisco and Val Arnold of Beverly Hills for the Walter family. Constructed in 1991 and renovated in 2013, the 7500± sq. ft. home has four bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, a large gourmet kitchen, a butler’s pantry, and expansive common areas. Floor to ceiling glass doors in every room open onto extensive patios. A heated pool and spa invite you outdoors to enjoy the beautiful Russian River weather. 

Winner’s Circle is located just one hour North of San Francisco in the heart of West Sonoma County Wine Country. Situated between  Healdsburg and Sebastopol,  the area offers great dining, shopping & a welcoming community. This part of the Russian River Valley has long been established as a premier region for producing exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Many award-winning wineries are minutes away from this iconic location.

People move to Sonoma County from all around the world to enjoy the beautiful, mild climate. Located just 10 miles away (as the crow flies) from the Pacific Ocean, the weather is characterized by morning fog, warm days and pleasant evenings. The warm, dry summers and temperate winters encourage outdoor pursuits and allow farmers to grow amazing produce year-round. There are endless opportunities to explore premier Sonoma and Napa wineries and restaurants. Outdoor enthusiasts are blessed with 50+ regional and state parks that showcase coastal tide pools, old-growth redwoods and mountain views.

Located on Vine Hill Ridge in the Russian River American Viticultural Area (AVA), Winner’s circle located in the heart of West Sonoma County. Situated in between Healdsburg and Sebastopol, the AVA features the best known and most loved varietals. Home to the top Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and old vine Zinfandels, this cool climate grape region supplies world renowned wineries in Sonoma and Napa counties, creating award winning wines that are some of the world’s best. 

The Russian River AVA has raised the standard for California grape production and winemaking.  The relatively cool summer encourages the grapes to ripen slowly, establishing balanced acidity.  This slow, prolonged ripening period creates the delicious flavors distinctive to this region. The soils offer perfect drainage and ideal conditions for growing grapes.  

Additional Property Features:

The guest house shares the entry courtyard with the main residence.  The unit is accessible from the main residence via a  short covered walkway.  The generous one bedroom boasts stunning views and an open floor plan. 

  • 900± sq. ft.
  • Located adjacent to the main house – just a short walk down a covered sidewalk connecting the two buildings.
  • 1 Bedroom/1 Bathroom
  • Living room with queen-size pullout sleeper sofa
  • Kitchen
  • Garage/Storage

Located on the smaller of the two parcels, the caretaker’s unit has two bedrooms and one bathroom.  A horse barn featuring six stables and an open interior also shares this second parcel.  The barn currently houses the irigation equipment for the vineyards. Situated adjacent to the barn is an equine aqua-tred.  This beautiful rustic building was originally built for the first-class thoroughbred ranch that was established here by the original owners, Barbara and Robert Walters.  The Walter’s best known gelding,1996 Kentucky Derby Runner-up Cavonnier, was foaled here at Winner’s Circle in1993. 

  • 35± Acres of oak woodlands 
  • Caretaker’s unit (2Bed/1Bath)
  • Barn with seven stables and irrigation pump room
  • Pump House
  • Horse Aqua Tread

Winery and Hospitality Potential

  • 2 Parcels: 55-acre parcel zoned DA D6-40; 6 acres zoned RA D6-10
  • Potential for main residence conversion to hospitality/wine-tasting/guest facility
  • Potential Winery/Tasting Room site

For more information, contact Mark at 707.322.2000 or Jeannie at 707.480.1541.

 

North Bay Wildfire Clean Up Complete

Posted on June 14, 2018 by Admin

 

State and federal officials Monday declared the debris removal from the North Bay wildfires — the largest such effort since the 1906 earthquake — complete.

The government sponsored cleanup work in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties has been winding down for months as the number of sites remaining to be cleared has dwindled. The last of the 4,563 parcels that signed up for the cleanup program was cleared last week.

The North Bay wildfires were the costliest in U.S. history, with insured losses approaching $10 billion. They also killed 40 people and destroyed 6,200 homes. That work that resulted in an estimated 2.2 million tons of ash and fire-related debris being hauled off. In the case of concrete from foundations, some was recycled, while much of it was buried in the Sonoma County Central Landfill.

Michael Wolff, a contractor whose firm has cleared more than 150 sites and assisted in hundreds of others, said while initially skeptical of the timeline, he was impressed with the coordination federal and state officials brought to the monumental task.

“For the most part, I felt like the (Army Corps of Engineers) did a great job,” Wolff said. “I was blown away by how well things came together and how much work was done in such a short period of time.”

Wolff said his company worked on the final lot to receive clearance, a site off Crown Hill Drive in the devastated Fountaingrove neighborhood that needed additional concrete removed, he said.

The Army Corps said it has “deactivated” its Rohnert Park office and would complete any additional work from Sacramento.

Plenty of work remains in the city and county, however, said Paul Lowenthal, Santa Rosa assistant fire marshal.

“Even though the Army Corps is stating that this part of the mission is complete, the city and county are still here, and we know there is still a long road to recovery,” Lowenthal said. “We’re not going anywhere.”

There are still two lots that need to be cleared in the city — a residential property and an apartment complex on Hopper Lane. Neither went through the government cleanup nor the private cleanup processes. Instead, the city’s legal department has been forced to initiate abatement proceedings against the two properties. It’s not clear how many such properties remain to the cleared in Sonoma County.

Some cleared properties still have issues, such as over-excavation, Lowenthal said.

An estimated 200 properties in Sonoma County may have been over-excavated by Army Corps contractors, and the state Office of Emergency Services is working with the county to identify them and return dirt to the site at no cost to property owners.

Of the 4,563 properties cleared, the vast majority, 3,674 or 81 percent, where in Sonoma County, where the Tubbs fire ravaged entire Santa Rosa neighborhoods. The Corps cleared 439 lots in Napa, 306 in Mendocino, and 144 in Lake County.

While the Corps has completed all debris removal on the 4,563 parcels, 22 sites still need to have additional work, such as soil testing and erosion control, before rebuilding can proceed, Lowenthal said.

Source: NorthBay Business Journal & Press Democrat

Story by Kevin McCallum, June 13, 2018

101 Morris Street, Suite 100, Sebastopol, CA 95472

707-322-2000

DRE# 00971195