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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.


Forestville/Healdsburg

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 parks.ca.gov

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.”

Market Update for Sonoma County

Posted on August 06, 2018 by Admin

California home sales stumble in June as median price hits new high for second straight month

– Existing, single-family home sales totaled 410,800 in June on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, up 0.4 percent from May and down 7.3 percent from June 2017.

– June’s statewide median home price was $602,760, up 0.3 percent from May and 8.5 percent from June 2017, hitting another peak.

– California condominiums/townhomes recorded a 7.0 percent price increase and a 7.1 percent sales decline from June 2017.

LOS ANGELES (July 23) – California’s median home price edged higher to another peak in June as year-over-year home sales lost steam for the second straight month.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 410,800 units in June, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide. The statewide annualized sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2018 if sales maintained the June pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

June’s sales figure was up 0.4 percent from the revised 409,270 level in May and down 7.3 percent compared with home sales in June 2017 of 443,120. The year-over-year sales decline was the largest in nearly four years.

“California’s housing market underperformed again, despite an increase in active listings for the third straight month,” said C.A.R. President Steve White. “The lackluster spring homebuying season could be a sign of waning buyer interest as endlessly rising home prices and buyer fatigue adversely affected pent-up demand.”

For the second straight month, the statewide median home price hit another peak price at $602,760 in June. The June statewide median price was up 0.3 percent from $600,860 in May and up 8.5 percent from a revised $555,420 in June 2017. June marked the fifth consecutive month that prices increased by more than 8 percent annually, indicating that price appreciation remains robust and is not showing any signs of leveling off. The median price is now 1.4 percent higher than the pre-recession peak and has been growing on a year-over-year basis for more than six years.

“Although home prices increased year-over-year in virtually every region of the state in June, at the same time, nearly every county experienced a significant contraction in home sales from a year ago,” said C.A.R. Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “With the year-to-date sales tally now in negative territory, the back-to-back sales declines could be an early sign that the market is transitioning, especially since further rate increases are expected to hamper homebuyers’ affordability and put a cap on how much they are willing to pay for their new home.”

Other key points from C.A.R.’s June 2018 resale housing report include:

  • On a regionwide, non-seasonally adjusted basis, all regions recorded year-over-year sales declines. Sales in the Bay Area dipped 0.8 percent monthly and fell 8.2 percent annually. Sales in the Inland Empire slipped 1.2 percent from May and was down 14.5 percent from a year ago. Sales in the Los Angeles metro region edged up 0.9 percent from May but was down 12.4 percent annually.
  • The Bay Area Region, which previously led the state in home sales, registered significant year-to-year sales decreases in seven of nine Bay Area counties. Only Alameda and San Francisco counties recorded annual sales gains, while Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma counties experienced annual sales declines.
  • The Central Valley Region experienced the smallest sales contraction with sales falling 6 percent on an annual basis. Only Merced County posted a year-over-year sales increase, rising 15.2 percent from a year ago. Five counties – including Glenn, Kings, Madera, San Benito, and San Joaquin – posted double-digit annual declines, while Fresno, Kern, Placer, Sacramento, Stanislaus, and Tulare recorded single-digit annual decreases.
  • The Southern California Region suffered the largest home sales drop, falling 11.7 percent from May. Every county within the region posted declines with all but Orange and San Diego counties experiencing a year-over-year, double-digit pullback. Even the Inland Empire, which had been buoyed by San Bernardino County for the past several months, experienced significant declines.
  • By price segments, sales in every price category under $1 million contracted but lower-priced homes registered the largest sales decline as homes priced below $300,000 fell 23.8 percent from a year ago. At the other end of the spectrum, sales of homes priced $1 million and above increased 7.2 percent from June 2017. The very top end of the market, in particular, continues to post double-digits gains with homes priced over $2 million rising year-over-year by more than 13 percent in June.
  • The Bay Area continued to register the strongest home price gains with the region as a whole recording a 16.1 percent annual increase. While Contra Costa, Solano, and Napa counties experienced single-digit price advancements, the remaining regions experienced an uptick of more than 10 percent. Despite being two of the state’s least affordable markets outside of San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties led the pack in price gains.
  • Home price growth in Southern California was more tepid by comparison, increasing by mid- to high-single-digits. Prices in San Bernardino – the most affordable county in the region – had the largest growth rate, and prices throughout the rest of the region grew at a more modest rate ranging between 5.1 percent and 6.9 percent.
  • Statewide active listings improved for the third consecutive month, increasing 8.1 percent from the previous year. The year-over-year increase was slightly below that of last month, which was the largest since January 2015, when active listings jumped 11.0 percent.
  • As sales declined from a year ago, the unsold inventory index, which is a ratio of inventory over sales, increased on a year-over-year basis as well. The statewide unsold inventory index edged up to 3.0 months in June from 2.7 months in June 2017. The index measures the number of months it would take to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.
  • The median number of days it took to sell a California single-family home remained low at 15 days in June, unchanged from 15 days in June 2017.
  • A.R.’s statewide sales price-to-list price ratio* was 100 percent in June, unchanged from June 2017.
  • The average statewide price per square foot** for an existing, single-family home statewide was $290 in June, up from $270 in June 2017.
  • The 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.57 percent in June, down from 4.59 percent in May and up from 3.90 percent in June 2017, according to Freddie Mac. The five-year, adjustable mortgage interest rate, however, edged higher in June to an average of 3.82 percent from 3.79 percent in May and from 3.14 percent in June 2017.

Article courtesy of California Association of Realtors, July 23, 2018

Community Highlight: Bodega Bay

Posted on July 31, 2018 by Admin

Known for its rugged beauty, the Sonoma Coast boasts several communities that offer a unique mix of small town coastal charm and luxury. The largest of these towns, Bodega Bay, is Sonoma County’s gateway to the Pacific Ocean. Home to great restaurants, beaches, and the fishing fleet that provides the delicious Salmon and Dungeness Crab found in local restaurants—although it may be better know as one of the settings of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”—Bodega Bay has been highlighted in Sunset Magazineand Dwell. There are plenty of hotels and vacation rentals to choose from if you are visiting from out of the area. Discover some of our favorite spots while you are here.

Dining

The Birds Cafe– This sweet spot has outdoor seating that overlooks the Bodega Bay harbor. The menu is simple, with great fish and chips, and local beer.
Fishetarian Fish Market– Located next to the Lucas Wharf Restaurant, Fishetarian offers delicious fare in a casual environment. In addition to the great food, beer and wine, you can also buy fresh seafood to take home with you.
Terrapin Creek– It is no surprise that Terrapin Creek has been awarded a Michelin Star—the food is outstanding with a friendly atmosphere that reminds us of a welcoming neighborhood cafe.
Spud Point Crab Company– The clam chowder is not to be missed. Located across the street from the fishing fleet in Bodega Bay, Spud Point Crab Company boasts seafood fresh from the Pacific.

Activities

Bodega Head– Once the proposed site for a nuclear power plant, Bodega Head has the best view of the local coast. Get there by driving to the end of Westshore Rd. and then up the hill. This is a top choice for a short walk or whale watching.
Doran Beach– Located on the spit of land that encloses the Bodega Bay harbor, Doran is a long flat beach that is protected from the brunt of the Pacific Ocean’s power. There is camping available, but be sure to reserve your spot far in advance.
Kortum Trail– Located north of Bodega Bay proper, the Kortum trail offers 8.9 miles of hiking on the bluff above the Pacific.


Events

Fisherman’s Festival– The Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival kicks of the opening of the salmon season in April with a blessing of the fleet. The festival offers food, music, wine and beer, and plenty of family fun.
Farmers Market– Hosted by the Bodega Bay Community Center, this market feature fine local fare on Sundays from 10am-2pm.

We love to check the current wind speed and weather at the coast before planning our day trips using the Bodega Marine Lab live update.

Other nearby communities worth visiting are Jenner, Bodega, and Valley Ford.

 

News This Week: Kosta Browne Sale and Wildfire Lawsuit

Posted on July 20, 2018 by Admin

EACH WEEK WE COLLECT TOP LOCAL NEWS AND RECENT REAL ESTATE STORIES HOT OFF THE PRESS FOR YOUR WEEKEND CLICKING PLEASURE.

Kosta Browne Sold
Duckhorn Wine Company purchased Sebastopol’s Kosta Browne Winery. The deal includes a tasting room in the Barlow, 170 acres of vineyards and inventory. READ MORE

Wine Storage for Everybody
Looking for better ways to store the wines you love? Here are some great ideas for how to create wine storage for a variety of homes. READ MORE

July Gardening Tips
Discover top tips for gardening in July―the perfect time to put in some extra work to keep gardens looking great for months to come. READ MORE

Santa Rosa Sues PG&E
The City of Santa Rosa is suing PG&E for financial damages caused by last year’s October wildfires. READ MORE

*Feature image courtesy of gardenista.com

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.”

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