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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

My Simple Guide to Creating Backyard Wildlife Habitat

Posted on October 17, 2018 by Mark Stevens

This past weekend I made a nesting box for the Western Bluebird. This species is a one of my favorites—their color is stunning and they are a pleasure to watch as they swoop and dive to catch insects. Over time, I have found that creating and/or preserving space for wildlife in my own backyard isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Putting out bird feeders and making nesting boxes are just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some simple steps that my family and I have taken to make sure that the birds, bees, and all the other critters that live alongside us have safe, welcoming homes of their own.

My Western Bluebird nesting box.
Create Shelter

Most birds want a nest that feels just right. For those birds that are comfortable nesting in a box that someone else made, the dimensions and opening size are important. An opening that is too big may allow predators or competitors to use the box. A great resource for region specific nesting box plans and placement is NestWatch. To support the natives bees in your area you can make nest blocks or other types of tunnel nests.

Plant Natives and Provide Food

Using plants that are native to your area will provide habitat and food resources for a variety of animals. Plant a varied selection of plants, which will give birds many options to build their own nests and find food. Choosing plants that flower at different times will ensure that there is a steady supply of food for native bees. For information on California’s native plants, visit the California Native Plant Society. Placing bird feeders throughout your yard will also attract and sustain wildlife. For help choosing the right bird feeders check out Wild Birds Unlimited.

Manage Wisely

One of the simplest ways to ensure that your yard is wildlife friendly is to leave some of it untouched. Whether you plant natives or have more exotic landscaping, try letting them grow wild for most of the year. It may end up looking less tidy than you are used to, but the insects and animals like it that way.

Want to go further? You can get your yard certified as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Foundation. Check out the checklist here.

*featured image courtesy of effectivewildlifesolutions.com

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: Wine Country Charm and Environmental Leadership

Posted on September 14, 2018 by Admin

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

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

 

Up and Coming Areas in Sonoma County

Posted on August 08, 2018 by Admin

Sonoma County draws people from all over the world to celebrate the incredible wineries, food culture and outdoor pursuits. Every year, we see up and coming neighborhoods creating their own energy and vibe that sets them apart. Discover our favorite hidden gems in Sonoma County perfect for a day trip or your next real estate investment.

 

South of A Arts District in Santa Rosa (SOFA)
Situated near Julliard Park, the SOFA neighborhood is a hidden gem. Juilliard Park offers Bocce courts, live music, and a community garden. SOFA is located in the corner between Hwy 12 and 101, and is home to over thirty artists studios. To celebrate this high concentration of artists, there is an annual artwalk that showcases the incredible creativity that SOFA has to offer. And the creativity doesn’t stop there—the restaurants and shops in the neighborhood offer up interesting and delicious fare. Check out The Spinster Sisters, Criminal Baking Company, and Atlas Coffee Company.

 

Graton
Located between Sebastopol and Forestville, the small town of Graton is home to restaurants, tasting rooms, and eclectic shops. The Joe Rodota trail runs through town toward the wetlands of Atascadero creek all of the way to Forestville. With a population of about 1700, the small town community has plenty of charm and delicious dining options. Check out Willowwood Cafe, Underwood Bar & Bistro, and Mexico Lindo. Tasting rooms include Bowman Cellars, Paul Mathew Vineyards, and Red Car Wine Company. Be sure to peruse the artists collective Atelier One, the Graton Gallery, and Mr. Ryder & Company. Graton continues to grow, with the development of a community park, and rumours of a brewery and taproom.

 

Geyserville
Geyserville lies just north of Healdsburg, nestled below the geysers that give the town its name. The downtown of Geyserville spans a mere few blocks, but you will find plenty to explore. Restaurants include Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, Geyserville Gun Club Bar & Lounge, and Catelli’s. For wine tasting, check out Meeker Vineyard Winery, Route 128 Winery, Mercury Geyserville, Ramazzotti Wines, or Locals Tasting Room. Other spots to explore are Isis Oasis, a retreat center and wildlife sanctuary that was opened in 1978,  Gin’Gilli’s Vintage Home, and Bosworth and Son General Merchandise.

Images courtesy of :
http://sonomastories.blogs.pressdemocrat.com/10083/walk-on-the-wild-side-art-alley/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graton,_California
http://www.kellielarson.com/geyserville/

 

Local Farmers Markets in Sonoma County

Posted on July 03, 2018 by Admin

Sonoma County has a ton of really great farmers markets that provide fun and easy access to seasonal bounty. Whether you visit a market for your weekly shop or hope to have fun and discover something new, our local farmers will not disappoint.

Buying directly from a producer is one of the best ways to support our farmers. We are surrounded by world-class growers and vintners of the wine industry ― and we also enjoy incredible agricultural diversity maintained by dedicated, intelligent farmers and ranchers. Our agricultural history is rooted in hops, potatoes, eggs & apples. To this day, our farmers grow a variety of veggies and fruits with plenty of organic and sustainable options. Ranchers generate world-renowned dairy products and sustainably raised meat.

The diverse farmland that we have here in Sonoma County is healthy, productive, and can weather natural and human changes that occur. Small growers discover what works best on their farms, and can select varieties that are unique to this region and their specific microclimate.

Our local farmers markets offer an amazing selection of fruit and vegetables, outstanding local artisanal foods, and the chance to meet dedicated farmers and artisans. Below are some of our favorites.

Healdsburg Farmers Market
Saturdays 8:30 am – noon, May 5 – November 24
Tuesdays 9 am – 1 pm, May 29 – August 28
The Healdsburg market happens twice a week, but there tends to be a better selection on Saturdays ― this usually means bigger crowds. Either day you will find fresh produce, prepared food, meat & dairy, and great crafts.

West End Farmers Market
Sundays 9:30 am – 2 pm, May 6 – October 28
Several farmers markets pop up all around Santa Rosa throughout the week, but the West End Market is our top pick. Located close to downtown, with a great neighborhood vibe, this market has plenty of vendors for all your shopping needs ― including a beer garden and live music for entertainment.

Occidental Bohemian Farmers Market
Fridays 4 pm – dusk, June 1 – October 26
This market takes over the town on Friday afternoons. In addition to the great selection of organic produce, prepared food, and crafters, live music accompanies the market every week. The last market of the year is a mini-festival that includes Taiko drumming, a cake walk, and Day of the Dead crafts. Find more info about Occidental here.

Sebastopol Farmers Market
Sundays 10 am – 1:30 pm, year-round
It can feel like most of Sebastopol comes out to shop at the farmers market, which is a testament to how good it is. There is a delicious selection of hot food at the market, great farms with beautiful produce, live music, and open lawns for picnicking and play.

Petaluma Farmers Market
Petaluma East-Side ― Tuesdays 10 am – 1:30 pm, year-round
Petaluma Walnut Park ― Saturdays 2 pm – 5:00 pm, May 12 – Nov 17
Petaluma Theatre District ― Wednesdays 4:30 pm – 8 pm, June 6 – August 29
With three excellent markets to choose from, Petaluma has you covered. All the markets have a great selection of fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy, fish, hot foods, and artisanal goods.

Discover more markets in Sonoma County: CLICK HERE

Images courtesy of:
www.sonomamag.com
www.sonomacounty.com