• 9-1-1 What is Your Emergency

    Until there’s an emergency, you don’t give much thought to the trained professionals who work in our local dispatch centers. Dial 9-1-1 in the North Bay and you can count on reaching a highly-skilled dispatcher who will calmly and thoroughly take your information and arrange for help. More often than not, that dispatcher is a woman.

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  • Todays Working Moms

    For working mothers today, much of the stigma previous generations dealt with such as being viewed as unstable, unreliable, or not loyal in the workplace, are gone—having been replaced with employers attempting to retain this significant part of their workforce. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, working mothers are the norm today. In fact, 71 percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 participate in the labor force, with more than 75 percent employed fulltime. This is up from 45 percent in 1975. Mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40 percent of households with children under age 18 today, compared to 11 percent in 1960.

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  • Women Who Lead

    Trying times have a way of bringing out the best in people, and the North Bay’s women more than showed their mettle when wildfires tore through parts of Napa and Sonoma counties in October 2017, creating a firestorm that fouled the air, destroyed more than 5,000 homes and took 46 lives. Female first responders and workers behind the scenes provided critical support, as they responded to a sudden, rapidly growing disaster of a magnitude no one could have predicted. And although their humility prevents them from admitting it, their stories are extraordinary.

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  • Women Creating Wine

    Only 12 percent of winemakers in California are women, but these winemakers are unfazed working in a male-dominated field.

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  • Corporate Retreats

    Move over corporate retreats of yesterday. Gone are the days of being stuck with awkward icebreakers and brain-numbing flip charts, during which the only escape from the four walls of the boardroom was a steakhouse dinner. Today, it’s all about intimate, unique experiences that emphasize team building with the ultimate goal of long-term company success. It’s time for spa treatments to melt away employee stress; farm-to-table cooking classes for team building; and a bocce game, complete with vineyard views and winetasting, to perfect strategizing skills.

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  • Moving Forward

    A cherished familiar setting can help children and youth feel secure, and a positive environment is conducive to learning. What happens when all of that gets taken away? The October 2017 wildfires destroyed thousands of family homes, ruined hundreds of businesses, and damaged or destroyed numerous schools. Students ranging from three to 18 years old lost access to their regular campuses when the Tubbs fire devastated their regular learning environments. But thanks to the dedication of administrators, teachers, and the community, new sites were quickly established, where both learning and healing could take place. Here’s a brief overview of some of the schools impacted by the firestorm.

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  • The First 100 Years

    One hundred years ago, Santa Rosa Junior College was officially established with a student body of 19. Only a year earlier, the 14 women who comprised the Federated Home and School Association––wives of leading professional and businessmen in the community––agreed that a junior college for Santa Rosa was an idea worth exploring. That year the city’s population was 13,000; the entire population of Sonoma County was 51,000.

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  • Gun Reform

    Earlier this year on February 14, the Parkland High School massacre took the lives of 17 students and faculty, and wounded more than 20, making it one of the deadliest school shootings in history. On April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, tens of thousands of students participated in organized walkouts from all corners of the country, raising their voices and looking for solutions to stop violence in schools, now. NorthBay biz asked local students, parents and leaders in education to share their thoughts.

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  • Help Seriously Wanted

    As the North Bay begins to emerge from the most destructive natural disaster in its history––the deadly October firestorms––rebuilding lives, homes and businesses is front and center.

    It’s a staggering challenge, to say the least. On the personal level, many reckon with losses remembered on a daily basis. Something you see that you remember you had; and now don’t. A sock in the gut, but you move on.

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  • Dining Al Fresco

    One of the most primitive pleasures is to enjoy a meal outside in the fresh air, where you get to feel a sense of the place where you live or have come from afar to visit. The North Bay offers a rare abundance of choice when it comes to dining out-of-doors, with its diverse geography featuring sea coast, farmland, vineyards and forest. Depending on the season, the weather or the county, you can dine outside on a shady patio, lounge on a terrace with a commanding view, lunch in an urban or pastoral setting or dream of romance on a cozy deck overlooking a harbor. Now that summer is about to begin, it’s a great time to discover some new dining spots, or visit some favorite al fresco venues around the North Bay. All await your pleasure, whether for a dining experience close to home, or one that, within a reasonable drive, lets you feel you’ve taken a plane to a romantic destination.

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  • Vision for the Future

    A store in urban Oakland and the president’s office at rural Sonoma State University are worlds apart, and yet they have something in common. Both appear on the career trajectory of Judy Sakaki, Ph.D., president of Sonoma State (SSU) in Rohnert Park, who has a passion for education and helping young people succeed. Sakaki grew up in Oakland, the daughter of Nisei—second-generation Japanese Americans—and got her first experience in the working world at age 16. Her high school counselor told her that she’d be good at retail sales. “My first job was at Newberry’s in downtown Oakland,” says Sakaki. It was not, however, a path she considered pursuing further. “When you’re young, you’re not sure what you want to do or what the options are,” she observes.

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North Bay News and Stories

Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery

Perched on the top of a hill in the Russian River Valley, Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery offers an intimate wine tasting experience. The winery opened its new tasting room last summer after seven months of renovation and construction. The salon offers indoor-outdoor seated tastings in a modern, relaxed atmosphere where you can sink into the experience, learn about the fine art of winemaking and enjoy panoramic views of the forested valley below.

Il Davide

Located in the heart of downtown San Rafael, Il Davide is one of the leading Italian restaurants in Marin County. Founded in 1995, David Hayden was determined to bring a different culinary experience to the county, rather than the classic Toscano-style restaurants he was surrounded by. His mission was to create a unique, flavor-filled menu with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.  “I wanted to reconstruct the classic Italian dishes to the Il Davide-style,” says Hayden.

The X, Y and Z of Wine

By 2021 Generation X (born approximately between 1965 and 1979) will consume more wine than any other generational group in America. Five years later, the Millennials (born approximately between 1980 and 1994) will take over that spot, according to Silicon Valley Bank. Years later, sometime in the future, Generation Z (born approximately between 1995 and 2014) will take over the most prominent wine-drinking position.

The Facebook Scandal & Your Business Presence

The news has been buzzing about Facebook and the ways in which it accumulates and reveals information about its users. There have been calls for people to #DeleteFacebook, and chances are that by the time you read this, Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer, will have testified before Congress. The proverbial feces hit the fan this month when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm mined data on about 50 million Facebook users and provided that to the Trump campaign during the 2016 U.S. election. It’s also important to note that this was not a “hack” of Facebook’s computers. The data—at the time the exploit occurred—was accessible to anyone writing a Facebook App.

Finding Creative Solutions to Legal Conflicts

Last April, President Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch as an associate justice to the Supreme Court. During his confirmation hearing, Gorsuch said, “Because of inflated legal fees, there’s now a rash of litigation pro-se in this country.” As soon as I heard that, I thought of coming out of retirement and coaching people on how to think strategically, while managing their own legal issues.

Goodbye Geoffrey

“I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid.” That, of course, is the jingle for the most well-known toy store in the country.

The ubiquitous toy retailer has finally called it quits, and will close its stores including the San Rafael outlet on West Francisco Boulevard alongside Highway 101.

The chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last September and in January announced plans to close 200 stores.

To Juice or Not to Juice?

We’ve all heard the saying, “Juice your vegetables; eat your fruit.” But do we know why, and is it true?
The rationale for juicing vegetables comes out of a few schools of thought. First, vegetables just aren’t as fun to eat as hamburgers, so most of us don’t eat enough vegetables. We’re supposed to eat at least three servings of vegetables a day. One way to sneak veggies into our diet is to juice them.


Today’s job market consists of occupations that are dominated by women. Nine out of 10 registered nurses are female, and careers in social work, counseling and human resource management are also highly concentrated by women.


Welcome to the third annual May Women Business Leaders issue—a celebration of successful, influential North Bay women. The following section features business leaders who are making an impact on the North Bay. We asked these women to speak out and answer two of the following three questions:

•What advice do you have for young women following your professional footsteps today?
•Do you believe women are still trying to make it in a man’s world?
•What changes would you like to see made for women in the workforce in the years ahead?

Wine Country Events & Preserving Agriculture

In October 2016, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution tasking the permit department to develop and implement protective guidelines, policies, and standards to address promotional events and overconcentration of tasting rooms in certain rural areas. Since that resolution, the board has delayed taking action to implement an effective and enforceable Winery Event Ordinance. However, Sonoma County officials continue to approve new winery and event center use permits, exacerbating the negative cumulative impacts they had committed to address.

Calamity or Commerce?

I recently came across James Conaway’s new book, Napa at Last Light: Americas Eden in an Age of Calamity. Calamity is not a word to toss around lightly, especially to someone like me, who has, on more than one occasion, been called a Calamity Jane. Not many could get away with speaking about Napa Valley as an agrarian ideal in one breath and a viticultural Disneyland in the next. In the forward alone, his tale goes from adoration to what feels like a eulogy to the Napa Valley that once was. A time before our humble valley became a mecca of wine, commerce—and if you’re talking to Conaway—a calamity in the making.

North Bays Best 2018 Winners

Welcome to the BEST Of the North Bay issue of NorthBay biz magazine. Inside, we reveal the 2018 winners of our annual readers’ poll, and you’ll get a glimpse of why these companies were voted the BEST in the North Bay. This year, our readers’ response was great once again. There were more than 60,000 votes in the 37 categories. There were more than 1,000 companies and individuals who garnered votes, which underscores the depth and quality of the companies doing business in the North Bay. In many categories, the voting was close, and our congratulations go out to all the winners.

Congratulations to the Best of the Best

Welcome to the BEST Of the North Bay issue of NorthBay biz magazine. All of us get a thrill presenting this annual celebration of our very best businesses in Napa, Marin and Sonoma counties across dozens of industries. Inside, we reveal the 2018 winners of our annual readers’ poll, and you’ll get a glimpse of why these companies were voted the BEST Of in the North Bay.

John Balletto

John Balletto is the owner of Balletto Vineyards in Santa Rosa, one of the top producing wineries in Sonoma County, with more than 600 acres of vineyards that provide grapes for the Balletto label and two-dozen wineries throughout the county. Balletto’s first vintage was in 2001, although he’s been in the agriculture business for 41 years, starting with five acres in 1977, and eventually producing more than one million cases of vegetables annually from 1988 to 1998 on his family’s property. He lives on his 110-acre vineyard in West Sebastopol with his wife, Terri Balletto, of 30 years.

Keith Woods

Keith Woods is chief executive officer of North Coast Builders Exchange in Santa Rosa. He’s best known locally for his public speaking and frequent Master of Ceremonies work for many local organizations; his 13 years as president and chief executive officer of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce; leading the effort to start the Santa Rosa downtown market; and for helping the 1200-member Builders Exchange become a strong voice for the construction industry. Woods dabbles in golf and even had a hole-in-one a couple of years ago at the Santa Rosa Golf & Country Club. “It’s the first time I ever put a “1” on a scorecard without another number behind it,” he says. Woods lives in the Montecito Heights neighborhood of Santa Rosa, and considers his 31-year-old twins, Kevin and Kelly, to be close friends of his.

Does the Thought of Death Impact How You Live?

This is supposed to be a column on living, but sometimes you gain a new appreciation for something when you contrast it with its opposite—in this case, dying. The truth is you never really know what you have until it’s gone. And death is certainly all around us, making life seem pretty scary. How many news stories detail deaths, often untimely and tragic, and sometimes gruesome? Reading about deaths in the news can give you a skewed idea of why we die, and that can affect the way we live.

The Power of Education & Challenges in the Skilled Labor Market

Welcome to our “Education and Jobs” issue! This year, Santa Rosa Junior College celebrates its centennial—100 years of service to the community. Many accomplished people in every profession started their academic careers at a community college. Steve Jobs started Apple Computers in the Jobs’ family garage with a fellow student from De Anza College (Cupertino, Calif.). Eileen Collins, a retired NASA astronaut, was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle, graduated from Corning Community College (Corning, New York) in 1976. And two-time academy award winner, Tom Hanks, studied theater at Chabot College (Hayward, Calif.), before transferring to California State University, Sacramento.

Teaching with Heart

Growing up in a Marine Corps family during the ’50s and the ’60s, I attended six different elementary schools and three different high schools. By the time I graduated from Stuttgart American High School in Ludwigsburg, Germany, I was a disgruntled student, not very connected to the educational process, and certainly, not very connected to my teachers. The young “me” never could have imagined myself as a future teacher. And so, what a surprise, when I first left the practice of law and walked into a classroom filled with Cardinal Newman students. I felt as though my true self emerged. All those years after completing my secondary education, I’d never seriously entertained the thought of teaching.

Rare Diseases, Rare Dog Beaches and Rare Spin

Ultrgenyx Pharmaceutical, the Novato-based rare disease specialist is on fire. The company earned approvals for two different medications within six months from the Food and Drug Administration, a feat that Big Pharma companies four times the size of Ultragenyx can\'t boast.

Charlie Palmer Steak Napa

Charlie Palmer Steak Napa
Progressive American Cuisine
1260 1st Napa Street
Napa, Calif.
(707) 819-2500

Open Daily
7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Nov.-Feb.)
3 p.m. to 10 p.m. (March-Oct.)

Entrees $26-$130

One Glass of Wine a Day?

Recent headlines suggested that drinking much more than one glass of wine per day can have negative health effects for both males and females. That would be very bad news for an industry that has pinned much of its marketing efforts on the view that drinking wine has positive health benefits. But looking more deeply into the science behind these headlines actually suggest that drinking a glass or two of wine may be better than drinking no alcohol at all. So what gives? First a little background.

Work/Life/In Focus: Art Rises from the Ashes

Mike Owen’s home was close to being burnt to ash when flames were approaching on three sides of his house, 120-feet out. Like so many residents on October 9, 2017, Mike’s Nielson Ranch home in Santa Rosa was minutes away from being gone, until the winds shifted. Spared from destruction, Mike and his wife, Nancy Owen, learned their daughter Molly Owen’s home in Fountaingrove near Sweet T’s was completely leveled.

Social Media–Waste of Time or Worth It?

Almost immediately upon signing with the publisher who would release my debut novel to the world, one thing was made clear, more like mandated—social media would be used to promote the book. My publisher was willing to invest, but they expected me to do the same—on social media.

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards

On a mild afternoon in the heart of Sonoma Valley, the first signs of spring are starting to show in the Wild Oak Vineyard, just outside the tasting room door at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards. The hills are lush and green, and the vines are starting to bloom again. “We call it the ‘bud break’ on the vines—the birth of a new vintage,” says Katie Madigan, winemaker.


About 95 percent of remote jobs include a geographic requirement where remote workers need to be based in a specific city, state, region or country, according to FlexJobs, an online service for professionals. To help job seekers identify states with high potential for remote job opportunities, FlexJobs has named the top 15 states where companies recruited the most state-based remote workers in 2017.

Build Your Home for New Technology

The fires that ripped through Sonoma County during the October 2017 firestorm provided a raw look at the cost we pay for the energy we need to power our lives. Regardless of whether it was the high voltage electric lines that started the fires and melted natural gas lines fanning the flames, propane tanks were seen and heard bursting into flames from miles away. Clearly, it’s obvious now that the energy-heavy or combustion-centric life we lead, has dangerous pitfalls.

A World without Facebook

Since my last column, Facebook has admitted that the data of its 2 billion users has probably been taken by unscrupulous applications, for whatever reason. There’s been a lot of lamenting about how a service, which so many people use, took such poor care of their privacy. But the truth remains, most people willingly give Facebook access to information about them in return for a free service, which lets them post words and pictures, and stay in touch with people and organizations doing the same.


In recent years, art programs have been cut from school curriculums, including music, art and theater. While the arts are fun for both kids and young adults, they’re also a fundamental resource for overall development.


In this Issue

The First 100 Years

One hundred years ago, Santa Rosa Junior College was officially established with a student body of 19. Only a year earlier, the 14 women who comprised the Federated Home and School Association&ndash...

Moving Forward

A cherished familiar setting can help children and youth feel secure, and a positive environment is conducive to learning. What happens when all of that gets taken away? The October 2017 wildfires d...

Help Seriously Wanted

As the North Bay begins to emerge from the most destructive natural disaster in its history––the deadly October firestorms––rebuilding lives, homes and businesses is front an...

See all...