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  • The Old Silk Mill

    The residents of Petaluma have always had a soft spot for their old silk mill, looming large at the corner of Jefferson and Wilson streets. For decades, it manufactured fine sewing products, including silk threads and embroidery silks. Standing since 1892, no Petaluman alive today can recall when it didn’t exist. In 1986, the building was successfully nominated for National Register of Historic Places status through the U.S. Department of the Interior. But when the last manufacturer moved out in 2007, the imposing brick structure began a slow decline that lasted years despite its historic significance.


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  • First Glass

    Do you recall the first glass of wine that captured your heart?

    This is the question NorthBay biz posed to some notable winemakers in Sonoma and Napa counties. Here, they candidly share the intimate details of that first glass of wine that captivated them, revealing their passions and personalities.


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  • Identity Theft

    When Santa Rosa resident Lexie Pence received a notice in the mail from Cream’s Towing Company with information about how much it would cost and where to pick up her truck that was towed, she thought it was some kind of mistake. She didn’t have anything towed, and she didn’t even own a truck. She called Cream’s and was informed that the truck in question indeed was registered to her. All of a sudden, she put two and two together. She had lost her license a couple weeks earlier. At the time, she thought she had simply misplaced it, but later discovered she had accidentally dropped it, as well as a debit card, in a store parking lot.


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  • A Place to Call Home

    Having a roof over your head is a basic human need, but finding one in Sonoma County can be a challenge. An increasing population that has steadily outpaced the number of new units available and the loss of thousands of dwellings in the wildfires of October 2017 are major contributors to a critical shortage of homes, and the high price of rent keeps people out of local housing, too. It’s a complex problem with no simple answers, but creative thinking, resourcefulness and collaboration are leading to a variety of solutions that go beyond simply erecting buildings to making sure housing is available for everyone, as well as benefiting the community.


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  • The Gentrification Paradox

    Gentrification is a mixed blessing. While the process, raising a blighted area to upper- or middle-class standards, may appeal to the affluent, the benefits are often at the expense of displacing the culturally diverse businesses and residents, which gave the place its unique character. In the North Bay, with a desperate housing shortage made even worse by the 2017 fires, displacement can mean homelessness—often of the very people that made the area attractive to developers in the first place—the artists and diverse population. The resulting up-scale homogeneity is not only consequential for the displaced, but for the neighborhood itself since it loses its creative vitality.


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  • One Year Later

    “If you’ve ever known someone who built their home from scratch, you might have heard their stories about how tough it can be, and how the process can be miserable some of the time,” says Jeff Okrepkie, founder and board president of Coffey Strong, an advocacy group helping residents of Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park to navigate the rebuilding process.


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  • Sonoma County Strong: The Rebuild Team Speaks Out

    Twelve months ago, on October 8, 2017, Sonoma County was on fire and thousands of residents fled their homes in the dark of the night. The Nuns Fire started in Napa and Sonoma counties and burned more than 55,000 acres, becoming the largest Wine Country fire. The Tubbs Fire started near Tubbs Lane in Calistoga and was the most destructive fire in Santa Rosa, resulting in 24 civilian deaths, burning 34,000 acres. Collectively, the Sonoma Complex Fires destroyed 5,300 homes in the area, including Fountaingrove, Coffey Park, and unincorporated areas of Sonoma County such as Larkfield, Mark West Springs, Glen Ellen and a number of rural neighborhoods.


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  • Delivering on Promises

    The night of October 8, 2017, will be forever etched in the minds of Napa and Sonoma County residents. In the most destructive fire in California’s history, 5,000 homes burned and 44 people lost their lives. While still trying to cope with the reality of what had happened, stunned homeowners would begin the insurance claim process. Their experiences would vary considerably. Here’s a look at how a few homeowners are contending with the insurance claims process.


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  • The Price of Freedom

    The key to keeping the cost of divorce down is reducing conflict. The North Bay is home to many qualified attorneys, mediators, and mental health professionals who have a goal of helping parties find points on which to agree. Most divorce-related professionals in the North Bay adopt the attitude that parties “win” by fully informing themselves about the financial and mental health-related consequences of their decisions. Parties who understand how their agreements will affect them in the future do not return to the table to reargue their case.


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  • Tailored Tastings

    The wine tasting excursion remained relatively unchanged for decades when consumers would drive to a winery and sally up to a bar. Depending on how busy the server was at the moment, the consumer may or may not get additional information about the wine, choose to buy a bottle or perhaps a case, and then move on to the next winery. A typical day of wine tasting could consist of visiting five or six wineries, and sometimes more. Over the past decade or so, however, this one-size-fits-all approach to wine tasting has slowly changed and consumers, especially serious wine aficionados, are no longer satisfied to roam with the masses moving through Wine Country. Wineries have taken note, and tasting rooms are now often built with an emphasis on providing personalized experiences to guests.


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  • The Mondavi Legacy

    The name Mondavi has been woven into the fabric of Napa Valley lore for as long as anyone can remember. The story begins more than 100 years ago, when Cesare and Rosa Mondavi moved to Minnesota from Sassoferrato, Italy in 1908. Cesare worked in the iron mines while Rosa turned their home into a boardinghouse for other immigrant miners. Cesare left the mines when he and Rosa started their family, and entered into a partnership with another Italian immigrant to open a small grocery store. The young couple had four children, and Cesare eventually sold his share of the store.


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  • The Great Gravenstein

    The drive to Walker Apples in Graton is as picturesque as Sonoma County gets. What were once miles of apple orchards along Graton Road are now seemingly endless views of vineyards. West County looks more like Wine Country than apple country today, but 100 years ago, if you were visiting Sebastopol, you would see apple orchards lining the roads, not vineyards. And amongst them, one of the county’s most celebrated crop—the Gravenstein apple.


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  • Vintage 2017

    For the majority of North Bay wine grape growers, 2017 was a good year, with a wet spring that encouraged growth, summer hot spells that hastened ripening, and almost all grapes in the tanks before the firestorm. Quality was also ensured by growers’ cooperative efforts to power through the labor shortage.


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  • Uncorked

    A gleaming bottle of fine wine with a perfect, natural cork has a special mystique. And while the wine within is the primary focus, the cork has a vital role, too. The distinctive pop that goes with opening a lovely effervescent sparkling wine is synonymous with special occasions, and uncorking a bottle of a still varietal is part of the ritual that goes with the first sip. And so, as small as a cork might be, it adds immeasurably to the experience, as well as fulfilling its most important purpose—sealing a bottle to preserve a wine while allowing its qualities to develop.


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  • The Journey to Retirment

    When people first meet with Ylisa Sanford, a private wealth advisor with Spectrum Private Wealth Advisors in Santa Rosa to discuss retirement planning, they’re typically full of questions and concerns. “They don’t know if they’re saving or investing enough, or making a return that’s appropriate,” she says. “They have a lot of disparate goals they may not feel are connected—college, education for children or grandchildren, retirement or estate planning, tax reduction. Then, they think about their portfolio. Are they saving in the right locations, in the right amount? Are they paying more or less than they should be for advice and investments? What happens if they’re disabled or pass away? What if the market crashes?” Add all that to the thought of advancing age and approaching retirement and you could develop a case of anxiety.


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  • The Fine Art of Bubbly

    “Sparkling wine is probably the most exciting wine to the human senses. You hear the pop of the cork and the frothy sound as it is poured,” says Ludovic “Ludo” Dervin, winemaker for Mumm Napa. “You see the tiny bubbles rising and feel the breath of the wine when you smell it. Even before you taste, the palate is primed for a sensual experience.” 


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North Bay News and Stories

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Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch

The farm-to-table movement bounded into mainstream vernacular in the early 2000s, and it’s become a catch-all term that has somewhat lost its meaning. But Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, owned by Ted, Laddie and Chris Hall, operate a full-circle organic farming system. It’s one of those rare places with an on-site garden that offers an authentic farm-to-table experience.

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Marin Certainties: Downtown Novato Unrest, Lawyers and Taxes

There is a reason that Novato is spelled as it is, with the city’s name beginning with the word No.

There is no downtown in Marin that is more filled with drama, controversy, and sometimes head-scratching silliness than Grant Avenue. Just ask the owners of Finnegan’s Marin, a family-style pub and restaurant that is now in the middle of a festering fight over a patio in front of its door.

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Armida Winery

2201 Westside Road
Healdsburg, Calif. 95448
(707) 433-2222
www.armida.com
Hours: 11a.m.-5 p.m. daily, except holidays

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Work/Life/Arts

The 33rd annual Sonoma County Art Trails, the premier juried open studio tour, will take place during the second and third weekends of October. A juried art show means new artists are selected by a panel of art experts such as museum curators and gallery owners to participate in the event. This year, 18 new artists and 127 returning artists will participate in the program.

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Bacigalupi Vineyards

In the northern corner of the Russian River Valley lies a petit tasting room, tucked between acres of vineyards and old oak trees. Quaint and serene, Bacigalupi [Bah-ChEE-ga-Loop-EE] Vineyards on Westside Road is old school Healdsburg.

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Should You Be in Charge of Your Death?

As oncologists, we do our best to care for our patients through all phases of their illness. Many times the goal is to optimize the chance that the person we’re treating will be cured and go on to live a long life free of recurrent cancer. Other times, we know that cure is impossible and that our patient will eventually succumb. In that case, the goal is to help the patient live as good a quality of life as possible for as long as possible.

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The Barrows

Husband and wife team, Darcy and Christopher Barrow, are the co-founders and co-managing partners of Foundation Homes International in Kentfield, specializing in managing, leasing and selling Marin, Sonoma and San Francisco properties. Founded in 2010, the firm has more than $100 million of long-term residential single-family homes under rental management. This year, they’re launching their nonprofit, LifeBoost Charity Fund, next year—aimed at helping people, the planet and pets. They live in San Rafael with their daughter, Scarlett, and three dogs.

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Avoiding the Discount Trap in Wine Pricing

Because the wine industry is now oversaturated with brands that have followed the “premiumization” bubble, some experts are extolling the virtue of discounting wine to increase sales. But don’t be too quick to take the bait because once price becomes your key value proposition, it’s nearly impossible to do anything more than chase your tail into the discount bin at your local supermarket or online flash-sale site.

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Virtual Private Networks

Everyone is concerned, to various degrees, with online privacy and security. You’d like to be sure that personal information—like your home address or what you buy from Amazon—is kept private, and that your online banking information is secure from thieves.

Making purchases and handling electronic accounts over a public network (the Internet), which we access through our Internet Service Provider (ISP) means you don’t control who touches the data on its way from your computer to Amazon or Wells Fargo.

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A Time of Reflection

Where were you the night of October 8, 2017? It’s been one year since the firestorm swept through Napa and Sonoma counties, leaving a staggering toll of lost lives, homes and businesses in its path. Whether you were impacted by the firestorm directly or indirectly, that night and the early morning hours that followed is an experience that touched thousands of lives.

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Local Hero: Paul Bradley

On the night of October 8, Sonoma County Sheriff Department’s Henry 1 helicopter pilot Paul Bradley and his team provided aerial observation of the fires. “We saw a wall of flames surrounding Santa Rosa so bright we couldn’t use our night goggles. Coffey Park was burning and at a fast pace; winds at the time were close to 50 mph. Homes were burning house to house and at a fast walking pace,” he says. “It was difficult to comprehend. All my years of fighting fires from the air and understanding fire behavior, this was one I’ve never seen before. The only word to explain it was: disaster.”

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Creating Your Financial Future Now

Why is it that 97 percent of the population is unable to retire at a desired income? You can think all day about retirement, but if you don’t take action, your dreams will go nowhere. Having worked with people for more than 50 years, I’ve learned that there are often three roadblocks that get in the way of planning your future—the context of your life, complacency and failure to set goals. Let’s take a look at each, and see what can be done to make changes to make sure your future turn out the way you want.

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Cheap Wine: Hack or Worthy?

Before I moved to Napa Valley, I was a dreamer. I fantasized of a life that did not involve LA gridlock, gawking at celebrities, nor navigating around red carpet struts on my way to the supermarket. Perpetually stuck in traffic, my dreams of a creative career illuminated—me squirreled away and writing in an idyllic spot, birds tweeting outside my window with a vineyard view, as I sipped artisanal coffee by day and sublime affordable wines by night.

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Robotic Process Automation

An ongoing concern of our society is the replacement of employees by robots. It’s already happening in retail with self-checkout lanes at grocery stores, kiosks at McDonald’s, and robot baristas like the one at CafeX, just down the block from my office in San Francisco. And we’re on the verge of replacing thousands of people who drive for a living with autonomous vehicles, in the form of taxis and long-haul trucks.

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Google Makes SSL Mandatory for Small Business

Groaning time is here for small businesses. Google is making good on its long-held pledge to make SSL mandatory for websites. What do you mean mandatory? What is SSL? And why are small businesses groaning about it? Lucky for you, I’m here to help crack the code on SSL and SEO.

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Reap or Sow?

Harvest—the season of bounty! Isn’t this why so many of us either came to this beautiful area, or can’t bring ourselves to ever leave? The visual beauty created by rows of grape vines, apple trees and olive groves can’t be matched. The topsoil, often 20-feet deep, is dense with nutrients fit for the most colorful flowers, juiciest heirloom tomatoes, heartiest roses and sweet fruit. The mild weather, varied topography and access to the seaside are as much factors in the creation of our spectacular harvest as they are magnets that attract and bind us to this region.

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Treating Smoke Taint: The New Normal

In 2010, California saw 6,502 wildfires that consumed 108,742 acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. In 2017, the numbers jumped to 9,560 fires and 1,266,224 burned acres. This year might be higher. Wildfires are a threat to lives and livelihoods—and also to wine. Because smoke from fires can impart unpalatable flavors to wine, scientists are working on solutions for removing “smoke taint,” but as of yet there are few good options.

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Work/Life/Autumn

It’s autumn, it’s cold out, and all that makes you feel warm and cozy is the seasonal favorite—PSL, better known as a pumpkin spice latte. It was 12 years ago when Peter Dukes, the director of espresso for Starbucks, was asked to make a “pumpkin-y” latte to finish off their seasonal drink selection. It was originally names the “Fall Harvest Latte” before becoming today’s acronym. The latte turned phenomenon is anticipated all year. Here’s what you should know about the foamy favorite.

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Breast Health: Prevention Strategies and Screenings

Breast cancer is the most common diagnosed form of cancer in women after skin cancer. There are a number of factors that put women at a higher risk of breast cancer such as advancing age, family history, or being a carrier of a gene mutation such as BRCA1 and BRCA 2. Other risk factors include women who started their periods before age 12, have never been pregnant, or gave birth to first children after age 30. And women who’ve had a biopsy with a diagnosis of lobular carcinoma in situ or Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia are also at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

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Work/Life/Health

Jim Murphy and Associates (JMA) construction firm in Sonoma County has achieved what most construction companies can’t say they have: seven years with zero lost time. With more than 35 employees whose work is either entirely field based or takes them into the field every week, and only five employees are entirely office based.

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Work/Life/Biz

Shifting demographics are changing workplace conditions. By 2020, 25 percent of the workforce will be age 55 and older. 79 percent of Baby Boomers say they don’t plan to fully retire at age 65. Some want to explore second careers and new opportunities, other reasons include the state of the economy and high cost of living, health-care expenses, or not having enough savings.

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Canned Wine—A Blast from the Past

Wine in glass bottles is so yesterday, it seems. Whereas wine sales in the United States have been flat in the last year, sales of canned wines have jumped an impressive 43 percent, with younger drinkers driving the trend, Forbes reports. Many of these wines have additions to them, such as lemonade or other fruit juices, making them more like alcoholic sodas than expressions of terroir. And although the category remains small, I expect the selection of wines coming in tinned six-packs and the range of flavorings to increase in the coming decade.

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Sonoma Countys Place in the Global Wine Market

Recently, I was invited to attend a global wine think tank—Fine Minds 4 Fine Wines (FM4FW). The three-day conference in Champagne, France, engaged experts from around the world representing different disciplines of wine and grape growing. The goal of the conference was to find ways to collaborate to support an on-going successful wine community and business. It was inspiring, thought-provoking, and exactly what a data- seeking, collaborating, ag-loving nerd like me lives for!

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Telltale Games Pulls the Plug

Electronic entertainment producer Telltale Games has pulled the plug. The San Rafael-content producer was a high flyer, founded in 2004 by a trio of former LucasArts staffers and swelling to 400 employees last year. But as 225 employees found out the hard way, that was then. This is now.

Congressman Jared Huffman D-San Rafael introduced legislation that could augment agriculture in Point Reyes National Seashore to those who want the national park free of any commercial endeavors.

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VASO Cellars at Dana Estates

The property at Dana Estates was founded in 1883 by H.W. Helms, a German viticulturist who built a winery at the northern edge of what is now known as the Rutherford appellation. During Prohibition, the winery was left to ruins for years and became one of the notable ghost wineries of Napa Valley.

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Mauritson Wines

The Mauritson family story began 150 years ago when S.P. Hallengren, known for his enterprising spirit, staked claim to a parcel of land and planted vines. Later, he expanded the family acreage piece and parcel by working the land of other area homesteaders, eventually paying them $1 an acre.

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Adobe Road Winery

At Adobe Road Winery, their competitive edge stemming from a history of exotic sports car racing along with relationships developed with local wine growers, gives them a high-speed advantage. Kevin Buckler, owner of the winery and The Racers Group (TRG) in Petaluma, knows what it takes to build a winning team.

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Steve Dutton

Steve Dutton is a fifth generation Sonoma County farmer and a life-long resident of Sebastopol. He is partners with Dan Goldfield in Dutton-Goldfield Winery, and is also partners with his brother, Joe, operating Dutton Ranch and Dutton Bros. Farming. The brothers farm more than 1,200 acres of grapes and 200 acres of organic apples within the Russian River Valley appellation.

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Work/Life/Wine

Looking for that perfect buttery Chardonnay to share with friends, but don’t want to risk breaking the bottle? Or, the bank? JaM Cellars, makers of Butter Chardonnay, took their fastest-growing domestic Chardonnay and released it—in a can.

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Get Reel

This year, I’ve dedicated much space in this column to female empowerment. A theme that I’m excited to report extends to this month’s Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF), November 7 to 11. In the buzzed-about documentary, This Changes Everything, a star-studded cast speaks out over gender inequality in the entertainment industry. The film includes more than 90 interviews including Geena Davis, Reese Witherspoon, Sharon Stone, Meryl Streep and Lena Dunham. Davis, who was a driving force behind the film, will extend the conversation when she is presented with the Davis Estate Visionary award on Friday, Nov. 9.

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Work/Life/People

After more than 45 years in the business of wine, Bruce Cohn, founder of B.R. Cohn Winery in Sonoma County and former manager of several famous Bay Area music groups, sold Olive Hill and B.R. Cohn in 2015. Today, Cohn is back for an encore, launching his passion project—a new estate wine from Trestle Glen Vineyards with his friend and B.R. Cohn winemaker of 15 vintages, Tom Montgomery.

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The Sonoma Coast: 42 Miles of Heaven

For so many of us who live here, and to the hundreds of thousands who choose to visit, life in the Bay Area comes about as close to paradise as one can imagine. One distinct region of beauty is the Sonoma Coast, which ranges north to south about 42 miles from Bodega Bay to Sea Ranch, and includes about six miles inland, where charming towns and villages such as Occidental, Jenner, Forestville, Monte Rio, Sebastopol and Valley Ford are located.

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Work/Life/Tourism

Budget Travel magazine celebrates unique, small towns each year in it’s annual list of “10 Coolest Small Towns in America.” This year, Sonoma was listed in the No. 2 spot as a “wine lover’s paradise.” Curated by Budget Travels team of U.S. travel experts, the final list includes towns with a population of less than 20,000 that offer travelers an unparalleled mix of culture, community spirit, natural beauty and great food.

 

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The Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet & Profit

I’m lucky enough to review their progress as we prepare each issue, and this month’s cover story—“Conscious Capitalism”—opened my eyes to amazing ideas I’d never considered for my own media, automotive or real estate organizations. When enterprises or people do business consciously, they’re choosing a business strategy that benefits humanity and the environment, subscribing to what is known as a triple bottom line—people, planet and profit.



 

In this Issue

Uncorked

A gleaming bottle of fine wine with a perfect, natural cork has a special mystique. And while the wine within is the primary focus, the cork has a vital role, too. The distinctive pop that goes wi...

The Great Gravenstein

The drive to Walker Apples in Graton is as picturesque as Sonoma County gets. What were once miles of apple orchards along Graton Road are now seemingly endless views of vineyards. West County looks...

The Mondavi Legacy

The name Mondavi has been woven into the fabric of Napa Valley lore for as long as anyone can remember. The story begins more than 100 years ago, when Cesare and Rosa Mondavi moved to Minnesota from...

See all...

  

 

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