• 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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  • Vineyards as Firebreaks

    When the phone rang at 11 p.m. on October 8 last year, Lyall and Karen Fahden did not yet smell smoke. A friend from nearby Calistoga had called to warn them that a fast-moving fire was heading toward their home and winery. They dressed quickly and drove through their vineyards toward the nearby ridge. As they neared the top, they noticed the silhouette of the mountain was edged with an eerie red glow that pulsed and grew in intensity as they approached. By the time they reached the top and gazed down, it appeared that the entire valley was in flames.

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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Growing Pains

    On a windy Saturday afternoon, the once-bustling Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana is barren, the chairs against the wall sit empty. Two wipe boards show the dispensary’s limited offerings, a pair of glass cases display buds that seem lonely. 

    In its heyday, the dispensary boasted 45 strains of marijuana, now it’s down to eight. Tinctures? The shop has two varieties, off from the previous dozen on its shelves. By law the dispensary can only stock products from licensed companies, and the state/local licensing process makes time spent at the DMV seem to whiz by.

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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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  • Labor of Love

    Growing olives to make premium extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) seems to be more of a calling in the North Bay than a lucrative venture. For those who pursue it, however, producing quality olive oil is its own reward.

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  • An Everyday Effort

    While communities rely on food drives to feed the hungry during the winter, hunger does not end after the holidays. Unfortunately, local food banks must secure enough donations during the outpouring of holiday generosity to last year-round.

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  • The Search for Seasonal Workers

    The long days of midsummer are quiet in the vineyards and orchards. The winter pruning and spring suckering are long past, and now it’s nature’s turn to do its part. The next big round of activity is the harvest, but North Bay growers are facing a challenge. It’s increasingly difficult to find enough agricultural workers. The attrition that comes with an aging labor force is one reason, and the high cost of housing in a tight market is another. In addition, immigration issues are having a significant impact, and competition from other industries has the potential to be a factor. The result is a complex problem with no easy answers.

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  • GameChangers 2018

    GameChanger—I just love the sound of the word, don’t you? It applies to sports, science and tech, and it certainly applies to business here in the North Bay. We’ve been highlighting business GameChangers at Northbay biz magazine for six years now, and it’s become one of our most anticipated issues for very good reasons.

    Being a GameChanger doesn’t necessarily assure success, but rather indicates a transformational way of doing something a bit differently than your peers and competitors. The prospect of success, that illusory and fleeting moment, is not fixed whatsoever, making the outcome all the more interesting to the rest of us. And it sure makes for fascinating reading!

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North Bay News and Stories

Work/Life/In Focus: Tony Geraldi

Chances are you or someone you know has hopped on a Sonoma County Airport Express. It’s one of the longest running airport transportation services in the North Bay, serving more than 300,000 travelers annually. Life-long Sonoma County resident, Tony Geraldi, has proudly worked only three jobs in his 55 years—Press Democrat newspaper carrier, a local Straw Hat Pizza delivery boy and for the past 31 years, working for Sonoma County Airport Express.

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.

Perch + Plow

Perch + Plow
90 Old Courthouse Square
Santa Rosa, Calif.
(707) 541-6896

Spirited Cuisine
Entrees $16-$26

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.

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

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.

The Risky Biz of Cannabis

God must have created the North Bay with “agribusiness” in mind. From the moment you drive North over the Golden Gate Bridge, the diverse microclimates, varied topsoil compositions and glorious sunshine join to create the perfect environment for growing just about anything.

It began well over 100 years ago with select grains and prize-winning fruits—some of which were famously named and shipped all around the world. Gravenstein apples, Grace Brothers grains and, of course, more than 800 varieties of plants engineered by Luther Burbank were among these. Olive, grape and cannabis growers now control the most select acreage and this month’s edition of NorthBay biz analyzes the business side of these crops as well as the folks who oversee their growth and distribution

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.

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.

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.

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.


What better way to honor beloved pets than by capturing their personality, spirit and charisma on canvas? Santa Rosa pet portraiture artist, Patti Miller, has been conveying the spirit of animals and their human counterparts for 30 years.

Protecting Your Personal Information

Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed a dramatic increase in privacy-related emails from the companies you deal with online. The reason? The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, a European Union (EU) regulation with which any company doing business with an EU citizen must comply. As a result, most global companies are changing their policies for all users to be compliant with the GDPR, and hence the avalanche of emails you’re receiving.

The GDPR has a number of requirements, but since it affects companies outside the EU is undoubtedly its most broad-reaching (and beneficial) effect. For companies that provide data services to both large and small businesses, an additional side effect is that even small companies will (via services providers) do a better job of protecting your data.


The cannabis cultivation tax and excise tax went into effect on January 1, 2018. Here’s a brief overview of the new tax rates and how they apply to cannabis business activities, according to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

Rosé Roundup

Nothing says summer like concerts in the park, Fourth of July parades, barbeques, and rosé swishing in the glass. As a woman who opts to wear pink on six out of the seven days of the week, rosé could easily be an accessory as much as a picnic accompaniment, but like the gradations of pink in my wardrobe, rosés come in many shades and styles. Just as one might ponder if an outfit is too bright, muted or tasteless, there is much to consider when it comes to picking the perfect rosé for one’s palate and preferences.

Journalism on the Brink & the Farmers Market Shuffle

People say change is hard. They also say change is good.

I say you go first.

Journalism in our country is transforming, and some of those adjustments can be seen at our local daily, the Marin Independent Journal.

The IJ has been around since 1948, the love child of a coupling between the Marin Journal and the San Rafael Daily Independent, though the Journal had been around since 1861.

Gannett bought the IJ in 1980, and coverage changed as stories were shortened, graphics and colors were splashed everywhere along with pictures of animals. We in the trade made fun of the chart madness as well as the idea that readers no longer had the time or desire to read stories of depth.

An Overabundance of Wine Professionals

In the last couple of decades, the number of formally trained wine professionals has exploded. Each year more than 2,000 winemaking students have earned degrees—a bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D.—and graduate from top-tier programs in the United States alone. Thousands more, through dozens of accredited colleges and hundreds of internships and apprenticeship training programs, are provided some sort of certificate of winemaking. Beyond the burgeoning numbers of winemakers (enology), vineyard (viticulture) programs also continue to expand, as does the popularity of programs for becoming a certified sommelier.

Making the Most of Your Doctors Visit

Before your first visit with a primary care physician, there’s a lot of information you’ll want to gather. Be sure to take your previous medical records with you. (Some physicians ask that you drop this information off before your visit. If you have a digital copy, it’s best you drop it off in advance, so it can be downloaded and included in your chart.) Your medical record should include any previous diagnoses, treatments, imaging done of your body, laboratory results and immunization history.

It’s also helpful to know the dates of your screening tests and include a copy of the results. Screening tests include mammograms, bone density, colon cancer screening tests such as colonoscopy as well as results from blood work to check cholesterol. It’s also important to take a list of your medications including the dosages of the medications, or take your prescription bottles with you.

VML Winery

The drive along Dry Creek Road, with its picturesque vineyards in the Russian River Valley, is an experience in itself. An added treat to the region is VML—a whimsical winery nestled in the valley that is both playful and amusing and feels like a different land altogether.

Why Choose a Local Alarm Company?

You’ve seen the ads and you’ve gotten the calls. The flashy fliers arrive as soon as the “For Sale” sign is taken off the front lawn and the calls always ring at the wrong time. I’m about talking about, of course, home and business security systems sold by huge corporations that want you to believe they’re the only game in town.


Most beverages in America come with a plastic straw—even if it’s only a glass of water. Though it may not seem such a big deal, when added up, plastic straws create a major problem for the environment. In the U.S., Americans uses 500 million straws every day—that’s enough straws to circle around the Earth 2.5 times.

There’s finally a solution for the 500 million plastic straws Americans use and discard every day. It’s Lolistraw, the world’s first hyper compostable, marine-degradable straw.

John Bucher

John Bucher is the owner and operator of Bucher Farms, an organic family-run farm with 700 dairy cows in Healdsburg. He also owns Bucher Vineyard, which grows and provides Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes to several notable Sonoma County wineries. Bucher is a North Bay native who’s had three different addresses in his life—all on Westside Road in Healdsburg, where he currently lives on the Bucher family farm with his wife, Diane, and three of their five children.


In this Issue

Growing Pains

On a windy Saturday afternoon, the once-bustling Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana is barren, the chairs against the wall sit empty. Two wipe boards show the dispensary’s limited offerings,...

Vineyards as Firebreaks

When the phone rang at 11 p.m. on October 8 last year, Lyall and Karen Fahden did not yet smell smoke. A friend from nearby Calistoga had called to warn them that a fast-moving fire was heading towa...

The Search for Seasonal Workers

The long days of midsummer are quiet in the vineyards and orchards. The winter pruning and spring suckering are long past, and now it’s nature’s turn to do its part. The next big round o...

See all...



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