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July 2017 People

Secure the Sun: Napa’s new Musicians

Don’t feel old, but Generation Z is starting to turn out its first big bands. Secure the Sun is a four-man, Napa Valley band with frontman Ari Eisenberg, drummer Jonathan Soria-Gil, bass player Anthony Cappeto and guitarist Liam Milligan. Inspired by the New York funk movement, Secure the Sun (STS) brings high-energy, Bowie-esque lyrics with thumping rhythm guitars and jazzy drum beats that gets everyone dancing. “Our first gig was in a little punk bar in Oakland,” says Eisenberg. “We played our set and the manager shook our hands afterward, saying, ‘This will be the last time you ever play in my club. Next year, you’ll be at festivals and touring!’ I’m glad he was right.”

STS kicked off BottleRock this year, opening the festival at the JAM Cellars stage, where the biggest headliners play their sets at the end of the day. STS already opened in various clubs and colleges around the Bay, including a sold-out show at Petaluma’s famous Mystic Theatre. Their single, “Day by Day,” is already circulating collegiate radio throughout the state.

While the band enjoys success at BottleRock, it’s clear the quartet is still in its early stages. When asked about what they request on their rider lists, guitarist Milligan scratched his head. “What the heck is a rider list? Wait, we can ask for stuff?”

Be sure to catch these up-and-coming musicians when you can; if they keep up the pace, they’re soon going to the national stage.

Rich Thomas: Mentor and Master of Wine

Describing luminary wine culture pioneer Rich Thomas in one word is a daunting task. The retired Santa Rosa Junior College viticulture teacher has so many accomplishments under his years of service to the county—and Wine Country at large—it’s likely modern wine management wouldn’t be the same today without him.

Awarded the Nick Frey Community Contribution award this year, he says, “I think this award is recognition for a lifetime’s worth of work. When I started teaching in the 1970s, there were only a few vineyards. Joe Rochioli had two grapes on his property; Robbie Young was just getting started. Today, everyone has vineyards, far as the eye can see in this county. I like to think I did my part to help that.”

At SRJC, Thomas’ viticulture classes were the cutting edge of winemaking tech in the area. “If I had to name the three biggest changes in the county, it would be these,” he says. “First: We developed the area’s first drip irrigation block; second: the first non-till farm; third: We came back from Australia and New Zealand in the 1980s to bring trellis farming to Sonoma County. You see all these things here today, but when I started, they weren’t even concepts.”

Since he retired from vineyard management and column writing (Thomas was a previous VineWise columnist for NorthBay biz) 15 years ago, Thomas spends the days enjoying time with his wife and spoiling his grandchildren (whenever he’s not fishing). “If I had to give advice to today’s aspiring viticulturists and farmers, it would be to get an education. The on-hand generation-to-generation learning method is obsolete: there’s too much to know these days about modern agriculture.

“You have to be willing to accept new things.”



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...

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