• The State of Section 8

    The biggest difference, though, isn’t just climate. Marshall is now living in Pennsylvania. She moved away from the North Bay—her home since childhood—because her mother can’t afford to live there anymore. Marshall’s mother is unable to stand for hours at a time due to a physical disability, so they have been assisted by a Section 8 voucher, a program of the National Department of Housing and Urban Development that assists with rent payments because the family falls at or below 30 percent of the county’s average income.


    » read more

  • Rocking the Wine World

    Sonoma Cast Stone in Petaluma has been making concrete fermentation tanks for eight years. Owner Steve Rosenblatt started his company 20 years ago to create concrete for custom walls, countertops and sinks––what he refers to now as the “architectural” side of his business.

    » read more

  • The Ancient Practice of Biodynamic Farming

    Seeking stronger relationships with the Earth and ways to express truly unique terroirs, winemakers and vineyard owners across Napa and Sonoma are embracing biodynamics —“organics on steroids”—in record numbers. In fact, Sonoma County has more than 20 certified Biodynamic farms and vineyards—more than any other county in the United States.

    » read more

  • Homes of Future Past

    The movement to tear down and replace mid-century modern homes is often controversial, but Marin County preserves Eichler homes.

    The demand for new homes was on an upswing after World War II. The post-war Baby Boom was underway, and subdivisions with cookie-cutter tract houses were the trend, as developers raced to meet a growing need. But Joseph Eichler had a different idea. He’d lived in a house in Hillsborough designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and he envisioned building affordable, modern homes that made the most of opportunities for indoor-outdoor living.

    » read more

  • Budding Business

    The legalization of the cannabis market is predicted to generate more than $20 billion in U.S. sales, but rules and regulations are still in a state of flux.

    » read more

  • Modern Matriarchs

    Matriarchs have been a force since biblical times, but these days, they do more than head families and lead tribes. They’re creative thinkers and innovators who face challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that come their way to build successful businesses. Their worldview includes family, friends and relationships as well as the bottom line. And in the North Bay, they’re resourceful women who are racking up some impressive accomplishments.

    » read more

  • Napa Takes The Next Step

    Responding to a severe lack of affordable housing in Napa County, several developers are moving forward to help build living spaces for those who need it most. The Valley View senior housing project at 31 Theresa Avenue in American Canyon, expected to start construction this month, will set aside 22 of its 70 units for veterans and homeless veterans 55 years of age and older. The rental subsidy for homeless veterans is being provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program.

    » read more

  • Marin's Farmers Market

    On a cloudy Sunday, the Marin Civic Center Farmers Market is jammed by rows of booths, with farmers and ranchers side by side. Brewers of the bean are doing a conspicuous business as couples walking hand-in- hand and chefs shopping for inspiration and fresh ingredients hold steaming cups, as if Saturday night and Sunday morning landed closer together than the clock suggests.

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  • In the Name of Love

    Women get stuff done. Some receive high-profile recognition for their efforts, while others work under the radar, quietly making a difference in the lives of people who can use a little help. Here are three North Bay women changing the world around them.

    » read more

  • Wine Women

    In 1886, Josephine Tychson founded and built a winery and made vino in St. Helena, making her the first woman to own and operate a winery in California. Today, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon producer Freemark Abbey resides in Tychson’s former winery. By 1890, 10 percent of lead winemakers were women in California and surprisingly, that percentage hasn’t changed, according to a 2015 report from Santa Clara University.

    » read more

  • Sitting Pretty

    Architects, designers, contractors, and all those involved in the construction trades are breathing a sigh of relief in seeing an upturn in remodeling projects. Homeowners too, who either do not want to or cannot move in our tight housing market, are elated to finally have money in equity again and feel confident enough in our economy to spruce up their homes, complete necessary repairs, and generally make their home work for them.

    » read more

  • A New Path To Help Veterans

    The Pathway Home, after a period of intense research and program development, is accepting applications from post 9/11 veterans working on their college and vocational programs. The program, designed specifically for the needs of student veterans returning after one or more deployments, offers a full-professional staff and a mission focused on providing educational, professional and clinical support to help returning veterans complete their education and build successful lives

    » read more

  • Sharing the Secrets of Success

    What’s special about women-owned businesses? Do certain businesses—and not others—lend themselves to female proprietorship?  NorthBay biz takes a look at six local businesses that have something special about them—something you can’t see, or won’t find on a ledger. But chances are you can feel the difference when you walk in the door. Whether it’s a clothing boutique or a sheet metal company, we found an essential set of qualities that these diverse business women share. These qualities, in new and well-established careers, bring forth success, customer loyalty and employee dedication. Here are six women, in six very different businesses, who offer insight into their success.

    » read more

  • Street Eats

    America has a long history with mobile food. Some might say it started in the 1860s with chuck wagons traversing the Old West. The 1950s brought ice cream trucks, followed by the 1960s “roach coaches.” Taco trucks, more closely resembling the food trucks we’re familiar with today, become popular in the Los Angeles area in the 1970’s. About 10 years ago, when the recession hit hard, a demand for cheap eats, and more affordable venues over brick-and-mortar sites spurred a movement. By around 2008, food trucks started to take off, with social media playing an instrumental role in the rapid growth and success of this unique business endeavor.

    » read more

North Bay News and Stories

The Promising Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is probably the most powerful herb on the planet to treat and prevent many of the diseases that commonly affects us. There is a long history of its use in Ayurvedic medicine (a holistic, whole-body healing system) to treat inflammatory disorders, indigestion, throat infections, the common cold and liver ailments. It’s also used topically to cleanse wounds and treat skin conditions.


Handlining is a technique where a single fishline is held in the hands. It’s also a sustainable form of fishing and the inspiration behind Handline Coastal California cuisine in Sebastopol. “We wanted to connect Sebastopol with the coastline,” says Natalie Goble, co-proprietor with her partner, Lowell Sheldon. “The inspiration was coastal California, and first and foremost, fresh seafood.”

The Art of Investing Today

The investment industry has changed over the last few decades. Academic research regarding stocks and investment management has spurred on these changes. One of the implications from extensive research is that professional money managers cannot consistently outguess and beat the stock market.

Are Screens Making Us Sick

The average teen (and pre-teen) spends more than six hours per day looking at their cell phone, TV, iPad and computer.

Last year, Kaiser Permanente in Santa Rosa hosted a physician wellness event at the recommendation of one of our family practice physicians. During this event, we watched “Screenagers,” a documentary created by Delaney Ruston, M.D.

Home Smart Home

Right now, you can buy smart devices to optimize one aspect of your home's operation, but your home isn't smart.

Growing up, my folks would manually turn down the thermostat at night to save on heating bills during the winter. Now I have a programmable thermostat that lets me set the times when the heat is on or off.

10 Breakthrough Technologies

For genetic disorders with a single cause, it's now entirely possible to cure them using a virus to deliver healthy copies of a gene to replace the ones responsible for the disorder.

The smart people at the MIT Technology Review came up with a list of 10 breakthrough technologies for 2017. To quote the article, “[s]ome are unfolding now; others will take a decade or more to develop. But you should know about all of them right now.” Here’s a brief summary of each breakthrough technology.

Trefethen Family Vineyards Napa
1160 Oak Knoll Avenue, Napa, California 94558
Hours: 10am to 4pm daily
Tasting Fees: $25 Classic Tasting ($35 Reserve Tasting)
Wines currently offered:  Dry Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Dragon’s Tooth (Red Blend)
Lets Build Affordable Housing Now

Given the scarcity of housing and the pressure it places on prices, the real question is: What is the strongest solution to ensure housing opportunity for all?

If you follow the daily news, then you know I’ve said many times that Sonoma County is in the midst of a housing crisis. The lack of housing is impacting almost everyone in our community at most income levels. From students to seniors, the need for affordable housing is demonstrated by high rents, a vacancy rate of less than 1 percent, and sharp increases in rents and home sales prices.

2017 BEST Company to Do Business with in Marin County: Bradley Real Estate

As a teenager, Melissa Bradley, helped her paternal grandmother, Sue Bradley, who was in the real estate business. “She called me her little entrepreneur,” Bradley recalls. With a natural instinct for the business, Bradley eventually forged her own path. It’s now been 20 years since Melissa Bradley founded her real estate company, working out of a small home office in San Anselmo. From those humble beginnings—and because Melissa preferred to be her own boss—Bradley Real Estate has emerged as the North Bay’s largest independently-owned local real estate brokerage. This year, NorthBay biz readers selected Bradley Real Estate as the Best Company to Do Business With in Marin. The company picked up the same award in 2015. “We are grateful to be voted again, and I was surprised to learn that we won in two categories,” says Bradley, who also won Best Real Estate Company.

2017 BEST Contractor/Builder: Ghilotti Construction Company

Ghilotti Construction Company continues to impact the daily lives of residents from throughout the North Bay through their work, which includes repairing Highway 37. That impact has not gone unnoticed, and this marks their sixth year being voted Best Contractor/Builder.

Protea, Yountville
Protea (pronounced pro-tay-yuh) is the genus of South African flowering plants, and in local tradition the flower represents hope and change. It’s also the inspiration behind Protea, a fast casual restaurant in downtown Yountville that opened in April last year, and is quickly gaining a five-star reputation for Latin-inspired street food.


2017 BEST Real Estate Company: Bradley Real Estate

Melissa Bradley, founder of Bradley Real Estate, attributes her success to the influence of her grandmother, Sue Bradley, who sold real estate and introduced her to the business. At a young age, Melissa worked side-by-side with her grandmother, helping stuff envelopes. As she grew older, she took on more responsibilities and learned the ins-and-outs of the business. By age 22, she earned her real estate license and worked as a sales person and manager. Four years later, she started her own business in her garage in San Anselmo.

Sonoma Cider Taproom and Restaurant Healdsburg

Located in Healdsburg, Sonoma Cider opened its doors in October last year and is gaining a reputation for its craft ciders. Founded by David and Robert Cordtz, a father-son team who’ve mastered the art of cider making, the taproom showcases their small-batch ciders with gourmet pub cuisine, created by Dominique Rooney, executive chef and granddaughter of the late actor, Mickey Rooney.

What’s a hard cider company doing in Wine Country? Says Cordtz, “Cider is a segway. It’s for people who want something different.” I planned to try the crab mac n’ cheese, and being a vino lover, I usually scan the wine list first. But at Sonoma Cider it’s all about the apples, and I was curious what cider would pair well with my favorite comfort food. 

Brasswood Bar and Kitchen St Helena

If you’re looking for a romantic day-trip getaway and a fine-dining experience, Brasswood Bar+Kitchen located at Brasswood Estate in St. Helena, is the perfect place to melt into the day and enjoy the bounty of Napa Valley. I ventured there on a Sunday afternoon with three friends to experience Brasswood Estate, which opened in February last year.

We began in the tasting room, sampling a few signature wines—the 2013 Estate Cabernet Franc, the 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2013 Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, poured by Gretchen Jensen, tasting room associate. Made with sustainable grapes, their wines are soft and ...

DeVero Farms & Winery

Ask Ridge Evers how he happened to venture into the wine business, and he’ll tell you it was serendipity. In 1982, he’d just graduated from business school and was living in San Francisco when he came to Sonoma County for a weekend getaway and found a parcel of land on Westside Road in Dry Creek Valley.

2017 BEST Wine Tasting Room: Armida Winery

Brothers Steve and Bruce Cousins, owners of Armida Winery, have been working together for more than 20 years. Upon winning the award for Best Tasting Room, they knew the award wasn’t just for them.

The Not So Smart Train

Quite a few people have told me about being caught in traffic waiting at SMART’s 63 grade crossings as trains have been tested for the past months. It’s mid-March and I’m wondering (again) whether SMART will be providing train passenger service anytime soon. Will SMART’s latest prediction of “late Spring 2017” come true? It’s been almost eight-and-a-half years since voters approved Measure Q on the November 4, 2008 ballot.

Guest Column A Look at the North Bay Real Estate Market

The North Bay residential real estate market is decelerating and showing signs of fatigue after five consecutive years of growth. That was the main takeaway by three of our associates from Terra Firma Global Partners when they studied sales statistics and trends from the first three quarters of 2016 and compared them with the first three quarters of 2015.

May 2017 Leaders

Welcome to the second annual May Women Business Leaders issue—a celebration of successful and influential North Bay women. Last year, we spotlighted a number of business leaders on these pages, and the feedback from our readers was so powerful we’re devoting this section to another sampling of women, making an impact on the North Bay. We asked these business leaders to answer two of the following questions:

2017 BEST Health Care Provider: Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is this year’s winner for Best Health Care in the North Bay. “Kaiser Permanente’s focus on quality, prevention, and the social determinants of health is keeping people healthier; often preventing illnesses and disease from occurring in the first place,” says Judy Coffey, senior vice president and area manager in Marin and Sonoma, of its success. “This is saving and improving lives. That’s total health.”

2017 BEST Business Event Venue: Vintners Inn
Vintners Inn has been a staple name and event venue destination at the highest level, since they opened their doors 37 years ago. Once again, Vintners Inn was voted the best business event venue in the North Bay for 2017. How does the inn manage to meet such a consistent level of excellence year-after-year? “We take great pride in constantly reinventing ourselves, and we never rest on the successes that we have achieved in the past,” Percy Brandon, general manager of Vintners Inn and John Ash & Co.
2017 BEST Local Brewery: Russian River Brewing Company

There are many flavors in a beer. There are toasty beers, skunky beers, hoppy beers and citrus-y beers. The list goes on forever. But at the end of the day, nobody comes back if they don’t think it’s a tasty beer. And nobody knows how to brew tasty beers better than Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo, the husband-wife pair who own Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa.

May 2017 Careers

Women in the workplace.

Though women continue to make strides in the work force, women only hold 4.2 percent of CEO positions in America’s 500 largest companies. Last year, the 2016 Fortune 500 list included only 21 companies with women at the helm. At the dawn of a new century, women are taking the lead in the United States labor force, while also balancing family responsibilities. Here are a few statistics from the United States Department of Labor.

Jim Murphy

is president of Jim Murphy and Associates, a construction company located in Santa Rosa. “I started in the drywall business when I was 23 years old,” says Murphy. “When I was 27 or 28, I started building some single-family homes, then when I was 30, I sold my drywall business. I’d been drag racing and was approached by Coca-Cola to race under their banner. I did this for four years all over the United States.

Jim Brush

is the president and chief executive officer of Summit State Bank in Santa Rosa. He was born in San Francisco and spent his childhood summers at the family cabin, along the Russian River in Summer Home Park. Brush graduated from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, in 1979 with a degree in accounting and earned his certified public accountant designation the same year. In 1982, he moved to Healdsburg and opened a tax practice there, where he worked for 21 years before selling the business in 2003. Today, he and his wife, Nancy, live in Healdsburg where they raised their three children, and share a passion for wanderlust.

Guest Column: Meditation: Sage Principles for Leadership

Leadership is not a mindset, but instead, it’s a way of being. Leadership takes a spirit that is open and flexible. Neutrality and a willingness to embrace change; this is the path to leadership. To achieve this altruistic way of being, you must place your pride aside. For many, this is easier said than done.

The Importance of Exit Planning for Small Business Owners

It’s estimated that 75 percent of business owners regret selling their businesses within the first year.

A great benefit of being a business owner is deciding when you want to exit your business. Many business owners intend to keep working until they no longer can because their work becomes part of their life and identity. This fear of the unknown causes many business owners to delay thinking about a life-after-business strategy.

Katie Schou

Sausalito resident Katie Schou is the executive director of the Send It Foundation. For Schou, the foundation has a particularly special meaning. “My older brother founded the Send It Foundation,” she says. “He was diagnosed with a rare cancer at the age of 35. An avid skier and outdoorsman, he had a vision to bring the activities that brought him strength and life during his fight for life to other young adults in the cancer fight. He founded Send It in the last year of his life. When he passed away, I left my job and took on the foundation to bring his vision to life.”

Simple Homes for People of Modest Means Please

For more than 20 years, the city of Santa Rosa has known it has serious housing problems for a large part of its population, which has continued to grow exponentially with no relief in sight.

 Many Sonoma County residents rode out the wet winter without a roof over their heads. Though Santa Rosa declared a “homeless emergency” last August, there was nowhere for many poor residents to go during record rains. Shelters were full and local political leaders were unable to make arrangements for additional housing. This may be because the county has a vacancy rate of less than one percent, according to government statistics. These facts were not mentioned in a recent Sonoma County Economic Indicators report discussed by the Sonoma County Economic Development Board in February. The economic picture looks good for Sonoma County with low unemployment and positive economic growth, but without enough workforce housing available there could be problems.

2017 BEST Sparkling Wine: Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards
Eva Bertran, vice president of marketing at Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards, knows that the company’s win for Best Sparkling Wine didn’t come from one aspect alone. “Our vineyard and winery teams have three decades of experience grafting, farming, studying and blending Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Carneros,” Bertran says. “This depth of knowledge, combined with more than 30 years of vineyard maturity, is why Gloria’s wines are keenly better than ever.
5 Ways To Make The Most of Your Tax Refund

If you have any credit card debt, consider first using your refund to reduce this costly form of borrowing.


More than 110 million Americans collected a tax refund‑worth an average of just under $3,000‑after filing their 2015 tax returns, according to statistics released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If you’re one of the many Americans who expect to receive a financial windfall this year, what do you plan to do with the money? It’s tempting to treat yourself to a new TV or a pricey vacation. However, if you refrain from spending your refund impulsively, the money presents an opportunity to treat yourself to additional financial security. Here are five ways to extend the benefits of a tax refund.


Ben Cane

Born and raised in Australia, Ben Cane is head winemaker at Westwood Wines in Sonoma. “Wine has always been a part of my family,” says Cane. “My parents are both great cooks, would love to throw dinner parties and have lots of great wine as part of the meal so I always associated wine with fun and laughter, great food and great people. My folks would take me to wine festivals and celebrations, and I always loved the beautiful places vines would grow.

2017 BEST Business Restaurant: John Ash & Co.
The Best Restaurant award for 2017 goes to John Ash & Co. Or perhaps better said, goes to John Ash & Co. again. Since the inauguration of NorthBay biz’s awarding of the Best Business Restaurant honors, John Ash has earned the top spot for restaurants every year.
2017 BEST Catering Service: Park Avenue Catering
Voted Best Catering Service in the 2017 BEST Of the North Bay readers poll.
2017 BEST Chamber Event: Windsor Chamber of Commerce

The foundation of a healthy business community in any town or city starts with its chamber of commerce. An active and engaging chamber acts as a catalyst for both growing and established businesses, and the business expo at the Windsor Chamber of Commerce helped the chamber secure the “Best Chamber Event” award at NorthBay biz magazine for 2017.

2017 BEST Golf Course: Santa Rosa Golf & Country Club

Santa Rosa Golf & Country Club has been voted Best Golf Course in the 2017 BEST Of the North Bay readers poll.

2017 BEST Chamber of Commerce: Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce

Santa Rosa Metro Chamber is this year’s winner of Best Chamber of Commerce. “Ours is the largest and the most active Chamber in the North Bay,” says Jonathan Coe, president and CEO. “We’re involved in everything from tourism marketing to workforce development, public policy advocacy and training programs.  These efforts are intended to meet our mission:  to promote, support, and advocate for our members and create a vibrant and sustainable economy.”

2017 BEST Credit Union: Redwood Credit Union

In 1950, seven Sonoma County employees, who wanted a safe place to save and borrow money at affordable rates, founded Redwood Credit Union (RCU). Today, RCU serves seven counties in the Bay Area and North Bay, providing services for both consumers and businesses. As a financial cooperative, they focus on people, not profits. According to Brett Martinez, president and chief executive officer, RCU’s mission is to passionately serve the best interests of its members, employees and communities.  “It’s a mission we live every day,” says Martinez. “Our employees know it, understand it, and believe in it.” With that mission in mind, RCU has grown into a $3.5 billion financial institution, serving more than 280,000 people.

2017 BEST Consumer Bank: Exchange Bank

For 127 years, Exchange Bank has served as an institution in Sonoma County, and this year its been named Best Consumer Bank by North Bay biz readers. “It’s rewarding—and humbling—to be recognized by the community for our contributions,” says Gary Hartwick, president and chief executive officer.

Percy Brandon

Last year’s winner of Best Business Community Leader, Percy Brandon, is general manager of Vintners Inn/John Ash & Co. in Santa Rosa. Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Brandon moved to Canada in 1991, and Santa Rosa in 2000.


In this Issue

The Ancient Practice of Biodynamic Farming

Seeking stronger relationships with the Earth and ways to express truly unique terroirs, winemakers and vineyard owners across Napa and Sonoma are embracing biodynamics —“organics on stero...

Budding Business

The legalization of the cannabis market is predicted to generate more than $20 billion in U.S. sales, but rules and regulations are still in a state of flux....

Rocking the Wine World

Sonoma Cast Stone in Petaluma has been making concrete fermentation tanks for eight years. Owner Steve Rosenblatt started his company 20 years ago to create concrete for custom walls, countertops an...

See all...