• 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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  • 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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  • Conscious Capitalism

    B Corps certification is a badge of honor for a groundbreaking group of North Bay businesses. They share a fervent belief that business has the power to be a force for good and the ability to make their communities and the world better. Thus, social responsibility and a concern for the environment are measures of success on par with a company’s bottom line. And, increasingly, the people who buy their products or use their services, expect companies to embrace that philosophy, increasing the odds of success for those who do and making benefit corporations a trend on the upswing.

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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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  • 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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  • KSRO News Talk

    On the night of October 8, 2017, Pat Kerrigan of KSRO News Talk awoke at her home in Kenwood. Outside, the wind howled. Across the street 30-foot high flames threatened. A fireman told her to get out. Kerrigan and her wife, Michele, grabbed their dog, Chance, jumped in the car and headed west on Bennett Valley Road. She sensed this was more than a neighborhood fire and headed for the radio station in Santa Rosa. Driving dark circuitous back roads, they arrived just after midnight.

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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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  • A Winning Combination

    Great ideas have a way of catching people by surprise, especially when a missing piece suddenly emerges, putting what was previously just a good thought on the path to reality.

    Such was the case with Eckhoff and Company (EAC) Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and advisors in San Rafael, which launched a strategic joint venture with an all-new business, Eckhoff Wealth Management (EWM), in June 2017.

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  • Emeritus Vineyards

    The story of Mari Jones and Emeritus Vineyards begins long before she was born. It began during the Vietnam War, when a general introduced Brice Jones, a young Air Force fighter pilot, to a fine French red wine. Brice, like most Americans, believed good red wine was bottled by the jug. The general had been introduced to fine French wine when his plane was shot down during World War II, and he shared his passion for French wines with young Brice.

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  • Employee Owned

    Thirty years ago on a November day, Steve Maass opened the first Oliver’s Market in Sonoma County, in Cotati. Like most successful companies, it started small, with only 13 employees. Growth was slow but steady, and as the grocery store gained a loyal following, it unveiled its second location in 2000, in the former Molsberry Market on Santa Rosa’s Montecito Boulevard. The Stony Point Road Oliver’s in Santa Rosa opened in 2007 in what had been a Ralph’s Market. In 2016, Oliver’s opened its fourth store, in Windsor––the first designed and built for the company.

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North Bay News and Stories

Spinster Sisters

Built in the 1920s, Spinster Sisters was once a small Italian market in downtown Santa Rosa. The original owners had five daughters, and as the story goes, two of their daughters—Isolena and Claudina—never married and lived upstairs above the market. When new owners Liza Hinman and Eric Anderson purchased the building six years ago to launch their new restaurant, they wanted a name that embraced its history.

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.

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.

Recruiting & Retaining Millennials

The Millennial workforce is no longer something that is far away. It’s here, it’s growing, and it’s impactful. In fact, their strong ethics and values are revolutionizing the way we think about business. It’s true, the youngest of the Millennials are in their early 20s and just getting their foothold in the workforce, but long gone are the days where we can dismiss the entire generation as shiftless, screen-obsessed kids.

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.

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.

Twomey Cellars

Twomey Cellars was founded around the winery’s Napa Valley Merlot. But in 2007, the first wine from the Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria kick-started the Pinot program. Driven by unique vineyard acquisition opportunities and key grower relationships, they evolved into a Pinot Noir house, producing eight distinct Pinots from Central California to Oregon.


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.

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.

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!

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.


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.

Juliannna Graham

Julianna Graham, senior vice president of Tri Counties Bank, has been in the financial services business for more than 30 years. She became a banker “accidentally” as she was planning on pursuing a career in design. She graduated from University of San Francisco and earned a Master of Business Administration in finance from Golden Gate University.

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.

The Demand for Non-alcoholic Wine Expected to Increase

There has been a recent uptick in the sale of non-alcoholic wines and beers, according to Global Market Insights. The estimates are that this trend will increase in the coming years, reaching a compound annual growth rate of 7.6 percent in 2024. If this is accurate, what in 2017 was a $16 billion global market could grow to more than $26 billion by 2024.

Why the sudden interest in non-alcoholic wine? Health, generational changes and alternatives?

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.


A recording-breaking year for the Sonoma County Vintners Foundation, raising more than $5.7 million at the 2018 Sonoma County Wine Auction.

Petaluma’s SMART Train station has been renovated, thanks to Sonoma County Tourism Cares, the Petaluma Visitors Center and the City of Petaluma.


Looking for just the right wine this holiday season? Here are a few favorites for any occasion.

In 2002, Francis Ford Coppola Winery released their first canned wine, and in the years since, it has grown to become a vino phenomenon.

Looking for a light, refreshing holiday cocktail to serve guests? Try Jardesca California Aperitiva.

What is the Best Diet?

The word “diet” doesn’t mean to lose weight anymore, diet simply means a selection of food and beverages that help you achieve a particular goal. There are a myriad of diets to choose from—diets to lose weight, diets to build muscle, diets to reduce cholesterol, diets to avoid allergens or animal products, diets to control diabetes. With such a wide range of diets, it’s nearly impossible to answer the question: What is the best diet? But that won’t stop me from trying.

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.


Sure, you turn your office light off at night, recycle your soda cans and skip the plastic water bottles and drink tap water, but you know there’s more you can be doing.

Help save the planet by making sustainable holiday choices this holiday season.


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.


Fast, Cheap, or Good—Pick Two

Whether you’re developing software or painting a house, a project always seems to have two questions attached to it: How long will it take? How much will it cost? Those are necessary questions that determine the viability of the result. A project that takes too long may yield a less useful result. A project that costs more than the benefits it generates doesn’t make economic sense. I’ve heard these two questions a lot during my career.

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.


In this Issue

Conscious Capitalism

B Corps certification is a badge of honor for a groundbreaking group of North Bay businesses. They share a fervent belief that business has the power to be a force for good and the ability to make t...

Business As Usual

  One year after the Wine Country wildfires, both Sonoma and Napa are still suffering afterburn when it comes to tourism. The old adage is that “perception is reality,” and th...

KSRO News Talk

On the night of October 8, 2017, Pat Kerrigan of KSRO News Talk awoke at her home in Kenwood. Outside, the wind howled. Across the street 30-foot high flames threatened. A fireman told her to get ou...

See all...