• 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.

    » read more

  • First Glass

    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.

    » read more

  • 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.

    » read more

  • 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.

    » read more

  • 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.

    » read more

  • 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.

    » read more

  • 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.

    » read more

  • 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.

    » read more

  • 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.

    » read more

  • 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.

    » read more

  • 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.

    » read more

  • 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.

    » read more

  • 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.

    » read more

  • 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.

    » read more

  • 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.

    » read more

  • 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.” 

    » read more

North Bay News and Stories

Pongos Kitchen & Tap

Pongo’s Kitchen & Tap
701 Sonoma Mountain Pkwy C8
Petaluma, Calif.
(707) 765-9800
Thai-Inspired Cuisine
Entrees $12.95-$18.95


Conservation Corps North Bay (CCNB) was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Tipping Point Community Emergency Relief Fund to train its corpsmembers in the building trades, giving them skills and certifications needed to secure employment to help rebuild North Bay communities ravaged by the wildfires.

A study recently released by Numbeo’s mid-year Cost of Living Index revealed the top 20 most expensive places to live in the world.

Considering a Cannabis Business in the Regulated Marketplace

Legalization and the regulated market present an opportunity for existing cannabis businesses to emerge from the shadows, for new operators to enter the marketplace, and for a variety of professionals and ancillary business to serve the bourgeoning cannabis industry. While the cannabis industry faces an array of regulatory issues including permitting, licensing and compliance requirements, the field is wide open for those looking to get in on the ground floor. Here is an overview of current trends in the emerging market place, the future of banking for the industry, and the North Bay’s position of leadership in the industry.

Wildfire Aftermath: Navigating the Construction Process

Navigating the current construction marketplace will take patience and planning. Contractors are experiencing price increases in almost every building-related product in the industry, due to market forces and new tariffs. The California real estate and construction market was very busy before we lost more than 10,000 structures to the destructive wildfires of 2017. Now is an optimal time to build, and people need a new way to erect more durable structures for our communities.

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.

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.

Armida Winery

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

How to Create a Drama-Free Work Zone

Morale is down. Rumors are flying. Everyone seems to be unhappy, but nobody wants to step forward and talk about it. So how do you turn that around?

Begin with a more restorative approach to your workplace environment, based on attributes of inclusion, equity, mutual respect and personal accountability.

Girl Power

Lately my mornings play out something like this. Twin tots throw Cheerios like confetti and fly off furniture clad in capes and superhero garb, as they shout: “Girl power rules!” The fact that my son screams more loudly than my daughter is an indicator that times are indeed changing—not only in my home, but up and down the valley, as people do their own chants for equality, including at the Women’s Summit Napa Valley, held at Charles Krug winery in August.

Train Pain, Hotel Hiccup, Hagar Off Note and RH as Goat?

One day the SMART train will blow though San Rafael on the way to its southern stop point Larkspur, but for now that extension is nothing but heartache for a few businesses along Francisco Boulevard West. The city has closed the road to accommodate the construction that must take place, and the closure will stretch into 2019.

Marin loves it animals. Whether it’s a prized parakeet or a beloved basset hound, pets are treated not like family but more like members of the royals. Designer organic food abounds and water bowls overflow with filtered H2O.

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.

A Toxic Mix: Cannabis Dispensaries & Family Hotspots

Since the recreational use of cannabis was formally legalized on January 1, the emerging cannabis industry has been making headlines across the North Bay. As you may recall, we covered the topic in the July issue in “Growing Pains,” and I’ve received numerous emails from our readers since then.

Work/Life/In Focus: Detailing Air Force One

Last year, Shawn Sepulveda became a member of an elite group: the Air Force One detailing team at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, where he and his individually selected team clean and restore historic and extremely delicate paint as well as apply protective coatings to several aircrafts worth millions of dollars. This past July, Sepulveda returned to Seattle as team leader for his crew of 10, named Detail Mafia. The team donates their time, every year, for up to two weeks at a time.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.


The flavors of Latin America have made their way to the North Bay with Sungo, a tropical and exotic lightly-carbonated soft drink.

Local artisan cheese producer, Sonoma Creamery, has been hand-crafting quality cheese inspired by local Wine Country agricultural since 1931


Ask just about any Californian about picking the state flower—the California poppy—and you’re sure to get the same reaction: “It’s illegal!” But is it?

A well-maintained yard is like any beautiful accessory—it shines. But how can a home have curb appeal and lush landscaping during a drought or a fire season?

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.


In this Issue

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,&rdqu...

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 mo...

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 ...

See all...