• How To Protect Your Small Business

    Your small business is humming along smoothly, providing a service or product that’s keeping your bottom line—and your customers—happy. Suddenly, a serious issue arises with an employee, a vendor, or a business partner. Chances are it will lead to a thorny legal problem you’d prefer to avoid but forced to confront.

    Now what?


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  • Balancing Act

    Striking a balance between work and home life is a challenge for today’s workers. A Pew Research Study conducted in 2012 showed that half of all working parents with children under 18 found juggling competing priorities difficult, and one-third thought they were spending too little time with their children. Work tends to occupy the greatest part of the day, and it’s the way many people define themselves, so job satisfaction is important.


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  • Gorgeous Getaways

    Whether perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, or tucked away amongst mountain top vineyards, there is no shortage of luxury hotel offerings in Napa and Sonoma. For those seeking a more intimate and unique experience, boutique luxury hotel and resorts are plentiful.


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  • Rebranding

    The fear of getting stale has many businesses looking at freshening up their brand—a process that requires much more than a simple logo redesign or new tagline, according to Trini Amador, managing partner of BHC Consulting. BHC is a Healdsburg-based brand strategy team that develops, refreshes or consults on global brand strategy or research projects for hundreds of global, regional and local brands.


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  • All in the Family

    Twenty-one years ago, Gurcharan Singh Chandi left Punjab in his native India for America, searching for a more prosperous life. By 2000, he had saved enough to bring his wife and four children from India to join him.


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  • Napa vs. Sonoma

    Napa and Sonoma counties are remarkably similar on paper. They appear as next-door neighbors sharing a mountain range on the map, and rivers, valleys and fertile agricultural areas define the topography of both. Yet each has its own distinct character, drawing visitors from around the world, seeking a taste of an enviable lifestyle. The big question for travelers is which one to choose.


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  • Wine and Weather

    There’s no argument that the wine in your glass showcases the skill of the winemaker. Yet it was Mother Nature who engineered the growing season that made it all possible. Rain at the right time and in the right amount, the absence of damaging frost, the welcome cooling from the marine layer after a string of hot days––these fluctuations of the weather all contributed to the flavors in the bottle.


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  • North Bay Construction: What's Driving Costs?

    If construction is the indicator of the economic health of a place, then the North Bay is booming. Just about everything is going up—value, cost, demand as well as effort to contain the impact of that demand. Business, if possible, is almost too good for people in the construction industry. There is such demand and so much work, that those in the industry are doing exceptionally well, but, some, because of the rising costs, are losing out.


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  • In Search of the American Dream

    Buying a house for the first time is a significant milestone for a young couple. It shows the desire to put down roots and become part of a community, and a home of their own gives them a meaningful place to make memories.


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  • Keeping It 100

    Scribe Winery, located at the end of a palm tree-paved Dresel Road in Sonoma, has found a way to attract the seemingly ever-elusive Millennial market. The winery, both rural and trendy, is often frequented by young wine enthusiasts, eager for Rosé all day. The relaxed vibe at Scribe removes the intimidation factor of wine, making it a popular stop for the 20- and 30-something crowd.


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  • A Passion for Perfection

    David Stare, founder of Dry Creek Vineyard, is sitting across from me at his vineyard garden. His demeanor is considerate and responsible, stable and kind. But, if it were not for his passion, this iconic winery would not be celebrating its 45th anniversary; and the Dry Creek Valley would almost certainly not be known for its Sauvignon Blanc, the most planted white grape in the area.


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  • Wine Trends

    Thirteen years ago on October 4, the movie “Sideways” was released, dramatically changing the course of wine consumption for two varietals—Merlot and Pinot Noir—and underscoring the fact that there are, indeed, trends in wine just as there are trends in fashion.


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  • Reunited: Santa Rosa Courthouse Square

    NorthBay biz went to several businesses around the square to assess business owner’s opinions now that the square is finally open after a six-month delay for rain and construction.


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  • Going Solar

    The solar industry had a $154 billion impact on the U.S. economy in 2016, according to data released in March 2017 by The Solar Foundation. The Solar Energy Industries Association reported the average installation costs have dropped by more than 70 percent since 2010, providing the opportunity for the industry to expand into new markets and set-up thousands of solar systems throughout the nation.


    » read more

  • Driven To Succeed

    To call Sonoma Raceway a track is an understatement. The year-round motorsports complex is home to 75 businesses in 104 shops, a performance racing school, a kart track, several campgrounds, 44 pit stalls, a café and gift store, as well as a myriad of food and beverage vendors during events. The complex, sitting on 1,630 acres of land.


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  • Cycling Nirvana

     The North Bay is a mecca in the cycling world. And while locations such as Dry Creek Valley, Los Carneros, and Alexander Valley evoke certain images in the minds of wine connoisseurs the world over, places like King Ridge, Coleman Valley Road and “The Geysers” stir up images in the minds of cyclists around the globe.


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  • Going Solo

     The simple definition of an entrepreneur is a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risk to do so, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary. Dig deeper and you find a passionate person with a high emotional quotient, or EQ, who follows his or her own path to problem-solving to ensure success.

     

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  • Growing Together

    When companies support community service activities, everyone benefits


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  • Recruiting Millennials

     Defying stereotypes and seeking job satisfaction 


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  • 24 Hours

    On October 8, Loren Davis, fire chief at Mountain Volunteer Fire Department in Sonoma County, was sitting at a poker table at Graton Casino in Rohnert Park at around 9:30 p.m. when his pager went off. He had gotten off duty from his shift as a firefighter at Eldridge Fire Department in Sonoma County at 7 a.m. that morning, and was looking forward to a relaxing evening.
    He glanced at his pager. The message read: “Structure fire at Mountain Ranch Road.” He immediately left the card game, jumped into his work truck and started up the freeway toward the station on Sharp Road between the Sonoma and Napa County line.


    » read more

  • Helping People, Changing Lives

    How Substance Abuse Counselor Angie Coleman offers hope to those struggling with addiction in Sonoma County


    » read more

  • Shop Local

    The holiday season is upon us in the North Bay, which means festive fun with family and friends, holiday decorations and delicious food, and of course, gifts. Sonoma, Napa and Marin Counties are shopping meccas, and during the holiday season there is no shortage of shopping options. 


    » read more

  • River City Living

    As you drive northbound through the beautiful rolling hills of Marin County and southern Sonoma, Highway 101 takes you around one more turn and the grand view of the City of Petaluma opens up in front of you. Petaluma is a transliteration of the Coast Miwok phrase péta lúuma, which means hill backside. No matter which direction you view Petaluma from, the name is as obvious as the city is attractive.


    » read more

  • After the Fire

    Recovery is only the beginning as Sonoma County and the North Bay looks towards a long period of hazard removal and rebuilding.


    » read more

  • It's The Law

    The state legislature seems to be working overtime to write, revise, refresh and get bills passed that secure the trend toward better pay, benefits, equality and hiring practices for employees—which could be bad news for employers. Currently, five new pieces of legislation have been working their way through the state legislature this year and are at various stages of approval or revision.


    » read more

North Bay News and Stories

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Café Lucia Restaurant

If you’re looking for a unique experience or authentic Portuguese cuisine, try Café Lucia, a hidden gem of a restaurant tucked in a tranquil space in walking distance of Healdsburg’s town square. The restaurant, owned and operated by brother-sister team, Manuel Azevedo and Lucia Azevedo Fincher, offers new Portuguese cuisine—or as they say in Portugal, cozinha nova Portuguesa.

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Zialena Winery

Located in the heart of Alexander Valley in Geyserville, Zialena Winery is nestled in a field surrounded by vineyards and sweeping views of the Mayacamas. The winery opened its new tasting room in February and offers a study in contrasts. The tasting room features modern cabinetry, wood floors and smells of new construction, but Zialena is a fourth generation winery, rich in history and tradition.

Is your Online Reputation Costing You Business?

Your best prospects are looking for businesses like yours online. We now live in a digital age where every business must have a strong online presence if it expects to retain and attract new customers.

(Part 1 and Part 2)

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Markham Vineyards

Located along St. Helena Highway, Markham Vineyards is one of the oldest wineries in Napa Valley, established by Jean Laurent, an immigrant from Bordeaux, France. Laurent came to California seeking gold during the rush, but instead found his way into the winemaking business.

I Feel Better Now

Apparently, government agencies and business groups finally found something they can agree upon as a state housing official recently declared with certainty: “The ongoing gap between housing need, projected growth and actual housing development is real.” This obvious conclusion comes as no surprise to business owners in the North Bay, who’ve been struggling for several years to find and hire qualified employees.

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Leaders of Tomorrow: Colleen FitzGerald

The pursuit and mastery of enology doesn’t start or end in the vineyard. For Colleen FitzGerald, enologist at Pine Ridge Vineyards in the Stags Leap District American Vineyard Appellation in Napa, enologists need sharp taste buds, long conversations with their winemakers and a heftily stamped passport to prove they have what it takes to become a master in their field.

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Affordable Housing is Crucial to a Thriving Community

The legislation written by assembly member Marc Levine, AB 121, will extend the designation of Marin County as suburban rather than metropolitan for affordable housing zoning purposes until 2028. As a suburban-designated community, Marin will only be required to meet a housing density requirement of 20 units per acre rather than 30 units per acre.

Bonnie Bergin

Bonnie Bergin is the founder of Canine Companions for Independence as well as founder, president and chief academic officer of Bergin University of Canine Studies, founded in 1991. She originated the concept of the service dog in 1975 and educates both humans and canines to change the world by helping people live more independent lives.

Bergin was born in Washington, but considers herself a North Bay native. “My family moved to Cloverdale when I was two years old, and I spent my childhood between there and Willits,” she says. She and her husband, Jim, have been married for more than 50 years. They live on their ranch in Santa Rosa with three dogs, a rescue cat and nine American Bashkir Curley horses.
Security Breach!

Last month, the names, addresses, birthdates, and Social Security numbers (SSNs) of 143 million Americans were revealed in a security breach at Equifax, one of the “big three’” credit bureaus (along with Experian and TransUnion). Since this personal information is essentially your identity in the modern world, the breach is a Very Big Deal, and opens those affected to identity theft, especially as it relates to applying for credit.

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Leaders of Tomorrow: Noah Block

 Noah Block knows what it’s like to feel helpless and disconnected. A victim of bullying that began when he was in fourth grade, Block, 18, developed emotional problems that left him angry and depressed. That changed when he was 14 and had to do community service for school. He discovered YMCA Marin County Youth Court and began to feel that he could make a difference in the world. Since then, he’s helped scores of young people get back their power and reclaim their lives. 

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John Jordan In Focus

On a cool autumn day during harvest, John Jordan, chief executive officer of Jordan Vineyard & Winery, steps away from meetings with staff at the winery to talk politics. Not with the Jordan staff, or family and friends, because when it comes to his personal life, he has no interest in debating politics. Instead, Jordan takes the stairs to his second-floor office, where he prepares to talk live on Fox News.

Get Ready for a Bumpy Ride

The wine industry is heading for a bumpy ride in the next decade, and those without a well-planned and realistic strategy in place will either get very lucky or fail.

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Work/Life/Sleep

 Ways Sleep Improves Your Life

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Work/Life/Seeds

Seeds are packed with benefits and a great way of incorporating dietary fiber, vitamins and antioxidants into your daily diet. Consider adding these seeds to your next meal.

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Update: Diet Soft Drinks

 The risks and benefits of sugar substitutes have been argued and studied since their invention. For those of us not old enough to remember, saccharin was invented in 1879 and used as a food sweetener for decades before it was banned in 1912. It was allowed back into the market during World War I, where it has stayed. The next big contender didn’t show up on the market until 1951. 

Of New Proposals, New Bikes, New Eats, New CEOs and Old Seaplanes

North Coast Land Holdings, which bought the old 126-acre Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary site in Strawberry Point for $84 million in 2014, submitted plans to the county to put a grad school on the site, along with replacing 198 living units and building an additional 93 units.

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SHED

 A market and café, SHED is also a hub where the community can gather to celebrate food, offering fresh local produce and flowers, an eclectic assortment of spices, preserves, quality cookware and more to appeal to the inner gourmand.

Our Disingenuous Leaders

 “Disingenuous” means sly, dishonest or insincere. These days I see examples of disingenuous political actors and actions almost everywhere I look.

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Leaders of Tomorrow: Jacqueline Balletto

At 25 years old, Jacqueline Balletto is the tasting room and direct-to- consumer manager at her family winery, Balletto Vineyards. Was it her lifelong dream to join the family business? “No, not at all,” says Balletto. “I wanted to prove myself and go in my own direction, but everything kept leading me back to Balletto Vineyards.” 

Growing up in a farming family is a way of life, not just a part of life, says Balletto. She attended Fresno State university with a focus on agriculture business.

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Leaders of Tomorrow: Adrien Halpin

Winery growth is symbiotic between the vines and the ones planting them. Enologists, winemakers and their field staff monitor soil conditions, weather, moisture and a myriad of other variables all year long, giving the vines their best chance to produce fruit worth the effort poured into them. As the staff tucks more harvests under their belts, the knowledge goes a long way to making vineyard improvements. That’s the track for Adrien Halpin, assistant winemaker at Odette Estate in Napa’s Stag’s Leap district. In 2012, when Halpin was hired, the winery itself was getting used to some new management.

Helping You Grow Your Business

Welcome to the November Tomorrow’s Leaders issue of NorthBay biz magazine. In addition to all the stories this month, there’s a special report on cycling adventures in Wine Country. 

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Work/Life/Picks

Grape Seed, Cookie...take a bite! and Rons Red. 

Take a Bite! When Tracy Mattson started COOKIE... take a bite! five years ago, she wanted to share a bit of

happiness with people, one cookie at a time. “It was important to demonstrate to my son that with hard work and determination, you can do anything you put your mind to,” says Mattson. “Plus, who doesn’t love a good cookie?" Starting out at local farmers markets in the North Bay, the popularity quickly grew, winning several GOLD and DOUBLE GOLD medals from the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.

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Leaders of Tomorrow: Jose Gomez

When Jose Gomez resurrected Novato High School’s chapter of Friday Night Live (FNL), he took on a challenge—convincing local liquor storeowners to make alcohol less attractive to teenagers. Gomez, 19, was a freshman, when he discovered FNL at a school club fair. FNL’s focus on developing leaders and encouraging healthy lifestyles, impressed him, so he joined and spent time raising awareness of issues related to teenage alcohol consumption and conducting a survey to find out if stores were aware of the laws. FNL disbanded after difficulties with a transition in leadership and the coordinator’s reassignment and was dormant for a year. However, Gomez and his friend, Jack Anderson, revived it when they were juniors, recognizing that alcohol and drugs are a majort part of teenage social life, and FNL could convince young people that booze and drugs aren’t the only way to have a good time.

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Leaders of Tomorrow: Marco Montanez

Sixteen-year-old Marco Montanez of Healdsburg has a passion for heifers and hogs and all things livestock. As a cattle shower, Montanez has come a long way in the two years he’s been in the livestock industry. In 2015, Montanez dedicated his summer to helping a friend feed and care for his cattle in preparation for showing at the Sonoma County Fair.

“He taught me how to care for a heifer named Lucky and how to show her,” says Montanez. When it came time to show Lucky, Montanez took the bull by the horns and showed her in the ring for his friend.

 

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Leaders of Tomorrow: Christopher Jackson

“I came back because I love the industry I’m in. Wine is biblical. It’s agricultural, scientific, business, legal and multicultural.”

These are the words of Christopher Jackson, proprietor of Stonestreet Vineyards in Alexander Valley. Son of legendary wine pioneers Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke, Jackson grew up in a family inundated by the wine industry. With so much exposure to the winemaking process, it perhaps came as a surprise when Jackson announced he would be going into law school and become a lawyer.

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Shop Local

The holiday season is upon us in the North Bay, which means festive fun with family and friends, holiday decorations and delicious food, and of course, gifts. Sonoma, Napa and Marin Counties are shopping meccas, and during the holiday season there is no shortage of shopping options. 

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Leaders of Tomorrow: Courtny Conkle

Courtny Conkle, acting chief executive officer of the Sonoma-Marin Fair and exhibits manager of the Lake County Fair started in the state institutions early in life. In fact, it was about as early as early can be.

“I was born at a fair,” she says. “My mother went into labor, and the fair manager did everything in their power to get her comfortable and safely deliver me. I’m a fair child!”

This wasn’t the point where Conkle was recognized the youngest CEO of a state operated fair; that accolade would come when she accepted the post at just 21 years old.

Out From Under the Ashes

Today is the first day in a week that I’ve sat down to write on my computer. This says something for someone who is incessantly tied to her devices and has been called a laptop whore on more than one occasion. I started this column a week ago on the heels of my twins’ fourth birthday bash in October that was held at Old Faithful Geyser in Calistoga, a fixture of an establishment on Tubbs Lane, which happens to grant locals a 50 percent discount on admission. 

The Blockchain Gang

There’s a lot of hype around blockchains these days. It all started with Bitcoin—a form of digital currency, which doesn’t require a central bank to operate. Bitcoin is like cash: it’s anonymous, and using it carries no transaction fees (unlike credit cards). Bitcoin (and to a lesser extent other digital currencies) has grown in popularity since that time, and increased in value. If you had bought a single Bitcoin in June of 2013, you would’ve paid $128.10. On October 1 of this year, that same, single bitcoin was worth $4,280.11, a 3,300 percent increase. (Bitcoin has been around since early 2009. In late 2009, the first exchange of real dollars for Bitcoins valued a Bitcoin at about 10 cents.) 

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River City Living

As you drive northbound through the beautiful rolling hills of Marin County and southern Sonoma, Highway 101 takes you around one more turn and the grand view of the City of Petaluma opens up in front of you. Petaluma is a transliteration of the Coast Miwok phrase péta lúuma, which means hill backside. No matter which direction you view Petaluma from, the name is as obvious as the city is attractive.

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After the Fire

Recovery is only the beginning as Sonoma County and the North Bay looks towards a long period of hazard removal and rebuilding.

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Clint St. Martin

At 33, Clint St. Martin has been a hero most his life. He served in the Marine Corps as a staff sergeant and motor transport chief and deployed to Iraq in 2008. The North Bay native returned to Sonoma County and graduated with a degree in sociology from Sonoma State University. Longing for a sense of community andcamaraderie that the military provided, he joined the Mountain Volunteer Fire Department as afirefighter, engineer and certified emergency medical technician. 

Of Malls Mergers and Going to the Dogs

Merlone Geir Partners, which owns the Northgate Mall in San Rafael, would like to know how you feel about the place?

More to the point, they would like it if you felt the shopping center was a place you could call your own, a place for everyone to hang out.

The investment firm that bought the mall in January did a survey to help them “elevate” the mall and since the mall is a neighbor and I am a neighborly type of person, I took the survey. It covered some standard areas, how often you visit, why and what do you buy.

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Trading Post

 Originally a stagecoach stop known as Markleville, Cloverdale was incorporated when the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad arrived in 1872. Today, it’s part of Wine Country, within the Alexander Valley AVA, and over the years has maintained its charming small-town feel. On the corner of S. Cloverdale Boulevard and First Street in downtown Cloverdale, you’ll find the Trading Post—also known around town as “The Post”—a restaurant and bakery.

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In Focus

 When Troy and Connie Newton moved into their new home on Viewpointe Circle a year-and-a-half ago with their young son, Ryder, they knew right away they were settling into a special place. The neighbors dropped by with gifts and cards, and they were invited to monthly gatherings. “This is a neighborhood that looks out for each other,” says Troy, a detective and member of the SWAT team with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

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So What Causes Cancer Anyway

I met Maura Johnston two months ago. (Her name and patient details have been altered to protect anonymity.) She was an intriguing person, but what was most interesting was it seemed she\\\\\\\'d done everything “right” in her life, which I find unusual. She\\\\\\\'d grown up in the Bay Area with a supportive family, attended college and holds a challenging and rewarding job in marketing for a winery. Now 42, she has a loving husband and two daughters, ages 6 and 8.  Maura gets up early every morning to run four to five miles before heading to work. She had smoked “two cigarettes” in college, none since.  She enjoyed a glass of wine a few times a week, never more. No one in her family was ever diagnosed with cancer.

Wine Country Will Survive

The fires in Northern California Wine Country are tragic beyond comprehension and resulted in an obscenely too-high number of people losing their lives. Beyond the loss of life, thousands of families’ homes and hundreds of businesses were damaged or destroyed, and countless animals and forests have been decimated.

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The Journey Ahead

On October 8, I went to bed with the belief we were making gains on building homes for everyone with opportunities to repurpose county properties on Chanate Road and College Avenue, in addition to the SMART housing development proposed in downtown Santa Rosa.  But on Monday, Oct. 9, I woke up to the new reality that our housing crisis had suddenly compounded, exponentially. The dire shortage of housing that existed became catastrophic overnight with thousands of our community members finding themselves homeless.

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Benovia Winery

Driving through the entrance of Benovia Winery on a warm autumn afternoon after the wildfires, you’d never guess this part of the country was making news around the globe 15 days earlier. The sky is wide and blue, the grapevines lush and golden, and the sweet smell of harvest lingers in the air. 

The last of the 2017 vintage was harvested a week before wildfires, and the three proprietors of Benovia are grateful for that, but this harvest season was bittersweet.

In this Issue

24 Hours

On October 8, Loren Davis, fire chief at Mountain Volunteer Fire Department in Sonoma County, was sitting at a poker table at Graton Casino in Rohnert Park at around 9:30 p.m. when his pager went off....

After the Fire

Recovery is only the beginning as Sonoma County and the North Bay looks towards a long period of hazard removal and rebuilding....

Leaders of Tomorrow: Noah Block

 Noah Block knows what it’s like to feel helpless and disconnected. A victim of bullying that began when he was in fourth grade, Block, 18, developed emotional problems that left him a...

See all...