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  • Moving Home

    It has been almost two years since the devastating firestorms hit the North Bay in 2017, burning down 5,143 homes and leaving nothing but ash and debris in its wake. While to many the incident leaves behind memories of confusion and devastation, for the thousands who lost everything their journey is anywhere but over.


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  • Solving Chronic Homeless

    Helping homeless members of the North Bay community find housing or shelter may seem impossible at times, but one national initiative has flipped the process on its head—and it’s working. The initiative is called Housing First, and it means just that.


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  • Outrunning Cancer

    The fear of breast cancer can cast a dark shadow over a woman’s life. It’s one of the most common types of cancer in females, and it’s the rare person who doesn’t know someone who’s received a diagnosis. The National Cancer Institute expects 271,270 new cases in the United States in 2019, so it’s a valid concern. Women can be proactive, however, by learning about the risk factors and taking steps to protect themselves.


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  • The North Bay Rental Market

    Each North Bay county has unique advantages and challenges in the rental market. Sonoma County has a central location and access to the 101 corridor, but is struggling to rebuild housing lost in the October 2017 fires. Marin County is balancing residents\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' interest in minimal construction and strict environmental restrictions against a need for local labor. Napa County is meeting many of its goals, but facing the limits of agricultural restrictions.


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  • The Barlow After the Flood

    When an atmospheric river began dumping rain on Sonoma County in late February, no one at The Barlow was too concerned. The City of Sebastopol received frequent updates on potential flooding from Sonoma County’s Emergency Operations Center, and city staff passed the information to the upscale shopping district and its management. Additionally, a city-approved disaster plan designed to protect the property was ready to implement—the expected deployment of water barriers at The Barlow reassured tenants the most. The plan went awry, however, and by the early hours of Wednesday, Feb. 27, it was clear a flood was in control.


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  • Hubs for Hops

    The number of breweries that opened in the U.S. during the past 20 years has skyrocketed, as the popularity of craft beer has grown. As of 2018 there were 7,450, and another 2,500 are expected to open in the next two years. Before the National Prohibition Act of 1919, breweries dotted the landscape, but the act temporarily abolished the commercial market for alcoholic beverages. Without access to drinkers, the tradition of making specialty beers faded and verged on extinction. Today, there’s a renaissance, and it began in Sonoma.


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  • Targeting the Future

    “Being informed won’t help you design a competitive benefit program. Being advised will.” That’s the mission of Arrow Benefits Group, a rapidly growing employee benefits consulting firm that has won multiple awards and become a thought leader in the industry. More importantly, it helps employers and employees navigate the world of company benefits with a flexible approach.


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  • Ghost Wineries

    By all accounts, Napa Valley’s fledgling wine industry was thriving in the 1800s during th peak of the Gold Rush. While creating new fortunes, the thrill of winemaking beckoned. It was a pioneering era, and by the turn of the century, more than 140 wineries were established and thriving — but it didn’t last. Prohibition forced all but a handful of wineries to close, and many owners simply abandoned their property. The wine industry was debilitated, leaving little more than ghost wineries and memories.


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  • Refreshing a Brand

    Why does a company rebrand itself? For Santa Rosa-based Summit State Bank, it was a desire to update a “tired” image, says Roni Brown, the bank’s senior vice president and marketing director, and a veteran of the banking industry.


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  • Family Roots

    One of the oldest wineries along West Dry Creek Road in Sonoma County is A. Rafanelli Winery. Nestled on a knoll that offers a sweeping view of the valley, the rustic winery is still family-owned and operated. And though it operates by appointment-only reservations and there’s a gate at the bottom of a hill that requires a code, it has remained true to its family traditions and heritage.


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  • Banking on Cannabis

    At any time of day, the average looking car or van driving near you on a city street or zipping past you on Highway 101 could be filled with a half-million dollars of legal cannabis industry cash. Stacks and stacks of bills gathered from cannabis retailers and manufacturers zigzag here and there, being transported from one private safe haven to another because the typical federally-insured consumer bank will not accept large amounts of paper money from this industry.


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  • Are You Covered?

    It’s one in the morning and you wake to see the red glow of fire through the window, or you’re driving in rainy conditions, and your car skids toward an oncoming car. Are you covered? Catastrophic loss is what too many people have suffered, but many still don’t think it can happen to them. But it could, and in the world of insurance, it’s best to be prepared.


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  • Harvest Rituals

    It’s the first day of harvest at Grgich Hills Estate, and there’s a mountain of grapes ready to be crushed. But at the moment they’re on display for more than 100 guests, each with a glass of wine, ready to toast. There’s a priest standing by, along with Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, co-founder and Vintners Hall of Fame member. The crowd’s sense of anticipation permeates the air, and the drinks in hand are only part of the reason.


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  • Cabernet Season

    “Grapes are promiscuous,” says Liz Thach, distinguished professor of wine and management at Sonoma State University. “They like to breed with one another to create new varietals. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon is the offspring of Cabernet Franc. In Bordeaux, as a result of vintage variation, they frequently blend Cabernet to enhance flavor and complexity. In cooler years, it’s sometimes difficult to ripen Cab, which is another reason why they blend.”


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  • For the Love of Pie

    Pie is the classic American dessert. And if you’re from the North Bay, chances are you’ve enjoyed your fair share of Kozlowski Farms pies over the years. Lovers of these homemade-style pies and tarts will be happy to know that while the farm store, a local institution since 1949, is now closed, the legacy of Kozlowski baked goods will continue on thanks to a new partnership with Healdsburg’s Costeaux French Bakery.


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  • Succession Planning

    Starting a business and developing it into a prosperous enterprise is a major accomplishment. And so, the desire to pass it on to the next generation and see it continue to grow comes naturally. It’s a legacy that has the potential to provide security for a family, but it takes more than handing over the keys to the door. Rather, careful long-term planning for succession provides the best chance for the transition to succeed and a business to endure.


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  • Wine and Food Pairing

    When all of us first began enjoying wine in adulthood, we heard the same old chestnut: white wine with fish, red wine with meat. It was a rule destined to be broken, if not seriously twisted like a corkscrew.


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  • On the Road to Aging Well

    Since ancient times, humanity sought the fountain of youth. Originally the term was used in a literal sense, referencing a spring with the power to eliminate years of aging for those who took a drink or bathed in its waters. The Spanish learned such tales from the writings of Herodotus and famously searched in vain for the magical cascade in the 16th century. Though science broke the news long ago that no such fountain exists, we nonetheless yearn for similar results and seek ways to preserve our vigor and appearance—ideally living longer and more fulfilling lives. Mike Charleton, a 50-year-old Windsor resident and nationally ranked cyclist, found his modern version of the eternal spring.


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  • G and C Auto Body

    The auto body repair business has history that extends back more than a century. Horseless carriages were initially reserved for the wealthy, and chauffeurs doubled as mechanics. In 1972, following a stint in the military, Gene Crozat returned to his hometown of Santa Rosa with a pack of smokes and $1.40 in his pocket. He learned car painting and auto repair skills in the Air Force, and sensing a prosperous opportunity, Gene set up an auto repair body shop with partner Leo Gassel. Though Gassel retired three years later, Gassel and Crozat Auto Body, better known as G&C Auto Body, was born.


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  • Soft Skills

    As the tail end of the Millennial generation graduates college and enters the American workforce, one thing seems to be clear: It is long past the time to go hard on soft skills. The generation that was weaned on technology and grew up with smartphones is wired with all the hard skills one can imagine, from computer programming to accounting.  But somewhere along the line, many didn’t learn about the need to show up on time, dress appropriately and make an effort to play well with others.


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North Bay News and Stories

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An Untethered Life

I’ve known Julia Brigden since our kids were elementary school classmates more than a decade ago. But until recently, I never knew she was also “Girl Freiberg,” a child of the ’60s who’s had four songs written about her. (“The Girl With No Name” by Chris Hillman of The Byrds is one.) And now she’s written a memoir, Girl: An Untethered Life. Her story is pretty amazing. In an article for sfgate.com, she once wrote: “I grew up in Sausalito. I ran away to Mexico when I was 16. When I got back they were going to put me in juvenile hall until I was 21. In lieu of that, I got married.” But what interested me was how she managed to self-publish a book, and the technology involved.

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A Flavorful Life

When Chuck Ross started F.A. Nino’s Artisan Products, it was out of necessity. But Ross’ passion and authenticity is the driving force behind the company, leading to exponential growth that’s still coming to fruition.

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WorkLife Picks

Lemonette dressing and mushroom jerky may not necessarily pair well together, but are individually featured as November\\\\\\\'s local picks.

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El Coqui in Santa Rosa

The Puerto Rican coqui (pronounced ko-kee) is a small green frog, native of the island. When the sun goes down at dusk, the coquis sing ko-kee all night until dawn. It’s a popular creature, known to bring the tropical forests there to life. The coqui has been a cultural symbol of Puerto Rican history for years and an icon for all that’s Puerto Rican, which is why El Coqui is the perfect name for an authentic Latin restaurant in downtown Santa Rosa.

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Rodney Strong Vineyards

On a mild autumn day in October, Rodney Strong Vineyards is humming with activity. The sky is wide and blue, leaves on the vines are turning brilliant shades of orange and yellow, the air smells of grapes, and a truck overflowing with Chardonnay fruit, freshly picked from a coastal vineyard, lumbers past the entrance to the winery on the way to the crush pad. It’s harvest time, once again, for the winery that was originally founded in 1959 by the late, celebrated American dancer, Rodney Strong.

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Agriculture Annoys, Disappearing Toys and Train Noise

Recent events in West Marin demonstrate the challenging arc that agriculture has in the last bastion of the old county.

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Reel Time

November once signaled the end of harvest season, and the traffic and buzz about town that goes with it.
But the lull that once marked the month barely exists any longer, in part due to the Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF), which keeps energy reeling after the last grapes have been picked.

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Alcohol Free Forces Gain Momentum

Zero-proof drinks are gaining favor with both old and young alike, and it looks like they will cut increasingly into wine, beer and spirit consumption. Many nonalcoholic concoctions—what used to be called “mocktails” (a word now totally out of vogue)—are finding favor with those seeking healthier, non-intoxicating alternatives. Beyond health, these “sober-curious” adults are looking for ways to socialize and have fun within the 21-plus crowd, while remaining in control of their faculties.

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Is Drinking Wine Good For the Heart?

Last week I met a lovely couple in their late fifties who came to establish their care with me at my office. They both had been diligent about keeping up with regular checkups and with preventive screening tests and lab work. During a routine physical exam with the husband, I noted that he had an irregular heartbeat, and a subsequent EKG showed atrial fibrillation. This is a cardiac rhythm that can lead to a stroke, if not treated. I discovered that for years, the couple shared a bottle of wine each day. This was part of their nightly, winding-down routine. When I mentioned that alcohol likely contributed to his arrhythmia and blood pressure elevation, he and his wife were shocked.

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Art in a Bottle

Just as a conductor prepares their orchestra, a winemaker studies and dictates the harvest. The amalgamation of grapes is an ensemble of taste, a careful construction of a specific drink that forms within the taste buds themselves. It’s part chemistry. It’s part culinary. It’s part art. Its what places Deerfield Ranch Winery above average wine.

Feeling Manipulated by SMART?

In March 2020, SMART—Sonoma-Marin Area Transit—will ask voters to approve a 30-year extension of a sales tax that’s already ran 10 years, with another 10 years to go. Why not just admit that the SMART tax is intended to be forever? 

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The Challenges of Family Owned Businesses

Is there any business in the world tougher than a family business? Regardless of industry, no operation is as emotionally draining, loaded with more personal drama, laden with unspoken and often misguided intentions than a business operated by family members.

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Ame and Doug Van Dyke

E.R. Sawyer is a Santa Rosa institution, serving the community as its premium jewelry store for an incredible 140 years, spanning four generations. Owners Doug and Ame Van Dyke share a passion for customer service, and they also share a life together—the married couple has known each other for more than 30 years. Each a Sonoma County native and longtime Santa Rosa resident, they have four children, ranging from age 15 to 25. When they’re not working at E.R. Sawyer’s Fourth Street location, they most enjoy spending time with the family.

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Work/Life Biz

From the local North Bay to nationwide, these are the leading business stories and statistics.

 

 

In this Issue

Succession Planning

Starting a business and developing it into a prosperous enterprise is a major accomplishment. And so, the desire to pass it on to the next generation and see it continue to grow comes naturally. It&...

Succession Planning

Starting a business and developing it into a prosperous enterprise is a major accomplishment. And so, the desire to pass it on to the next generation and see it continue to grow comes naturally. It&...

For the Love of Pie

Pie is the classic American dessert. And if you’re from the North Bay, chances are you’ve enjoyed your fair share of Kozlowski Farms pies over the years. Lovers of these homemade-style p...

See all...