Listen to the interview with the 3 companies that won 25 or more BEST OF awards in the last 30 years!
Founded in 1981, the nonprofit, then known as the Marin Education Fund, began as a scholarship-only organization. In 2000, it made a transformative shift to supporting students and families that needed them most. Then in 2010, it committed to help 10,000 students from low-income backgrounds get to—and through—college in every community it served, and this goal was the inspiration behind changing its name to 10,000 Degrees. Since then, the nonprofit has helped more than 25,000 students and their families gain access to higher education.
This year’s Best Company to Do Business With In Napa County goes to GVM Law, LLP. For more than 40 years, GVM has been serving California’s winery, vineyard, farm and business owners. It’s a group of trusted advisors, dedicated to providing first-class service to their clients while creating lifelong friendships along the way.
Another year, another Best Job Placement Service award for Nelson. Nelson, one of the largest independent staffing firms in the U.S., with offices in Santa Rosa, San Rafael and Napa, works with companies and organizations of all sizes and types, across all industries, from nonprofits, to agile startups, government positions and Fortune 500 companies. No matter what kind of job or position you’re looking for, the folks at Nelson is there to help.
Shapiro, Galvin, Shapiro & Moran, first established in Santa Rosa by Everett Shapiro in 1968, was voted “Best Law Firm” by NorthBay biz voters once again. Today, the firm meets the legal needs of individuals and businesses in the fields of personal injury, civil litigation, business law, employment law, estate planning, real estate law, and construction law.
Julie Atwood Events has nearly a quarter of a decade history of creating joyful, personal gatherings in the North Bay. Her events have helped establish Wine Country as a world-class destination. Atwood’s business grew out of her architectural design clients’ requests for dinners, parties and charity galas that embodied the same aesthetic and attention to detail that defined the homes she designed for them.
In architectural circles, there’s something known as “The Golden Ratio,” a special number found by dividing a line into two parts, so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is equal to the whole length. It’s a ratio found in the Pyramids of Egypt to the Pepsi logo. After 80 years in business, AXIA Architects has a “Golden Ratio” of its own, earning its eighth ‘Best Of’ win for architectural design firm in 2018. The recognition from the community throughout the years can be attributed to the company’s dedication to servicing its clients’ needs.
On a wet spring morning at Balletto Vineyards in Santa Rosa, the tasting room is humming with business as eager wine club members gather around the bar to sip and purchase the winery’s award-winning Rosé, Pinot Noir and other statement wines. As John Balletto, owner of Balletto Vineyards, pours a taste of the 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir, it’s no wonder why it’s been voted Best Rosé of 2019.
The annual NorthBay biz readers’ poll turns 30-years-old this year, and the winner in its Best Consumer Bank category, Bank of Marin, will celebrate its 30-year anniversary as a successful independent community bank in 2020. “We’ve reached this milestone because our expert team of local bankers consistently conducts business based on our three core values: relationship banking, disciplined fundamentals and commitment to the community,” says Russell A. Colombo, president and chief executive officer.
The difficult and fickle nature of the Pinot varietal is precisely what Benovia co-owner and winemaker Mike Sullivan finds most appealing about his favorite varietal. “It’s very thin-skinned and temperamental. It’s about subtlety; not power,” he says. “It’s the heartbreak grape.”
The readers of NorthBay biz magazine have spoken, and Embassy Suites San Rafael has been voted as the Best Company to Do Business with in Marin County for 2019. The name Embassy Suites isn’t just a moniker, with every room having a living area separate from the bedroom with a desk, sofa, state-of-the-art television and WiFi.
t Redwood Credit Union, the guiding principle says it all. “It’s our mission to passionately serve the best interests of our members, employees and communities,” says Brett Martinez, president and chief executive officer. “We live our mission every single day,” he adds. That’s why RCU not only earned distinction as the Best Credit Union in the North Bay, as voted on in the annual NorthBay biz readers’ poll, but it’s also been named the Best Company to Do Business with in Sonoma County.
The Town of Windsor has come a long way since its boom in population and economic growth in the 1980s. Early settlers referred to the town as a "beautiful green valley with sturdy oak trees.” In 1856, East Windsor was the central area of business enterprise for the town, which included blacksmith shops, HH. Lafferty\'s shoe shop, Lindsay & Clark\'s Dry Goods Store, Mister Jerome\'s grocery & meat market, confectionary shops, a saloon, a hotel and bar and a boarding house.
Doug Hilberman understands the power of community, and he’s the sort of man who instinctively leads the way. “When I look to giving back and engaging with community, it’s important to bring the community up as a whole to enrich the environment,” says Hilberman, president, AXIA Architects. When Hilberman learned he was voted Best Community Leader, he was floored by the news and honored to join the ranks of those who’ve been recognized for their community leadership. “I’m humbled by the list of those who’ve been recognized in the past,” he says.
Debra Mathy’s dream was to own and operate a winery. In 2007, she purchased Dutcher Crossing winery after a six-year-long search to find the perfect place. At that time, the winery was only two years old but had the foundation, beautiful site and hospitality she was looking for.
After 140 years in the business, E.R. Sawyer Jewelers continues to shine as a downtown Santa Rosa gem. Current owners Ame and Doug Van Dyke, who have run the store since 2002, have hit the sweet spot with their clientele, and it isn’t because of the free Ring Pops and chocolate treats in jars on display counters, it’s their people-oriented approach.
Founded in 1890, Exchange Bank has been consistently recognized throughout the years by NorthBay biz readers as the area’s Best Business Bank. In fact, the bank is a 26-time winner in the annual readers’ poll. This distinction reflects the values and mission established in 1890 by Manville “Matt” Doyle and co-founder Frank P. Doyle, who saw the relationship of the bank to the community as a “mosaic of business, family, community and charitable and civic organizations.” Frank Doyle believed that each of these four elements must be successful if the community as a whole is to succeed, and he built Exchange Bank’s culture on his commitment to that belief.
Gloria Ferrer, namesake of the 2019 Best Of winner in NorthBay biz magazine’s Sparkling Wine category, has an unrivaled collection of champagne flutes, but that didn’t stop her from creating her own design. In collaboration with Sonoma artist, Alex Leader, she took a classic feature—a wide bowl to enhance the wine’s scent—and combined it with a modern, sleek neck to showcase the wine’s bubbles.
Known for its handcrafted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the goal at La Crema remains the same year after year.
Healdsburg’s Rodney Strong Vineyards can claim two unique distinctions: being founded by a former celebrated American dancer more than 50 years ago, and being named Best Cabernet Sauvignon of 2019.
If you’re from Sonoma County, then chances are you know a bottle of A. Rafanelli Zinfandel isn’t easy to come by. A fourth-generation, family-owned operation, A. Rafanelli Winery is well regarded for its reds, so it’s not surprising it was voted Best Zinfandel for the fourth time in NorthBay biz magazine’s annual readers’ poll.
Not only the best but also a trendsetter, John Ash & Co. was the first restaurant in Sonoma County to introduce the concepts of cooking with seasonal, locally-sourced foods and produce and pairing their exceptional recipes with wines from around the region.
Bruce Riezenman used to work in the back-of-the-house as a chef and restaurant owner, but now he’s involved in every aspect of his operation, food included, at Park Avenue Catering.
Vintners Inn originally opened in 1984 as a charming, 44-room inn on 42 acres of vineyards in the Russian River Valley. It soon evolved to be the quintessential wine country experience, and a reason people come from all over the world to visit a beautiful space surrounded by vineyards that boast excellent, locally sourced Wine Country cuisine paired with magnificent wines.
Santa Rosa Golf & Country Club offers more than just a round of golf. The private club has expanded, featuring state-of-the-art facilities for foodies, fitness fanatics, game lovers, tennis players, swimmers and card players. Established in 1916, SRG&CC was originally located in East Santa Rosa. In the mid 1950s, famed golf-course designer, Jack Fleming, designed the new course, which opened off Hall Road in 1957. In 2016, the club was acquired by Club Corp, with a network of more than 230 owned-and-operated golf courses both in the U.S. and internationally.
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