February 2009 Archives

Cakebread Caters to Wine, Photography Enthusiasts

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cakebread.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

I've always thought Cakebread's long-running annual Photo Contest is a simple but fun and absolutely effective way to engender brand loyalty among its customers. And so when I heard that the Rutherford winery would be offering a photography workshop with standout shutterbug Andy Katz followed by lunch this weekend, it struck me as a logical - and compelling - extension of the winery's branding initiatives.
strawbale_1.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Trends in so-called flexible design are revolutionizing the way we live, often with unexpected benefits. To wit, pre-fab homes now available from the likes of Method Homes combine sophisticated design, environmental efficiency and affordability into sleek ready-to-go housing models that can be installed just about anywhere, anytime. And now, at a time when the idea of building a new home and winery in wine country may seem as outsized as our nation's budget deficit, a pioneer in pre-fab is bringing flexibility and affordability to wine country living.
corkscrewed.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

When American journalist Robert Camuto moved to the south of France with his family several years ago (I know, I know, cue the Peter Mayle comparisons), it was in search of adventure unlike any the seasoned writer had experienced thus far. Indeed, it wasn't long before the New York native found himself squarely in the land of the vine, where - surprise! - the erstwhile political reporter began an adventure decidedly different from anything he'd known before.
By Christopher Nevin Johnston

filmfestBruce.jpgLooking for a good reason to hit the road and relax for a few days?  Well, look no more.  Every spring the Sonoma International Film Festival draws more than 17,000 visitors to the historic Sonoma City Plaza--located roughly 45 miles northeast of San Francisco--for an extended weekend of laid-back film, food, wine, art and music.

Akin to the more scenic film festival locations like Park City or Santa Barbara, Sonoma has all of the natural beauty of its sister fests but--and here's the kicker--is actually an affordable pleasure experience that won't leave you with a bad case of spender's remorse.  From now until February 28th all passes are on sale for 20% off the regular price.  So, if you purchased a basic Festival Pass (valued at $225) you could attend all the regular screenings and panels for only $180!  Let's see the Sundance Kid offer you a better deal....And if your pockets run a little deeper and you would like a more tailored festival experience, Platinum and Premiere Passes will ensure a hobnobbing good time without a bail-out from the Feds.

Family Fun in the Wine Country

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By Robert Farmer

fatherBaby.jpgThe trip from San Francisco to California's Wine Country is a quick one. But for several months in my life it might as well have been half way around the globe. The addition to our family of a baby--our beautiful daughter--had countless positive effects. However, there was one drawback. It turned the Golden Gate Bridge, over which we previously had skipped so effortlessly into Wine Country into a Bridge Too Far.

For several months on end, not only did we not make one of our favorite day trips or easy weekend getaways, we scarcely even let the prospect enter our minds.  So recently when we had occasion to try it again--owing mostly to being forced out of our house to make way for some minor construction--we weren't quite sure what to expect.

One Man's Recipe for Romance

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By Robert Farmer

Like most things, romance is a matter of personal taste. One person's dozen long-stem roses and heart-shaped box of chocolates is another person's all-access pit pass to a weekend of NASCAR championships - for two, of course. So when it comes to romance in wine country--on most people's minds this time of year--you'll find as much subjectivity as achingly beautiful garden paths down which to stroll in hand-holding bliss.
By Courtney Cochran

I know it sounds clichéd: guy meets girl, guy decides he likes girl, guy decides to whisk girl away for an über romantic weekend in - surprise!! - wine country.

Ok, so jetting off to wine country isn't the most original idea to occur to love-struck gents (and lasses) with romance on the brain.

Now that we've got that out there, I'd like to remind everyone of two very important supporting pieces of information: a) wine country, no matter how many times you've been, is simply one of the most romantic places on earth, and b) there are about as many romantic spots and activities in wine country as there are wineries in Napa Valley (a lot!), which means you can make your trip - and your romance - seem new every time you go.


Wine Country Personality - Barbara & Walt Gruber

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hcg_1.jpgLiving the Dream
Healdsburg Country Gardens

In l993, we sold a large home nearby and moved to our 25-acre fixer-upper farm property. We named it Healdsburg Country Gardens which was a stretch of the imagination since it had mostly junk piles and weeds. It had a compound of four homes and two barns and 20 acres of unplanted farmland. When our grown children saw the property, they thought we lost our minds! Later, we learned that "the kids" held discussions wondering what we were thinking buying this place. (Note: Now...they "get it".)

We refurbished all three vacation rental houses. We added landscaping while preserving existing majestic oaks and redwoods. Luckily, long ago someone planted a cork oak tree in a perfect spot. Over a few years, we planted our vineyards. We did lots of work ourselves with family and friends pitching in. The huge redwood barn was built in l902--lucky us having this gorgeous barn. We made it the focal point of our garden--it is perfect for gatherings with family and friends.
 
Now, our family and friends say we "had the vision" ...
we say "our wine country dreams came true."

February to May in Mendocino

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As winter's squalls turn to gentle raindrops, the Mendocino coast begins to come alive with wildflowers and native grasses. Perhaps one of the most beautiful times to visit, springtime is a fickle season that transforms from grey mornings as fog rolls in, to brilliantly sunny afternoons perfect for coaxing out tiny buds.

Inland areas tend to be similarly rainy, though a bit warmer. Even so, this time of year throughout the county tends to be a slow season, with most travelers waiting to escape to the cool coast when things get stifling elsewhere (June to October). You'll find fewer crowds right now (though February and March are whale season, and attract wildlife enthusiasts). Some tasting rooms and restaurants close up altogether or have limited hours until the crowds start returning in May, so check ahead. The good news is that you may be able to get an easy reservation at your favorite inn or hard-to-book restaurant during this slow season.

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