WineCountry Staff: February 2009 Archives

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.

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."

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