Archive for the 'Wine' Category

Barrel Tasting on the Russian River


Barrel tasting is a tradition in many wine areas and a great deal of fun in the Russian River area.  No – you do not taste the barrel but you taste the wine that  is still in  the barrel!  This is a great time to try new vintages before they are bottled and you can get them at reduced prices which are referred to as “futures”.

Check inThis year I passed on the daytime tasting to go to a private barrel tasting at Dutton Estates which is at the corner of Hwy 116 and Green Valley Road – between Sebastopol and Forestville. This was for wine club members only and is much less crowded.  Plus we were able to taste from the barrel and do a vertical tasting  of the last couple of years.  Yes, each vintage is different but to experience the maturation of a wine with time in the bottle is always fun.

This is not a food pairing or themed event.  IT IS ALL ABOUT THE WINE!  And it is happening all over again next weekend, March 14 and 15.  Check out the website and see if your favorite winery is participating and learn about some new ones.


Tasting from the Barrel


Pouring from the Bottle

Pouring from the Bottle

Showing Appreication – Wine Country Style

FoodLast night was my Client Appreication Party for all my wonderful clients – held at the J. Keverson Tasting Room in Healdsburg. This was the first time that I hosted an event outside of my home and it was a great time – wine, food, a great duo for entertainment and wonderful conversation.

ConversationThere was a lot of history and love that went into this evening. I think the earliest transaction represented was completed in 2004. The 2003 client came down with the flu and texted his regards earlier in the day. The most recent was October of 2014. And then there was the client who is writing an offer today!  It was terrific
to see everyone and we had a wonderful time.  I really enjoyed watching clients meet and converse with each other – and there seemed to be a lively discourse on everything from the real estate market to who should win the Oscars.


Jackie Tompkins

The J. Keverson Tasting Room is a wonderful venue for any event. Spacious and wine country chic, the room has art and furniture constructed from barrel stays. The decor is fun and the hostess, Jackie Tompkins, is the daughter of a colleague from my life as an engineering manager, Kevin Tompkins. The “Kev” in Keverson is from Kevin. The “J.” represents John Hazlewood. John is the winemaker and was the Realtor who represented me when I first moved to Sonoma County. John owned Fountaingrove Realty and Mortgage for many years. Jackie is pouring Starkey’s Court Zinfandel named in honor of Tim Starkey who was the guy who got me to relocate to Sonoma County.


CiCi Wilcoxon and Jesse Boggs

Our entertainment was CiCi Wilcoxon and Jesse Boggs of Honey B and the Pollinators. I first heard the group sing at The French Garden in Sebastopol. I knew CiCi as a Realtor when my office was in Sebastopol but did not know that she has a smooth, catchy voice and plays the bass. They were perfect for this event. Everyone loves their song selections – check it out on their website CiCi now owns West County Property Management and was helpful in getting my son and business partner the rental across the street from my home.


Mike and Lynn Lamka with Katherine Radcliffe

My thanks has to go out to Mike Lamka of Stearns Lending who helped with the event and provided some gracious hosting as I was busy hugging and loving my friends.

Next year I will attempt to be closer to home but this venue is going to be hard to beat. And, yes, I am back to writing on this blog. It has been over six months that I have been on hiatus and it is time to change. But I need to find my camera if I am going to get back to my pictures!


Conversation at the Food Table

The Discussions at the Bar

The Discussions at the Bar

Fall Is Upon Us


P1030802This year has sailed by and I am somewhat aghast that it is November and only days until Thanksgiving.  I started the month with a party to thank all of my clients who have stuck by me through all of my travails.  It was a joy to open my new little home and share the life that I manage with friends.  The party went most of the day and at the end I was happy and very tired.

I spent a couple of days on the Central Coast this month.  It was nice to be away from my phone and not dealing with escrows and listings for two whole days.  It really seemed like a vacation.  The scenery was beautiful and the company excellent.  It was great to get away and just as terrific to come back home.

20131114_190330The weather has been very odd this year.  It is still warm during the day but very cool at night – down in the 30s.  What amazes me is all the plants that are in bloom.  I have roses in the back yard and azaleas in the front.  Last week there was a beautiful camellia blossom in front and the plant is about to burst with hundreds of bulging buds.  Usually in November I am looking to find a couple of poor examples of roses in the garden to bring a festive air to the table.  This year it has not been a problem at all.  Jan Tolmasoff of Russian River Roses fame had a rose evening in celebration of her recent published article in the American Rose, the official publication of the American Rose Society.  She discussed the pairing of roses and wine (these roses don’t look like November stragglers!) and the rose perfume and oil that she and her husband, Michael. produce.  Russian River Roses is located outside of Healdsburg and is the real thing for rosarians looking to purchase high quality bushes and visit a beautiful extensive garden.   There is a rose allee of eight 12’x12′ arches that can take my breath away.

P1030836How I know that it is about Thanksgiving is that the Joy Road Art Walk was this last weekend.  The weather was fabulous and the people came out in droves.  It was wonderful to see.  I managed to get in and out without buying anything but not because there wasn’t great things to acquire.  I am still remembering how I had too much “stuff” to fit into my new home.  That will seem even more so when I start decorating for Christmas.  I have not done more than hang the stockings for the last two years since I was off to Hawaii for Christmas – but this year I will be home and spending time with my family.

Only two more days until one of the happiest days of the year.  I have made my cranberry sauce and started buying for the Thanksgiving feast.  I plan to do my best at the yearly sock golf (yes, that has become a tradition) and not overeat.

I look back on everything I have done this month and wonder how I fit it all in.  But then I am gearing up for a busy December.


Summer is Really Over

While every time of year in Sonoma County is beautiful and much better in climate year round than any other spot on earth, the transition to winter is my least favorite time.  I love the summer mornings with the sun peeking through the redwoods in the early morning.  It is invigorating and demands that I rise from the comfort of sleep to start my day gusto.  This last week has been a week of anticipation for the change from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time.  I wake in the morning to total darkness, look at the clock and it is almost 7 AM.  I have had trouble getting going in the morning and not once this week have I managed to get my workout in before I need am off to work.  Yesterday the dreariness was intensified by a much needed rainstorm.  It was the type of storm that barely requires a raincoat and only occasionally were the windshield wipers needed at full throttle.   Nothing to complain about at all even without the harsh contrast of devistation experienced on the East Coast from Hurricane Sandy.

Great Friends – Sally & David Ewald

September and October packed in those wonderful late summer outings.   Being Wine Country – most of the events had a great deal of wine involved.  The Rotary Club of Sebastopol put on another terrific lobster feed.  This event raises money for the many projects supported by the Rotary including mentoring of Analy High School students in business and philanthropy.

Lobster and Pinot – Complimentary

Two weekends each October is ArTrails – open studios throughout Sonoma County.  My last post was on Peter Krohn whom I interviewed for the Sonoma County Gazette.

Ceramic Man by Suki Diamond

Ceramic Water Features
by Gerald Arrington

I managed to get a few hours of studio hopping in before I went on to Napa for a decadent Chocolate and Wine tasting event that raised money for the Boys and Girls Club of Napa.

It is now 7:15 AM and still no light outside.  I did take a break from writing to do a Turbo Jam workout.  I can still get 4 workouts in this week.  I look back and think of the sun and great times of the last few weeks and remind myself that in every year some rain must fall.  And that the clocks will be turned back in just three more days!

Chocolate and Wine in Napa
Coco Tutti was a Favorite by All

Christmas Parties Begin

Angel at Trentadue Winery

This has been a whirlwind of a weekend.  It started on Thursday and has progressed until now – Sunday evening at my friend’s home in Pleasanton.  There is so much to do and so little time.

Ian at the French Garden

Thursday evening was Dining Out for Life in West Sonoma County.  This is a local fundraiser for Food for Thought, the food pantry for AIDS patients.  Not sure how much money was earned but I can assure you that no one walked into a restaurant without reservations and was seated immediately.  There is a host for each establishment from the community whose role is to make sure that their tables are full.  The restaurants give 20% of their take to Food for Thought.   Katy, Jen and I ended up at the bar of the French Garden on Bodega Avenue at Pleasant Hill Road.  We had a wonderful dinner and then slipped over to a party just south of Sebastopol.

If that wasn’t enough of a partying weekend, Friday night was picking up wine shipments in Healdsburg and a Holiday Art Show on Florence Street in Sebastopol.  The first stop was Francis Ford Coppola Winery.  A little tasting and chatting at the tasting room and away we went with Gail’s quarterly shipment.  Was it that long ago that we were there picking up the last shipment?  Where does the time go?  The next stop was Trentadue Winery.  Remember our visit to Trentadue last June?  Last week I shared the 2009 Trentadue Sangiovese with Jen and Dan.  It was really good.  Good enough that we consumed two bottles.  The Christmas lights at Trentadue are spectacular.  You can go for the wine or go for the lights – either are worth the trip.

Our last stop was at the home and studio of Abby Bard, local weaver, on the art street of Florence Avenue.  I love Abby’s garments.  She was joined by a group of friends with paintings, jewelry, pottery and leather works.  It was a lovely display and we picked up a few Christmas presents.

So five events under my belt and I was completely ready for the weekend.  And this was Christmastime in San Francisco weekend.  I will post as soon as I get my next free minute.

Beginning of the Holiday Season

Sonoma County Economic Forecast

View from Francis Ford Coppola Winery - A Sonoma County Destination

Wednesday morning I had the opportunity to hear Ben Stone of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board speak on the state of the economy in Sonoma County in general and specifically in Sebastopol.  I have known Ben for years – long before I entered the business of real estate – and have always found his comments to be well formed and appropriate.  I was going to say accurate but who really can predict the future?

Ben is a very positive guy – and he worked hard to come up with some positive economic news.  It was very nice to hear that the West County Schools have above average SAT scores and the lowest drop out rate in the county.  The other good news was actually on home sales.  While the Press Democrat recently had the headline “Mortgage defaults jump” (which is a very misleading headline), Sebastopol saw a rebound of 4.3% in home sales from 2009-2010.

The prediction for Sonoma County is that the pace of recovery is likely to follow the path of the broader U. S. economy.  Why?  Because Sonoma County exports products outside of the area (read WINE) and tourism is dependent upon the country having the disposable income in order to travel.  Thanks to these industries, Sonoma County is in the top 20-30 economic areas of the United States.

From my perspective, the housing market is in much better condition than recent years.  The struggle today is to get loans closed in a timely manner.  The closings happen but always with a delay.  If you are looking to buy or sell, keep this in mind.

Sebastopol Rotary Lobster Feed

Once I had eaten lobster in Maine, I have never ordered it in a restaurant in California again.  So I was a bit skeptical when I heard that the Rotary Club was having a Lobster Feed right here in Sebastopol.  But the Rotary Club here does things on a very grand scale and the money goes for good causes.  I sent in my check on the basis that the event would be fun – I would see friends – I have to eat anyway so I might as well contribute to the community.

Upon entering the grassy area behind O’Reilly & Associates,  I was greeted by about ten wineries pouring generous glasses of their best wines.   I learned of a grape that I had never heard of before – Charbono.  They say it is from Italy and it certainly sounds like it.  The grapes for this Russian River Vineyards single vineyard bottling come from Mendocino County and are grown by a guy named Guido.  The wine is red, forward and very tasty.  (No I am not a wine critic.  I know what I like and what I don’t like and that is about it!)  The second wine of which I partook was Dutton-Goldfield’s 2009 Pinot Noir.  Yummy!

The event had plenty of silent auction items that were being snapped up and nibbles from the Culinary Class at El Molino High School.  The real show was the cooking of the lobster.  I wish I had been thinking about my camera while I watched the 50 gallon vats of boiling water prepare our vegetables, bratwurst, shrimp and lobsters!  Alas, I was just thinking about how good they were going to taste.  The lobster was flown in that day and as fresh as being in Bar Harbor.

The evening was full with a live auction, selling of keys to an all paid vacation to Kauai (one hundred keys at $100 each) and wonderful conversation.  I will once again go on the Mystery Tour with other women of Sebastopol as I broke down and raised my card.  The event brought in over $90,000 from the auctions alone.  Another great evening in Sebastopol.

Playing in the Sonoma Sun

One of the new destinations in Sonoma County is the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville.  I visited there with my friend, Gail, in one of our rainy days of June.  The outside area of pool, bocce courts and cabines did not look too inviting that day.  So with a very little encouragement, we went back on a sunny day in July.  This was another charity auction outing that consisted of bocce lessons with  winemaker, Sandy Walheim, lunch for eight and time at the pool with our own cabines (which are the small cabanas by the pool with showers.

Upper Bocce Courts at Coppola Winery

We arrived at 9:30 A.M. for our 10 o’clock bocce lessons.  It was a bit overcast but the promise of blue skies was evident.  It was fun to be shown in as the regular tasting crowd was told that they would need to stay outside the gates until 11.  We were given keys to the two cabines (each accommodates 4 people) and placed our towels chaises so that we could have the location we wanted after lunch.  It was then time to try our hand at bocce.  Sandy is the designated bocce instructor because she has played on a bocce league.  She claims that it is “no big deal” as she was not on a winning team.  She certainly knew a lot more about bocce than the eight of us combined. Bocce is known by many names throughout the world.  The concept is to have a small ball known as the pallino  tossed down the court and the team that ends with their larger balls closest to the pallino scores points.  Okay, it gets complicated with not hitting the back of the court and getting the pallino at least as far as the midpoint, etc. etc.  We managed to spend two and a half hours (with my team getting totally skunked) of delightful interaction.

Private Luncheon Venue

The sky was blue – lunch was served – and everyone was enjoying the premium wines of Coppola. The lunch was vegetarian and Italian deli meat panninis with a wonderful orzo salad.  (Everyone said it was wonderful but since it had raw tomatoes in it, I did not partake!)  We had consumed the chardonnay while playing bocce so we had to go with the Director’s Cut Zinfandel with our lunch.   The lunch was topped off with a selection of cookies that went very well with the zinfandel wine.

The next activity was to visit the displays of Francis Ford Coppola’s movies that are inside the winery.  For Coppola film buffs, this is a unique treat with costumes, cars and Oscars all up close.

Our Server with Bob at Poolside

I headed straight for poolside.  The day was warm enough to be comfortable in a swimsuit and cool enough to be pleasant.  The staff who keeps the wine and food coming are dressed in white uniforms that could be on the set from Imperial India.   We had to try the Sophia sparkling wine and a pinot gris.  We were at a winery after all!  The pool was refreshing and the towels soft.

All in all – this was a terrific day.  I highly recommend the outdoor area for a wonderful day.  We arrived at 9:30 in the morning (but remember that we had special treatment – opening is at 11 A.M.) and gathered our things at 5:30 in the afternoon.  No one was ready to go eat afterwards.


Amber Moshin – Artist Profile

Amber Moshin in the Tasting Room

Serendipity plays a huge role in many lives but there are those rare few that make their chances a true adventure.   Did Amber Cartwright ever imagine while working in her Orange County coffee shop that she would one day be traveling in Burgundy sampling the greatest wines in the world with her talented husband, Rick Moshin?  Did she picture that as she was establishing herself as a vital partner in one of the acclaimed wineries of Sonoma County, the building that housed her coffee shop would one day be a wine shop?  She certainly never planned to be a successful photographer of plants, landscape and architecture.

I met Amber Moshin when she first displayed her photographs at Moshin Winery on Westside Road outside of Forestville in December of 2009.  The images were lovely and needed to be shared with a broader audience than her husband and cats who were privileged to see them as they cycled on her computer screen.  Rick insisted that Amber’s photography be in the rotation of local art seen at the winery.  Once pictures were selected, The Lab in Santa Rosa did the printing, Rick made the frames from barn wood left over from the construction of the winery and Frame Of Mind in Forestville cut the glass  –  the finished product was displayed.  The response was encouraging and we now have the second show on display until July 8.

Amber was always looking for a creative outlet from an early age – ceramics, music, drawing, painting.  After high school she attended Fullerton College and received her AA in Liberal Studies with an emphasis on music and creative writing.  But she struggled to find a focus.  Her mother moved from Southern California to Sonoma County.  She stayed in Orange County searching for direction.  Each visit to with her mother in the north left her with a melancholy on her return.  As a mother, I am certain that missing her mother had something to do with the change in mood but in Amber’s thinking the major factor was overall experience of a calmer life and stunning beauty of Sonoma County.  In 1997 she packed up and made the move.   Here is Sonoma County, Amber found love in life and the focus for her creativity.  This is a column on artists – their art – not their love life so I will just mention that Amber Moshin appears to be very happy in her farmhouse that she shares with Rick Moshin.

Only in recent years has Amber discovered the medium of digital photography.  She acquired a digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera from a friend prior to a tour in Europe.  She took pictures and took pictures.  The experience was fascinating.  Upon her return to home, she enrolled in one of John Sappington’s classes at SRJC.   The pictures piled up in her computer.  When the winery opened in 2005, Amber took on responsibilities in advertising, marketing and labels.  Amber returned to SRJC to learn Photoshop.  The process of discovery continues.  The abundant talent that resides in Sonoma County is a treasure trove of ideas.  Two local photographers, Robert Janover and Peter Krohn, provide ongoing challenges to discover new techniques.  Many readers know Robert from his ever popular calendar of Sonoma County Landscape.  Amber became aware of Peter’s work when visiting Leslie Zumwalt at Frame Of Mind and seeing a photograph while it was being framed.  She knew that the photo was meant to be hers when it came up at a Face to Face auction at the Mary Agatha Furth Center.  The seed is planted to expand into scanart.

The future is full of excitement for Amber Moshin and her photography.  From her first show to the current exhibition, she has expanded into staging photographs instead of drawing solely on what nature provides.  She watches videos on the lives and work of photographers to glean nuggets of inspiration.  She studies cameras to know how to get every ounce of beauty from her efforts.  She is a woman with a mission and we are the benefiters.

Amber has displayed her photography at Bola Hair Salon in Occidental, Divine Affair in Healdsburg and Mosaic Restaurant (sadly no longer serving us wonderful food in a terrific setting) in Forestville.  Her show at Moshin Winery is available for viewing until July 8.  Her next venue is Rochioli Winery Tasting Room on Westside Road – another circle of life as this was the location of Amber’s first job in a winery.   Take advantage of these opportunities to taste some great local wines while feasting your eyes on beautiful photography.

This article was published in the Sonoma County Gazette, July 2011.

What is Happening this Weekend in Sonoma County?

Sebastopol Farmer's Market

Every weekend in Sonoma County is packed throughout the year but once summer has hit (which it has!) there are so many things to do that I have a difficult time deciding which to take in.  There are signs along the roads in every community with a Pancake Breakfast or a dance at the Grange.  And then there are the Farmer’s Markets.  I like Occidental on Friday night and Sebastopol on Sunday morning.  But others are probably just as good – these are the ones close to home.

Just to give you an example – In THIS WEEK SONOMA COUNTY which is only four pages long are three unique events.  The Lavender Food and Wine Festival is happening in Kenwood at the Lavender Barn at 8537 Sonoma Highway.  There are cooking demonstrations, music, lavender products and wines by Chateau St. Jean, Kenwood Winery and B.R. Cohn.   Sausal Winery is celebrating the 1956 purchase of Sausal Ranch by Rose and Leo Demonstene on Saturday from 11 to 4 with a 1950s themed diner-style lunch, classic cars and Elvis Presley music at 7370 Hwy. 128 in Healdsburg.  Right here at Bill’s Farm Basket and Pony Espresso at 10315 Bodega Hwy between Sebastopol and Freestone is the Hoe Down with Three Legged Sister performing at 6:30 on Saturday.

Lavender in the Garden

One great place to find something to do is to the Sonoma County Gazette.  The Calendar is always full of ideas.  If you do not get a hardcopy of the Gazette, you can find it on line at:

I plan to see friends, play 9-holes at Northwood Golf Course in Monte Rio, maybe visit the Di Rosa Preserve on the way to Napa and work in my garden.  Oh, maybe I won’t be able to fit that all in!  But I will be happy trying.  Have a wonderful weekend.


February 2023


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