Wine Country Living

Healdsburg Menus and Wineries-Handy Web Site Guide

When I found out my favorite Healdsburg brunch spot, the tiny Ravenette, is closed for a while, I wanted to find a new Sunday brunch spot to meet some friends (and clients) who just moved to Headsburg full time from San Diego. Google turned me on to a handy website, healdsburgmenus.com with menus and links to most of the good dining spots in town. I think Healdsburg has more quality restaurants per capita than any place I know outside Manhattan or Paris. (OK it is a small town but you can't walk more than a few steps without finding great food and wine.) The site is called healdsburgmenus.com I thought we might meet at the Downtown Bakery and Creamery. This spot has been serving up great breads, cakes, cookies and ice cream since 1984 and was one of the first "gourmet down home" spots in Healdsburg. I always made a pit stop here on my way to Mendocino. They have expanded their bakery operation (open since 1984) to include table seating and a nice breakfast menu. Or maybe we'll head to Bovolo behind the new Copperfield's Bookstore for some of John Stewart and Duskie Estes (of Zazu fame) robust fare. Or maybe we'll head to Barndiva for some stylish country food. Hmmmm. Well we actually had a nice breakfast at the newly and greatly expanded Costeaux French Bakery a block north of the Plaza. The place was packed indoors and out with a crowd of mostly locals and a few tourists. I don't know how you can spot tourists exactly, but you can. ;) While we're at it I've got to let you know about my classic Healdsburg bungalow listing at 414 Piper Street, only 4/10ths of a mile from all these yummy spots. Well this is a real estate blog you know. Honestly, with a Walkscore of 83 think how much fine dining you could have and how much gasoline you could save? Good for you and good for the planet!...

Different kind of Sonoma County Snapshot: Wine County Veggie Pizza

Ok it must be getting close to dinner, but I promised pictures of Sunday night's home made pizza made entirely with veggies from my Sonoma county wine country garden.  Harvesting the garden right now is nearly a second full time job after realtor.  Had a very casual dinner Sunday night with good friends.  Here is the before picture (before it was devoured.).  Yummm.  Three kinds of cherry tomatoes, garlic, onions, orange bells, poblano, beefsteak tomatoes, pine nuts (not from the garden) basil and some fresh mozzarella.  Maybe I will figure out a tie-in to real estate blogging AFTER dinner.  Bon appetit!...

Is autumn the most beautiful season in the wine country?

You decide--these photos were taken by good friend Robin Satterlee this morning in the Saitone Vineyard, Russian River Valley Appellation, Sonoma County, California.   The fog was very thick and burned off by noon, but it made for some beautiful contrast in the photos.  Sometimes Photoshop isn't necessary, just a good photographer and a good eye. For a Flickr slide show click here. ...

CHANGE Fundraiser for the Good of the Horse A Success and Great Fun

For the one year anniversary and its first fundraiser, yesterday's BBQ fundraiser and show at the gorgeous Sonoma Equestrian Center in Glen Ellen was by all accounts a great success.  Rather than the sales of 100 tickets hoped for, 400 tickets were sold and many of us enjoyed a beautiful fall Sunday afternoon under the oaks, eating, visiting and enjoying the entertainment, from vaulting (gymnastics on the backs of cantering horses) to musical freestyle dressage and a demonstration of some of the medieveal equestrian arts.   At the same time we learned of the concerted horse rescue efforts of many Sonoma county volunteers including client Betsy Bueno and Sonoma County Animal Control.  Whether through ignorance, hard luck or hard times, many animals in addition to many people are suffering these days, and when the animal is a 1,000 pound horse, the sheer logistics for any public agency, not to mention the expense, are daunting.  Obviously the volunteers at CHANGE have struck a nerve, and it is impressive to see such rapid growth and professionalism in a young charitable organization.  (Subtle hint:  Your donations are tax-deductible and go straight to the horses' mouth.) This event also marked the PUBLIC Sonoma County debut of good friend and client Sir William Hamersky and his trusty steed, Rohan, as they demonstrated some of the medieval horsemanship arts. Below--Sir William's squire hands him his lance for the quintain, an event which enables the knight to practice his jousting technique without knocking his foe off his horse.   Sir William and Rohan teach their medieval arts at the ranch we found for them in Sebastopol, Full Tilt Farm.   Prior to the quintain, Sir William remembers to dedicate his efforts to the lady of the manor this day, Laura Ponter, of the Sonoma Equestrian Center.  Bottom photo:  The quintain spins after a successful hit. (Photos thanks to Robin Satterlee) ...

BBQ Fundraiser: For the Good of the Horse Sunday 9/21

One of my favorite clients is Betsy Bueno. In 2003 she was running her horse rescue operation out of a lovely tract home near the golf course at Shiloh Greens in Windsor.  I wish I had taken pictures of her front porch--it looked more like a tack room.  Betsy leased some easement land literally down the block from the city of Windsor for about a dollar a year, and there she cared for and nursed back to health many abandoned horses.    Most of them found new homes and happy lives thanks to the hard work of Betsy and the volunteers at Lost Hearts and Souls Horse Rescue. It was really a challenge to care for the horses from such a location. Twice a day, or more in hot weather, Betsy would have to drag the hose from her house down to the corner and across a busy road to fill the horse watertroughs.  Meanwhile, she was searching for a home where she and the horses, and her kids could all live together.  Within a few months the house in the suburbs was sold and Betsy and her kids moved into a beautiful old farm house on over four level acres in a beautiful southeast Santa Rosa location. Fast forward five years and Betsy has joined forces with CHANGE (Coins to Help Abandoned and NeGlected Equines) in order to create a powerful network of veterinarians and volunteers who assist Sonoma County Animal Control in dealing with equine cruelty, abandonment and emergency cases.   They are also providing support in law enforcement cases to try and prevent more abuse in the future.  With many people having economic difficulties, having a robust volunteer action network to assist the Sonoma County officials when neglected or abused horses are discovered, is an important link in the equation for horse health in Sonoma County. This Sunday in Glen Ellen Anthony and Laura Ponter, co-founders of CHANGE, are hosting a benefit to support CHANGE at their lovely ranch in Glen Ellen, the Sonoma Equestrian Center from 11 am to  3 pm.   Tickets can be purchased at the CHANGE website above, or by calling 707 364-2575.  I will be there along with many horse friends and clients, including the incomparable Sir William and Rohan who will be putting on the first public demonstration of the MEDIEVAL JOUSTING arts in Sonoma County. For an exciting preview, click here. ...

Do you know what your home's Walkscore is?

One of the most appealing things about living in Sonoma County is the tremendous range of fantastic amenities for such a rural community.  People come here for the scenic beauty and they stay, moving from large cities in the San Francisco Bay Area or Southern California because there is so much to do, from great dining and wine tasting (of course!) to a thriving small theatre and music scene to a large arts community.  Granted, it's not Manhattan, where the world is at your doorstep, but we pack a surprising amount into a scenic package. One of the things I enjoy most about working with Sonoma County real estate buyers, is sharing with them the personal discoveries I have made and my favorite haunts in communities from Sebastopol to Sonoma, Glen Ellen to Healdsburg, Santa Rosa to Windsor, Occidental, Graton, Kenwood, etc.  One of my goals with this blog over time is to collect some links and tools that will serve as my personal guide to Sonoma County.  Over the coming months, you will see more community pages with my personal recommendations and links to handy resources for Sonoma County residents and would-be residents of the Wine Country. In the meantime, I have found a great tool to help you get started learning about any home you might consider buying:  Walkscore.com.   It provides a Walkability score for any given address.  What is that?  From the Walkscore Home Page: Walkable Neighborhoods Picture a walkable neighborhood. You lose weight each time you walk to the grocery store. You stumble home from last call without waiting for a cab. You spend less money on your car—or you don't own a car. When you shop, you support your local economy. You talk to your neighbors. What makes a neighborhood walkable? A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a discernable center, whether it's a shopping district, a main street, or a public space. Density: The neighborhood is compact enough for local businesses to flourish and for public transportation to run frequently. Mixed income, mixed use: Housing is provided for everyone who works in the neighborhood: young and old, singles and families, rich and poor. Businesses and residences are located near each other. Parks and public space: There are plenty of public places to gather and play. Pedestrian-centric design: Buildings are placed close to the street to cater to foot traffic, with parking lots relegated to the back. Nearby schools and workplaces: Schools and workplaces are close enough that...

Slow Food Weekend in SF and Sonoma County Connections

I was catching up on my Google Reader account and noticed that Curbed and Eater SF reminded us that this last weekend was the Slow Food Festival in San Francisco.  Coincidentally today, one of my clients was just telling me today that she was there enjoying the scene (Sidenote: we are looking for at least 5 acres in a good Sonoma County location with good water and some outbuilding for her chicken ranch venture, by the way, if you have something like that to sell let me know!--then she will have plenty of quality organic eggs and chicken from Sonoma County to sell next year.) Sonoma County is one of the most active producers of slow food (think the opposite of fast) with several convivia throughout the county, from Glen Ellen to Cloverdale.  I was a member a number of years ago and was invited to numerous mouth-watering gatherings here with everything from local cheeses to heritage turkey, heirloom produce and more.  Only the Sonoma Valley,  Russian River and Petaluma (Marin) convivia have websites so I thought you might be interested in some local links to some of the fine food resources we have in Sonoma County. Yumm!  And I didn't even talk about the wine!    Harvest is in full swing--I spoke to friend Kathy Klopp.  She and husband Ted are about halfway through their harvest of Russian River Pinot from Sebastopol and Laguna Road in Santa Rosa already and it is only September 2nd.  Very early this year.  I guess it is getting close to dinner time...

A Knight in Shining Armor and his Steeds Search for a Country Home in the Wine Country

We ended our tale last week of the prince and princess returning to their San Francisco Bay Area commutes, living separate lives from their two chargers, Seamus (an Irish sporthorse with a 3-day eventing habit, and Rohan, his 2,000 lb Percheron sidekick whose horsely habit we shall hear about a-nonce.) The prince and princess dreamed someday of being re-united with their steeds on a home in the country that would fit all of them someday--but when would someday ever come? Would they have to wait years until retirement, with Seamus and Rohan growing greyer than they already were? Could they ever have it all, and sooner than later? After all, the prince had an opportunity for a new job up towards the area where the lovely vineyards, valleys and horse properties were--could they find a place to live now and continue to work but keep the horses at home? Should they try to find a castle further away that they could retire to someday, and maybe all visit together for summer vacations and holidays? They didn't know what to do or think, they just knew they wanted to someday all live happily ever after on a farm with their animals, teaching their subjects (more about that later). The princess knew she could stand a long commute 2 or 3 days a week, and she could spend much of her time tele-commuting. They owned their own home on the peninsula of the San Francisco Bay--it was worth a pretty penny. Surely there was a new home with room for the prince, princess and the steeds for what they could afford. She needed to find a wizard or a good witch to advise them how to find their way to their true home. She consulted the Oracle of Google and found a good witch of wine country horse property, sealed her wishes in an email and sent them out to the universe. What happened next was very magical...

Knights in Shining Armor: A fairy tale for the most unique horse property I have sold

Once upon a time there were a prince and princess living on the peninsula of the San Francisco Bay area, commuting their separate ways to high powered jobs, spending many many dollars each month to board their horses, who lived in yet another direction from the high powered jobs. The horses, Rohan and Seamus, were lonely. They had each other but they only saw the prince and princess on nights and weekends. Even though the prince and princess brought carrots and lots of treats, they missed them the rest of the time. And because of barn politics or zoning issues, or whatever fancies, Seamus and Rohan always seemed to have to move to a new barn. They missed really being able to settle in somewhere. The prince and princess were frustrated--they would spend weekends at events with their horses and then miss them during the week. Since they lived in a small house with a small yard, Seamus, Rohan and the neighbors would not be happy if they brought them home to Belmont! One weekend the prince and princess drove their son to his first year of college at Humboldt State University. On the way home, they drove through many beautiful valleys and over beautiful hills and mountains, passing vineyards, forests and meadows. This was Sonoma County, only a short drive from the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. They thought "Wouldn't this be a beautiful place to live happily ever after some day with Seamus and Rohan?.. I guess we will have to wait till we retire. Sigh...

Open August 24 1-4 pm: An ideal West County Country Property on 2.83 acres

Please come join me today at 5850 Gilmore Avenue in Cotati, my latest listing and a fantastic country property that is well-thought out, secluded yet convenient and very up to date. You and your family and critters could just move right in. When I looked for my current country property home I wanted a property like this--lots of usable land, nice house, really cute second unit and most importantly I wanted scenic beauty and a really peaceful location away from traffic so my cats and dogs would be safe, not to mention humans as well. I also wanted to be convenient to town and services, and to commute to the Bay Area. Don't be mislead by the Cotati address on this cool property--it is actually on the west side of 101, north of 116 on the way to Sebastopol. Don't get me wrong, Cotati is a neat town with lots of fun shops and restaurants, but this location on Gilmore would just as easily appeal to someone wanting Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, Penngrove or Petaluma. This little country pocket in Cotati is peaceful, has lots of horse properties and small farms as well as vineyards surrounding it, and many of the neighbors have been here for years. My clients have owned the property since 1977 and their meticulous care and updating shows. Yet this home is about5 minutes to 101 so it is a great commute location that feels miles away. It is my experience that people looking for Sonoma County country property don't first think of places such as Rohnert Park/Cotati or Windsor, but you can uncover some gems by searching and thinking a little outside the box. Come see for yourself today. This property could accommodate horses (and does with a 2 acre pasture (+-), stalls and tack room. It also is home to roller pigeons and has two coops and a small aviary. There is a shop for painting autos with air compressor and 220 power plus another shop (called the "man" building) for hanging out. Plus a cute 2002 small modular with kitchen, den, bedroom and bath, all in its own fenced in, redwood lined yard at one corner of the property for privacy. There is only one home past this property on a sleepy lane, and many bigger parcels surround it, with views of the...

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