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News This Week: Best Winery Experiences and Cabin Getaways

Posted on October 26, 2018 by Estate Vineyard

EACH WEEK WE COLLECT TOP LOCAL NEWS AND RECENT REAL ESTATE STORIES

Best Sonoma County Wineries

With over 425 wineries in Sonoma County, it can be hard for a first time visitor to know where to go. This guide will help you experience the best wine tasting of the region. READ MORE

30 under 30

Check out this list of 30 inspiring future business leaders, politicians, and activists leading the way in Sonoma County. READ MORE

Cabin Getaways

Sad to see the end of Summer? Here are some extraordinary cabins that remind us that the point of cold nights is to cozy up by a fire and relax. READ MORE

Architectural Explainer

Sotheby’s International explores eight of the most common architectural styles that are available on the market today. READ MORE

*featured image courtesy of sunset.com

California’s Shenandoah Valley: Here Lies a Burgeoning Wine Scene

Posted on October 24, 2018 by Estate Vineyard

A hundred miles east of both San Francisco and Napa Valley and 40 miles east of Sacramento grow some of the country’s oldest grape vines—one dating to 1869. Welcome to Amador County, home of California’s Shenandoah Valley AVA, famous for its “old growth” zinfandel vines. Its Barbera and Rhone varietals are renowned as well. Here, vineyards stretch from 1,200 to 2,400 feet above sea level. The rolling hills feature sandy clay-loam soils derived from decomposed granite (volcanic Sierra Series soils). These soils retain Amador’s 36-38 inches of annual rainfall, enabling most growers to dry-farm the vineyards. The soil composition is also low nitrogen and phosphorous and results in sparse vine canopies which allow high sunlight exposure. All of this combined creates vineyards that are naturally resistant to pxlloxera and ideal candidates for organic farming practices. (Amador boasts one of the highest percentages of organically farmed vineyards of any wine region in California.)

The majority of Amador’s vines are head-trained, spur-pruned and on low vigor rootstocks (like St. George) which produce intensely flavored red wines and the heady zinfandels for which Amador is renowned. Here lies a burgeoning wine scene.

The region was first settled during the California Gold Rush in the nineteenth century, and settlers in the region began planting the first grapevines and producing the first wine soon thereafter. In 1983 the region became a designated American Viticulture Area and was the launching ground for the Sutter Home brand and it’s popular zinfandel iterations.

As the least elevated and warmest region within the Sierra Foothills, Shenandoah Valley in known for high temperatures (what the French call “luminosity”) and low humidity resulting in very ripe fruit and full-bodied, high alcohol wines. While Amador heats up earlier in the day than appellations in Napa, it rarely exceeds 100 degrees during the growing season. Equally significant, temperatures typically drop 30-35 degrees in the evening as breezes cascade down the Sierras. This rapid cooling helps the grapes retain the acidity essential to balanced wines.

On paper in Amador, Zinfandel is king, with 60 percent of the county’s plantings dedicated to the grape and wineries vying for the recognition of whose Old Vine Zin is truly the “Esteemed Elder.” But under the layer of Zin’s dominance, it’s clear Amador’s niche is a land of seemingly infinite varietals, most considered “old world.”  The county’s climate and terroir most resemble that found in southern Europe — think Italy, Spain, Portugal and southern France’s Rhone Valley. So what you’ll find is a huge selection of bold-flavored, food-friendly wines associated with those cultures: Barbera, Sangiovese, Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache, Mourvedre, Tempranillo — and those are just some of the more common names.

In addition to a trending wine scene, Amador County is a pretty place to be–a patchwork of the rugged and serene. During the rainy months, the verdant rolling hills are pocked with vernal pools, mountain streams and more than a few herds of cattle. In the dry heat of summer, the grass is a long blonde shag scarred with rocky crags and dry culverts braced by live oaks. In most places, you can hear little but the rustling of the wind. Dilapidated stacked-stone fences and foundations of old adobe houses built by the placer miners line the winding roads. In wetter years, you can ski in the morning and make it back for lunch until June.

These days there’s a new surge of interest in the area. The overcrowding of Napa has tasting groups in Plymouth — spread languidly across the bar at the Plymouth Hotel, which serves Vino Noceto on tap  — lamenting. “You can’t even get in on a Monday in winter,” says one patron. There is a flurry of new wineries with different attitudes (and altitudes) focusing on different wines — from California heritage zinfandels to Iberian, Rhone and Italian varietals — being championed by roguish and talented winemakers and growers teeming with personality and expertise. The small town of Plymouth calls itself the Gateway to the Shenandoah Valley, fitting given its position at the fork in the road between the valley to the north and the idyllic Highway 49 towns of Amador City and Sutter Creek to the south. There are now 47 wineries in the surrounding hills, the number growing every year.

Sangioveses and barbera are among the most drinkable reds and few wineries sell anything above $30. The surprising Iberian newcomer, tempranillo, flows like water in the Spanish Rioja region of its origin. In Amador it’s bottled by at least seven wineries. As a region, this is a place that values its diverse microclimates as much as its diverse winemaking philosophies. With its very accessible wineries for the Sacramento-Metropolitan area and the discovery of Shenandoah (lately)by Reno-Tahoe folks, this is a place that promises more to come…..much, much more.

Take a look at our latest offering in Shenandoah AVA: Two State-of-the-Art Shenandoah Wineries

Sources for this article include: San Francisco Chronicle, SF Gate, Wikipedia

 

Wildlife Wineries of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties

Posted on October 24, 2018 by Estate Vineyard

You may already be aware of the importance of sustainable agricultural practices for the longevity of our land, wildlife & communities. These practices minimize the use of pesticide and chemical fertilizers, protecting our waterways and topsoil; maintain wildlife habitat by setting aside acreage for wild plants and animals; and include efforts to reduce water, energy use and recycle material goods in all aspects of the business (aka vineyard & wineries).

Discover our favorite local wineries and vineyards that are making sustainable wines, and focusing on wildlife habitat conservation at the core of their land management plans.

Frey Vineyards

Frey Vineyards manages just 10% of their land as vineyards with the remaining acreage kept as wild forestland. They have placed bird boxes throughout their property, and have eight hives of honey bees.

Preston Winery

Preston produces more than just wine… they also grow olives, heirloom grains, apples, peaches, figs, walnuts, vegetables, sheep, chicken, and pigs. Beyond this agricultural diversity that supports insects and bird life, Preston Winery leaves some of their property wild. They have hedgerows that attract beneficial insects, and use annual cover crops—a method central to organic farming—to build healthy soil.

Parducci

The Parducci Winery Estate is a Certified Wildlife Habitat, allowing and even encouraging wildlife to life among the vines. To facilitate this partnership between wildlife and their land, they provide nesting boxes for owls and songbirds to help manage pests, and plant cover crops to attract beneficial insects.

Quivira

Quivira has been a leading voice in preserving and restoring the riparian corridor of Wine Creek, a Dry Creek tributary that has a native Steelhead trout and Coho salmon population. Beyond these restoration efforts, they are committed to composting. In fact, they maintain a 500 cubic yard compost pile that recycles waste from their gardens, animals, and vineyards.

 

If you enjoy this topic and want to do more for the wildlife in your neighborhood, check out my article from last week about simple steps to increase wildlife habitat in your own backyard: CLICK HERE

 

My Simple Guide to Creating Backyard Wildlife Habitat

Posted on October 17, 2018 by Estate Vineyard

This past weekend I made a nesting box for the Western Bluebird. This species is a one of my favorites—their color is stunning and they are a pleasure to watch as they swoop and dive to catch insects. Over time, I have found that creating and/or preserving space for wildlife in my own backyard isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Putting out bird feeders and making nesting boxes are just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some simple steps that my family and I have taken to make sure that the birds, bees, and all the other critters that live alongside us have safe, welcoming homes of their own.

My Western Bluebird nesting box.
Create Shelter

Most birds want a nest that feels just right. For those birds that are comfortable nesting in a box that someone else made, the dimensions and opening size are important. An opening that is too big may allow predators or competitors to use the box. A great resource for region specific nesting box plans and placement is NestWatch. To support the natives bees in your area you can make nest blocks or other types of tunnel nests.

Plant Natives and Provide Food

Using plants that are native to your area will provide habitat and food resources for a variety of animals. Plant a varied selection of plants, which will give birds many options to build their own nests and find food. Choosing plants that flower at different times will ensure that there is a steady supply of food for native bees. For information on California’s native plants, visit the California Native Plant Society. Placing bird feeders throughout your yard will also attract and sustain wildlife. For help choosing the right bird feeders check out Wild Birds Unlimited.

Manage Wisely

One of the simplest ways to ensure that your yard is wildlife friendly is to leave some of it untouched. Whether you plant natives or have more exotic landscaping, try letting them grow wild for most of the year. It may end up looking less tidy than you are used to, but the insects and animals like it that way.

Want to go further? You can get your yard certified as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Foundation. Check out the checklist here.

*featured image courtesy of effectivewildlifesolutions.com

News This Week: “Best Of” Sonoma County & Other News

Posted on October 12, 2018 by Estate Vineyard

EACH WEEK WE COLLECT TOP LOCAL NEWS AND RECENT REAL ESTATE STORIES

“Best Of” Sonoma County Awards
Award recipients—including Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery and Cowgirl Creamery (our fav)—were honored at the Luther Burbank Center on Wednesday evening. READ MORE

Explore Marin County
Find out the best places to eat, drink, play, shop, and stay. READ MORE

Best Remodeling Projects of 2018
Remodeling Magazine just announced their awards for the best remodeling work in the past year. Discover the top 5 home remodeling projects for smart design tips and trends. READ MORE

Sustainability Award for Jackson Family Wines
Jackson Family Wines has been given a Green Power Leadership Award from the US EPA for  their continued commitment to using renewable energy; the company uses 100% certified green power, including power coming from solar installed on their 12 wineries. READ MORE

 

*featured image courtesy of 7×7.com

Art Trails of Sonoma County – Like a Treasure Hunt (but better!)

Posted on October 10, 2018 by Estate Vineyard

Sonoma County Art Trails goes onto my schedule, every year, twice a year, without fail.  And this isn’t just because I live next door to the talented Carole Watanabe.  Well, that could be part of it… but more so, Art Trails creates a great excuse to get out & about to new places in Sonoma County.  As we are driving down numerous hidden back-country roads toward our next stop on the Art Trails, we have the perfect excuse to stop off at a nearby winery or restaurant for refreshment and sustenance.  After all, looking at so much great art is sort of like an endurance race, requiring (delicious) food & hydration……

I am proud to call Sebastopol my home of many years. I love its progressive attitude and upscale down-to-earth vibe, among other things. So its no surprise that my town is home to the largest Art Center in California, north of San Francisco—Sebastopol Center for the Arts—responsible for creating this fun adventure known as Sonoma County Art Trails.

If you’re new to Art Trails, here’s a great way to take advantage of this event: Go to the Sebastopol Center for the Arts at 282 S High St, Sebastopol, CA 95472. They are open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10-4 pm and have extended hours over the weekend from 10-5 pm (10/13 & 14 and 10/20 & 21). Once there, you can pick up the Art Trails Catalog and Map, plus view the participants’ paintings throughout the gallery (each artist has one piece hanging in the gallery).  Or simply CLICK HERE for a digital version & print at your leisure.

Meanwhile, enjoy rambling around all the open art studios throughout Sonoma County….and have a great, art-filled weekend!

— Mark

 

Schedule for Sonoma County Art Trails

Sundays and Saturdays, October 13, 2018 – October 21, 2018

Upcoming Dates:

~ Saturday, October 13, 2018 – 10:00am to 05:00pm
~ Sunday, October 14, 2018 – 10:00am to 05:00pm
~ Saturday, October 20, 2018 – 10:00am to 05:00pm

Cost: Free

Location:

Various Sonoma County Art Studios
Sebastopol Center for the Arts
282 S. High Street
SebastopolCalifornia 95472

For More Information:

Contact: Sebastopol Center for the Arts
Local: 707-829-4797
Email: info@sebarts.org

 

*Featured image courtesy of sonomacountyarttrails.org