Donum Estate sold
Domino’s falls; Cary’s Sports Grill to open; Miller’s Landing changes; New Years Eve
Well, happy approaching New Year to everyone.
The German Racke Group has sold the Donum Estate to the Danish Winside Inc., a group of five friends who met Donum president Anne-Moller Racke when they purchased a Donum Estate lot “at a Hospice of Sonoma auction” four years ago.
According to North Bay Business Journal, the sale includes the Donum and Stemmler brands, all inventory, 147-wind-swept acres with 45 acres of vineyards and buildings.
Moller-Racke, consulting winemaker Kenneth Jahasz, Frieda Guericio and Lauro Servin will all stay in place.
Racke used to own Buena Vista and Haywood wineries and turned Buena Vista’s Tula Vista Ranch into the Donum Estate, where Moller-Racke planted and worked to create the “ultimate pinot noir.”
Domino’s Pizza closed up tight last week. We met Cal pals and current friends Blythe and Bob Carver at the Golden Spring for lunch last week, and discovered Domino’s locked, lights out, with a Coca Cola truck driver picking up Coke machines and refrigerators. Other shopping center tenants report that the franchise owner had three Domino’s “stores,” all of which are now closed. Apparently they were way behind on their rent here in Sonoma.
In the war among cheaper ($5 to $10) take-out or delivery pizza chains, it appears that Domino’s lost some clientele when Little Caesar’s opened in Gramma’s old space next to Rite-Aid in the Maxwell Village Shopping Center. Chain and franchise-wise, we also have Papa Murphy’s on West Napa Street that offer you-bake pizzas to go, as well as the bankruptcy in-again-out-again Round Table Pizza in the Niles family’s other shopping center, the Marketplace. Apparently the local Round Table lost lots of local meeting and team business when it decided to charge for use of its large rooms.
Check out locally-owned Mary’s Pizza Shack, the Red Grape and Pizzeria Capri, all of whom “give back” and contribute to our community.
Cary Ammann hopes to open his new Cary’s Sports Grill next week in the Arnold Drive space that has previously housed Rob’s Rib Shack and La Dee’s Diner. Ammann, who grew up down the road on Grove Street, has put some nice touches into the longhouse looking place next to the golf driving range.
Ammann and general manager Kris Sappington have removed the virgin vinyl booths and formica tables and replaced them with wooden chairs and tables, the latter covered with sports memorabilia under glass. Large television screens (well, as large as the building can take tastefully) are already up and running.
Watch for reasonably priced steaks, burgers, chicken and salads, plus beer and local wine. We have always thought the location had potential, to date unrealized. Let’s hope this one works.
Hanging out with the Ammanns was Nate Pautsch, who bartends at the Moose Lodge and will at the newly purchased Miller’s Landing at the end of Cutting’s Wharf Road on the Napa River.
Carl Larsen just bought Miller’s Landing and considered changing the menu, but was advised not to by loyal customers, who include cyclists and lots of Napa winemakers. Larsen could make other improvements, which might include lowering the booths a foot to floor level or getting a new roll of duct tape to mend the seats.
Sonoma’s under-heralded local Meals on Wheels, which delivers food daily prepared by volunteers at Trinity Church’s kitchen for those who can’t get out, sent out two divine sounding Christmas meals on Monday to their 60 clients.
Volunteer drivers Joe Yiakis, Joe Guthrie, Sharon Gilligan and Lee Whitney delivered all the gifts that locals went into Pharmaca to purchase prior to Christmas, along with a meal of leg of lamb marinated in pomegranate juice and red wine; wild rice pilaf; spinach, pomegranate and avocado salad; Brussels sprouts with leeks and chestnuts; and Sue Holman’s special icebox cheesecake with caramel and pecans. The bag lunch sent out the same day featured a shrimp Louie sandwich. All of this was topped with wines donated from their own vineyards by Leslie and Bob Bonino and Silvano and Kathy Payne.
MOW’s slightly irregular “regular” Monday crew, consisting of Holman, co-president Susan Weeks, Leslie and Bob Bonino, Kathy Payne and Maryann Uhl, will also create an equally festive New Years repast for clients. Don’t try to get on this gourmet list unless you have a doctor’s prescription showing medical need. But you can help or donate to Sonoma’s Meals on Wheels at P. O. Box 622, Sonoma CA 95476; or by calling 935-9141.
For those who have missed Gene Burns’ “Dining Around” program since he and other hosts were unceremoniously dumped by KGO radio a few weeks ago, Burns and producer Joel Riddell have landed safely at KKSF, 910 Talk on your AM dial.
Starting Jan. 3, Burns will do his daily public affairs show from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and his “Dining Around” program on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Many foodies and food purveyors’ careers have thusly been saved.
Name changes: (not marriages)
Famed bachelor Ben Flajnik and Mike Benziger changed their Evolve winery name to Envolve to signify something; while the quickly popular Sox Appeal shop on East Napa Street changes its name Jan. 1 to Sox de Vine, having found that someone in Minnesota owns the Sox Appeal name.
Community Café owner Margie Brooke is considering establishing a wine tasting bar to feature small local and moderately priced wineries who don’t have tasting rooms, using her restaurant’s beer and wine license. If you have a small local winery and might be interested in participating in an informational meeting to discuss the idea, contact Brooke at 938-7779 or Margie@CommunityCafeSonoma.com.
Sonoma Valley Teen Services celebrated its 2011 good fortune last Tuesday with a posole dinner cooked by teens at the Valley of the Moon Teen Center. Posole is a celebratory meat and corn stew that varies by each cook or region of a country. Executive Director Rebecca Hermosillo’s mother, Maria Hermosillo, “made her special HOT chili for those brave folks who like a little heat,” slow boiled both in cooking time and heat. Guests also enjoyed a traditional Mexican holiday cider of sugar cane, guava, apples, oranges and cinnamon.
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards hosts its annual Three Kings Day celebration on Sunday, Jan 8, including a performance of the Epiphany to celebrate the Spanish tradition of El Dia de los Reyes Magos. Sip sparkling wine and sample Spanish Rosca bread with hot chocolate. Usually rosca bread is roundish with a baby Jesus figurine baked inside. Whoever gets the piece with the figurine becomes the honoree of the party. $10 adults, children under 12 free. Performance at 4 p.m. gloriaferrer.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brown Baggers received a $1,000 community grant from Westamerica Bank yesterday at St. Leo’s Catholic Church, where volunteers prepare more than 150 burrito lunches distributed on the street every week and make soup for 35 to 70 people served at La Luz Center every Friday evening.
According to volunteer Jude Sales, “this grant will ensure that we can continue to feed anyone in the Valley who is hungry.” Sharon Delaney adds that “this money will also benefit the (migrant workers’) camp as Brown Baggers make a lot of meals for the workers.”
Sunflower Caffé thanked customers this week with “A Buck a Beverage” (non-alcoholic) deal including their $4.75 milk shakes and lattes, which ends today. Unfortunately they only told me about it this Monday, but you can still take advantage of it if you run, don’t walk. 421 First St. W., Sonoma. 996-6645.
Martini Madness rolls around for the 11th year suddenly on lucky Friday, Jan. 13, at Saddles Restaurant at MacArthur Place, sponsored by Skyy Vodka, although bartenders make martinis with other alcohol bases at this always sold-out event.
Bartenders from Saddles Steakhouse, the girl & the fig, El Dorado Kitchen, Maya, Estate, Sonoma Meritâge, Santé, Mary’s Pizza Shack and Murphy’s Irish Pub will concoct their best and most imaginative martinis, which must include an olive.
Basic admission is $40 for all tastes of food and tinis. MacArthur Place and Saddles offer additional packages such as a dinner package ($85) that includes Martini Madness and a three-course Saddles dinner, and special pricing for hotel rooms. $40 advance, $45 at door if available, $85 with dinner. 5 to 7 p.m. 29 E. MacArthur, Sonoma. Tickets online at olivefestival.com or macarthurplace.com.
New Years Eve in…
How about treating yourself, a family member, or someone you know who is lonely to a great meal or cookie made by their favorite chef, you.
New Years Eve out …
Sonoma Mentoring Alliance has a few seats left for its big fundraiser, “Puttin’ on the Glitz” New Year’s Eve party at the Lodge at Sonoma. It will feature cocktails in the Stone Building at 7:30 p.m., dinner with appetizers, hand-rolled lobster pasta, beef tenderloin and truffled mushroom stew in pastry, whipped potato, sautéed vegetables or roasted veggie Wellington at 9 p.m., Savoir Faire playing hits from the ’70s with lots of rock ‘n’ roll, fund-a-need auction at 10:45, and a dessert buffet back in the Stone Building where guests can watch the chef flame bananas Foster. $250. 7:30 p.m. 938-1990 or sonomamentoring.org.
Otherwise, in ascending order of cost, New Year’s Eve dinner outings reported to me are as follows.
Breakaway Café: lobster bisque; choices of grilled flatiron steak or pan-seared salmon filet with smashed Yukon gold potatoes; followed by eggnog gelato with Kahlua, whipped cream and a good fortune cookie. Special cocktails and appetizers available. $23.50. 19101 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma. 996-5949. Breakaway does not take reservations.
Ledson Hotel’s Centre du Vin will feature garlic and rosemary prime rib, baked potato, vegetables and horse radish cream ($28), plus the regular menu. 5:30 on, with Jess Petty Duo playing from 9 p.m. 480 First St. E., Sonoma. 996-9779.
Della Santina’s Trattoria has a choice of antipasti; Tuscan barley soup or green salad with smoked salmon; porcini mushroom risotto; choices of a pancetta topped beef tenderloin, pan-seared Chilean sea bass, or chicken topped with prosciutto, sage and Fontina cheese; dessert choices of bread pudding with Bosc pears, Tuscan chocolate soufflé or chocolate chip gelato topped with Lavazza espresso. $68 includes sparking wine and party tricks at midnight. 133 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 935-0576.
Olive & Vine has sparkling wine and amuse bouche; choice of sea bass and shrimp fumet in bouillabaisse, dungeness crab trio pot pie, avocado salad, wild mushroom and goat tart; entrée choices of Liberty duck confit on cassoulet of garlic sausage, lamb sirloin and pork, porcini dusted angus filet Wellington, or black sea bass on rock shrimp risotto; followed by dessert platters for the table. $75, plus $30 for wine pairing. 14301 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen. 996-9152.
Shiso Sushi & Grill offers lobster bisque, six Kumomono oysters on the half shell, seared Hokkaido scallops, 12 piece sashimi with local albacore and other tunas, lobster sushi roll with broiled Maine lobster tail, seared Kobe beef with foie gras and flowerless chocolate cake. $85. BYOW, $15 corkage. 19161 Highway 12, Sonoma (Maxwell Shopping Center), Sonoma. 933-9331.
A very happy and healthy New Year to everyone from both Jerry and me.