Local author scores big time; Grange pancakes
Green Center opening; Yummy Fashion in the Vineyards; Muse approaching
Sonoma author Bella Andre just signed a seven-figure deal with Harlequin books for her Sullivan family series, which she has published hugely successfully online.
Andre first came to the Sonoma Writers Group (which I founded) several years ago with a binder of pages on how to turn your garage band into a hit. She had sold three copies online at $15 each. Like so many musicians, Andre wowed audiences throughout Latin America and Europe, but wasn’t “discovered” in the U.S.
On a visit to her parents on the peninsula, the Stanford graduate and her mother realized that they both had been reading romances for decades, and why not try writing them. Andre’s first series were classified as “erotic romances,” much like the current “Fifty Shades” series by E L James.
The Sullivan series is still sexy, might not offend conventional booksellers, and will sell millions of books.
Andre speaks throughout the country as a digital self-publisher and has been featured on NPR and in USA Today, Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. Congratulations dear friend!
Sonoma Ecology Center hosts its annual Harvest Festival Saturday, Oct. 6, with a best pie contest ($5 an entry), tractor rides, lasso lessons, scarecrow-building contest, pumpkin patch and carving, kids’ art, raffle, straw bale fort, and live music, with thanks to Benziger Family Winery and Bi-Rite Market. Advance $12 adults, $5 kids, at door $15 adults, kids $7, 5 and under free. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 19996 Seventh St. E., Sonoma. 996-0712.
Healthy pancake fans line up Sunday, Oct. 7 for the Sonoma Valley Grange Pancake Breakfast. Expect fabulous hand-ground organic grains pancakes, free-range egg frittata, free-range sausage, freshly squeezed juice, real maple syrup, and organic coffees and teas. Only $10 adults and $5 kids, with loads of good conversation. 9 to 11 a.m., 18627 Highway 12, Boyes Hot Springs. 939-8322.
The October issue of Wine Spectator features an “American Values” section that includes a great quarter-page photo of Sebastiani winemaker Mark Lyon, a longtime Sonoma resident.
The magazine’s list of American Value Reds ($20 or less) in the 85 to 90 point range includes Sonoma Valley’s Buena Vista Merlot Carneros 2009, Cline Zinfandel 2010, Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Cline Zinfandel Ancient Vines 2010, Kenwood Zinfandel 2009, Ravenswood Zinfandel Vintners Blend Old Vine 2010, Valley of the Moon Zinfandel 2009, Cline Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2010, and Jacuzzi Barbera Mendocino County 2010.
For value white wines in the same point range, we found Sebastiani Chardonnay 2010, Buena Vista Chardonnay Carneros 2009, Benziger Sauvignon Blanc 2010, and B.R. Cohn Chardonnay North Coast 2010. No sparkling or rosé wines were listed.
Ramekins Culinary School has a fun “Octoberfest Cooking with Beer” demonstration class coming up on Wednesday, Oct. 10, with Sean Paxton, known as “The Homebrew Chef” and apparently a riot to listen to. If you don’t know the beers, it doesn’t matter. You learn more.
Taste German beers while learning to make potato soup infused with smoked bacon and Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock served with Trumer Pils; Doppel Weizen with Dunkelweizen brined
wiener schnitzel and Lagunitas Bavarian; knockwurst poached in Shiner Bock Beer with sauerkraut accompanied by Firestone Walker Oktoberfest; and German Beer Cake infused with dried fruit and beer frosting served with Sierra Nevada Kellerweis Hefeweizen. As we say here in Sonoma, it takes a lot of beer to make good wine. $90. 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. 933-0450. ramekins.com.
The Green Music Center at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park finally opened last weekend with romance, music (same thing), food, and stars, both musical and celestial.
Why finally? Because generous Donald Green got the fundraising going for a grand music hall with a $10 million gift, and then the process bogged down due to a slowing in contributions and the economy. Then in rode Joan and Sandy Weill, New Yorkers who bought the Shansbys’ home here and began to invest in our community, saving the idea, the building and the whole endeavor by donating $12 million to complete the project.
Now half of the executive committee is from Sonoma, including secretary Jim Lamb, who followed his late wife Charlotte to the board, Ed Stolman as treasurer, and Les Vadasz as strategic planner, while Judy Vadasz and Keith Hughes serve on the board.
Anne and Gov. Jerry Brown, Rep. Mike Thompson, Paul and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, and loads of Sonomans were ecstatic with world famous pianist Lang Lang’s energetic and flamboyant performance Saturday night.
It was his all-day tryout of the facility that convinced his friends Joan and Sandy Weill to get so involved and to draw the Hughes into the support fold.
After fireworks, Sonomans enjoying television chef Michael Chiarello’s late night post-concert dinner of heirloom tomato salad, rack of lamb, and chocolate mousse included the Vadaszes, the Hughes, Suzanne Brangham and Jack Lundgren, Marcia and Jim Levy, Fred and Nancy Cline, Ed Stolman, Lew and Susan Cook, Valerie Pistole and Jeff Walter, Karen Roche and Malcolm Jones, Marde Ross, Carole and Jon Sebastiani, Karen Collins, Judy and Chuck Young, Libby and John Brady, Tom and Esty Landy, Noreen and Stan Feig, Peggy and Les Peterson, Joyce and Steve Pease, Ginger Martin and Fred Favero, Sarah and Darius Anderson, Tom and JaMel Perkins, Sandy Larson, Jerry and Jane Baldwin, Vicki and Dave Stollmeyer, Stacey and Gary Nelson, Claudia and Kevin Carruth, Simon and Kimberly Blattner, Bob and Carole Nicholas, and Jim Lamb and his daughter, Garland.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey invited me to join her for the Sunday afternoon performance of the Santa Rosa Symphony in its new home at the Green. Seated in the front row, right side, Woolsey, Supervisor Shirlee Zane and I had great views of the violinists shoes, which ranged from sexy Jimmy Choos wrapped around a soft pale ankle to clogs and Merrills clodhoppers like I wear occasionally.
The concert featured emeritus conductor Corrick Brown, conductor laureate Jeffrey Kahane who played his favorite piano, and new music director and conductor Bruno Ferrandis, who obviously works off whatever calories he consumes by throwing his entire body behind his baton.
The Green Music Center’s Prelude restaurant wasn’t open, but the student guard at the door said it would be open only on concert nights to start. That neighborhood could really use a good restaurant, in addition to the excellent Japanese and Indian dining spots near campus.
Weill Hall’s acoustics have been greatly lauded, but some guests on our side said they couldn’t hear the violins on the left side, and friends in the center of the front row said they couldn’t hear the horns in the back of the orchestra. Moral: sit further back than the front row. But we weren’t complaining at all. Other guests suggest they mark the edges of the wooden steps leading down to the orchestra seating.
The “William Tell Overture” encore had the crowd on its feet clapping and screaming praise, after they recovered from the highly sensual and climactic rendition of “Bolero.”
Just as Campbell Soup released its Andy Warhol-licensed tomato soup cans exclusively through Target box stores, the soup company announced it will close its Sacramento plant and lay off 700 employees. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Sacto plant, opened in 1947, is its oldest in the U.S. Campbell’s opened a 1,600-employee plant recently in Bakersfield, but the work done in Sacramento will apparently go to North Carolina, Ohio and Texas. Poor Sackatomatoes, as Herb Caen used to call it, also just lost jobs via Comcast’s elimination of three call centers.
The Boys & Girls Club’s experiment with a Fashion in the Vineyards brunch at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn during the Vintage Festival was a huge success, netting about $40,000. Junny Gonzales of Artisan Foie Gras doubled her donation of a “Farewell to Foie Gras, An Underground Experience” dinner to be held twice at the home of board president Marchelle and Curt Carleton, which were purchased by Kelly Cleaver and Charles O’Neill.
Brenda Buckerfield started off the fund-a-need segment with $5,000 for education and enrichment programs for girls. Other supporters included Nancy Rust, Joe and Renee Capriola, Jeff Walter, Robert Jarvis and Cheryl Widdis, Toni Casamento, Amanda Bevan, Cee Cee and Darryl Ponicsan, Joan Dinner, Mia Sangiacomo Pucci, Connie Sangiacomo, Lisa Lavagetto, Conny and Phil Woodward, Whitney and Jeanette Evans, Ursula Zopp, Laura Benward, Charlotte Vogt, Anne Mieling, Victoria Campbell, Deborah Foster-Moore, Ellen Holden, and Christopher Lanzafame.
Rob Wilson of Sonoma Old School received the annual “Angel Award” for his strong support of club programs. Wilson also sponsored the kids’ part of the fashion show. John Maib joined other models to whip up support.
Endow Sonoma, which encourages people to give to local nonprofits in their wills, launches this month to spread awareness of their program. Anyone can attend their opening reception on Thursday, Oct. 11 at Vintage House senior center and listen to Josh Ryder of the Sonoma Valley Fund and Ben Stone, director of the Sonoma County Economic Development Fund. Estate planning attorney Valerie Pistole and her husband, Jeff Walter, will also give guidance.
Bob Rice and his Breakaway Café will cater the evening with sweet corn and chèvre tartlets, Yucatan-style shredded pork tostaditos, garden vegetable skewers, and figs with prosciutto and mint. Free. 5 to 7 p.m. 264 First St. E., Sonoma. sonomavalleyfund.org.
You can still view Sonoma novelist and collector William Bayer’s fabulous collection of 28 Japanese ceramicists’ work until Oct. 11 at the Robert Agrella Art Gallery on the first floor of Santa Rosa Junior College’s Doyle Library. Bayer, who is married to international cookbook author Paula Wolfert, has been collecting for 20 years, according to Wolfert. Bill and Paula were particularly delighted that art students paint and create in the gallery and that Japanese foods were served at the opening reception. Sculpture professor Hiroshi Fuchigami curated the show.
If you can, don’t miss the Sonoma Community Center’s 2012 Muse fundraiser Saturday, Oct. 13, honoring “Count” Agoston Haraszthy at the revamped Buena Vista Winery, Apparently there are only 30 tickets left. Multi-winery owner Jean-Charles Boisset and his wife, Gina Gallo, plan to be there. One of the best parts of the evening will be the lack of a live auction, with 15 lots in the silent auction. All proceeds go toward matching Rotary’s $100,000 challenge grant to turn Andrews Hall into a dedicated performance space.
Boisset’s chef, Michel Cornu, will serve mille-feuille (thin pastry layers) with smoked salmon and smoked bay scallops served with 2009 Carneros Chardonnay; breast of capon with wild mushrooms, vegetables and porcini sauce with 2008 Swan Pinot Noir; and a pyramid chocolate raspberry cake with 2008 Syrah Port. $175. 5:30 p.m. champagne and hors d’oeuvres, 6:45 sit-down dinner. 19000 Old Winery Rd., Sonoma. Reserve quickly at 938-4626 or sonomacommunitycenter.org.