Dearie dumped for dumping wine; Sweet sweet on Rudy; Vintage, Tomato, and Pear festivals this weekend

Wine glass:bottle

Kathleen Hill


A month ago, the Australian Treasury Wine Estates announced it was going to dump, not sell, more than 500,000 cases of white wine at a $33 million loss, according to CEO David Dearie. Dearie’s theory was that the wines had not sold and had sat past their expiration date. He said, “The destruction of old and obsolete stock will, we believe, add to our reputation in the U.S.”

Treasury’s Sonoma County holdings include Chateau St. Jean, Cellar No. 8 and Souverain, along with Napa’s Stag’s Leap, Beringer and St. Clement.

On Monday, Dearie was dumped as well. Treasury Wine Estates announced his immediate departure (after a month of thinking) in disapproval of his wine dumping decision.

Dearie will be replaced for now by Warwick Every-Burns, who has been on the Treasury board since 2011 when it demerged from Foster’s, Ltd., and recently served as president of international business for Clorox, based in Oakland. Packaging and marketing are packaging and marketing, but Clorox bleach to wine?


The first 35 guests at UFOlogist Jim Ledwith’s next classes will receive extra goodies. To support a good friend, I will pass out his Moon Pies at his class called “Strange Harvest” on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the Sonoma Community Center. This class examines the fact that “over 10,000 animal abductions have occurred on private ranches and farms” since 1967. UFO Jim will show actually footage of “a bovine abduction … along with substantiating FBI files and U.S. statistics.” What happened to old-fashioned rustlers?

Then we will give away Milky Way bars at his Tuesday, Oct. 29 talk, “Crop Circle Update.” Ledwith questions the complex geometric shapes of crop circles accompanied by “ball of light” orbs of the Wickham Green circle near Wiltshire, England. ETs? $10 adults, $5 kids 8 to 17 with parent discretion. 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets at Sonoma Community Center, 938-4626, ext. 1.


Burger King’s flavor labs have created a new batter that holds less of the deep fat that fries are sizzled in, thereby supposedly reducing the calories of a small order of fries by 27 percent to 270 calories. According to NBC News, the chemists worked on this project for 10 years to create what they call crinkly “Satisfries.”

Who knew French fries were coated in “batter” anyway?


Carey Sweet, who freelances for the San Francisco Chronicle reviewing restaurants in the North Bay, wrote an article raving about Restaurant Rudy on Broadway, which might surprise some locals. The photos were of food few of us have seen there. I have heard from other sources that Rudy has a brand new menu and that we should all try it again. Let’s do that and give a guy a chance. We would all like that to happen to us. Let me know what you think, and I will do the same. 522 Broadway, Sonoma.


At Women for WineSense’s recent panel discussion at Buena Vista Winery, panelists Gina Gallo, third generation winemaker at E. and J. Gallo; Michaela Rodeno, former CEO of Domaine Chandon and St. Supéry wineries; and East Berlin native Claudia Schubert, president of Diageo Chateau and Estates, were all frank and honest about how they rose to power, all with a twinge of humor.

Gallo acknowledged up front that she was born into the largest family-owned winery in the world and advised ambitious women to work the vineyards and haul hoses, as she did for years, to learn the business.

Retired from large wineries, Rodeno has resurrected her own Villa Ragazzi label and cited her exposure to and passion for French wines that she first experienced as a student in France.

Schubert, with an MBA, approaches from a more obviously business orientation. Interestingly, all three attractive women said they never experienced any discrimination for being women in the wine business.

Many thanks to Gallo’s husband, Jean-Charles Boisset, for hosting the panel for Women for WineSense and engaging in an entertaining repartee with Gallo before the panel discussion.


First Lady Michelle Obama launched her “drink up” water campaign in, drum roll, Watertown, Wis., stating that “Drink just one more glass of water a day and you can make a real difference for your health, your energy and the way you feel …” The renowned Mayo Clinic agrees with the effort. We all know that water is better for us than corn syrup or sugar sweetened fattening drinks.

Not surprisingly, her campaign is supported by the American Beverage Association, which members make and sell soft drinks, juices, sports and energy drinks, juice drinks, and – gosh – bottled water. Specific bottled water brands pushing the health program include Aquafina, Dasani, Deer Park, Evian, Nestlé Pure Life, Poland Spring, Zephyrhills and even the Brita water filter company. Many of these brands are owned by even larger conglomerates.


Mary’s Pizza Shack offers its slightly changed “Big Family Meal” again for a total of $25. It comes with a large Mary’s salad and a choice of a large pizza with two traditional toppings or spaghetti with three giant meatballs (and they are huge) and marinara, pesto or meat sauces. This offer is good through Friday,

Oct. 24.

As well, Mary’s has happy hour Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., and the Plaza restaurant has a late night happy hour with its full bar from 8 p.m. until closing. 18636 Highway 12, Boyes Hot Springs, 938-3600; or 8 W. Spain St., Sonoma, 938-8300 (delivery available).


Vintage, Tomato, Pear and

Farm to Fork festivals this weekend:

Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival kicks off tonight, Friday, Sept. 27, with its gala around the historic Sonoma Barracks. Forty wineries will pour, along with brews by Olde Sonoma Public House. There appear to be fewer food options this year that will include substantial nibbles from Basque Boulangerie Café, Homegrown Bagels, Mary’s Pizza Shack, Maya, Murphy’s Irish Pub, Occasional Cakes, Palms Grill, Saddles Steakhouse, Schellville Grill, Sonoma Cake Creations, Sonoma Cheese Factory, Swiss Hotel and the Epicurean Connection. Music and a silent auction add to the evening. Tickets $85 to $199 at sonomavinfest.org, basically for all you can drink and eat.

If you miss the gala, try the festival itself (free admission). Head over to Sonoma Plaza for wine, food and art booths, this year mingled together for what organizers call easy “Sip and Shop” both Saturday and Sunday, with a kids’ zone again, and the parade Saturday night.


Kendall-Jackson Winery’s Heirloom Tomato Festival is tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 28, all day. Guests sample, and hopefully enjoy, tomato concoctions made by 50 Bay Area chefs and food producers, in addition to wine tasting. Chefs include those from Applewood Inn, Cotelli’s Costeaux French Bakery, Equus, John Ash and Co., Johnny Garlic’s, Marin French Cheese, Nicasio Valley Cheese, Nick’s Cove, Rocker Oysterfellers, Sea Thai Bistro, Spinster Sisters, Trader Joe’s and Zin Restaurant.

Check out the winery’s expanded kitchen gardens where you can taste heirloom tomatoes grown there. Tickets $95 to $150, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 5007 Fulton Road, Fulton. 866-287-9818. kj.com.


Newly billing itself “The Farm to Fork Capital of America,” our state capital of Sacramento hosts its first food festival week starting this weekend (Sept. 20 through Sept. 29) and featuring tastings, a farmers market, educational displays, and food and drink from local farms and dairies, all around Capitol Mall in downtown “Sackatomato” as Herb Caen used to call it. 1300 Seventh St., Sacramento. Farmtoforkcapital.com.


The Kelseyville Pear Festival rolls around for the 20th year on Saturday, Sept. 28, with a parade, craft and food booths, an antique tractor show, quilt show and a children’s play-land with jumpy house and live entertainment. Taste pear pies and ice cream, check out the pear dessert contest, with regional restaurants featuring pear-centric dishes. Pears are a rich agricultural product in Lake County, as they once were here in Sonoma Valley. Free. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 279-9022. kelseyvillepearfestival.com.


The town of Solvang, the recreated Danish enclave, just finished its Aebleskiver Eating Contest Sunday as part of its annual Solvang Danish Days celebration.

Aebleskiver are light, fluffy Danish “pancake balls” served with raspberry jam. Contestants eat as many aebleskiver as they can in five minutes with their hands clasped behind their backs, with jam optional but recommended. According to my friend Laura Kath, winners in each age group, who ate up to 15 of the filling pancakes, won an authentic cast-iron aebleskiver cooking pan.

You can see an old cast iron aebleskiver pan today in my “Kitchen Memories” exhibit at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art. 551 Broadway, Sonoma. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.


The Sonoma’s Best-John McReynolds Oceania culinary cruise around the Caribbean has just been sweetened with the addition of Stone Edge Farm winemaker Jeff Baker, who will pour Stone Edge Farm wines during scheduled wine tastings, plus some goodies for those who have booked reservations and bring along a new guest. Baker is the renowned founding winemaker at Carmenet Winery. Contact Craig Adryan at gowombat@aol.com or 509-7588 for more information.


Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. has bought around 150 Fresh and Easy stores from the British Tesco supermarket chain, which means that about 50 stores will close including on San Francisco’s Bayview, one in San Jose, and all five stores in Sacramento. Rumors are that Burkle will rename them Wild Oats Markets in line with the Colorado chain he bought in 2011 and which competes with Whole Foods.

Burkle, who had enormous financial and political ties with former California governor Gray Davis and with former president Bill Clinton, also owns Ralph’s, Food 4 Less, Alpha Beta California and a big chunk of Barnes and Noble and A&P markets.


Ramekins’ class openings:

Learn to make “Spectacular Easy Breads” with Chef Nick Malgieri on Friday, Oct. 4, and enjoy some real treats such as Sicilian semolina rolls, gruyère and green peppercorn bread, Turkish flatbreads with hummus, cinnamon rolls (yes!) and “supernatural crumb buns.” $125. 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Ramekins’ Chef Kevin Cess helps you select your veggies at the farmers market, and then go to Ramekins and create a mouth-watering meal on Friday, Oct 4. Class includes preparation of an appetizer, first course, entrée and dessert. $85. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Nick Malgieri returns on Saturday, Oct. 5, with a “Hands-on Chocolate” class where you make and sample a cookie dough chocolate tart with baked chocolate custard filling, individual chocolate fondant cakes with vanilla sauce, “supernatural brownies,” Swiss chocolate sandwich cookies and chocolate bourbon cake. $125. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

And then there’s “Indian Summer Ice Cream” taught by Brittany MacFarland on Sunday, Oct. 6. You will learn to create a chocolate and vanilla ice cream base, a quick-roasted fruit compote, homemade chocolate chips, waffle cones and ice cream sandwiches. $70. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (dessert lunch). 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Enroll in all classes at ramekins.com. 933-0450.


A local MSNBC reporter chimed “Everyone goes to Starbucks for their latté before work – that’s what you do.” And that was a reference to Starbucks in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, scene of the recent massacre.


Ty Caton will host his fifth annual barrel tasting featuring his 2012 wines straight from the barrel paired with light appetizers on Saturday, Oct. 5. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 21684 Eighth St. E., suite 460, Sonoma. For more information, call 938-3224, ext. 1, or info@tycaton.com.


Next week: St. Francis Solano School’s “A Taste of Sonoma” (Oct. 12), and catching up on lots of restaurants.