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New stores open at Cornerstone Sonoma


Holiday shoppers looking for something new and different in the Valley might head down to Cornerstone Sonoma, the site of several store openings this week and next. Both Chateau Sonoma and Nomad Chic opened their doors last week and The Loop plans to open in early December.

Chateau owner Sarah Anderson’s husband, Darius Anderson, purchased the 36-acre Cornerstone property with a group of investors in late 2014 with plans to capitalize on its prime location at the gateway to wine country. (Darius Anderson is also a principal investor in Sonoma Media Investments, which own the Index-Tribune.) The array of high-end shops and food-and-beverage options opening now and in the coming weeks are part of a broader plan to reposition the complex on Arnold Drive in advance of the impending arrival of high–profile anchor tenant Sunset magazine.

Sunset, a Time Inc. publication, is moving its editorial headquarters from its longtime Menlo Park campus to Jack London Square in Oakland and its gardens and kitchens, where editors and staff test their tasty ideas, to Cornerstone. Sarah Anderson says she expects Sunset to break ground early in 2016 and to be completely moved in by the time of its planned opening celebration in mid-May of 2016.

While Cornerstone’s iconic giant blue chair had to be moved from its prime real estate along Arnold Drive for safety reasons, plans are in the works for a new entrance and signs that reflect the complex’s new name: Sunset Gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma. Two giant new chairs, painted the orange of the magazine’s logo, were decorated last week and now face the sunset in view of cars driving north on Arnold Drive.

Inside Cornerstone, Sarah Anderson is working to create an oasis that is compatible with the Sunset brand and representative of the Valley and its environs. “The local businesses and food and wine at Cornerstone will truly represents Sonoma Valley style,” said Anderson. The property currently includes more than 20 walk-through revolving garden installations plus retail shops, art galleries, a restaurant, three wineries, and a branch of the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau. All of the stores and galleries at Cornerstone are independently owned and operated.

“Our goal is for Cornerstone to be a destination – a place where you want to come and spend the day,” said Anderson. “You can shop, walk the gardens, get something to eat and have a glass a wine.” Without disclosing names, she hinted that a prominent cheese company, a coffee shop/bakery, a distillery and a brewery are all in the process of signing leases.

Anderson’s French-style home décor store, Chateau Sonoma, left its West Napa Street location in mid-November and opened last weekend in an airy new 2,600-square-foot space at Cornerstone Sonoma. The bright new space evokes a combination of antique store and flea market, with a pantry area featuring her new line of 5th Street Farm preserves.

In addition to Anderson’s store, Chateau Sonoma, the high-end apparel, accessory and furniture shop Nomad Chic also opened its doors last week. Owner Linda Hamilton is an interior designer and fashion stylist, who splits her time between Sonoma, Mexico and Bali. “I travel the world sourcing items,” she said. The store carries an eclectic collection of apparel, jewelry, furniture and accessories from around the globe. This is the second Nomad Chic location, the first is in the artist community of Todos Santos on the Baja peninsula.

Next up for Cornerstone is the opening of a second location of a Plaza fashion favorite among the well-heeled. The clothing store, The Loop, will open in early December. “We’ve been downtown for 14 years,” said co-owner Andrea Jensen. “We’re ready to grow our business with a second store. Cornerstone’s great gateway location gets us in front of San Francisco shoppers at who might not be heading to Sonoma.” Added co-owner Joene Kelly, “We’re really excited. It is becoming a little destination village that really has something for everyone.”

Sarah Anderson estimates that Cornerstone draws more than 120,000 visitors each year, and that number is expected to increase with the marketing power of Sunset magazine behind it.

Sunset will take over the central gardens and the frontage road land where the snowmen are displayed in the winter. According to Anderson, the main entrance to the complex will also be realigned to accommodate Sunset’s build-out, but that many of the perimeter gardens will remain intact.

According to Anderson, the changes at Cornerstone extend beyond new tenants to a sea change in how visitors interact with the complex. “In addition to the gardens and kitchens, Sunset expects to move its wine symposium here and they will be offering cooking and garden classes and outreach programs,” said Anderson. “There will be a lot for visitors to do here. Our strengths and interests are very aligned with the those of the broad Sunset brand and we’re excited to be working closely with them on their plans.”

Email Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.

Upcoming Events at Cornerstone

Cornerstone’s iconic Lighting of the Snowmen event starts at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6. The event is free, but on site parking is $10. From Noon to 5 p.m., Pet’s Lifeline will be hosting its annual Santa Paws event. Kids and their pet are invited to come take a photo with Santa, and to enjoy some hot chocolate and mulled cider, Christmas cookies. Make an appointment in advance at petslifeline.org or call 996-4577.
Cirque de Boheme’s “Stolen Moonlight” plays three times daily (1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5 p.m.), Nov. 27 to 29 and Dec. 19, 20, 26 and 27. All shows take place under the tent at Cornerstone Garden, 23570 Arnold Driv, Sonoma. Tickets $18-$28. cirquedeboheme.com

Who’s Who at Cornerstone:

Artefact Design & Salvage

Chateau Sonoma

Country by Eurasian Interiors

Keating Winery

The Loop (opening 12/15)

Meadowcroft Winery

Nomad Chic

Park 121 Restaurant & Market

Poseidon Vineyard & Obsidian Ridge

Potter Green & Co.

Tesoro Flowers Home & Garden

Sonoma Valley Visitor’s Center