Kenwood Vineyards sold again; Tuesday farmers market opens next Tuesday with new vendors; Cinco de Mayo this weekend; MFK Fisher event at Bouverie

Kathleen Hill has the inside scoop on food and wine.

Kathleen Hill has the inside scoop on food and wine.

Kathleen Hill


After on-again-off-again sales dances with the Banfi Vintners, Gary Heck and his F. Korbel & Bros. has actually sold Kenwood Vineyards to Pernod Ricard for something under $100 million. The escrow is scheduled to close in June, according to The Press Democrat.

Many of us remember Kenwood Vineyards as it used to be when John Sheela and his brothers-in-law, Mike and Marty Lee, started it in the old barn where the Pagani Brothers made jug wine, much like Valley of the Moon Winery did as well. It was rustic, small, folksy and friendly, with discounts given to friends of the owners and even friends of their many part-time hosts.

Korbel bought Kenwood in two stages in the late 1990s, and made the deal to sell it this April. Korbel also sold Valley of the Moon Winery and Lake Sonoma Winery to West Coast Wine Partners (Dan Zepponi), but Heck retains his Korbel sparkling wine operation on the Russian River.

Pernod Ricard USA also owns familiar big brands, such as Absolut vodka, Beefeater gin, Mumm Napa, Martell Cognac, Chivas Regal Scotch and Kahlúa liqueur.


The Valley of the Moon Certified Farmers Market, known locally as the Tuesday farmers market, launches its 2014 season next Tuesday, May 6. Organizers say 60 growers and vendors will sell every Tuesday beginning at 5:30 p.m. through Oct. 28.

Most of your favorites will return to the market, except possibly for Rob Larman’s Cochon Volant, whose location was given to the bright red Tips Tri-Tip Trolley. Too bad the market couldn’t have kept both vendors. It would also be interesting to find out where all of these people live, farm and do business.

Other new enterprises you will see include Oasis Date Gardens, El Picacho and 5th Street Farms. Watch for new prepared food vendors such as Drums & Crumbs, The Green Grocer, Rocket Catering and Duck Duck Goose. Wine Country Chocolates, The Olive Press, Milk & Honey and Brine Country have been added, along with first time artisans Viridis Designs, Bungalow Gift and Garden, La Pouch Designs, Fourth Pig Farm and Sassarini Elementary School. See you there.

Oscar Mooneyhan will coordinate bands at what has become known as an informal Valley-wide weekly party. Christopher Welch serves as market manager with Emily Fitzpatrick’s help.


Christopher Sawyer has left Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar as sommelier, but will continue as wine educator there and at The Lodge at Sonoma, and will take advantage of many other sommelier opportunities in the near future. Just this past weekend he helped judge Sunset magazine’s International Wine Competition, along with Joel Peterson of Ravenswood.


The new Tips Tri-Trip Trolley is open for business Thursday through Sunday at the Scooteria parking lot in front of Safeway, and at the Tuesday farmers market. Owners Andrew and Susie Pryfogle of Glen Ellen are the same people who gave out abundant tastes of tender tri-tip at last year’s Tuesday events. They have also lined up gigs at this year’s revamped Bottle Rock in Napa and at “Broadway Under the Stars,” having raised funds to elevate their booth and renovate a trolley on Kickstarter. tipstritip.com.


Check out Michael Muscardini’s “Bubbles and Oysters” on Saturday, May 3, featuring his wines and the ever-entertaining Oyster Girls on his Kenwood tasting room deck. Catch up on what’s going on with local oysters, taste them raw or cooked, and a glass of pinot grigio, rosato or sparkling wine. $20 public, $15 wine club members. 1 to 5 p.m. 9380 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood. 933-9305.


Jeanne Nolan, who grew up in suburban Chicago and visits her parents, Donna and Les Pinsoff here in Sonoma, will be honored today by Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Waters wrote the introduction to Nolan’s terrific book, “From the Ground Up: A Food Grower’s Education in Life, Love and the Movement that is Changing the Nation,” in which she tells the story of leaving home at 18 and joining a farming commune in northern California where she learned organic farming.

Nolan has written a book about the whole experience that the New York Times reviewed Sunday as “one of the most intelligent, surprising and impressive garden memoirs … in a long time.”

You can meet and learn from Nolan through a Ramekins class and tour Ramekins’ Fifth Street Farm, which supplies Ramekins for events and cooking classes, on Sunday, May 4. $35 includes book. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Address given upon registration. Sign up at ramekins.com.


Cinco de Mayo de Sonoma

La Luz Center kicks off the celebration Saturday, May 3, with delicious food from neighborhood cooks and caterers at La Luz. Entertainment will include the Quetzalen dance company, Brazilian Capoeira Mandinga dance group with martial arts and acrobatics, classical guitar and DJ music, along with information tables on business development, all organized by community members and high school students. Free. 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. 17560 Greger St., Boyes Hot Springs off Boyes Boulevard. Congressman Luis Guiterrez (D-Ill.) will be guest of honor.


The Cinco de Mayo Festival and Tamale Cook-off Team, comprised of school parent volunteers, will present its tasting and judging with loads of colorful fun Sunday, May 4, at Cornerstone. Expect lots of food vendors, tamales and entertainment, including local band Tudo Bem, Mariachi Nueva Generación, Aztec Dancing, Ballet Folklorico Quetzalén, lots of free kids’ activities and more.

Tamale judges include school Superintendent Louann Carlomagno, Mayor Tom Rouse, Kelly Macdonald of Napa Valley Wine Train, La Luz founder Ligia Booker, Cornerstone Gardens co-founder Teresa Raffo and myself.

Ticket includes a plate lunch, two drink tickets and all entertainment. $20 adults, $10 ages 3 to 12, age 2 and under free. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., tamale judging at 11:30 a.m. Tickets at Readers’ Books, Pharmaca and Adele Harrison, Dunbar, Prestwood and Sonoma Charter schools. More info at cincodemayosonoma.com


Sonoma Valley Republican Women Federated will hold its annual fundraiser on Thursday, May 8, featuring Sonoma product Kori Schake, currently a research fellow and member of the Military History Working Group at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. In 2008, she served as a senior policy adviser on foreign and defense policy to the McCain-Palin campaign. Previously, she advised George W. Bush’s administration on the same topics. Schake is the daughter of Celie and Wayne Schake of Sonoma.

Republican Women and guests will gather at Cline Cellars’ Barrel Room for an Elaine Bell box lunch of smoked chicken salad sandwiches, shell pasta salad with blue cheese, Lainie’s Fresh Fruit Salad and chocolate chip cookies. A silent auction and fund-a-need will benefit their high school essay contest, an annual high school students’ trip to Advocacy Day Workshop in Sacramento, and purchasing “patriotic books” to donate to Sonoma school libraries. $25. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. RSVP to Tina Grippi at 939-7994 or tjgrippi@abcglobal.net.


Beltane Ranch and the girl & the fig’s Suite D will combine efforts for a vintner supper on Saturday, May 10, a great place to take mom if she likes good food and wine. Guests will enjoy Beltane’s outstanding sauvignon blanc, Fumé Bob and newly released zinfandel, along with executive chef John Toulze’s “nibbles,” a spring salad with roasted fava beans and marinated feta; spring mushroom risotto with seared bay scallops, English peas and a morel mushroom crema; wood-fired Sonoma lamb leg with roasted veggies and new potatoes, a local cheese course, and Watmaugh Farm Strawberry shortcake. $85. 6:30 p.m. Tickets at eventbrite.com or figgirl1@gmail.com.


Speaking of Watmaugh strawberries, they are open-wide and juicy-sweet for all to enjoy at the corner of Watmaugh Road and Arnold Drive. Vicki Stollmeyer relays that she and husband David’s neighbor, Tommy DeHennis, befriended the Laotian family of San and Mun Saetern. DeHennis has loaned San two ATVs, trailers and a classic John Deere tractor for the family to use here, as they commute daily from West Sacramento. Stollmeyer also says all of their berries are licensed varieties, such as large Albions and sweet Chandlers, with Olallieberries, Marionberries and blackberries to ripen gradually through the summer. And we don’t have to travel to Oregon to get them.


Planning ahead

Audubon Canyon Ranch, which includes the Bouverie Audubon Preserve in Glen Ellen where both owner David Pleydell-Bouverie and M.F.K. Fisher lived separately, will hold its annual “The Art of Eating” fundraiser as a Vintage Country Picnic on Sunday, May 18.
Members of Les Dames d’Escoffier’s San Francisco Chapter will prepare most of the food, while Dames Leslie Sbrocco, host of KQED’s “Check Please,” will emcee and Dame Carolyn Wente and Martin Griffin, founder of Audubon Canyon Ranch, will be honored. Wente, a fourth-generation winegrower and CEO of Wente Winery, will also give her wines to accompany the meal.

For starters in David Bouvierie’s courtyard, Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam, Sheana Davis’ Delice de la Vallee, Pt. Reyes Farmstead Classic Blue, Laura Chenel’s Chèvre, and Marin French Cheese Company’s Camembert will be served by owners and cheese makers along with baguettes and fig bread from Dame Mary Gassen’s Noe Valley Bakery. Peter Smith, executive chef at The Lodge at Sonoma, and Chris Ludwig, chef and owner of Grapevine Catering and Earth’s Bounty Café, will prepare and serve hors d’oeuvres in the courtyard marketplace.

Inspired by Fisher’s book, “The Art of Eating,” Dame Wendy Brucker of Berkeley’s Rivoli will make a little gem salad with green goddess dressing and chicken liver crostini, followed by the fried chicken and side dishes including Dovetail Catering’s pickles.” Les Dames co-president Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland will model her fried chicken, to be prepared by Dame Janet Griggs’ Taste Catering, along with potato salad and marinated green beans.

Bonnie Tempesta, of Boncora Biscotti, offers her crispy delicacies, along with Dame Eileen Spitlany’s Fairytale mini brownies and bars with fresh strawberries.

All of this benefits the Audubon Canyon Ranch’s effort to give more than 6,000 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders an opportunity to experience nature-based educational experiences at no cost to schools.

Les Dames d’Escoffier are working toward preserving M.F.K. Fisher’s “Last House” as an historic site.

Great auction items and a display of Randy Tarpey-Schwed’s M.F.K. Fisher collection. To donate an auction item or to participate as a chef or winery, contact Trisha Fontan at trisha.fontan@egret.org or (415) 868-9244. Tickets $150. 12:30 to 4:40 p.m. More info at (415) 868-9244 or acr@egret.org.


Happy Birthday to son Mack Hill, whose wife, Na Young Ma of Proof Bakery, helped him celebrate with Jack Daniels, pizza and the Warriors-Clippers game at home in Los Angeles. It’s OK. We ate very healthfully there all last weekend. Cheers!