Kathleen Hill: Cheese Factory backstory, winemakers and food support
More on Sonoma Cheese Factory sale
Let’s remember the Sonoma Cheese Factory where many of us were taken and then took our kids to go to the back of the shop where we could press our noses, or whatevers, against the glass and watch the cheesemakers making the original Sonoma Jack cheese.
Mary Deely says she remembers “the cheesemakers with their bouffant hair covers and white jackets.”
Such a miracle we all thought it was. And it still is. But not there, thanks to a Listeria scare back in 2001.
We used to dip freely into the cheese cubes with toothpicks to eat as many samples as we could, and maybe get a sandwich on the way out. High school kids would make Saturday lunch out of those cheese cubes. And the toothpicks weren’t wrapped and there was lots of double dipping – and most of us are still here.
The Viviani family brought in various sellers of coffee, ice cream, wine, and some deli foods that filled the cavernous space left when cheesemaking was removed. Clusters of men friends met there every morning and afternoon for coffee, including my father, during the time Celso David Viviani was president of the company. I may have the chronology wrong but it doesn’t matter. David still remembers my late father’s order to this day. That was Sonoma.
As David Viviani, hehas served as chair or president of the California Cheese & Butter Association, U.S. Cheesemakers Association, Dairy Council of California, Sonoma County Harvest Fair, Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau, Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, Sonoma County Farm Trails, Sonoma County Economic Development Board, and was founder of the “Hit the Road Jack” run to benefit Hospice and the Boys & Girls Clubs.
When father Pete Viviani passed away in 2001 he left the place in a trust for David’s sisters, Nina and Maria, who have now sold it to Stacy and Ken Mattson for $3.75 million, according to David Viviani.
David wrote to me in an email, saying that, “It would be my heartfelt wish that the new proprietors of the Sonoma Cheese Factory would honor the long cheese making legacy of the Viviani family. With an eye to the future, my grandfather, Celso Viviani and Tom Vella built the Sonoma Cheese Factory – ‘Home of Sonoma Jack’ – in 1945, on the historic Sonoma Plaza. They were inspired by their rich Italian heritage, the vibrant wine country landscape, the bountiful agricultural community and the abundance of local dairies. I trust this tradition will be honored as this historic property evolves and continues to serve the local community and beyond.”
On Monday, David Viviani wrote again, saying, “Per public records, the SCF sold for $3.75 million, included was the 20,000-square-foot property on Sonoma’s Historic Plaza, the landmark building, leasehold improvements, and the Sonoma Cheese Factory brand name and trademark. This is the most recent act of my two younger sisters to sell the last and main Viviani family asset. At first I was saddened, now (I feel) a great sense of freedom. Ciao, Celso David Viviani.”
Michael Mina’s Wit & Wisdom to open
The long planned new Wit & Wisdom Tavern at the Lodge at Sonoma is scheduled to open next Monday, Sept. 14.
This is Michael Mina’s second Wit & Wisdom, supposed to evoke memories of Jack London, who used the phrase as a title of his personal writings. Reservations can be made via Open Table.
The décor looks a bit more modern Restoration Hardware-ish and photos look as if the counter seating has been replaced by shelves. Brunch served Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., lunch Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and dinner daily, 5 to 10 p.m. 1324 Broadway, Sonoma. 931-3405, hotel 935-6600.
Sangiacomo chardonnay wine Best of the Best
The homegrown Sangiacomo family has been rewarded for all of its clean growing and wine-making practices, to say nothing of their community service and generosity, with the Best of the Best award in the Press Democrat’s North Coast Wine Challenge this past July.
Sangiacomo Family Wines’ 2018 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay won Best of the Best, Best of Show White Wine, Best of Sonoma County, Best of Class and a Double Gold for 99 points.
Steve and Connie Sangiacomo, Mike and Whitney Sangiacomo, and Mia and Mike Pucci are all partners in farming and the winery, with James MacPhail serving as winemaker.
Grandfather Vittorio bought the land of Home Ranch in 1927 and grew pears and lots of stone fruit. The family finished the conversion to grapes in 1981. Now the family owns 1,600 acres of grapes from Sonoma Coast and Carneros to Petaluma Gap and sells grapes to more than 60 premium wineries.