Kathleen Hill: Arnold the Tree growing again, 3 Fat Guys events and more

Arnold, Jr. growing mightily?

Apparently the charges should be modified to “attempted murder” of a beloved tree.

On Monday a passerby called me from their car to say Arnold the Tree was sprouting green growth, just a few short weeks after vandals severed the well-known Arnold Drive tree that is frequently decorated for various holidays. And the person even whipped around and sent me their photo from their phone.

But apparently what we are seeing is Arnold, Jr., offspring of the big daddy “murdered” tree.

In Sonoma Valley we have an interesting phenomenon of nature going on. Roses are popping out more and more beautiful flowers than ever, pollen is more abundant than ever, and grape vines are sprouting more leaves and tentacles than ever. And Arnold is putting out new green growth from the ground up.

The accepted theory is that all of these plants think they might be dying due to lack of water and are attempting to “self-propagate” in order to survive.

3 Fat Guys events restart

“Fat Guy” Tony Moll and winemaker Jim McMahon will tell stories and pour wine to the tunes of DJ Dusty Tannin’s newest playlist, with artisan meats, cheese, crackers and caviar available for purchase while you sample their 2019 chardonnay on Saturday, June 5. 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. $30 plus food charges.

A week later they introduce Brunch with Belfare prepared by chef Erik Lowe and served with their newest release of the Champion Brut Rosé. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 13. $30 if you purchase a wine tasting. Bottles of their Brut Rosé are $45. 20816 Broadway, Sonoma. Book your spot at

New management company for MacArthur Place

Suzanne Brangham and Managing Partner Bill Blum sold their MacArthur Place to IMH Financial Corporation in October, 2017, and their investors celebrated the profits at The General’s Daughter, another property she developed next to the rammed earth Ramekins Culinary School and Inn that she built.

When they sold MacArthur Place to IMH Financial, IMH boasted $1.4 Billion in properties in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Minnesota, New Mexico and Texas. When they announced their purchase, IMH said they owned L’Auberge de Sedona and the Orchards in Sedona, Arizona. They tried renaming the hotel L’Auberge de Sonoma, until they heard the local outcry.

On July 23, 2020 IMH filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy with JP Morgan Chase as “an equity holder.”

Now IMH had changed its name to Lat33 Capital.

Chad Parson, president and CEO of Lat33, said in an email, “Initially IMH Financial emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy as IMH Financial, and then decided to change its name to Lat33 Capital last month.” Latitude 33 is where Phoenix, Arizona is located. Lat33 is now owned by JP Morgan, which now owns MacArthur Place. The hotel never was part of the bankruptcy case and the hotel investors were all paid back 100 percent of their principal plus all dividends, Parson said.

Management of the whole place has been taken over by Urgo Hotels & Resorts of Bethesda, Maryland, which manages at least 48 hotels in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean including many hotels for Hilton, Marriott, Intercontinental and Choice hotels. Parson said they expect Urgo to streamline and help them improve everything the hotel has to offer.

Former MacArthur Place manager Ruben Cambero has moved to Wisconsin to become manager of a high end luxury Kohler Hotel in Kohler, Wisconsin.

Kevin Virgo continues to serve as director of operations for the hotel, and Spencer Wolff, and alum of Charlie Palmer’s, is food and beverage manager.

MacArthur Place-Three Sticks rare tour June 3

MacArthur Place and Three Sticks Winery guests can buy into a tour of Durell Vineyard, with a three-course al fresco Mediterranean luncheon in the vineyard on Thursday, June 3. Bill Price owns both Three Sticks and Durell. A ride around on a tractor looking down on Sonoma Valley and vast vineyards precedes a tasting of six estate wines. Many of the dishes will be vegan and nearly all are gluten free. Only six people are allowed on the tour. $175 for hotel guests, $300 for guests of Three Sticks’ Director of Operations Robb Harris.

Kivelstadt adds new creations to menu

While several Sonoma restaurants have shortened or abbreviated their menus while they try to ramp up kitchen and serving staff, Jordan Kivelstadt and chef Oscar Bendeck are adding to their menu at Kivelstadt Cellars at 22900 Broadway.

They have now blessed their new wood-fired oven and are ready to make it roar. Check out the smoked street corn, using Brentwood corn with Cotija cheese, tajin, lime and mayonnaise. Try the Watmaugh strawberry salad made with kale, arugula, spinach, frisée, walnuts, quinoa, Laura Chenel goat cheese and champagne vinaigrette.

Coming from the wood-fired oven on the all-day Saturday and Sunday menu are their Sonoma Coma Flatbread with absinthe salami, mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce, arugula, prosciutto and pickled shallots. Flatbreads are basically misshapen pizzas, often with slightly thicker dough. Look forward to their new Ocean Mist Farms artichokes with charred lemon, saffron aioli, and “Herbs de Carneros.” Wine and beer. ($7 to $28) Open Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 22900 Broadway, Sonoma. Reservations at

LawnStarter at it again

LawnStarter is again ranking the wine country while their business is selling stuff for your lawn. Not to be confused with Rudy Giuliani’s bizarre Trump press conference at a lawn and landscaping center near Philadelphia.

We last heard of LawnStarter when they rated San Francisco as the best city for cheese lovers, when most of the local cheeses are made in Sonoma and Marin counties. Apparently that judgement was made based on cheese shops, not cheese producers.

LawnStarter now rates its “Best California Wine Counties” from one to 10 in order top to bottom as follows: Napa, Stanislaus, Sonoma, San Juaquin, Yolo, Solano, San Luis Obispo, Alameda, Sacramento and Marin.

Criteria: number of vineyards, wine producers, wine tours, award-winning wine, number and price ranges of hotels and B&Bs around the wineries. Less busy wineries off the beaten path rated higher, along with more award-winning wines produced by fewer wineries, according to LawnStarter.

They also rank best cities for pizza addicts, glamour, golfing, and the 2021 Best Cities to Get Stoned. Is Sonoma campaigning for that one?

Rotary looking for Ethics Awards businesses

Rotary all over the North Coast is looking for businesses and nonprofits that align with Rotary’s core values of ethics in business such as public service, fairness, integrity and community spirit. Restaurants, wineries and food purveyors are welcome to become nominees. Nominations have to be in by July 31. More info at

Epicurean Connection reopens

Sheana Davis is reopening her Epicurean Connection store on May 28. Davis offers free coffee during opening hours and suggests you bring your own mug if you can.

The Epicurean Connection retail store will be open on Fridays “similar hours as the farmers market when locals are out shopping,” said Davis. She has brought back new Tall Grass olive oil, lots of Rancho Gordo products, and Deb’z salts and sugars. She has added pork adobo empañadas from Le Paris Bakery in American Canyon. The bakery apparently has French and Japanese bakers with some American influences.

As well, each week she expects to offer fresh quiche, mac and cheese, soup, salad, cheeses and charcuterie from the Fatted Calf.

Davis will also re-start her cheese-making classes soon. They will be on Thursdays and Fridays at 1 p.m. and Saturdays at noon, rotating between making crème de ricotta, chèvre, fromage blanc, crème fraiche and a plant-based cheese.

Morgan Jane Miller returns to Canada

Morgan Jane Miller and I met by chance when she showed up to take photos at Chateau Dumas in southwestern France about five years ago. Within minutes we discovered we lived eight blocks from each other in Sonoma.

She and husband Bill “The Engineer” Miller were photographing interesting properties and interviewing proprietors for her Evoke magazine, of which I eventually became editor. And we did the whole layout in Bill’s office in Peter Duffy and Ron Preston’s building, in the very rooms where my husband once practiced law.

A NEW MAGAZINE launches in Sonoma Valley.
A NEW MAGAZINE launches in Sonoma Valley.

Evoke launched with a grand celebration with French champagne and food at Chateau Sonoma.

Originally a medical photographer, Morgan’s favorite colors have always been black, white, gray and beige. And with her white hair she and the surroundings she creates are exquisite.

As Bill’s employer, Microsoft, moved him northward along the west coast they migrated from Sonoma to Oregon and then Washington, and finally and almost impulsively, they bought a house in their native Nova Scotia. Morgan moved to the home almost immediately, partly to be closer to her son, a chef in Montreal.

Morgan Jane Miller has now reached her retail nirvana with a lovely 1,000-square-foot shop 10 minutes from home in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. And the shop is featured right now on a whole page of Canadian House & Home magazine.

Called Morgan Jane Home, the shop features all of her favorite “colors” in tastefully selected local pottery, woven baskets, “sustainable vinyl mats” (not sure if those are like “virgin vinyl”), her own fine art photography, serving dishes, trivets, vases, wooden bowls, bedding and accent pillows, European linens from Lithuania, and all in earth colors.

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