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Sonoma to get family-friendly wine garden and eatery

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Jordan Kivelstadt and Free Flow Wines

Free Flow is the largest dedicated line canning line in the country, producing 200,000 cans a day and another 20,000 wine kegs a month. Kivelstadt sold Free Flow in 2016 and stayed on until 2019 to continue growing the business. He still sits on the board of the company, which is based on Eighth Street East in Sonoma.

“Wine sales are slowing and consumer habits are changing,” says Kivelstadt Cellars founder Jordan Kivelstadt, citing the explosive growth of hard seltzer as an example. “Rosé was fueling growth of the wine industry and it just got crushed by seltzer. It’s an interesting time to be in the business.”

Having sold his other major venture, the category-disrupting wine-on-tap and canned wine company, Free Flow, Kivelstadt, 38, has been looking for his next big project. He knew he wanted to do something “radically different.”

“It feels like everybody in Sonoma is opening these really fancy tasting rooms — offering the same four wines and four bites,” he said. “The experience is all very similar.”

In a call with the Index-Tribune on Wednesday, Kivelstadt announced his next move. In April, he’ll open what he describes as the area’s “first wine garden.”

“I want to create an experience that consumers will gravitate toward – the beer garden concept – but with wine,” he said. “When the weather is nice here, you want to be sitting outside, that’s Sonoma. We’re going to create a place where you can enjoy delicious, affordable food and a glass of wine and enjoy the outdoor setting.”

And he thinks he has found the perfect place in the space occupied for 17 years by chef Matthew Nagan’s Schellville Grill, at the corner of Broadway and Highway 121 – an area that Kivelstad describes as currently “a bit of a food desert.”

His winery’s tasting room in downtown Glen Ellen will close in March and the doors to Kivelstadt Cellars Wine Garden and Eatery are expected to open soon after. He has hired Sonoma Valley High graduate Matt Tucker, 29, as his executive chef.

Tucker began his career as a sous chef at the Red Grape, and became the executive chef of Pangloss and Repris when he was 25.

“He’s a super talented chef who is excited to serve a broader audience,” said Kivelstadt. “We see this an opportunity to serve affordable but creative food and I think the people of Sonoma are craving more options like this.”

Kivelstadt stressed the range of experiences that the new space will offer, inside and out.

The wine garden will offer a full menu, beer and wine. In the winter, it will be tented and heated. Music, lawn games and a children’s play area are planned.

“I have two young kids and there’s nowhere you can go in Sonoma right now and have a meal and a beer or a glass of wine with friends where your kids can play safely and not annoy everybody,” he said, citing Brewster’s in Petaluma as one inspiration.

Indoors, a daily paired lunch with 12 seats will be offered, alongside a traditional tasting room. In an updated shed alongside the wine garden, he’ll offer an education-based reserve tasting, that will compare both his wines and their inspirations.

“We’ll talk about a style of wine – like our cold carbonic zin – and offer it alongside its inspiration, Beaujolais Nouveau,” he said, as one example. “Let’s make this not just us telling you why our wines are amazing but instead grow your knowledge by comparing California wines to wines in other parts of the world.” Those like-minded global wines will be sold by the bottle, alongside Kivelstadt’s wines.

When it opens in April, Kivelstadt Cellars Wine Garden and Eatery will serve lunch Thursday through Monday, with lunch seven days a week and brunch on the weekends added by summer.

With the papers signed on Monday, Kivelstadt and his team are now busy painting, cleaning the property, redoing all the furniture and ordering signage for the property at 22900 Broadway.

“It’s going to be a lot of work over the next 60 days, but when we open, it’s going to be awesome,” he said.

Email Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.

Jordan Kivelstadt and Free Flow Wines

Free Flow is the largest dedicated line canning line in the country, producing 200,000 cans a day and another 20,000 wine kegs a month. Kivelstadt sold Free Flow in 2016 and stayed on until 2019 to continue growing the business. He still sits on the board of the company, which is based on Eighth Street East in Sonoma.

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