Strictly Business: Sonoma Valley business news, Feb. 22

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Payless to close: The Payless shoe store in Sonoma in Maxwell Village has started liquidating its stock. All shoes and merchandise is at least 20 percent off and seasonal items are 40 percent off. Employees said they expect the store will be open another month or so.

Moving: Rebuild Northbay Foundation, headed by executive director Jennifer Gray Thompson, has moved its offices from West Napa Street to 595 Fifth St. W., the former site of Crush Beauty Bar. Thompson expects the office to open officially on March 1.

New yoga studio: Noble Yoga, the new yoga studio and store in Nino Marco Square on Highway 12 in the Springs, is having a grand opening party at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 9.

Best place to work: Nugget Markets (the owners of Sonoma Market) have made it onto Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for the 14th year in a row.

New hire: Don Sebastiani & Sons is expanding its focus on premium tequila brands by hiring mixologist and spirits industry veteran, Bonnie Wilson, to the newly designated role of spirits manager. Wilson will focus on developing brand strategy and sales behind Don Sebastiani & Sons’ growing spirits portfolio which includes Contigo Tequila and El Macho Tequila, as well as new tequila and spirit brands the company is currently developing.

Inexpensive bikes: Operation Bicycle, the new bike sales and repair store on Highway 12, has dozens of refurbished bicycles of all size for sale. Best of all, every purchase supports the nonprofit Teen Services program.

Meet the Mayor: A reception for the community to meet and chat with Mayor Amy Harrington will take place at Pangloss Cellars on the Plaza from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28. The event, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, is free but registration is required. Call 996-1033.

New hire: Sonoma Ecology Center has hired Denia Candela as its outreach coordinator. Candela is bilingual and serves on the boards of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation and Los Cien. She has a bachelor’s degree in applied statistics from Sonoma State. She attended Altimira Middle school and graduated from Sonoma Valley High school in 2012.

Trail rides: Sonoma Valley Trail Rides, owned and operated by Michelle Rogers, has announced that Little Vineyards will be one of three venues it will be partnering with. Bookings begin April 1 at

Insurance expansion: Insurance agent Christa Granton is now licensed to sell insurance in Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona, as well as California. She is located at 670 W. Napa St.

Wine sales: Sonoma County wineries are increasing their direct-to-consumer sales. Sonoma County wineries sold $655 million in wine last year through direct-to-consumer channels, according to a new survey, representing a 21 percent increase from the previous year. Napa County wineries had $1.4 billion in such sales, according to the report. That was an 8 percent increase from 2017.

New board: The Carneros Wine Alliance has elected Hilary Berkey of Vintage Wine Estates and Emily Byrne of Etude Winery as co-chairs of the board. Nichole Peterson of Artesa was elected vice-chair, and Carneros Wine Alliance ambassadors Carla Bosco and Crista Johnson will serve as treasurer and secretary, respectively.

New board members: Three new board members have joined the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation Board of Directors - Dr. Alexis Alexandridis, Richard Conley and Cate Humphreys.

Job fair: Sonoma County’s largest job fair is on Tuesday, March 26 at the Double Tree Hilton in Rohnert Park. Learn more at

Beer news: After a successful entry into wine almost four years ago, Oliver’s Market has now launched a line of private label beer. The Santa Rosa grocery chain late last month released four craft beers under its Oliver’s Own label at its four Sonoma County stores.

Raceway news: Long-time Sonoma Raceway sponsor Big O Tires is returning as the presenting sponsor of the raceway’s 2019 season, as the wine country facility celebrates 50 years of racing in the Sonoma Valley.

Restaurant week: Breakfast is now being served during Sonoma County Restaurant Week, March 1 to 10. Pastry Perk Specials is a new breakfast component this year, featuring deals from local bakeries, pie shops and cafés. As always, Sonoma County Restaurant Week offers three-course, prix-fixe dinner menus for $19, $29 or $39, plus two-course, prix-fixe lunch menus for $10 or $15. No tickets or passes are required; just

Wine Talk: Sonoma County Winegrowers has launched Sonoma County Vine Talk, a weekly webcast with sommelier and local farmer interviews and more.

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