Kathleen Hill: Cheese offerings, Ram’s Gate dinner and more

The 'rhone zone' is coming...


Home Winemakers Sunday tasting reminder

Don’t forget to check into Sonoma Uncorked to taste 40 unusually good wines from 40 home winemakers on Sunday, Sept. 17 at the Vets Building. Co-sponsored by Kiwanis of Sonoma Valley to benefit Stand by Me Mentoring Alliance. $40 advance, $50 at door. 2 to 5 p.m.

Cheese, whiskey and bourbon at Murphy’s

Check out Murphy’s next cheese pairings and tastings on Friday, Sept. 22. People who attended Sondra Bernstein’s cheese and beer tastings by Robert Raney of Sonoma Springs Brewery raved that the tastings were a huge success.

Bernstein paired Sonoma Springs Kolsch with Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog, NomaWeiss Bavarian Hefeweizen with Laura Chenel Chèvre, AJ Apricot Ale with Delice de Bourgogne, Bruja Majik Altbier with 18-month Gouda, and Subliminal Gold IPA with Fourme D’Ambert, all beers from Sonoma Springs.

Next up in Murphy’s snug will be Bohemian Creamery cheeses with Prohibition Spirits whiskeys on Friday, Sept. 22, presented by cheesemaker Lisa Gottreich from Bohemian Creamery and Amy and Fred Groth from Prohibition Spirits. So you will learn about both making cheeses and making six small-batch whiskeys. $42. 6:30 to 8 p.m.

On Oct. 12, Bernstein and the Groths will also offer a pairing of four Prohibition Spirits artisan gins with Tsar Nicoulai caviars. $54. 6:30 to 8 p.m.

At both tastings, Murphy’s chef will prepare other nibbles, and guests who stay for dinner will get 25 percent off their dinner check. 464 First St. E., Sonoma. Reservations at Use code MCPAIRING to get $15 off admission price.

Glen Ellen pâtisserie

BJ Blanchard last week wrote an interesting history of the “yellow building” property next to Chauvet Hotel, and owner Christine Hansson’s plans to launch a French patisserie and bakery. Hansson, whose work and development of the Chauvet Hotel is universally admired, is making a painstaking effort to do every bit of this next venture to perfection, which takes time.

Lots of permits, red tape and hoops still to jump through, so let’s give her a chance to do it all right. But a real French patisserie and bakery would be a fabulous addition.

Epicurean Connection cheese shop pop-up

Never one to miss a good idea, Sheana Davis is going to hold a series of cheese tastings at Steiners Tavern this afternoon, Sept 15. Tastes will be free but she will sell her products retail as her “pop-up cheese shop.”

Try her Delice de la Vallee, Crème de Fromage, P-1 Brie (imported from France), arugula pesto, blackberry pomegranate jam, raspberry jam, and honey orange blossom marmalade. Hubby Ben Sessions will serve Brie Brûlée. Davis plans other pop-ups at Steiners on Sept. 29, Oct. 13 and 27, and more dates during the holidays. 3 to 6 p.m. 465 First St. W., Sonoma. More info at

Honore Comfort to lead Wine Business Institute

Honore Comfort, former executive director of Sonoma County Vintners succeeded by Jean Arnold Sessions, was just appointed Wine Business Institute’s “executive in residence.” Most recently she worked as president of Brack Mountain Wine Company in Sebastopol. Previously she marketed wine internationally for Penfolds, Rosemount Estate, and Wynns Coonavara Estate of Australia, part of Treasury Wine Estates.

Dinner at Ram’s Gate

La Confrèrie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the Société Mondiale du Vin USA, and their Napa-Sonoma “Baillage” host a fabulous dinner at Ram’s Gate Winery to be prepared by Culinary Director and Chef Taylr Behnam on Saturday, Sept. 23.

Chef Behnam’s canapés will include steak tartar, goat cheese tartlets and tempura prawns. Dinner goes from smoked Hamachi belly, yucca and salmon roe celery root soup; compressed melon, burrata, mint, lime, Amaranth and summer greens; smoked and poached wild King salmon with heirloom tomato, olive “caviar” and Hollandaise foam, followed by veal tenderloin, with Spagna beans, Sheep’s milk feta, and wild mushroom demi, all paired with Ram’s Gate’s best wines. The dessert reception will feature their Late Harvest Zinfandel with cream puffs, espresso, salted caramel chocolate olive oil cake, candied citrus, Point Reyes Bay Blue, shortbread and blueberry jelly. Black tie. $295. Send checks to Maria Corriea, 621 – 42nd Ave., San Francisco, 94121.

Rhône Room sneak peek

Sondra Bernstein will open her cool little Rhône Room down Broadway next to Fat Pilgrim and Sonoma Home “pretty soon,” and will undoubtedly have loads of fans checking it out.

The Rhône Room is loaded with air conditioning, wine books, unique postcards, a few chairs, tables and stools, and a lovely relaxing patio with a view of Fig Farm where the

Girl and the Fig and Fig Café vegetables are grown. And the corn really does grow as high as an elephant’s eye.

Guests will get to taste wines from the Rhône region of France and Rhône wines made for Bernstein in France, as well as a few Rhône-style wines made here. You can choose between a range of wine flights or purchase a glass of wine, and Bernstein’s fig rig might show up on the weekends.

P.S. While her Noodle Springs container is being modified with a kitchen, Bernstein will resume Wednesday Ramen Nights in November at Suite D.

Nibs & Sips

Joel Peterson cracked open some prized bottles of bubbles including son Morgan Twain-Peterson’s first wine from 1986 to celebrate Morgan’s passage of his Master of Wine, joining only 355 other MWs in 29 countries around the world to have passed the rigorous tests. This is as big as it gets in the wine world. Congratulations to all… David Green of Westwood Wine Estates announced that Carl Stanton’s Westwood Estate’s Annadel Gap Vineyard was just certified as biodynamic by the Demeter Association, as well as its certification as organic from the Oregon-based Stellar Certification services… Mark Lyon has named Rob Izzo as general manager of Lyon’s biodynamic and organic Eco Terreno Winery and vineyard operations. Izzo teaches at Sonoma State’s Wine Business Institute… The Olive Press’s Lunigiana Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil just won the award for Best Olive Oil from the USA in the 22nd Biol International Competition in Rome.

Old Vintage Festival programs

Erin McTaggert posted a photo of a 1948 Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival “official program 10c” on Facebook that included ads that told the old stories of commerce in Sonoma. The included Sonoma’s Automotive Services owned by S.P. Smith, Bancroft’s Valley of the Moon Nursery, Ruggles Variety Store, L.E. “Bud” Castner’s Boyes Hot Springs insurance company, A.J. Martinson’s Radio Electric Shop, Orsoe Food and Fuel, Sonoma Index-Tribune and Job Printing, Toscano Hotel and owner Jack Walters’ famous old fashions, Don’s Fine Foods on West Napa Street, Mendel’s Café Fine Food on the Plaza, Lindley Hatchery and Feed Store with paint and hardware and an Anderson and Smith insurance, real estate and notary.

Other prizes were Wilson Hatchery for white Leghorns and New Hampshire Chicks, Prull’s Tots ‘n’ Teens, Shamrock Villa bar in El Verano, Bob Clouse’s Van and Storage Service and Fetters Springs Furniture Store, and Lee’s Signal Service. All of these businesses had four-digit phone numbers.