Kathleen Hill: Vegan wines, local girl bakes good and more

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Rethinking our food supply

Vegan is no longer a bad five-letter word.

It you prefer to call it a “plant–based diet,” please do. Because that’s what it means.

For centuries whole societies have survived on the plants that grow naturally around them, with the hunter of the tribe occasionally bagging a wild animal. People lost in forests survive on berries, plants, bugs and the occasional water stream. I guess those bugs can be considered meat and protein, if you like ants and crickets without the chocolate coating.

We need to think seriously about our food supply, partly because of the Trump Administration’s loosening of requirements that imported foods (meat) be labeled by country of origin, and partly because of the administration’s threatened tariffs on avocados, tomatoes and everything else produced in Mexico and China. Such political moves have made us think of how precious our food supply is, as well as the fact that the growing of some poultry and cattle in mass production is damaging the world’s air, water and climate.

My parents ate roast beef every Sunday night and, later in life, my mother ate filet mignon almost every night, along with a baked potato, salad and her Vitamin V. Occasionally we had chicken, snapper or lamb. Still I have problems taking a bite of lamb, always thinking of the Woolly Weeders we see eating grass and fertilizing the land around Sonoma Valley.

Cleanse the vegan palate with vegan wines

Since we are on vegan topics, enter vegan wines. Yes, vegan wines.

Michelle Rulmont, who owns and leads La Belle Vie Tours, offers a tour of vegan wineries to her clients.

According to Rulmont, wines that are not vegan might use things “like isinglass (from fish bladder), gelatin, egg whites and sea shells, among other things, to filter their wines prior to bottling. Apparently, these products grab onto the impurities and make it easier to catch them in the filters, though there are many animal-free alternatives in use.”

Here are vegan Sonoma Valley wineries she knows about: Adastra, Hall, Scribe, Bump, Schug, Gloria Ferrer, Obsidian, Anaba, and Hansen vodka Distillery in Sonoma. Glen Ellen vegan wineries include Little Vineyards, Benziger reds, and Scheirmister in Glen Ellen. Then there are Deerfield Ranch, En Garde, Loxton, and B Wise in Kenwood. 338-5606. (See page B4 for more local vegan food news.)

Top 100 al fresco restaurants in U.S.

Open Table just named the top 100 alfresco restaurants in the United States.

The Girl & the Fig was the only Sonoma restaurant that made the list, joining Bistro Don Giovanni and Bistro Jeanty in Napa County, Foreign Cinema in San Francisco, and Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay as other northern California winners.

Meanwhile, Sonoma magazine named its “Where to Eat Outside: The best restaurant patios in Sonoma county” and included the Girl & the Fig, Sunflower Caffé, El Dorado Kitchen, La Salette, and Depot Hotel & Restaurant.

Local girl bakes good

Beth Bailey, a Fortuna resident who grew up in Sonoma, won various elimination rounds on Netflix’s “Nailed It” baking competition.

The daughter of Sonoma resident Sandra Lowe, Bailey eventually won $10,000, a sparkly gold hat, threw out the first pitch at Humboldt Crabs baseball game, and received the honor to judge a fifth-grade version of the show, according to the Eureka Times. Bailey works in the Humboldt County Juvenile Hall cafeteria.

Transcendence food truck lineup

From all reports, those who have seen Transcendence Theatre’s performance of “A Chorus Line” say it’s fantastic, highly professional and represents a new phase of the group’s performances.

Part of the fun of attending Transcendence events is either taking a picnic or buying one from various local food trucks on site.

Watch for three food trucks per performance, alternating between Tips Tri Tip Trolley, Banh Mi Zon, Picazo, El Coyote, Sonoma Eats, Bette Lou’s Diner, Palooza Lobster Rolls, Palooza hot dogs, and the Fig Rig or the Fig Rig’s pizza oven.

As well, the Fig Rig is providing meal boxes for two or four people that VIP and season ticket holders can order online when they get their tickets online, selecting which box they want for each event.

Philippe and Phil combine for great wines

À Deux Têtes, the “two heads are better than one” name of an extraordinary collaboration of wine experts from two great wine countries, launched last week at the Coturris’ Sixteen600 tasting house on First Street West.

The “two heads” are Philippe Cambie, a legendary French wine consultant who was in Sonoma to work with Nancy and John Lasseter, as well as with the other “head,” Phil Coturri, best known for his pioneering organic vineyard practices in the Sonoma and Napa valleys.

The “two heads’ met in France when Coturrii spoke at Les Temps de Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and then bonded professionally over dinner and a few bottles of wine at a San Francisco restaurant.

As a wine consultant, Cambie has fathered at least 15 100-point grenache and Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines, and consults for 80 wine projects from Avignon to Washington State. We first met Cambie at his birthday dinner with assorted French winemakers at a Suite D celebration. This is Cambie’s first North Coast wine collaboration.

Phil Coturri is well known for overseeing more than 650 acres of certified organic vineyards on both sides of the Sonoma-Napa border, growing the grapes for several 95-plus point wines and at least 12 100-point scores. He mostly plants cabernet grapes, but always squeezes in a few acres of grenache in all the vineyards he manages.

Coturri and Cambie put their heads together to combine Phil’s unique and innovative growing principles and skills with Philippe’s desire to make wine with Phil’s grapes. And then they added the artistry of Stanley Mouse for their labels.

Among the À Deux Têtes wines are: a Miller Vineyard Rosé, Oakville Ranch Grenache and Rossi Ranch Grenache. Limited production available through Sam Coturri at or 721-1805. 589 First St. W., Sonoma.

Sonoma Valley Worm Farm in film

Recently I mentioned that Sonoma Valley Worm Farm made the screen credits for the beautiful food and agriculture film, “Biggest Little Farm.”

It turns out that the Grimes family’s worm farm used to manufacture vermicomposting equipment, and Apricot Lane (the farm in the movie) bought one of those systems. But Sonoma Valley Worm Farm no longer sells equipment.

Instead they are expanding their business into selling the vermicompost, meaning the compost the worms make, as well as a liquid version of vermicompost called vermi-extract, and the wiggly worms themselves.

Smartly, Sonoma Valley Worm Farm now sells vermicompost and vermi-extract to more than 100 vineyards and wineries throughout the counties of Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Mendocino and San Luis Obispo.

They also “have a large following in the cannabis space,” according to Amy Grimes. More information at or

Nibs & Sips

La Hacienda Mexican Grill is expected to open at the former Pearl’s site within three to four weeks. This Hacienda is in addition to its location on Highway 12 in Boyes Hot Springs. Watch for several organic and other healthy offerings and lots of the colorful handmade furniture you see at the Boyes restaurant.

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