by Barbara Barrielle
Supporting the regions in which they call home, these artisan, locally-sourced companies are pledging to do what it takes to help their beloved communities rebound from the recent wildfire devastation. From small batch grain-to-glass spirits to chocolate and olive oil to natural bath and beauty products to consciously sourced gourmet products, there is no better year to celebrate the holidays than with gifts from the Wine Country.
The Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino areas rely heavily on tourism—the region remains beautiful and thriving—one of the best ways people can support wine country after the devastating fires is to come visit! Visit the tasting rooms, order wines, eat at the region’s restaurants, stay at hotels and shop.
FOR THOSE IN NEED OF PAMPERING
Healdsburg—Taking what she had learned during her 20-year career in the wine industry, Nicole Simpkins created Wine Country Botanicals. She began with the mission of using the highest quality of best of ingredients to be found in wine country, respecting Mother Nature, and embracing the idea of terroir. Armed with this mission and her passion for essential oils and wine, she came up with Wine Country Botanicals: a line of wine country inspired bath and beauty products aimed at improving one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Wine Country Gift Set for Wild Fire Relief—This kit pays homage to the beauty of Napa and Sonoma Counties, the regions which inspired Nicole to create Wine Country Botanicals. (Nicole and her family also live in Sonoma County.) A special-edition Wine Country Gift Set, it includes: SONOMA body wash (2 ounce bottle), SONOMA lotion (2 ounce bottle), NAPA body wash (2 ounce bottle) and NAPA lotion (2 ounce bottle). Five dollars from each Gift Set sale will go to the North Bay Fire Relief Fund through Redwood Credit Union.
The donation will be split between relief efforts in both Sonoma and Napa Counties and continue through January 2018. (Additionally, Wine Country Botanicals donated $5000 to the Sonoma County Resilience Fund, a charity that balances aid for short term needs with another with medium-to-long term goals.)
Mendocino—A local florist serving the Mendocino area, this florist is committed to supplying locally grown and Californian flowers to their clientele. But they also offer a taste of Mendocino the properly-pampered man can appreciate, no matter what state his location or state of mind.
Mendocino Wild Man–from the wilds of the Mendocino Coast to your own wild man, this useful and decadent shaving and skin care gift will easily take care of the most hard-to-please man on your list. Combine it with some solid craft beer choices from the ultra-popular North Coast Brewing Company or the legendary Russian River Brewing Company–have you heard of the lines people will stand in to get a bottle of Pliny the Elder? With this combo, you’re guaranteed some very happy unwrapping on Christmas morning…which can only benefit the giver in the long run…(wink!) www.mendocinoflowers.com/mendo-wild-man-gift-box
Mendocino Flowers also has some cool soaps, jams and hot mustards made by Mendo locals so be sure to peruse their site for more gifts.
FOR THE HOSTESS, ASPIRING CHEF OR FOODIE
Marin—Daniela Kratz is the woman behind Farmhouse Lab. After working in the corporate world as a sustainability exec at Shell Oil, Daniela set out on a new mission. Farmhouse Lab buys fresh, organic and local produce to add only the highest quality ingredients that help transform meals and even elevate the food’s nutritious value. The dressings all are free of emulsifiers, preservatives, refined sugar, canola oil and/or artificial flavors. To complete the packaging, the dressings are stored in beautiful glass mason jars to inspire reuse.
Four Pack Sampler (8 oz jars) for $67.99—Includes one jar of each of Farmhouse Lab’s salad dressings (Green Pumpkin Dressing, Berry Olive Dressing, Red Sunflower Dressing and Sunny Avocado Dressing). Each oil is produced with as many local, Northern California ingredients as possible. And not only does this business support other local businesses, through the end of 2017, Farmhouse Lab will donate 10% of the proceeds for each Four Pack Sampler sold to SF Fights Fire to provide North Bay Fire Rescue Centers with quality food supplies and meals for anyone in need.
Geyserville—A favorite stop for wine drinkers who thrive on diversity is the charming and vibrant Locals Tasting Room in Geyserville. This casual, welcoming spot is the brainchild of Carolyn Lewis. Locals offer wines from ten different wineries from around the region (and other wine regions) but Carolyn’s eye for vintage and unique clothing, shoes and bags is scattered throughout this magical storefront.
Enjoy a free tasting of as many wines as you want, a true rarity, and join one of Locals’ creative wine clubs. The holiday find from Locals is the olive oil that vintner Dick Handal makes from his Dry Creek Valley olives. Handal’s wines are spectacular and the olive oil is just as unique and truly the perfect holiday gift in its bright orange packaging…and no problem shipping!
Healdsburg—The hottest business opening in Healdsburg in 2017 was actually born in the late 1800s when Peter Seghesio’s grandparents emigrated from Italy and settled in Sonoma County. As lifelong farmers, they immediately recognized the promise of the land, and began two traditions that the Seghesio family still honors today: winemaking and crafting artisanal salumi, sausage, and cured meats.
After selling the renowned family winery, winemaker Pete Seghesio began drafting plans in 2011 to open a business unlike any other in the country: a shop dedicated to crafting Italian-style meats with the same skill and attention that goes into producing wine. With the help of his wife, sister, aunt, and uncle, Journeyman Meat Co. was born.
In pursuit of the industry’s greatest knowledge, Pete began traveling to Italy to study under world-famous butchers Dario Cecchini of Panzano and the Marini family of Florence. From these masters, Pete learned the art of Italian-style whole animal butchery. In order to continue the traditional techniques learned Italy, Pete has brought one of Dario’s leading butchers, Samuele, onto the Journeyman Meat team. At the shop, try both the cured and Journeyman Wines or order online to be truly wine country trendy.
Calistoga—Flourish’s iridescent chocolate Robin’s Eggs are handmade by Chef Holly Peterson with the utmost care and artistic flair. From the legendary Napa Valley winemaking family that includes sister Heidi Barrett and father Richard Peterson, it is natural that Holly would make chocolate that makes one feel good and looks even more delicious.
Filled with delicious ingredients, Holly’s chocolates are designed to help you flourish. Beneath the dark chocolate shell of these exquisite jewels is a core of immune-boosting white chocolate turmeric ganache. The ganache is then enveloped by an one of the signature flavors.
Flourish signature flavors include: ginger, cappuccino, cinnamon, salted walnut, saffron, raspberry-strawberry, pomegranate, tangerine, watermelon and more. All are made with natural, preservative-free ingredients. Flourish’s commitment to keeping you healthy doesn’t stop with the ingredients. The company is proud to donate a portion of profits to fund health-related charities.
Healdsburg—After 16 years as Healdsburg restaurateurs, Jeff and Susan Mall made the decision to sell and were offered a job to co-chef for a boutique resort near Todos Santos in Baja, Mexico. While living and working as married chefs in Mexico they fell in love with traditional foods and ingredients. New to the Malls, but grown in Mexico for thousands of years, was Cacao, a.k.a. cocoa beans and they were fascinated by their many uses in Mexican cuisine.
The couple began experimenting with them, roasting them in the traditional Mexican style and trying them in both sweet and savory recipes. Some of their co-workers came from families that made traditional chocolate in different regions throughout Mexico. Jeff and Susan were thrilled to get the chance to share their colleagues family recipes…and before they knew it, Volo Chocolate was born. All of Volo’s premium bars are available for order through their website.
FOR THE CRAFT SPIRITS ENTHUSIAST
Spirit Works Distillery, Batch by Batch, from Grain to Glass
Sebastopol–Founded in the heart of Sonoma County in 2012 by husband and wife team Timo and Ashby Marshall, Spirit Works Distillery is an artisan spirit producer of handcrafted Vodka, Gin, Sloe Gin, Barrel Gin, Navy Strength Gin, Straight Wheat and Straight Rye Whiskey. Led by Head Distiller Lauren Patz, Spirit Works is one of few distilleries in the United States (and around the world) with an all-female production team.
Supporting the wild fire relief efforts: Sonoma Strength Barrel of Whiskey $65 per bottle—Heartbroken by the tragedy, Spirit Works Distillery bottled the special edition “Sonoma Strength” barrel of CASK Wheat Whiskey on October 14, 2017 (while the fires were still raging through both Sonoma and Napa Counties). Producing approximately 40 cases, all bottles of Sonoma Strength Wheat Whiskey are available for sale at the Spirit Works’ Tasting Room in Sebastopol. All proceeds from this barrel will be donated to the North Bay Fire Relief Fund through Redwood Credit Union.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF WINE COUNTRY GETAWAY
Mendocino–The perfect gift for the holidays is one that can be enjoyed later in the year when you get to cash in your gift certificate and head out to recapture the romance. Until then, you can live with the fantasy of your future escape to Mendocino’s wild coast for a nature, food and wine experience.
Stay at the #1 rated Mendocino County Glendeven Inn or the inn’s sister property Cobbler’s Walk for the perfect decadent weekend in an oversized room complete with fireplaces and ocean views. Don’t miss the room-delivered breakfast of specialties made with the farm’s eggs and fresh squeezed juice every morning. Visit the llamas or feed the chickens before you head off on a chauffeur-driven tour of the Anderson Valley wine country, including such wineries as Witching Stick, Roederer Estate, Navarro, Schramsberg Estates, Smith and Story and Lazy Creek.
The highlight of the weekend will be the unique Shared Table dinner that is offered only on Thursday and Saturday evenings. Tailored to what is fresh in the market and customized to guests’ preferences, the Shared Table allows up to 12 people to enjoy a four course meal. It is truly a unique and memorable wine country experience.
OTHER COOL EXPERIENCES TO GIFT FOR THE COMING YEAR
Napa–Nothing better than wine and a gourmet meal on a train through your fave wine valley. The train is what you want it to be. Romance, girls weekend, wine education….something for everyone. www.napavalleywinetrain.com
Sonoma County–Throughout the year, the Wine Road hosts events that traverse three valleys; Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River, and combine food tastings, barrel samples, chats with winemakers and more. Winter Wineland in January is the perfect chaser to the winter blues. Barrel Tasting kicks off the spring in March and Food and Wine Affair is the fall favorite the first weekend of November. A gift certificate now will earn big thanks later. www.wineroad.com
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