Deerfield Ranch Winery files for bankruptcy; Buena Vista’s new Wine Tool Museum; Corner 103 update; As Sonoma’s world turns

February 20, 2015

Late breaking:

Robert and PJ Rex’s Deerfield Ranch Winery filed for bankruptcy on Friday, Feb. 13, a sad note in the Sonoma Valley’s wine business.

According to the Press Democrat, Deerfield Ranch has been producing about 15,000 cases if their own wine and 15,000 cases of others’ custom crush wines.

The Rexes attribute their problems to unexpected delays and costs of installing a left turn lane on Highway 12, the recession, and miscommunication with Rabobank about balloon payments. In December a Sonoma County Superior Court judge appointed a receiver to manage the winery’s finances. Robert Rex is a former proprietor of Drucquer & Sons pipe and tobacco shop in Berkeley.

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As one who does everything big, bold and beautiful, Jean-Charles Boisset has done it all again.

Some of us had the good fortune to tour Jean-Charles Boisset’ fabulous new Wine Tool Museum on the third floor above Buena Vista’s champagne cellars in the winery’s original building on Monday.

This is a must see after the museum’s expected opening in late March. You will enjoy the moving displays of historic viticulture tools from France, some collected in France and others purchased from a major collector of French tools in Japan.

As a collector of antique kitchen utensils and equipment myself, I can say that this may be the ultimate wine tool collection and display in the world.

If you go, you will see moving walls of shovels and moving wine barrel parts that demonstrate how they are assembled, and many more tools than anyone might have thought were used pre-mechanization. A few of our wineries still use these old methods. A room-filling oral narrative and lights of varying colors highlight each segment of the “tour.”

Boisset has brought in Kyle Haraszthy, son of Vicki and Val (Vallejo) Haraszthy, the latter the great, great grandson of both General Mariano Vallejo and Agoston Haraszthy, making Kyle the great, great, great grandson of both men. Kyle is “Sales Ambassador” for Buena Vista Winery and enjoying every minute of it.

Karen MacNeill, author of “The Wine Bible” led us through tastes of several new Buena Vista wines, most of them 2012 vintages. More to come closer to opening to public.

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Isn’t it interesting that apparently vineyardists say their drought-dry vines have produced a bumper crop of grapes? Or did they go ahead and water anyway?

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Corner 103, the Lloyd Davis wine and food enterprise developing at the corner of W. Napa and First Street West, is coming along, with a hoped-for opening date in late March or early April. I stopped in Tuesday morning, walked through the door with building co-owner and Wine Country Bicycle Shop proprietor Jeff Montague, and there was Lloyd Davis.

I think I can guarantee that whatever Davis does will be elegant and tasteful, the latter pun intended. He is a previous owner of Viansa Winery.

Right now insulation is showing in the ceiling and floor tiles are still in their boxes, but wine and more are being created already.

Davis is a consultant to Envolve Winery and the Benziger family, and Danny Fay of Envolve/Bensiger is a consultant to Davis. Great family and great relationships.

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Sonoma Gaydar invites all “divas and divos” to their annual Karaoke party Saturday, Feb. 21 at MacArthur Place barn. Cat Smith leads the revelry. $5 goes to Smith. 8 p.m. 29 E. MacArthur, Sonoma. For dinner reservations at Saddles call 933-3191.

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Virginia Hayes, proprietor of G’s General Store, will host Santa Barbara resident and cooking school proprietor Pascale Beale for a book signing and tastes on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 22. Beale grew up in England and France and learned to cook from her French mother and grandmother. She will make three salads and a dessert from her newest book, “Salade.” 2 to 4 p.m. 19 W. Napa St., Sonoma. (Sheana Davis’ Artisan Cheese Fair is from 1 to 4 p.m. at Ramekins Culinary School.)

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Don’t miss Kathleen Weber of Della Fattoria and Della Fattoria Café in Petaluma at our Last Wednesday Food Group next Wed., Feb. 25 with her “Della Fattoria Bread: 63 Foolproof Recipes for Yeasted, Enriched & Naturally Leavened Breads,” just published a few months ago. Many restaurants, including The French Laundry and Sonoma Mission Inn, serve her bread, and she is a great and fun person who will tell the Della Fattoria story from baking in their barn to their grand success. Learn how she does it. Bring goodies if you wish. Free. 7 p.m. 120 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 939-1779.

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Chef Rob Larman will serve his think-you-are-in-France Cassoulet Dinner at Windee Smith’s Valley Wine Shack on Friday, Feb. 27. Enjoy a Dijon vinaigrette butter lettuce salad; cassoulet of heirloom beans, duck confit and sausage; and Vahlrona chocolate mousse with crème Chantilly. $40. Two seatings starting at 5:30 p.m. 535 W. Napa St., Sonoma. Reserve at 938-7218.

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Gundlach Bundschu’s Rhinefarm Supper Club invites us to their first Heritage Selection Chardonnay release with winemaker Keith Emerson in the GunBun “cave dining room” on Saturday, Feb. 28. Only 36 cases of this old vine varietal were made. Chef Roger Babel, once a Best Chef in America according to Food and Wine magazine and Wine Spectator Grand Award winner, will prepare the five courses to include Kabocha squash ravioli and Maine lobster salad; sea scallops with ragout of Chanterelle mushrooms; pancetta-wrapped Monkfish with seared foie gras; roasted duck breast  with Yukon golds, rapini and Royal Trumpet mushrooms, all followed by Valrhona chocolate torte with cherry compote and cheeses, and accompanied by GunBun’s finest wines. $195 public, $175 wine club members. 6:30 p.m. To attend contact brooke@gunbun.com.

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As Sonoma’s world turns:

Catherine Venturini and hubby John Burdick threw an invite-only birthday party for John’s big round one at her popular Olive & Vine in Glen Ellen a Sunday ago, and even closed the restaurant to do so.

Pounds of cheese and pâtés were devoured before dinner. A huge buffet included the best chicken cacciatori I have ever eaten, creamy polenta, Brussels sprouts, and then six birthday cakes made in house with filling flavors ranging from fresh raspberries to hazelnuts.

From the beginning of the party sommelier, singer and guitarist John Burdick entertained his friends. He was joined by a string of Sonoma Valley’s best musicians, starting with James Marshall Berry, Dave McKee, and Cliff Zyskowski. Sitting in at different times were Sean Carscadden, Zakk Murphy, Art Hau, and David Aguilar, with Squire Fridell rising on vocals late in the evening.

As Venturini went up to the mic to take it over and get Burdick to stop playing so he could blow out a thousand birthday candles, she instead succumbed to the music and began to dance her curly head off. With that, we all got on our feet, started to dance, and pushed the café tables away from the floor and never saw them again. A fabulous birthday gift from both of them to their friends.

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Among the attendees at John Burdick’s birthday party were Chef Rob Larman and Lizzy Adair, who were married just the day before in the cave next to the Bubble Lounge at Buena Vista Winery. This was a hilarious slightly Jewish wedding with attendees all performing witness tasks, loudly, and with lots clapping, cheering and even standing every time the officiant, Dr. Juan Francisco Lara, former Chancellor of U.C. Irvine and Lizzy’s uncle, mentioned that Rob was actually/finally getting married. Lizzy read a loving speech that was a tear jerker, and Rob turned around to the guests and said something like, “Everyone knows I am happier than I have ever been in my life, and thanks for coming,” to thunderous applause and shouts of joy.

Larman catered his own wedding, with lots of fabulous charcuterie, Hog Island Oysters, corned beef sliders, many hors d’oeuvre, his own foie gras, and many French cheeses smuggled from Paris in her luggage by his old Mill Valley housemate and great friend, Veronica Oliver.

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Christine Mueller, president of the Napa-Sonoma chapter of Women for WineSense announced their “Women in Wine” discussion panelists for their annual “Women in Wine” event, Thursday, March 5, 2015, on the stage of Napa Valley College’s Performing Arts Center.

Panelists will include Karen MacNeil, wine writer and author of “The Wine Bible;” Penny Gadd-Coster, Executive Winemaker of Rack and Riddle; Jillian Johnson, Winemaker and Vintner of Onesta Wines; Cynthia Cosco, Winemaker and Vintner of Passaggio Wines in Sonoma’s Vine Alley; Theresa Dorr, CMO of Active Consulting; Shelley Lindgren, Owner and Wine Director of A16 and SPQR restaurants, San Francisco, and A16 Rockridge; and Rebecca Jenkins, CEO of Clarbec Wines and CFO of Madrone Vineyard Management in Glen Ellen. The panel discussion, which celebrates WWS’s 25th anniversary, will be moderated by KSRO’s “On the Wine Road” host Jeff Davis. $35 members, $65 non-members, $25 students and young professionals, $15 students before Feb. 23. 6 p.m. 2277 Napa-Vallejo Hwy., Napa. Tickets at Eventbrite.com.

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Also on Thursday, March 5 Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn will present a special screening of David Kennard’s “A Year in Champagne,” accompanied by an elegant dinner in Santé Restaurant. “A percentage of the ticket sales will benefit the Sonoma International Film Festival.” Veuve Cliquot “Yellow Label Brut” will be served during the pre-dinner reception.

As did a previous “A Year in Burgundy” shown at the Sebastiani Theatre by the film festival, this movie is based on former wine importer extraordinaire Martine Saunier’s tour of her friends’ vineyards and wineries.

Prepared by Executive Chef Bruno Tison, whose personal roots are near the Champagne region, and Chef de Cuisine Andrew Cain, dinner will include Hearts of Hawaiian Peach Palm salad with fennel compote; a seared Diver scallop with pearl pasta and chorizo and Santa Barbara mussel “paella;” Niman Ranch filet mignon with vegetables, Yukon Gold potato purée; and a Valrhona chocolate dariole, all served with uniquely appropriate wines.

“A Year in Champagne,” a Samuel Goldwyn Film, will open in select theatres and be available on iTunes on Friday, March 6. But not with the filmmaker present and this special dinner. $225 includes reception, dinner, wines and screening. Tickets at Eventbrite.com.

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Perhaps coincidentally, Merrill Lynch announced that Martine Saunier is auctioning off her super wine collection as a “luxury collectible,” according to her Merrill Lynch wealth management advisor Jason Ting.

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Attendees get to trade fish stories and nibble hors d’oeuvres and sip cocktails and Benziger Family wines, and contribute through silent and open auctions. All funds go to the GGSA’s salmon restoration projects.

Victor Gonella, founder and treasurer of GGSA, says “Mike is well known in the region for his water conservation practices and bio-dynamic farming. Conserving and wise water policies are needed to keep the iconic salmon industry strong…Mike Benziger understand sthis. Sarah and Darius Anderson, owners of the Index-Tribune, will contribute the Ramekins location.

According to spokesperson Michael Coats, The GGSA is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, tribes, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon.” I am guessing salmon will be on the menu. $125. 5:30 p.m. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Tickets at (855) 251-4472(855) 251-4472 FREE or goldengatesalmonassociation.com.

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Rumor Department: Tiny Thistle Meats of Petaluma is taking over the Napa-based Fatted Calf space at Ferry Plaza in San Francisco, according to Anita Watson. Molly and Lisa offer locally raised beef, lamb, goat, pork, rabbit, and poultry from farms and ranches they know and trust. They say they “adhere to a philosophy of whole animal butchery, offering handmade charcuterie, pates, salumi, terrines, and other cured meats as well as local produce, cheese, eggs, and prepared foods: a sandwich of the day, soups, stews, bone broths, marinated and seasoned meat cuts. This type of butcher is an older craft.”

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The Golden Gate Salmon Association will honor “wine and water leader” Mike Benziger of Glen Ellen at its annual Salmon Celebration dinner and fundraiser at Ramekins Culinary School on lucky Friday, March 13.

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