Thursday, November 19, 2015

High Concept

As Legalization nears, ZDCA announces new division to serve the cannabis industry

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 1:31 PM

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Santa Rosa's ZDCA Design & Development today announced the creation of a sister agency that will exclusively serve Northern California's cannabis industry. The Hybrid Creative will provide web design and branding services as well as business and consulting for medical and hydroponic marijuana.

"The whole landscape is changing with all the new laws and regulations," says Laurel Gregory, Hybrid Creative's new CEO. Gregory was the long-time art director and production manager for ZDCA. "Northern California doesn't have an agency that focuses on the cannabis industry and that's the niche we're trying to carve out for ourselves."

Gregory she said the cannabis has a large number of female CEOs and she's proud to be part of the movement.

ZDCA has been the product design, marketing and web development agency for cannabis industry producers like Absolute Xtracts, Care By Design, Cutting Edge Solutions, The Emerald Cup, GeoPot, True Liberty Bag and Left Coast Garden Wholesale.

"I believe in cannabis not only as a medical and agricultural crop but as an industry that can really elevate the growth of Northern California," said Zack Darling, co-founder and CEO of ZDCA. "After many years of very limited sales opportunity, this industry is on the verge of a massive expansion in sales and product development. The Hybrid Creative is here to bring our clients into the market place in big, innovative ways.”

According to a statement, the creation of a cannabis-specific subsidiary will allow ZDCA to focus on sustainable enterprises, e-commerce and renewable energy clientele.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

John Travolta, Local Linemen Hit the Red Carpet in Yountville

Posted By on Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 2:18 PM

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Recently, the Bohemian's preview of the fifth annual Napa Valley Film Fest, running through November 15, reported that actor John Travolta was going to receive the festival's "Career Achievement Award" and attend a screening of his new film, Life on the Line.

In the film, which will make it's world premiere at the festival on Saturday, November 14, in Yountville, Travolta portrays a Texas lineman (those guys who work on high electrical wires and grids) who faces hardships amid a deadly storm. This movie comes at a time when NPR is reporting that electrical companies like PG&E are having trouble hiring enough linemen to replace a retiring generation, as less young people are willing to work in dangerous and physically demanding positions.

We knew that Travolta will attend the screening, but now we know he's bringing a few friends; in form of four local PG&E linemen. Donovan Rupp, Mike Bock, Tanner Leckenby and Hubert Lowe are all responsible for maintenance and construction in the Napa County area, which extends from Lake Berryessa to Benicia, and Sonoma and Fairfield. During the recent wildfires and last year's Napa earthquake, they all worked around the clock, along with their teams, risking life and limb to restore power as safely and quickly as possible in the wake of the disasters.

See the actor meet and talk with the real-life heroes he portrays when Life on the Line premieres on Saturday, Nov 14, at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater, 100 California Dr, Yountville. Red Carpet arrivals start at4:30pm. $15 Rush tickets can be purchased at the door if seats are still available after passholders have been admitted. For passes and info, visit nvff.org.


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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Healdsburg Half Marathon Readies for Halloween Run

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 3:10 PM

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The Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon falls squarely on Halloween this year and is set to be a frightful field day, with a costume contest for runners and other family-friendly fun.

Hosted by Sonoma County-based Destination Races, the Healdsburg Half Marathon annually celebrates the wine harvest and covers 13.1 miles amidst the dazzling fall colors of Alexander Valley vineyards and backroads. This year, spectators will have even more sights to see, as all participating runners are encouraged to dress in their favorite Halloween costume; meaning ghosts and ghouls will be sharing the roads with superheroes and princesses. Prizes will be awarded for the best individual, duo and team costumes.

In addition to the half marathon's mass of hydration stations, runners who want to get a buzz can stop at one of two wine stops on the path, a Sauvingon Blanc offering at Mauritson Winery, and Zinfindel at Mazzocco Winery. A special "Hallowine" 5K race is also on hand for the whole family. 

The post-race Wine & Music Festival at Trentadue Winery features 18 local wineries pouring signature varietals and a beer garden with Lagunitas and others sipping suds. Live music from Sonoma Sound Syndicate, exhibitor booths, face painting for the kids and a plethora of other activities also await.

Registration for the half marathon is still open on the event website, and can be purchased at the Race Expo, held at Vintners Inn in Santa Rosa on Friday. The expo is open to the public.  


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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sonoma Laughfest Goes for the Giggles

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2015 at 3:39 PM

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Actress and producer Brooke Tansley has spent 25 years living and working in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, appearing in films, on TV and on stages from Broadway to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Now residing in Sonoma County and itching to bring big city fun to the North Bay, Tansley and fellow producer Kristen Rozanski present the inaugural Sonoma Laughfest, a smorgesboard of a dozen shows with over 90 comedians, musicians and actors, taking place tonight, Oct 22, through Sunday, Oct 25, at the Sonoma Community Center. 

The Laughfest opens this evening with comedy scenes from sketch groups Pimm's Girl (Los Angeles), Naptime (San Francisco) and 100% Stuff (Los Angeles). Improvisational funnies will follow from Liss n' Sams (San Francisco) and musical comedy duo Erin & MeLissa (Los Angeles). Then, standup stars Becky Klueger (Portland), Zan Aufderheide (Los Angeles) and Mimi Vilmenay (Bay Area) join local comedians to round out the night.

This pattern continues throughout the weekend, with performers who have been seen on classic and contemporary comedy series like "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Strangers with Candy," "Parks and Recreation" and "Key & Peele." There's also several popular figures from touring troupes like Upright Citizens Brigade, the group who literally wrote the book on Improv comedy, as well as Chicago's legendary Second City, where many "Saturday Night Live" alums made their start. Additionally, the slew of standup comedians making their way to Sonoma are widely-recognized names currently defining the comedy scenes in San Francisco, Los Angeles and beyond.

For a full schedule and details on buying tickets or volunteering, visit the Sonoma Laughfest page here.
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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Breaking Away at the Jensie Gran Fondo

Posted By on Thu, Oct 15, 2015 at 10:37 AM

Jens Voigt kicks off the race. - ALEX CHIU
  • Alex Chiu
  • Jens Voigt kicks off the race.

No great surprise that the first-ever Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin was a big success. Held Oct. 10, the biking event had a lot going for it: a charismatic host, incredible West Marin roads and a perfect early October day.

But I sure was surprised to find I’d made it 70 miles to the finish line before they rolled it all up. Me, just a bike commuter—who works from home.

The ride kicked off at Stafford Lake Park, in a quiet little valley east of Novato. Headliner Jens Voigt, a legend in pro cycling who retired from racing in 2014, pumped up the crowd for the 8am start.

“If it weren’t for the Tour of California he may have retired from cycling many years ago,” Scott Penzarella, owner of Studio Velo in Mill Valley, told me earlier this year. “He has stated that he loves California many a time.” Penzarella, on the board of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, helped to connect with Voigt and get the Gran Fondo rolling. The ride was a benefit for MCBC’s bike safety and advocacy programs.
A pack of riders head up Highway 1. - ALEX CHIU
  • Alex Chiu
  • A pack of riders head up Highway 1.

Although the inaugural Jensie was just the junior of Levi’s Gran Fondo, with some 1,200 riders compared to 7,500, they seemed to form an uber-peloton indeed.

But when would it start moving? Minutes had passed, and we were still standing in the staging area. The peloton was arranged with Jensie and the Founder’s Club, the ride’s $749 elite level, in the lead, followed by those who had signed up for the 100-mile Shut Up Legs route and the 70-mile Presidential. I’d ended up in the middle of the 40-mile Breakaway group, which was just as well. A friend, who I’ll call “Mr. Century” because he recently tackled the 100-mile Best Buddies ride in San Simeon, had condescended to hang back and help me out on this one.

Then I saw the flow of riders snaking east through the park, then, farther out, west, climbing Novato Boulevard. They’d started out all right—seems it just takes a while to get 1,200 riders moving.

“Thank you for making us feel like we’re in the Tour de France!” one woman shouted out to the volunteers, waving flags at the starting line.

It was a postcard-perfect Marin County morning as the fog clung to clefts in the hills, and we rode past cow pastures up a gentle slope, traffic-free thanks to CHP controlling the roll-out until Point Reyes-Petaluma Road.

Far ahead of us, the competitive types were racing to establish their time rank, recorded digitally from chips embedded in seat post tags that entrants were given at check-in. But I would have continued blissfully pedaling along with the yellow-tagged Breakaway bunch if my friend, having had enough of the lollygagging, hadn’t pulled out way ahead.

But later, as I paused in the middle of a long, steep climb through the redwood forested hills, a group of fellow riders asked if everything’s OK. “I’m just waiting for ‘Mr. Century,’” I said.

I’d trained for this ride, if you could call it that, on my commuter bicycle with a leaky tire. But when I brought it in to the Trek Store of Santa Rosa for a new tube, they set me up with a Domane 4.5 store demo bike just for this ride: a carbon frame endurance bike with dual hydraulic disc brakes, 700x25 tires, and Shimano 105, 11-32, 11-speed cassette. What some of that means, I’m not sure, but it means the bike ate up the inclines like foie gras, leaving “Century” in the dust.

There was no stopping in bike-friendly Fairfax, site of this weekend’s Biketoberfest event on Oct. 17. “They’re going to make us work for that first rest stop!” A woman says to me as we climb south out of town. It’s a well-chosen route: car traffic is minimal after a few miles, until it’s mostly the Gran Fondo support vehicles. There are a number of flat tire changers on the side of the road, but the event sees no major emergencies.

Hoping to avoid one, I reluctantly passed on 21st Amendment Brewery’s offer of beer at the first service stop. Where were they on the last one? Two service stop provided water only, three offered tasty hummus and falafel bites, cookies, fruit and fig bars. Possibly oversold was a promise of the “best food Marin County has to offer” at the gourmet service stop at Point Reyes Station—I’m thinking grilled oysters and Devil’s Gulch Pinot Noir, right? But Equator Coffee’s cold-pressed brew helped me to make it back to Stafford Lake Park for a hearty German-style lunch of brats and sauerkraut catered by Farm Shop, and a pint of Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’.

I was feeling fairly fleet on the descent to Alpine Lake Dam, when a small group cheering on riders at the end of the dam said, “So, are you the last ones?”

At the top of the next ascent, through steep, fern-shrouded slopes in the redwoods, a message written in chalk on the road, Jens Voigt’s signature phrase: “Shut Up Legs!”
Riders negotiate a hairpin turn. - ALEX CHIU
  • Alex Chiu
  • Riders negotiate a hairpin turn.

Breaking out into the sunshine for the Seven Sisters leg, the views just got wider: the fog rolled back over the Pacific to reveal Stinson Beach and Bolinas Bay far, far below. Then, the white-knuckled zoom down to sea level, the disc brakes chattering.

A cadre of cow bell ringers greeted riders at the finish line, assisted, after he returned, by Voigt himself with a shout out: “Welcome back home!”

Voigt’s time was seven hours, thirty seconds, but his actual time on the bike was five and a half. Where’d the extra hour and a half go? The gregarious pro cyclist was meeting and greeting and taking selfies with some of the faster folks, like Bohemian ad director Lisa Santos, who tamed the ride in five hours (4.44 hours she says, according to the activity app Strava).
Stopping to enjoy the view.
  • Stopping to enjoy the view.

Rolling in almost two hours later, I place as finisher 301 out of 321 men riding the Presidential 70-mile route. So is this a younger person’s game? Not exactly. The top two finishers were separated by two minutes—and two decades of age category. And from the top ten finishers on the female Breakaway route, seven are over 40.

But the legs were not shutting up, even for Voigt, the retired pro admitted to the crowd at the finish line. “I’m good for two hours, I’m good for three hours, I’m good for four. But when it gets to five hours—my legs are tired!”

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Friday, September 4, 2015

City Winery to Leave Napa

Posted By on Fri, Sep 4, 2015 at 1:19 PM

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After a month of speculation and conflicting reports, City Winery Napa, housed in the historic Napa Valley Opera House, announced in an email yesterday they will be closing their doors at the end of this year.

Last month, Napa Valley Register reported that Michael Dorf, owner and CEO of City Winery, was in talks with the Opera House's board of directors to end his 10-year lease a full eight years early. At the time, City Winery spokespeople denied those reports to the Bohemian. Apparently, the move to leave Napa has moved forward after all.

With successful venues in Chicago and New York, City Winery originally came to Napa to infuse wine country with dynamic live music and entertainment, and despite occasional sell-out shows, tickets sales have been low for many performances and the restaurant has not fared much better.

It's unclear at the moment what the future holds for the opera house, which underwent a major renovation prior to City Winery moving in. The venue will continue to provide a full calendar of events until Dec. 31.
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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

HenHouse Brewing Finds New Home in Santa Rosa

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2015 at 10:55 AM

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Petaluma-based HenHouse Brewing Company announced yesterday that they have secured a deal to move into new, expansive digs in southern Santa Rosa, creating 20 jobs and drastically increasing the output of the popular craft brewers' fresh, delicious beers. 

Sonoma County natives Shane Goepel, Scott Goyne and Collin McDonnell founded HenHouse in 2011 with a focus on producing artisan ales. Sharing space with Petaluma Hills Brewing for the past few years, their popular releases such as Saison Farmhouse Ale and even an Oyster Stout are delivered by hand to tap rooms around the North Bay.

HenHouse recently raised over a million dollars through an SBA loan to finance the move, a major step forward for the brewers. With the new location, housed in a GMP(Good Manufacturing Practices) facility originally meant for Amy's Kitchen, HenHouse Brewing will be able to produce a staggering 75,000 barrels a year. The space will also boast a tasting room and HenHouse will offer bottles of their ales.

In addition to creating 20 new jobs, HenHouse will be investing in local manufacturers to make their equipment and barrels. The move is expected to be completed in Spring of 2016. For now the founders of HenHouse say they have no desire for national distribution, but will continue on being a regional producer of fine ales. You can find out where HenHouse is currently distributed by visiting their website here.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

2015 Napa Valley Film Festival Announces Feature Films in Competition

Posted By on Wed, Aug 12, 2015 at 1:39 PM

Eliza Dushku (left) in 'Jane Wants a Boyfriend'
  • Eliza Dushku (left) in 'Jane Wants a Boyfriend'

The upcoming fifth annual Napa Valley Film Festival is set to feature a program of 125 films, including short films and sneak previews, slated to screen from November 11 to 15. This week, the festival has announced the 20 feature-length narrative and documentary films that will be contending for top prizes in the juried competitions. 

The festival has also announced that renowned film critic and USA Today writer Claudia Puig has been tapped as the Program Director, joining the esteemed roster of jury members and staff as a consultant first and assuming full responsibilities in the next few months.

Directors of the narrative and documentary feature films in competition will participate in NVFF’s unique "Artists-in-Residence Program," staying at Meadowood Resort and participating in special events and workshops. The winning filmmaker in each category will win $10,000.

The 10 narrative films selected feature actors Alexis Bledel, Jamie Chung, Eliza Dushku, Lyndsy Fonseca, Bryan Greenberg, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Jordan, Josh McDermitt, Kal Penn and Jason Sudeikis, among others in films range from emotional dramas to fantastical adventures. The 10 selected documentaries are also an eclectic grouping of revealing stories and heartfelt character studies. The full list is below the jump.


Continue reading »

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Copperfield's Books Brings Jonathan Franzen to Santa Rosa

Posted By on Thu, Jul 30, 2015 at 10:38 AM

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Acclaimed author of the novels of The Corrections and Freedom, Jonathan Franzen has been called the "Great American Novelist" by Time Magazine, won the National Book Award, and was a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction finalist.

This summer, Franzen, who splits his time between New York City and Santa Cruz, returns with his latest magnum opus of a novel, Purity, which encompasses a multitude of diverse and likely dysfunctional characters embarking on intertwining paths that mix youthful idealism and contemptible behavior with a darkly comic and morally complex perspective.

Weighing in at 576 pages, Purity will be released Sept. 1, one day before the author appears at the SRHS Performing Arts Auditorium in Santa Rosa for a special event presented by Copperfield's Books. Franzen will be reading from the new novel as well as engaging in conversation with literary critic and part-time Sonoma County resident Jane Ciabattari. Tickets are on sale now. Grab a pair now before the event sells out.

Jonathan Franzen reads on Wednesday, Sept 2, at the SRHS Performing Arts Auditorium, 1235 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa. 6pm. With the pre-purchase of the novel at any Copperfield's Books location, readers are allowed the purchase of up to two $10 tickets to the event. The novel is $28 plus tax and will be available for pick up at the event. 


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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Food and Wine Odyssey: A Journey's End

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 at 2:55 PM

The busy canals of Venice.
  • The busy canals of Venice.

This is the sixth and last of a series of sponsored posts documenting Bohemian and Pacific Sun publisher Rosemary Olson's wine and food cruise around Italy and Croatia with Duckhorn Vineyards and Food & Wine Trails.

This is Your Captain Speaking

When I heard on the deck intercom at 6am that we were approaching the Venetian skyline, I jumped out of bed threw on a robe and could hardly believe the beautiful scenery. I quickly glanced down the deck side of the ship to see who else was up to see this spectacular sight and I saw a sea of white terry robes flapping through the deck bars. Not wanting to miss a moment of it, I called room service for coffee.

I was excited to board a water vessel to the island Murano, known for its handblown glass. I love handblown glass and collected pieces in Sweden, Quebec, France and Mallorca. I don't have any more spaces for glassware at home so perhaps I’d find small glass gifts. I guess I could hang a chandelier from the ceiling.

There's plenty to see in Venice out of the water.
  • There's plenty to see in Venice out of the water.

Glass is the second largest industry in Venice after tourism. The masters shared their Venetian chandelier glassmaking with us in a very hot workshop, heating, rolling, shaping and blowing. Trying to stick to my light weight purchase concept, I bought four pairs of unique glass cufflinks to thank my new Duckhorn friends and a red glass cross pendant for myself. I'm spending the rest of my day searching for special gifts for my children.

Off to San Giorgio Island. St. George was the military protector of Venice. I wanted to view the painting at the cathedral of "The Last Supper" as it is said to depict the Holy Spirit. It is indeed most beautiful.

The gondolas in Venice are black because there was fierce competition to make the most ornate vessel. It got out of hand so the authorities mandated standard black. The gondolas hold only six people. There are currently 443 gondoliers who all had to pass an exam to qualify. There was once a female gondolier, but she was the only one.

We toured Venice in a circle of boats noticing that no one occupies the first floor of many water worn buildings. It looked eerie through the worn doors and planks of the dark, vacant structures. I had strong notions of ancient water creatures living another life under the city combined with masked spies wearing oversized scuba gear in search of hidden Venetian treasures. Then you look up and see the beautiful Venetian architecture and street life.

There were thousands of Venetian masks to choose from and my issue was “which do I wear with glasses?” I go to many events so I just had to bring a few home. I found a gold mesh mask and four others, linens, a selfie stick for my son (which I should have bought on day one) and a cool boy's Venetian landmark T-shirt with funky video action figures.

OK, I can head back to port. I run along the dock, swiftly navigating through the mass of people. The boat was pulling out and I could not miss it. I was meeting the captain for tea in an hour! Thankfully they came back for me. I apologized to the guests, they were all sweating and some smiled and asked me what treasures I found in a matter of 10 minutes. I, of course, proudly pulled each one out and shared whom they were chosen for. They were most focused on my new ring and where I found it. I said, "Oh yes, let's see, this is the one I found in Kotor, Montenegro!"

Me and Captain Gunnar Romtveit.
  • Me and Captain Gunnar Romtveit.

What do you ask the captain of a ship? When I was early 20s I worked for a successful temp company in D.C., half the staff wanted me to work outside because I enjoy building face-to-face relationships. The other half of staff wanted me on their inside phone team, so they paid a few grand on a personality test that took a few hours. The result? I should be captain of a ship. So I called to speak with Captain Gunnar Romtveit with no reply. I then found a Mediterranean gondola-style notecard in my bag. I sent a hand-written letter to him sharing my story. That was the ticket.

We met for tea on the top deck. He was in uniform, of course. He was busy preparing to hand the ship over to another captain to continue the ship's journey. I told him that this is my first cruise. The cruise ship reminds me of a 5-star hotel where I don't have to drive country-to-country.

His career started when he was 15 in Norway. He and his older brother went to sea together, a shipmate was a drunk and they got in a fight. Gunnar was sent to another ship when tragedy struck. The ship he left with his brother onboard capsized and only one person survived. Sadly, it wasn’t his brother. He went home to be with his family and they tried to talk him out of sailing. He assured his family that trouble would not come back. He loved this work. I asked him if he thinks of his brother when he's on the sea and he said he’s carried him in his mind and heart for 20 years and has found peace.

To earn the title of captain is similar to a master's degree education. Gunnar has dedicated his life to a 41-year maritime career, sailing with Oceania since 2010. His favorite ports are Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong. Dallas is on his bucket list. He'd like to see where J.F.K. was shot. It made a significant impact on his family listening to it on the radio in Norway.

His worst experience on his ship was an explosion outside of Cape Canaveral on New Year’s Eve. He could not sail and there were no hotels or airlines available. Guests took their mattresses outside to sleep until they could go home.

Life is good, he says, working 10 weeks onboard and 10 weeks off. His son followed his footsteps and is a ship captain as well. Every day has it's new set of surprises, he says.

So, looking back, should I have been a captain of a ship? Mastering a ship is very technical, demanding and takes a very specific maritime-engineer mind. I am satisfied that I chose to be the captain of the media properties I cherish. And I do believe we are all captains of our personal lives, our vessels.

I'm off for a farewell party hosted by the amazing Duckhorn team, to share more stories and laughs and sip more of their incredible wines. I'm the lucky one. I can just zip over to Napa for a visit.

This was an exceptional experience. I heard about this cruise through wine club members. To see what other adventures are available check out Food and Wine Trails www.foodandwinetrails.com.

Special thanks to Larry Martin and Heidi Hall, Food and Wine Trails; Gunnar Romtveit and Oceania Cruises; Alex Ryan, Neil Bernardi, David Crum and Jim Fallon, Duckhorn Portfolio Group and Stett Holbrook, Bohemian Editor.

And cheers to the Duckhorn wine friends and other travelers aboard, you were all wonderful to be with on this special journey and I hope to see you again soon to share more stories.

Ciao for now.

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