Kenwood Press

Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

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Business Beat: 03/15/2017

Business Beat

Orchids in Oakmont? Of course!


A cymbidium orchid growing in Tony Mininno’s Oakmont backyard. Photo by Tony Mininno

Tony Mininno moved from Long Island to California in 1997 with one orchid to his name. It was a cymbidium orchid, one of the most common orchids, often sold at supermarkets or big box stores. Seeking advice and a like-minded community, Mininno joined the Sonoma County Orchid Society after attending one of their annual orchid shows. He has now been an Orchid Society member for 20 years. By the time Mininno moved from Occidental to Oakmont in 2010, he had amassed a greenhouse containing more than 500 orchids. During the move, he had to pare down his collection, but still keeps about 100 on his back porch, some of them still the humble cymbidium, of which he is fond.

“They can be mundane, but the world of the cymbidium is tremendous, with so many colors and patterns,” he said. They also are one of easiest types of orchids to grow in Sonoma County, being comfortable with temperature swings between 60 and 80 degrees. Mininno said he uses some simple tricks to keep his orchids happy, like using shade cloth for the sun and Christmas lights to keep them from freezing in the winter.

Shared knowledge like this is what makes orchid shows like the one hosted by the Sonoma County Orchid Society so valuable. “The show is good because people can get involved at any level; it's not just for experienced collectors,” said Mininno. This will be the sixth year Mininno has served as chairperson of the annual orchid show and sale.

This year's show will be held on April 1 and 2 at the Santa Rosa Veteran's Building. With a variety of vendors from around Sonoma County, and many unusual orchids that aren't available at your local grocery store, the show is a good place to come make new discoveries and ask questions. There will be skills sessions, a succulent vendor, a boutique where people can buy new and gently used plant and garden equipment at good prices, and orchid displays from all the vendors, with a nod to the show's theme “Orchids in Wonderland.”

The society's partner this year, Canine Companions for Independence, will have a booth at the show where attendees can come meet the dogs, talk to representatives and find out more about the work they do in the community.

Although the Sonoma County Orchid Society has been around for decades (it turns 60 this year), some people still aren't familiar with it and Mininno hopes that partnering with a different local community-focused nonprofit each year will help change that. The orchid society is not just for people who love plants and want to give back to the plant community; it's a society that gives back to the greater community as well, said Mininno.

The orchid society is about 120 members strong, but its annual show draws people from all over the Bay Area and surrounding counties.

When it comes to growing orchids, the moderate climate and our proximity to the ocean in Sonoma County can be just right for growing orchids. “People in the Bay Area are very lucky,” said Mininno. California even has its own native orchid, the Calypso orchid, which has been seen growing at the Grove of Old Trees in Occidental, and out at Mount Tam, and was even photographed in Trione-Annadel State Park last year for this newspaper. Sonoma County's special microclimates and “banana belt” mean a variety of orchids can be grown all over the county, indoors and out (with some special precautions), and education and experimentation are the key to success. Mininno said he is also partial to the orchid variety laelia anceps, which are more petite and delicate than cymbidiums and grow natively in Mexico. However, both types can coexist and grow happily together in an Oakmont backyard. “That's what's so fascinating about growing orchids,” said Mininno. “If you're a person who likes the science of things, it can be very informative.”

To find out more about the Sonoma County Orchid Society and its annual show, visit

First tastes of the season

The ultimate barrel tasting experience, Savor Sonoma Valley, is coming up on March 18 and 19. Hang out in beautifully appointed wineries and intimate boutique tasting rooms, enjoy barrel tastings, current releases and unique and hard to find wines, and meet the winemakers.

While food will not be offered at wineries as part of the event, lunch options will be available for purchase via food trucks and local restaurants during the weekend of Savor Sonoma.

Participating wineries are Deerfield Ranch Winery, Kenwood Vineyards, La Rochelle, Ledson Winery & Vineyards, Little Vineyards, Loxton Cellars, Madrone Estate Winery, Manzanita Creek Winery, Mayo Family Winery, Muscardini Cellars, Orpheus Wines, Paradise Ridge Winery, Spann Vineyards, Sunce Winery & Vineyards, St. Anne's Crossing Winery, Ty Caton Vineyards, and VJB Vineyards & Cellars.

Advance tickets are $65 for a weekend pass; $50 for a Sunday only pass. Designated drivers are free. Tickets at the door are $75 for a weekend pass, $60 Sunday only.

To purchase tickets, go to

Hearing on new tasting room in Kenwood shopping center

The county's Board of Zoning Adjustments will hear a use permit request for a new tasting room in the Kenwood Shopping Center on Thursday, March 16, 1:30 p.m. in the hearing room of the Permit and Resource Management Department (PRMD), 2550 Ventura Ave., Santa Rosa.

The use permit request was applied for by Fausta Franco-Guerrero of Fathia Vineyards in Sonoma.

The 540-square-foot space in the Kenwood shopping center at 8910 Sonoma Hwy. would be accessed from the back parking lot.

If approved, it would be the fifth tasting room in the center, also the home of the Kenwood Post Office, Palooza, Kenwood Market, and the Kenwood Press newspaper.

If you would like to know more about the proposal, contact PRMD planner Scott Orr at 565-1754,

Baltar to head up new California Biochar Association

As word about biochar grows - thanks in large part to the efforts of the Sonoma Ecology Center's Sonoma Biochar Initiative - coordination is growing among biochar's many advocates, who note how this super-charcoal can help California save water while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Last year a group of advocates met at a biochar conference in Corvallis, Oregon, decided to form a new California Biochar Association, and named Sonoma Biochar Initiative's Raymond Baltar as executive director. Baltar is also a professional photographer and owner of Moon Valley Studio located in Glen Ellen. The purpose of the new group, Baltar said, is “to have a more cohesive and centralized voice to help scale biochar in the state.”

The Sonoma Ecology Center has been asked to serve as the group's fiscal sponsor, and “the organization will essentially be housed here at SEC, though we have an advisory board of farmers around the state,” he said.

Those interested in learning more about biochar should attend the Conservation Burn and Biochar 101 Workshop on Friday, March 24, 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. at Circle Bar Ranch near Sonoma. These workshops feature both hands-on, in-the-field training and a classroom component.

The morning classroom session (9-10 a.m.) will focus on biochar, including why it works to improve soil, the benefits of using it in both animal and plant agriculture, how to properly condition it prior to use, and how to apply it. The second session (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) will include hands-on field training using a pile of vines and vine trimmings. The workshop fee is $65. Register at

Free reverse mortgage forum in Oakmont

How would eliminating your mortgage payments change your life? You can learn how to unlock the equity in your home by attending a free seminar on government regulated reverse mortgages with specialist Cynthia Kee on Thursday, April 6, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Oakmont Golf Club in Oakmont.

A tax-free lifetime income can pay off your existing mortgage, repair/remodel your home, pay off credit card debt, pay for emergency expenses, and even purchase a new home.

Kee will give you all the facts during an informal lunch. There are two other events she's holding on reverse mortgages: March 29, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Courtyard Marriott in Santa Rosa, and Thursday March 30. 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Margaret Todd Senior Center in Novato.

To RSVP for any of these free forums, call 707-812-2102, or email

Horatius goes green

line of bottles
Aveleda Vinho Verde is a white wine from Portugal.

To celebrate St. Patrick's Day - and to kick off the launch of its much-anticipated food menu - Horatius in Glen Ellen will be offering the famous Portuguese “Caldo Verde” (green soup) this month. Caldo Verde, considered the national soup of Portugal, is a homemade soup or broth made from scratch with simple ingredients: organic potatoes, freshly-cut kale and a touch of linguiça sausage. The green color comes from the juices released by the finely cut kale. The soup can be both vegetarian and non-vegetarian because the linguiça is added at the time of serving.

Additionally, Portugal is also famous for producing “Vinho Verde” (green wine). Enjoy a refreshing glass of Green Wine along with a cup or bowl of Green Soup starting March 17 through the end of the month. If you like Vinho Verde, you can save $10 on your purchase of six bottles - find a coupon in this issue of the Kenwood Press. Save some green while savoring some delicious green food. Horatius is located in Jack London Village at 14301 Arnold Dr. in Glen Ellen.

Dental implants available at Blue Apple Dental

Missing teeth can erode the ability to eat, smile, laugh and enjoy other daily activities. Dental implants are one of the best options for replacing missing teeth. Finding a dental implant expert who has the verified training, education, and experience specific to dental implants is crucial.

Blue Apple Dental Group offers complimentary Dental implant consultations and second opinions

There are many benefits of dental implants to replace missing teeth. Dental implants can improve your ability to confidently eat, smile, laugh, talk, play, and enjoy all the regular activities of everyday life.

Blue Apple Dental Group is home to a Master Dental Implantologist, Dr. Anthony Lieu, who can provide surgical, restorative, or both phases of treatment. This makes the patient's experience more seamless.

Save on sculptures

sculpture of dancing people
“Dancers IV” (1992) by Robert Holmes.Bronze edition, 6 of 12. Was $8,400, now $6,720 through March 19 at Sculpturesite Gallery.

These are the final days of Sculpturesite Galley's mid-winter 20 percent off sale. From kinetic sculptures for your garden or patio, elegant works to dress up an empty table, or the perfect sculpture for a niche, visit the gallery in Jack London Village. The sale ends March 19.

Sculpturesite Gallery is located at 14301 Arnold Dr., Ste. 8, Glen Ellen.

New businesses showcased in Sonoma

If you opened a new business in Sonoma Valley in 2016, you are invited to be a guest at the Sonoma Valley Local Fest, a new business showcase hosted by the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce on April 6, 5-7 p.m., at Ramekins in Sonoma. Showcase your product or service and there is no cost to participate. The event is free and open to the public. Contact the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce for more information at 996-1033.

Winegrowers' offer succession planning workshops

On March 23, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., the Sonoma County Winegrowers will host two more workshops in its Succession Planning Series. Michael Saqui and Raul Calvo will help growers develop and groom leaders to ensure a successful business transition in the field and in management operations. The Management Techniques for Key Manager and Employee Retention workshop will teach growers management techniques designed to establish employee retention at their company including how to develop a proactive and engaged operations management team at the grower level. This session will also discuss effective techniques to help employees “buy in” and become engaged in sustainable HR and safety management practices by making them stakeholders in the outcome. Participants will also discuss improving manager and employee retention by becoming an “Employer of Choice.” Event is free and takes place at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek, Russian River Ballroom. To register, go to

Make wine business your business

The Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University is offering a series of certificates in Wine Business this spring. There are still spots left in its Certificate in Wine Business Entrepreneurship, running March 15-May 10, Wednesdays, 6-9 p.m. The Wine Business Institute also offers two seminar-based certificate program options, which are open to the public and may be taken individually or together to earn a certificate. Seminars for the Certificate in Direct to Consumer Wine Sales run March 16-30 and seminars for the Certificate in Wine Industry Finance & Accounting run March 17-24. For a complete schedule, visit

Spring Economic Forecast Breakfast

Dr. Steve Cochrane

Get a preview of what is coming in our local economy over the next year at the Spring Economic Forecast Breakfast, Friday, April 28, 7-9 a.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel in Rohnert Park. Registration opens March 28. Guest speaker Dr. Steve Cochrane of Moody's Analytics will speak about how dynamic national and international economic factors may indicate changes ahead. Where are we now in the business cycle? Cochrane, who has tracked Sonoma County's economy for many years, is back to show you how your business can prepare for and get in front of the changes to come. Cost is $75 per person or $750 for reserved priority seating for table of eight. Register at

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Community Calendar

Broadway tunes at Jack London State Park
Free genealogy class in Oakmont starts
Trail work volunteer day
Volunteer training at Jack London SP
Parks Rx - Forest Therapy walk
Nature hike
Full moon hike
Bring a Friend to Church Day
Oakmont Lifelong Learning Class Preview Day
Spaghetti fundraiser for Kenwood sixth graders
Zen retreat at Kenwood Depot

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