Keeping the faith at Fathia
Winemaker Fausta Franco-Guerrero (center) with her husband Rogelio and their three children. Source:www.fathiavineyards.com
Fathia Vineyards, which specializes in single-lot, Bordeaux-style Cabernet Sauvignon, has opened its first tasting room, located in the Kenwood shopping center. This is a big step for Fathia, which only produces 1,000 to 1,200 cases a year. For winemaker and owner Fausta Franco-Guerrero, this represents the realization of a lifelong dream and the manifestation of a lot of hard work.
Franco-Guerrero and her husband Rogelio are third-generation Sonomans, but are the first in either of their families to own property. Franco-Guerrero's father and grandfather both emigrated from Mexico and spent their lives working in the vineyards in Northern California. Franco-Guerrero grew up in a small house in Sonoma, surrounded by a vineyard. As a child, watching her father work and pick grapes made her want to one day own her own vineyard and work the land. She held on to that dream as she grew up, got married and started a family. In 2005 she and Rogelio began acquiring small parcels one by one and planting vineyards on virgin land. The very first property they bought in Sonoma - where they built their house - is also where they still grow the grapes that produce their award-winning Cabernet Sauvignons. But at first, it didn't seem so promising.
“Neighbors would tell us the cab wouldn't grow there,” said Franco-Guerrero, as the conditions weren't right. “But when I told my uncle I feared my dream wouldn't come true, he said, 'Mija, if you want cab to grow there, cab will grow.' And we have won awards with that wine.”
Fathia Vineyards has received accolades at competitions for their 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Sauvignon and scores of 91 points and 89 points respectively from Wine Enthusiast.
With the faith imparted to her from her uncle, Franco-Guerrero continued to push hard for her dream. With small vineyards they were able to focus on growing quality grapes, but Franco-Guerrero was not content with selling their grapes to other buyers; she wanted to expand beyond farming. “I was curious and wanted to grow the fruit, but also work with it.” She enrolled in the viticulture and winery program at Napa Valley College and under the tutelage of her cousin, also a winemaker, produced her first wines in 2011 under the business's former name, Fausta Family Vineyards.
After acquiring more property in Sonoma Valley and Napa, in 2014, a Muscat Canelli was released under a new label, Fathia Vineyards. The name Fathia means victorious in Arabic. Franco-Guerrero said the name change was intended to impart success to her dream.
Franco-Guerrero said she is grateful that Kenwood has given her the opportunity for this next step. Being such a small, family-run venture, it had been hard finding someone who would take the chance and let them open a brick and mortar tasting room. “Being small and not knowing anyone in the industry, it was hard. But then you find really great people who want to help,” said Franco-Guerrero.
For now, Franco-Guerrero is content growing and making wine she likes to drink and setting an example for her children with hard work, all things are possible. “My husband and I have worked so hard. Nothing has been given to us,” she said. “This [tasting room] is really a dream come true. I would have never imagined this at an early age.”
Fathia Vineyards is open Thursday-Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday by appointment only. The tasting room is located at 8910 Sonoma Hwy., Ste. 11-B. Find out more at www.fathiavineyards.com.
New album by Cynthia Carr & the Carrtunes
The Carrtunes, L to R: Cynthia Carr, Sandi Everett, Doug Bates, Ed Davis and Caryn Price.
Sonoma Valley's Cynthia Carr & The Carrtunes have been performing their eclectic blend of folk, swing, doo wop, jazz and Americana music for over 30 years, and this month, they will release their first-ever album, A Carrtunes Banquet.
Created to share a sampling of the songs they have come to know and love over the decades, the album's 12 tracks feature a wide range of musical tastes and a very stirring original composition, “Our House, Our Town.” Evoking a sense of place, contentment and belonging that all of us one day hope to find, the album single is sure to be a favorite among folk lovers, young and old.
The band formed around a common bond - their children. When their kids were just beginning grammar school together, the original band members joined forces to perform at school talent shows, and the rest is local music history. A fixture at community events, including the Glen Ellen Village Fair, Dunbar School fundraisers, and Jack London State Park events, they have entertained Sonoma Valley residents for decades.
The band is made up of Cynthia Carr (vocals, guitar), Sandi Everett (vocals, tambourine), Caryn Price (vocals, guitar, high hat), Doug Bates (trombone, harmonica, conga), and Ed Davis (bass).
You can find out more at carrtunesband.com.
Stand up comedy comes to Landmark VineyardsStand up comedy and Bingo unite on Saturday, May 27, when Laugh Your Bingo Off comes to Landmark Vineyards, with special host Priya Prasad. Coming from an East Indian background, growing up in suburban Seattle, and making Oakland her home, Priya's style of comedy is witty, intelligent, and rich with the cultural experience of an urban East Indian American woman. In the last few years she has hit comedy stages around the country with a force of a thousand dancing elephants. She was featured on Susan Alexander's Five Funny Females Comedy Tour, the Women in Comedy Festival, Boston, and NBC's, Last Comic Standing. Most recently she was featured on MTV's Beyond the Wall campaign. TIPS Tri-Tip Trolley will be onsite serving up grub starting at 5 p.m. Show starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 or $30 at door.
Visit www.crushersofcomedy.com to buy tickets.
Also at Landmark…Food trucks will be rolling into town as part of Landmark Vineyards' new Food Truck Series, hosted on the last Saturday of the month, May through September. First up will be TIPS Tri-Tip trolley on May 27, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The trolley serves sandwiches, fusion bowls and other wine country comfort food. The Wurst, serving up artisan sausages, burgers and salads, comes June 24, followed by Foodie Farmhouse on July 29, Picazo on Aug. 26 and Dabba on Sept. 30.
Simmer down SaturdayLocal favorite the Jami Jamison Band comes to the Muscardini Cellars patio on May 20 at 5:30-8 p.m. Unwind with a glass of Muscardini Cellars' wine while enjoying live jazz, blues and swing. Light meats, cheese and crackers are available for purchase, or bring your own fare. Wine purchase of $10 per person required for admission.
Muscardini Cellars is located at 9380 Sonoma Hwy. in Kenwood.
Local students awarded big bucks
The Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Foundation has awarded $18,000 in scholarship funds to five local college-bound students. Recipients must be the children of Sonoma Valley winery or vineyard employees. Scholarship recipients and their affiliations are:
Ava Faithe Castro, Sonoma Valley High School - Beltane Ranch_
Kayla Field, Sonoma Valley High School - The Lodge at Sonoma_
Barrett Benziger, Maria Carrillo High School - Benziger Family Winery_
Ruby Moreno, Sonoma Valley & Rancho Cotati High School - Leveroni Vineyards
Jenna Hobby, Los Lomas High School - Lasseter Family Winery
The Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance is a nonprofit organization serving over 500 members who share a mission to promote awareness of Sonoma Valley's grapes, wine and history as the birthplace of the California wine industry.
To learn more, visit www.sonomavalleywine.com or call 935-0803.