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Business Beat: 09/01/2018

Business Beat for Sept. 1, 2018

Seamus opens up this weekend



James “Seamus” Foley
Jim Foley, winemaker and proprietor of the new Seamus tasting room in Kenwood.

Seamus tasting room opens in Kenwood

There's a lot of beer behind Jim Foley's wines. Foley, who opens Seamus tasting room this month in the Kenwood shopping center, began brewing both beer and wine more than two decades ago, after he graduated from culinary school at Johnson & Wales University. “I couldn't afford to buy the good stuff myself,” he joked during a recent interview.

Although Foley is based in the Bay Area, he's been selling his wine across the country for almost a decade, with New York, New Jersey and Louisiana as his biggest markets. He makes 1,200 to 1,500 cases a year under the Seamus label, which is his main label, but he also bottles wine and sells it under a few other labels, including Hoj Poj, which he calls a “more approachable” style.

Foley took the leap from personal wine making to something much bigger in the early 2000s while waiting for a restaurant venture in Palo Alto to get through the bureaucratic red tape. To bide that time, Foley decided to take an internship at Crushpad, a custom crushing facility then based in San Francisco. Crushpad's “urban winery” was the processing hub for a variety of clients - from vineyard owners who lacked a winery to big-wigs looking to bottle their own personal wine brand. Through that internship, Foley got to learn the ropes of harvest season and work with a variety of winemakers and wines.

When a friend of his bought a house on Trinity Road with space to accommodate more wine storage, Foley's winemaking days revved into high gear - so much so that the two couldn't drink all he was producing. After inviting the neighbors over, Foley realized that some of the neighbors had access to some pretty special grapes, like those grown at Atwood Ranch, which is where his Seamus “Olde Sonoma” Cabernet is sourced. Foley made his first three barrels for commercial market, a cabernet, pinot noir and chardonnay, in 2008.

Foley grew up in a large Irish Catholic family where there were a lot of Uncle James and Cousin Jimmies around during the family holidays. To help differentiate him, Foley's grandmother began calling him Seamus, Gaelic for James. That nickname now travels across the country with Foley's wine.

The new Seamus tasting room, which is his first, aims to be a little bit Irish pub and a little bit community gathering space. Foley has an open upright piano in the lounge area and a record player with an eclectic record collection for guests to enjoy. Stay and play a while because Seamus will stay open late, until 9 p.m., on Friday, Saturday and Sundays.

The tasting room also serves as a showroom of sorts for Sonoma Barrel, run by Foley's good friend James Harding, which specializes in wood and sculpted metal furniture crafted from refurbished wine barrels. The tables, chairs and hanging mirrors are all crafted by Sonoma Barrel.

And if you've got a Kenwood P.O. box key, be sure to drop in and say hi. Foley wants to meet all the neighbors, and those with a Kenwood P.O. box key get to have a $6 glass of premium Seamus wine - always on tap.

Almost all the wines available to taste are gold medal-winning wines at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Seamus Tasting Room is open Monday by appointment, Tuesdays through Thursdays 11-6 p.m. and Fridays through Sundays 11-9 p.m. It is located at 8910 Sonoma Hwy., next to Palooza Brewery & Gastropub. Find out more at savor.seamuswines.com.

Children's ballet at the Depot

Children's ballet classes are returning to the Kenwood Depot this month. Taught by former ballerina and now Adobe Canyon Road resident Leigh Donlan, classes will be held every Tuesday. Donlan will teach Russian-based, classical technique with an emphasis on imagination and creativity, with a pre-ballet session for kids age 5 to 7 years old, 3-3:45 p.m., and a ballet I class from 4-4:50 p.m. for kids 8 and older. Cost for each six-week session is $120, with a drop-in cost of $20. A six-week session will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Donlan grew up in Long Beach, and started dancing at age five. She continued dancing through high school and undergrad at the University of Oregon. After heading east for a masters program in creative writing at Georgetown University, Donlan became Children's Ballet Master at the Washington Ballet in Washington, D.C., and then Director at the Athenaeum School of Ballet in northern Virginia. She was also a principle dancer at Alexandria Ballet Company, Alexandria. She returned to the Sonoma area to be close to family and fell in love with Sugarloaf State Park. She has lived at the top of Adobe Canyon Road on an adjacent property for several years.

For more information call 415-290-4296 or email ledonlan@yahoo.com.

Laughs in wine country

Punchline Palooza summer comedy series continues at Palooza Brewery & Gastropub in Kenwood. The Sept. 7 headliner will be Jason Resler, a stand-up comedian and a writer hailing from Sacramento. He's also done a little bit of bad acting. Nevertheless he has performed improv with Academy Award winner Robin Williams in front of a sold-out theater. He is a decorated U.S. Naval war veteran, a father, baseball fanatic, road warrior, and an alternative high school spelling bee champion. Resler's own style of comedic storytelling and ranting is punchline-driven comedy that makes you think, described by the Sacramento News & Review as, “Sharp, smart material that kept the crowd in hysterics!” Show starts at 8 p.m. Cost is $20. For tickets, visit www.brownpapertickets.com, search “palooza”. Palooza is located at 8910 Sonoma Hwy. in Kenwood. Oh, and don't forget: kids eat free every Monday!

From waves and wine to the mile-high city

The Charles M. Schulz - Sonoma County Airport (STS) will begin air service to Denver International Airport starting March 8, 2019. Expansion of air service to/from wine country is a strategic move for both United and STS. Denver and Sonoma County are popular tourism and business destinations, and Denver is a major United hub where STS travelers can connect to over 145 destinations on United Airline's worldwide network. The new flights with midday arrival and departure from STS will be operated with Bombardier CRJ 200 regional aircraft.

“This new flight … will give_wine country residents hundreds of options_to connect through our midcontinent Denver hub to destinations all over the Midwest, East Coast and to our international network,” United President of California Janet Lamkin said. “And the new flight will make it easier for customers in the Midwest and East Coast to plan wine country vacations. We are committed to connecting California to the world, and bringing the world to California.”

Tickets for these daily flights are available for purchase at www.united.com

Business Blurbs

Wellington Cellars will host a Crush Event on Sept. 15 and 16, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at its Glen Ellen tasting room. Guests can see harvest in action, tour the vineyard and production facilities, and test sugar levels of grapes in the vineyard, followed by a tasting of award winning zinfandel. Cost is $15, or free for VJB and Wellington wine club members. Wellington is located at 11600 Dunbar Road in Glen Ellen… New paintings by Kenwood resident Fred Parker are on display now at the Alley Gallery in Sonoma, Sept. 1-30. The gallery is located at 148 East Napa St… Calling all teachers! TIPS Roadside is offering teachers a free pack of Ticonderoga pencils with a meal. TIPS is located at 8445 Sonoma Hwy. in Kenwood.



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