Business Beat for May 1, 2019
Chandler hangs her shingle at Jack London Village
There's something new in the air at Jack London Village - scented candles. A new candle store and workshop space, Sonoma 707 Candle Company, will opens its doors with an official ribbon cutting on Thursday, May 30. Occupying the space next to Wine Country Chocolates, Sonoma 707 Candle Company specializes in natural, soy-based custom candles and private candle blending workshops, by appointment only. Owner Ricci Wheatley, who lives in El Verano with her family, has been making candles for a decade, first as gifts for family and friends and now more seriously, creating her own “wine country” inspired scents. Some of the “flavors” lining the shelves right now include “Sonoma Strong,” created right after the 2017 wildfires, “Coffee in the Square,” and “Grapefruit and Mangosteen.” Wheatley said she prefers earthy scents like “Oakmoss Amber” or “White Sage Lavender” and other unusual combinations. Customization, whether for a special event like a wedding or for holiday gifts, is where the creativity comes into crafting the perfect candle.
Wheatley is a jewelry maker by trade, having started her own business when her daughters were newborns in Southern California. Four years ago, a job opportunity moved the family north and now Wheatley is excited to be discovering the beauty (and small-town life) of wine country. Wheatley's jewelry and jewelry making workshops will also be available. Sonoma 707 Candle Company is located at14301 Arnold Dr. in Glen Ellen or at www.sonoma707candle.com. Right now you can book a workshop online and use the code “Sonomalocal” for 30 percent off.
Small and local at Hamilton Family WinesBerkeley transplants Greg and Lindsay Hamilton had just bought their new house in Kenwood a year before the October 2017 Nun's Fire swept through town, taking their house with it. The Hamiltons, whose two kids go to Kenwood School, had fulfilled one of their dreams - moving out of the city with their new family - and decided that, fire or no, it might be time to fulfill another.
“The fire had an impact on a lot of the ideas we had about life,” said Lindsay. We thought 'why are we waiting?' There will never be a 'good time,' so let's do it now.”
Eighteen months later, the Hamiltons have started their own wine label and released their first three vintages, a 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, a 2018 Rosé of Pinot Noir and a 2017 Pinot Noir. All their grapes come from Sonoma County, including from their one and half acre property (the vineyard did not burn) and Indian Springs Ranch on Lawndale Road, and they are committed to continuing that as they grow this new venture. “We really felt like the community stepped up for us after the fires. We were blown away by the support,” said Greg. “It's important to us that we source from the local community to do our part to support the community that supported us.”
Greg has always been passionate about wine, and his first real job was working for a wine merchant in Scotland, where he grew up. After chasing an adventurous California girl (Lindsay) to the United States in his twenties, Greg managed a tasting room in Southern California. School and jobs moved them north to Berkeley, where they made their first of several vintages of “garage wine.” On the whole it wasn't great wine, but a dream was born, one that moved with them when they found the property in Kenwood.
This time around, the Hamiltons have relied on the expertise of Sonoma native and winemaker Jess Wade, with whom a friend connected the Hamiltons shortly after the fire.
“At first we were thinking we had to do it all,” said Greg, and the task seemed immense - until they met Wade. “He's a talented go-getter and he works very hard.”
Wade has been a winemaker and grape grower for 10 years, and completed many harvests in California, New Zealand, and Australia. Plus, Wade's style matched their own. “We want to create wine that's very expressive of its distinct terroir,” said Greg. “Our goal is to make it with minimal intervention.”
The Hamiltons have started with 400 cases this year, with the hope of adding a Rosé of Grenache, a single-vineyard designate Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre, and a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc next year. They are also about halfway through rebuilding their Kenwood home.
Right now Hamilton Family Wines are available at hamilton.wine. If you're a local, the Hamiltons are happy to drop it off themselves.
Take a hike at KundeOn Saturday, May 11, take a casual hike at Kunde Estate Winery through its 1,850-acre volcanic and vertical property. Learn about sustainable grape growing practices while enjoying spectacular scenery.
Participants will learn about the distinct ecosystems and native habitats, and how each one contributes to the grape growing process and its evolution into fine wine. Along the way, taste the wines made from the very vineyard where the grapes are grown.
This hike is moderately strenuous and lasts four hours. Cost is $40 per person, $20 for wine club members. Reservations are required and space is limited to 30 people. Bring a sack lunch, water, and wear appropriate footwear.
The hike starts at 9 a.m. at the tasting room. Hikers must be 21 or older. To make a reservation, call 833-5501, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.kunde.com. Kunde Estate Winery is located at 9825 Sonoma Hwy. in Kenwood.
New Economic Development Board Director to be appointedThe Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will consider appointing Sheba Person-Whitley, economic development manager for the City of Stockton, to be the new director of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board (EDB).
Person-Whitley would replace the former Economic Development Director Ben Stone, who led the EDB for more than three decades, retiring April 30, 2019.
“The County conducted an extensive search to find the right candidate for the job,” said Board Chair David Rabbitt. “We must take this opportunity to thank Ben for the tools he's developed for local businesses. I look forward to seeing Sheba build on those opportunities so we can continue to enrich our local economy.”
Person-Whitley is the City of Stockton Economic Development Manager and comes to Sonoma County with extensive local, state and international experience in economic development. Her background also includes international operations and federal grant administration.
The Economic Development Board recently adopted the Strategic Sonoma Action Plan, which sets the economic priorities for Sonoma County over the next five years. The plan provides an economic roadmap for helping Sonoma County continue recovery efforts from the 2017 wildfires and identifies six key priorities - housing, workforce and education, business diversification, sustainability, transportation, and fire recovery.
If the Board of Supervisors votes to approve Person-Whitley for the position, she will begin work immediately. The salary range for the position is $128,295-$155,949 annually.