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Business Beat: 04/01/2020

Business Beat


Enrique Alvarez (left) and his wife Sasheena, along with business partner Manuel Cardenas (right) are the new owners of Wine Country Café & Deli at Melita Road and Highway 12. Photo by Alec Peters.


Wine Country Café & Deli under new ownership

As of February this year, Enrique and Sasheena Alvarez, along with partner Manuel Cardenas now own and operate the Wine Country Café & Deli, tucked away in the busy business center at the intersection of Highway 12 and Melita Road. Enrique provides the day-to-day food preparation and operations, while Sasheena and Manuel provide the administrative and financial support to run the business. Sasheena works mainly from home, providing all the visual and marketing material while also caring for the couple’s two children.

The WCCD was first opened in 2014 and has become well known to people traveling along busy Highway 12, as well as to the immediate neighborhood.

Enrique has worked in the food and wine business since his high school days at Elsie Allen, where he met his business partner, Cardenas.

“I started out as a dishwasher and worked my way up to chef,” Alvarez said. At 26, he brings experience and drive into his daily work. At first though, he had other ideas.

“I wanted to be a mechanic like my older brother, but I was exposed to a kitchen at an early age and it sucked me in,” he recalled. There was support from the family, as well. “My sister is a pastry chef, and my mother does food preparation.”

Along the way, he worked at Monti’s Rotisserie and put in five years at Spring Lake Village.

“I tried to take as much responsibility as I could,” he said.

Brian McCoy, who operated WCCD until January of this year, first hired Alvarez as a dishwasher at Pearson & Co. This is where Enrique met his wife, Sasheena, over eight years ago.

Before taking over WCCD, Alvarez was sous chef at Mayo Family Winery Reserve Room in Kenwood.

“I have a passion for food, and it shows in what I can do,” he said. He will start making pizzas and barbecuing outdoors as weather and conditions permit.

The menu is simple at the moment: breakfast burrito, breakfast sandwich, Cubano panini, and grilled chicken Panini are top picks. There are bottled drinks, organic coffees, teas, hot cocoa and kombucha, as well as other sandwiches, baked goods, salads and sides.

Alvarez is updating the café’s menu while coping with the COVID-19 pandemic that has severely impacted restaurants; for now, they are offering call-in ordering and drive through takeout.

“It’s best if you call in and we’ll have your order ready at the drive through,” he said. The drive through window is in the back of the store, facing Melita Road, and is easy to access with the traffic light right there at Highway 12.

The deli is located at 5855 Sonoma Highway, just off Melita Road.

The menu is posted online at winecountrycafedeli.com and orders can be placed at (707) 230-2462.

Sonoma County seeks business donations

The County of Sonoma is currently seeking donations from the business community for items that would continue support for regional healthcare employees, provide necessary patient care and help safely identify COVID-19 concerns.

Primary items needed include: new, unused N95 masks with or without the valve; unopened protective goggles in original packaging; hospital gowns in unused original packaging; Tyvek coats and body suits; Nitrile gloves; bleach; and face shields.

Contact 565-6038 or EOClog9@sonoma-county.org.

Hospitality group offers helping hand

Sonoma’s Best Hospitality Group (SBHG), which owns a number of Sonoma Valley businesses, including restaurants and lodging entities, has started a number of programs to help the community during the COVID-19 crisis.

SBHG is focusing on five programs, four from the Ramekins catering kitchen in Sonoma.

One service is to provide funding to assist Meals on Wheels in the city of Sonoma.

At The General’s Daughter restaurant (400 West Spain St. in Sonoma) they are offering free meals to members of our community in need, Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Use the driveway and stay in your vehicle. There are servings that feed up to two people or four-six people. First come, first served.

There are free family meals to SBHG’s hourly employees who have been subjected to reduced hours due to the “shelter in place”(see details on www.ramekins.com).

Also, meals are available to the public for online purchase, with pick-up and delivery only (see www.ramekins.com for details).

SBHG is donating 100 individually packaged senior meals per day, Monday-Friday, to the Vintage House, 264 1st St. East, Sonoma. Call Vintage House at 996-0311 for more details, or go to vintagehouse.org/vintage-house-delivers/.

Finally, Sonoma’s Best Mercantile & Wine Shop is operating with pick-up and take-out options, with shorter hours from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Call 996-7600 to order. Go to sonomas-best.com/pages/deli-menu. Sonoma’s Best is located at 1190 E. Napa St., Sonoma.

Virtual tastings bring Sonoma Valley wine to you

While wineries and tasting rooms in Sonoma Valley are closed at the moment, that doesn’t mean that you can’t go on a tasting tour from your living room. With wine, of course.

Go to www.sonomavalleywine.com/sonoma-valley-virtual-tastings/ to see a whole list of local wineries that have set up opportunities for virtual tasting. Including some in our back yard, like Beltane Ranch, Belden Barns, Benziger Family Winery, Hamel Family Wines, Imagery Estate Winery, and Landmark Vineyards.

Every winery does things a little differently, so check it out.

Kivelstadt Cellars’ new club

Kivelstadt Cellars in Glen Ellen has a way to cure your cabin fever with a new food (and wine) delivery club for the Sonoma Valley community (Sonoma, Glen Ellen, Kenwood, Oakmont).

This new club allows you to choose dinner for two for $30 or dinner for four for $55, and kid’s meals for $8, with a bottle of wine for $20, for the parents, of course, all delivered to your front door.

Choose from six wines weekly, or add more wine to your delivery. Each meal is prepared by executive Chef Matt Tucker, who was previously known for his roles at La Toque in Napa and overseeing the food scene as executive Chef at Pangloss, Texture, and Repris. Now you won’t have to worry about the hassle of cooking or going to the grocery store, while supporting a local business at the same time.

Next delivery days are April 2 (smoked chicken, Yukon Gold potato salad, braised kale) and April 9 (herbed tri-tip, fava bean and sweet corn succotash, wild rice pilaf).

Go to www.kivelstadtcellars.com to sign up. Pull down the “Wine Club” menu, order, and enjoy!

Signature Sonoma Valley postponed until next year

Put on by the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers, Signature Sonoma Valley was supposed to take place over the weekend of May 14-17. That has now been put off until May 13-16, 2021, in light of the continued uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.

Signature Sonoma Valley is four days of tastings, lunches at private residences, dinners, in depth educational wine tasting panels, and more.

If you have already bought tickets for this year’s event, they will be automatically transferred to next year’s date. However, if you can’t attend next year, you can request a refund at info@sonomavalleywine.com. Refunds will be granted upon request until April 15, 2020.


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