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Business Beat: 08/01/2014

Business Beat

Orpheus Wines open in Kenwood shopping center

Orpheus Wines owner and winemaker Marc Krafft stands in front of a sculpture by Steve Lohman.
Orpheus Wines officially opened its tasting room in Kenwood at the end of July. This is the first tasting room for winemaker and owner Marc Krafft and wife Rachel Summer Claire Friedman, who own Orpheus along with internationally renowned artist Steve Lohman. Blending art and wine, the tasting room features Lohman's kinetic wire and steel sculptures, a space to host musicians, and a modern, instrument-inspired tasting bar from which to enjoy Orpheus' wines. Krafft said he makes what he likes to drink, and the current tasting menu reflects a wide palate, from an award-winning Viognier and Pinot Noir to a sparkling orange Muscat.

Krafft and Friedman started Orpheus in 2011 with the hope of creating a business that would contribute something positive to the community while giving Krafft a medium for artistic expression. Krafft, a winemaker, and Friedman, a holistic family doctor, had been laying the plans for Orpheus Wines - which takes its name from a musician and poet of Greek mythology - when they stumbled into Lohman's studio while on vacation in New Orleans. Lohman designed Orpheus's distinct logo and a partnership was born.

“We are not just another winery making wine,” Friedman said. “We're mission-driven. We're creating a winery as something that is promoting and representing artistry, community, and sustainability.” Krafft said Orpheus works directly with small family wineries and grape growers to source its grapes and is currently experimenting on a work-share organic, dry-farmed vineyard on Sonoma Mountain. In addition, Orpheus uses synthetic “zorks” for corks, which are recycled and reusable, has its labels printed directly on the wine bottles (instead of paper) by a negative carbon footprint printer in Oregon, and uses wine in kegs behind the tasting bar to reduce bottle waste. The kegs themselves are also sustainably designed, looking more like oversized upturned light bulbs than barrels. Krafft said that each keg holds two and a third cases of wine, but weighs about as much as one case, making them easy to transport.

As for community, Krafft said Orpheus has plans to partner with Palooza Gastropub next door to offer special wine and food pairings and to offer its space for music and other events.

Orpheus Wines is currently open Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 8910 Sonoma Hwy. in Kenwood. For more information visit or call (203) 843-0320.

Farmers Market recipe contest

The Kenwood Farmers Market takes place every Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at Kenwood Plaza Park, and will run through Sept. 14.

Enter the Farmers Market recipe contest and you could win a gift basket filled with farmers market items worth $100. Entries are due Aug. 31. Just create a recipe using as many farmers market ingredients as you can, and bring it by the information booth at the market. The recipes will be posted on the market's Facebook page,, and the recipe with the most votes/likes will win the gift basket.

The Kenwood Farmers Market started on June 1 and is managed by Agricultural Community Events, which puts on other markets in Sonoma and Marin counties, including the Santa Rosa Community Farmers Market at the Veterans Building, and the Petaluma East-Side Farmers Market in Lucchesi Park.

There are a wide variety of items to choose from at the market, including fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, walnuts, chocolates, strudel, honey, olive oil, berries, gluten-free as well as traditional sweets, and breads. Artisans are also on hand selling jewelry, tie-dye clothes, ceramics, and soaps and salves. If you want something for lunch, try one of Chai's Gourmet Bahn Mi Vietnamese sandwiches or lemongrass coconut soup.

Light music entertains visitors at the market. Coming up are French Barrel organist Michael Michelis on Aug. 3, blues guitarist Coyote Slim on Aug. 10, one-man band Jacob Green on Aug. 17, guitarist Wayne Canning on Aug. 24, and the soulful guitar music of Chris Hanlon on Aug. 31.

Palooza presents comedy, beer & wine tasting, music & more

It will be a busy August for Palooza Gastropub & Wine Bar in the Kenwood shopping center. On top of music every Friday and Sunday, Grand Ole Opry country music singer and songwriter Steven Kent will be performing on Sunday, Aug. 17, from noon to 3 p.m. Kent's debut album, Dream & Believe, came out last year, and he has performed in theatre, films, television, radio, and live in concerts.

Three great comics are coming to Palooza straight from The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, headliners Dinah Leffert and Lisa Joffrey, and opener Bobby Golden. Dinah has opened for Tim Allen, Pauly Shore, and Kevin Nealon. Lisa is a Broadway World Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress in “I Love Lucy Live.” Bobby Golden was a semi-finalist in KTLA5's “Find Me a Comic.” These Crushers of Comedy will keep you laughing with two shows, Aug. 22 and 23, 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at, or at Palooza itself, 8910 Sonoma Hwy. in Kenwood.

Aug. 30 is the First Annual Kenwood Palooza - a craft beer and micro wine sampling event, featuring food and live music all day - The Don Trotta Band from 2 to 5 p.m., and Space Monkey Gangsta from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Buy tickets at or at the restaurant.

Any questions? Call Palooza at 833-4000.

Mei-Don open and evolving in Oakmont

Ken Wong, owner of Mei-Don Chinese Cuisine.
New restaurant Mei-Don Chinese Cuisine has been open in Oakmont just over a month, but already owner and chef Ken Wong is tweaking his menu to please his customers, listening to their feedback and improving his selections to reflect traditional dishes with a modern health-conscious twist.

“Our specialties are vegetables and chicken,” said Wong. “We are trying to cut down on the red meat.” Wong has recently added some new dishes such as a lettuce wrap, Singapore noodle, mango chicken, Egg Fu Yung, and introduced chicken and green salads.

Wong spent a lot of time in the restaurant business after he immigrated from China to the Santa Rosa area in the early 1980s. After getting a degree in accounting and a short stint in loans, Wong got his real estate license in 1993 and moved to Oakmont in 2004. This is Wong's first restaurant, and it's apparent he's been very hands-on, creating the menu from traditional favorites and managing the kitchen to make sure the dishes are cooked and seasoned just the way he likes.

“I always wanted to own a restaurant,” said Wong, “In real estate, however, there was no reason for me to own one. Now that I've been in real estate for so long, I thought it was time to do something in honor of our mother.”

Wong has seven other siblings, many of whom immigrated when Wong did. Mei-Don is Wong's mother's first name, meaning “beautiful peony.” His parents and sisters all worked in the restaurant business at one time or another, and Wong got his passion for food and cooking from his family.

Although they've spread out across the state, Wong said food plays a huge role at family gatherings. “Food is part of the Chinese culture traditionally, anyway. We usually get together around food.”

With Mei-Don's menu, Wong said he's tried to keep the dishes traditional, but favors healthy alternatives - like pot stickers with chicken instead of pork. Wong said Mei-Don never adds MSG and he is always looking for low oil and low sodium options.

“The key for me is to listen to what people want and to tailor for what they want and their likes. I plan to be here for a long time so I am committed to making changes,” said Wong.

Mei-Don Chinese Cuisine is located at 6576 Oakmont Dr. It's open for dining or takeout Wednesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and can be reached at 521-9239.

Local artist shows jewelry

Kenwood resident Nancy Martin will be showing her handcrafted silver, gold and gemstone jewelry at an Artists of Sonoma Valley event on Saturday, Aug. 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., hosted by Meyers Financial, 670 West Napa Street, Suite C, in Sonoma.

Joining Nancy at the exhibit are JW Meyers' metal sculptures, and the abstract contemporary paintings of Mary Munstermann-Sher.

You can look at Nancy's work on her website,

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Community Calendar

Sugar Shuttle
Creek insects
Medicinal plant walk
Free food available for those in need
Rotary Club of Glen Ellen-Kenwood meeting
Bingo at Star of the Valley
Walk Honoring Loss and Resilience
Free food available for those in need
Jazz pianist Larry Vuckovich
Free CPR class at Kenwood Fire Station
Brunch on Bald Mountain

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