Holiday shopping in the Valley of the Moon
The Thanksgiving turkey is history and winter steadily approaches. It's time to finish up your holiday shopping. Before you head out to finish the job, relax and read up on some of the unique gifts that are available within minutes of Kenwood and Glen Ellen. You won't have to travel far to find reasonably priced notions to place under your tree or fill your stockings, or just tuck away where the recipient will be overjoyed to find them.
We'll take a journey down Highway 12, starting at Prickett's Nursery in their new digs at Valley of the Moon Plaza, just behind the gas station at the corner of Melita Road. They have a fine variety of seasonal plants, including traditional and exotic poinsettias, along with garden tchotchkes like velvet birds, a moss birdhouse, a miniature village of North Pole denizens, and more. They're open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., through Christmas Eve. Call 539-3030 for information, or visit their website at www.prickettsnursery.com.
The next stop is Valley of the Moon Pottery/North Eagle Gallery (which also has three acres of cut-your-own Christmas trees), about half a mile from the nursery. You enter off Highway 12, but exit to Melita Road, easing some of the anxiety of dealing with heavy traffic. Caryn Fried and Wayne Reynolds have lived, worked and operated their businesses at 6191 Sonoma Hwy. since 1987 and have an amazing variety of quality objects for you to peruse, including ceramics, pottery, paintings, sculptures, candelabras, napkin rings, and more. An intriguing six-foot ceramic totem pole looms over the back covered gallery, featuring a quail head on top of a deer head on top of a rabbit head on top of a cat head on top of a spread winged eagle. Both artists studied at The Pond Farm with Bauhaus-trained Marguerite Wildenhain. Call 538-2554 or visit their website at www.valleyofthemoonpottery.com for hours.
It's a bit of a drive to the next stop, VJB Cellars, in the heart of Kenwood at 60 Shaw Ave. Vittorio, Maria and their son Henry Belmonte have brought a slice of Tuscany to the Wine Country with an enormous number of both imported and home-made delicacies that travel well. VJB is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Several small bodegas offer Maria's incredible sauces and pestos and, of course, their wines are certainly available. Visit them online at vjbcellars.com or call 833-2300.
Swede's Feeds is just across the street from VJB and offers whimsical sculptures for the garden and home, along with plants, a wide variety of pet food and garden supplies for all kinds of gardens, patio furniture made from wine barrel staves, eclectic music CDs, and locally hand-made, recycled redwood chicken coops, wooden Adirondack chairs, and planter boxes, to name a few. Mike and Aspen have been taking care of everybody's pets since 1998 at 9140 Sonoma Hwy. Open every day but Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week, and slightly shorter hours on weekends. For more information, call 833-5050 or go to www.swedesfeeds.com.
Jump back across the highway to The Painted Farmhouse and Take Me Take Me at 9255 Sonoma Hwy. for antiques and a variety of gifts, including mittens and scarves. At the Painted Farmhouse, Robin Goerl and Anne Coffelt offer old and rare treasures - antique and vintage furniture, art, and eclectic home and garden décor - while next door at Take Me Take Me, Ana Santini and Debra Smith offer unique home décor and accessories, and also cater to children, with many dolls and colorful wreathes. Both are open Thursday through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment by calling 799-4663.
Heading down the highway, you will see Wildwood Nursery on the right, where Ricardo and Sara Monte raise over 250 unique Japanese and other colorful maple trees, dogwoods and dwarf conifers, showcased in delightful gardens and displays. They are at 10300 Sonoma Hwy. and can be reached at 833-1161. Visit their website at www.wildwoodmaples.com. Winter hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., always subject to the weather. If in doubt, call before you drop by.
Quarryhill Botanical Garden seeks to preserve endangered Asian plant life in a beautiful setting near Glen Ellen, at 12841 Sonoma Hwy. What attracts the Christmas shopper is the delightful gift store that is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Millicent Meade has gathered a collection of Asian themed items sure to please everyone. You can buy a gift pass to the gardens for $10, Christmas wrapping paper that you could even frame and hang on your wall, garden related books, jewelry, paper garland cutouts and lots of children's items. Oh, yes, there are also some plants available, though they are not a commercial nursery. Call 996-3166 or visit the website at www.quarryhill.org.
Turning off the highway and onto Arnold Dr., you will find the Art House Gallery across from the Glen Ellen Village Market in downtown Glen Ellen. The Gallery is a collective which offers works of many local artists and artisans. Archie Horton is often on hand to give you his personal take on the area's history and artists. The collection is dynamic and you never know what might be shown. There are items large and small to fit most budgets, and well worth looking at anytime. The gallery is owned by the Interfaith Shelter Network, which offers shelter for the homeless in Sonoma County. They are at 13758 Arnold Dr. Call 996-9883 to check on hours.
Chocolate lovers, keep going on Arnold Drive a mile or so until you get to Jack London Village, where Wine Country Chocolates is nestled in the front row of shops. Betty and Caroline Kelly whip up fantastic truffles and other chocolate delights in their small shop. While a wide variety of truffles dominate the selections, there are also fruit and nut confections, chocolate barks and more to satisfy any chocolate compulsion. The shop is at 14301 Arnold Dr., No. 2. For more information call 996-1010 or go to www.winecountrychocolates.com.
Our next stop will be back on Sonoma Highway, at 13885 to be exact. Another collective, The Secret Nest offers antiques, jewelry, dolls, stuffed animals, clothing, and vintage just about everything you can imagine, tucked away in nooks and crannies throughout the converted farmhouse situated across from Sonoma Valley Regional Park. The store is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, but will close at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Check out their Facebook page for more contact information, or call 935-8587.
The end of our drive finds us at Cake Corner at 16721 Sonoma Hwy., where proprietor Lillian Brunton offers great gift ideas as well as all you need to make that perfect holiday treat. All kinds of sugar decorations are available, including seasonal Santas, snowmen and reindeer, sparkles of all flavors, oils, and more types of vanillas than you can imagine. In addition to all the edible decorations, Cake Corner has all the cooking utensils you need, including cake, muffin and pie tins of all shapes and sizes, liners, cake boards and boxes, cello bags, and much more. You can also pick up lots of decorating tips. Lillian offers a number of classes, so give her a call at 996-6213. Cake Corner is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
On a more cerebral note, several books by local authors will make great gifts and are available at the Kenwood Press office, 8910 Sonoma Hwy., at reasonable prices.
Kenwood, Yesterday and Today, by Dallyce “Dee” Sand, is a history of Kenwood gathered by someone who has played a large part in the town's development. The book includes a collection of vintage photos and descriptions of long-gone buildings and people, and tells the story of how the village was founded. $10.
Journey to Harvest, How to Grow Great Grapes, Make Distinctive Wines & Live Forever, by George MacLeod, not only collects some of George's best writing from the Kenwood Press, but offers many insights into his years producing fine Sonoma County wines, including beautiful photographs of his property and the many stages of grape growing. $20.
A Brief and Amateur History of Jack London Village, by Jim Shere, offers insight and knowledge of the Glen Ellen before Jack London's time, starting when the first European, Father Altamira, wandered into the lush paradise north of the great bay of San Francisco. $15.
From Arrowhead to Yulupa, the Stories Behind Sonoma Valley Place Names, by Arthur Dawson, does exactly what it says. Learn how “Sonoma,” “Petaluma,” “Los Guilicos” and many other names came into our lexicon. $8.95.
Where Oaks Play Catch with the Sun, by Arthur Dawson, is a collection of poems and art by the children of Sonoma Valley. $10.
Speaking of Arthur Dawson, he has his own company, Baseline Consulting, which analyzes and researches property. Ever wondered how your property has changed? Who was living on it a century ago, or two centuries ago? Where were they from and what did they do for a living? What was the natural environment like and how has it changed? Dawson specializes in developing maps, timelines and detailed, illustrated histories for individual parcels, teasing out rich details from a wide variety of sources. Prices begin at $100 for a historical map showing the location of your property and $250 for a 3-5 page timeline. Because quality and accuracy are a high priority, delivery cannot be guaranteed by Christmas, but a certificate describing your gift is available on request. Arthur Dawson, Baseline Consulting firstname.lastname@example.org, 996-9967.