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[caption id="attachment_12864" align="alignnone" width="512" caption="Building co-owner Dino D'Argenzio, Josh Silvers of Syrah and Jackson's Bar & Oven, and Scott Jordan of Cellars of Sonoma (Jeff Quackenbush photo)"][/caption]

SANTA ROSA – A local family of investors is betting that a collective tasting room and new restaurant by a well-known local chef will be a winning combination for their building on a prominent corner of the Railroad Square district.

In addition to filling the vacancy left by the Mixx Enoteca Ristorante & Bar, the new tenants are looking into ways to cook up business for each other.

D’Argenzio Family Properties acquired the 4,500-square-foot former Mixx building at 133 and 135 Fourth St. from Brunson & Kurlander in June 2007. In the last several months, the family leased the space to Cellars of Sonoma, which is set to open later this month, and Jackson’s Bar & Oven is under construction. It’s owned by Josh and Regina Silvers, owners of the Syrah restaurant a street to the north.

“We’re bullish about Railroad Square,” said Dino D’Argenzio, a Keegan & Coppin commercial real estate agent and co-manager of the family portfolio. “Eventually, there will be a lot of activity with the Food & Wine Center and the new restaurants.”

Mr. D’Argenzio and his brother Raymond, who runs the family winery, manage the family’s real estate holdings, which include several shopping centers, office buildings and other commercial properties.

Within walking distance of the building there are about 350 hotel rooms and 14 restaurants. A newcomer is Jack and Tony’s Restaurant and Whiskey Bar, a secondary venture by another local chef and owner, Jack Mitchell of Sassafras. It is set to open this month a few doors west at 115 Fourth.

[caption id="attachment_12862" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Cellars of Sonoma partners (from left) Scott and Angie Jordan, Cindy and Mike Westerberg, and Cecelia Westerberg (Jeff Quackenbush photo)"][/caption]

Behind the Cellars of Sonoma concept at 133 Fourth are veteran winery tasting room manager Scott Jordan; his wife, Angie; partners Mike and Cindy Westerberg; and microwinery scouts Mel and Rosemary Gafner of Napa. A centerpiece of the tasting room is the restored and augmented century-old bar top piece.

Launched over the past two years with less than $150,000 in Small Business Administration-backed financing, the approach of the Cellars of Sonoma collective tasting room is to offer selections from up to eight producers of small-production, hard-to-find wines paired with food and a large serving of wine education in the 400-square-foot loft. Tasting options would start at $10 a person, which would be applied to bottle purchases.

[caption id="attachment_12863" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Cellars of Sonoma partners (from back left) Scott and Angie Jordan, Cecelia Westerberg, Cindy and Mike Westerberg behind the restored bar (Jeff Quackenbush photo)"][/caption]

Rather than undertake the large equipment and labor expense of setting up a kitchen, Cellars of Sonoma is working out a deal with the Silverses to have food made at Jackson’s and delivered via a pass-through window between the two venues. In turn, Mr. Silvers is developing a menu to complement bottles of wine diners bring in from Cellars of Sonoma.

That’s part of the needed changes in the marketing of wines in today’s economy, according to Mr. Jordan. “You need to have more synergy with concierges, hotels and other wineries,” he said. To that end, he’s working on winery tour packages.

The four vintners who have signed the one-year contracts with Cellars of Sonoma so far are TR Elliott, Gann Vineyards, Ty Caton and Dunah. Each produces 1,500 to 2,500 cases annually, often from custom-winemaking operations. If the concept of a collective tasting room for boutique bottlers catches on in Railroad Square, the partners of Cellars of Sonoma would like to replicate it in major cities nationwide to provide small-scale vintners with a retail venue.

As for Jackson’s Bar & Oven, the Silverses plan to have a different feel and lower price range of entrees – less than $20 a plate – than at the nearly 10-year-old Syrah restaurant. While the decor of Syrah is warehouse elegance, the feel of Jackson’s will be historical contemporary and feature a wood-fired oven.