North Bay business news from Bellwether Farms, Kistler Vineyard, Emily’s Kitchen and more

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Bellwether Farms in Petaluma has launched Project Spilled Milk, an indiegogo campaign with the goal of raising $50,000. The funds will be used to buy milk from current producers and produce yogurt that will be donated to Northern California food banks.

For every $2 raised, Bellwether Farms will be able to produce food for a family in need. To thank donors for supporting Project Spilled Milk, Bellwether Farms is offering social media shout-outs, handwritten Thank You letters, and company t-shirts. For those who are not in a position to contribute financially to this project, Bellwether Farms’ announcement asks that they help spread the word by sharing the campaign through social media networks and using the hashtag #ProjectSpilledMilk.

Bellwether Farms is a family-run farm that produces cheeses and yogurts from locally sourced cow and sheep milk.

Kistler Vineyards of Sebastopol has raised $100,000 for three foundations to assist restaurant workers who have been laid off as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The restaurant industry has been a key sales channel for many local wineries who have had to quickly focus on online or off-premises retail sales.

The money was raised through a special release of spring wines and went to the Restaurant Employees Relief Fund, the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation and the United Sommelier Foundation.


Emily’s Kitchen in Santa Rosa owner Emily Nagan said that one of her longtime employees, Pina Zarate, is planning to take over the popular breakfast and lunch spot in Montgomery Village.

Although details are still in the works, Nagan said the restaurant will remain open as she teaches Zarate the ropes of restaurant ownership.

Landscapes Unlimited in Petaluma purchased a 7,596-square foot-building located at 4330 Bodega Ave. in Petaluma, expanding from a 12-acre leased lot and creating two new jobs, according to Bay Area Development Company, which funded part of the Section 504 Small Business Administration financing.

Landscapes Unlimited opened for business in 1981 and its current owner, Cameron Dennis, purchased the company in 2005. Landscapes Unlimited is a wholesale nursery that works primarily with landscaping companies and small nurseries throughout the greater Bay Area.

When the owner of the Bodega Avenue building decided to sell the property, Dennis had first right of refusal and, working with Bank of the West and with Bay Area Development’s Bob Thompson, received 504 funding that allowed him to purchase the property. Doing so ensures that his business can continue operating from the space it has occupied for over 40 years, and the loan’s favorable rates locked in his occupancy costs for the long term.

Founded in 1981, Bay Area Development Company is an SBA licensed lender that works with banks and the SBA’s 504 program to provide small and mid-sized companies with long term commercial real estate financing.

The company five19publishing has announced the launch of the new Marin Living magazine.

The first issue will be mailed mid-July and the full website,, will launch shortly after. Social media channels are up and running @marinlivingmag on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Beginning late July, the company’s newsletter, Living Well Marin, will begin to appear in readers’ inboxes, it stated.

The second annual International Canned Wine Competition is now accepting entries for the July contest. The competition includes numerous categories of canned wines, including red, white, rosé and sparkling wines, as well as wine coolers and wine spritzers.

The organizers have made arrangements to assure the health of all judges and staff by expanding the event to three days, July 21 through 23, 2020 to ensure social distancing.

The competition will be held at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville. All canned beverages that contain grape wine as a component are eligible, sponsors stated. Registration and entries are done through Enofile. The entry fee is $40 per product before June 20, $50 thereafter. Entries must arrive between June 15 and July 10.


Savage & Cooke Distillery, whose owner, Dave Phinney, retooled his Mare Island facility in Solano County to produce hand-sanitizer, has been named Senate District 3’s Small Business of the Year, State Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa, announced.

The office stated the sanitizer has been sold at cost - or donated - to numerous companies and organizations including first responders, hospitals and community groups. Phinney opened Savage & Cooke Distillery in 2016, specializing in bourbon, whiskey and rye. He moved to Mare Island in 2018. Phinney also is known for his involvement in Napa County winemaking, growing companies such as The Prisoner and Orin Swift Cellars into multinational brands.


Gamble Family Vineyards, which specializes in producing sustainably farmed, estate-grown Bordeaux varieties in the Napa Valley, has launched new export partnerships with The Case for Wine in Ontario and DG Imports Ltd. in Alberta, marking the winery’s first market entrance into Canada.

The Case for Wine has been importing quality artisanal wine in Ontario for over 20 years. Founded in 1998, The Case for Wine sells its products through an assortment of channels including LCBO Vintages, LCBO General Products, the Consignment channel and to private collectors.

Alberta-based DG Imports Ltd. is a boutique import agency owned by Sherry Cuku and Michelle Parker. The company specializes in importing bottles from high-quality, family-owned wineries from the US, Australia, and Europe. Gamble Family Vineyards owns approximately 175 acres of vineyards in areas such as Oakville, Mt. Veeder, Rutherford and Yountville.


Napa Valley’s Somerston Estate, announced a new collaboration with winemaker Steve Leveque, making Somerston the first client of Leveque’s new company, Leveque Wine Consulting.

Leveque will consult on all aspects of winemaking, from the farming of the 1,682-acre Somerston Estate to the production of Priest Ranch and Somerston wines, the winery announcement stated. Somerston Estate is a 1,682-acre winery estate located in the eastern Vaca Mountains. It was established in 2007 by three families.

V. Sattui in the Napa Valley was named 2020 “Domestic Winery of the Year” after earning a remarkable 26 medals, including 10 that were awarded Platinum and 12 awarded Gold at the 38th annual San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge.

V. Sattui Winery is a family-owned winery located in the heart of Napa Valley, that was founded in 1885 and makes more than 60 different wines with dozens of 90-plus-point rated wines among its current vintages.

Nearly 3,400 acres along Rockpile Road near Lake Sonoma is to be preserved forever under a $5 million conservation deal set to be finalized.

The deal, funded mainly by the taxpayer supported Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, with an assist from the private Sonoma Land Trust, will provide the district with a conservation easement over the one-time sheep ranch, a swath of terrain surrounded by other protected lands.

The deal ensures that 29 parcels on the property will remain undeveloped, with future building allowed only in four areas along the road where utilities and vehicle access already exist, according to Louisa Morris, acquisition specialist for the district and land trust Conservation Director Wendy Eliot.

The owners, the Gloeckner family of Sebastopol, agreed to discount the appraised $9.5 million value of the easement by about $4.4 million, the Open Space District said.

The district paid $4.5 million, while the Sonoma Land Trust provided $500,000 in gap funding, half from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and half from the land trust’s donors. Sonoma Water, the county agency, also put in $15,000 and will be permitted to lead up to four annual school tours on the property to educate students about the impact of land use on water quality for salmon, fire, fuel reduction and climate change, an agency spokesman said.

Constellation Brands Inc. has revised for the second time its sale of its low-price wine and spirits brands to E. & J. Gallo Winery in an attempt to pass muster with federal regulators. The companies hope to have the transaction completed later this year, pending Federal Trade Commission approval.

The Victor, New York, company said it would not include its Mission Bell champagne production site in Madera County and related real estate, equipment, contracts, and employees as part of the proposed sale to Modesto-based Gallo. The announcement follows Constellation’s December decision to retain Cook’s California Champagne, J. Roget American Champagne and Paul Masson Grande Amber Brandy brands from the original deal proposed.

Gallo is the largest wine company in the United States and Constellation is the third largest, though the latter is shrinking its wine portfolio to go more into cannabis in the Canadian market and focus more on its Mexican beer business.

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