Sebastopol’sThe Nectary wins North Bay Maker Award
With two locations in Sonoma County, the Nectary has become a staple for health-conscious locals who come from miles around to savor a unique and delicious assortment of 100 percent organic cold-pressed juices made fresh daily without added sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives or food enhancers.
More than just a juice bar, the Nectary offers super food and green smoothies, probiotic beverages (fruit and herb-based kefir and kombucha) as well as other artisan, raw food snacks and sweet treats supported by the abundance of local produce available in Sonoma County.
The Nectary's offerings create “sustainable energy and deep satisfaction,” says owner and manager Gia Baiocchi. “For us the Nectary is a prayer in motion and is what I like to call ‘right lively hood' that fills me to overflowing.”
From comments heard from the firm's 10 employees, it is obvious that every one that works there feels the same way.
“It's not just the clean body fuel that the Nectary creates to sustain lives, it is the culture that Gia has created for her staff and the surrounding area that encompasses love, compassion, and pure joy,” said Brenna Howsepian, assistant manager.
“When people make a living doing what they love, happiness and growth are inevitable. We are raising the consciousness of community residents and visitors by providing liquid sunshine nourishment that truly feeds mind, body and spirit.”
The Nectary first opened its doors on July 3, 2014, at The Barlow market in Sebastopol and recently expanded its presence by launching a second retail outlet July 1 on the plaza in Healdsburg.
In the beginning, cold-pressed juices were prepared blenders and strained by hand in a small shop located in The Barlow. Today all food and beverage production takes place in a satellite kitchen a block away.
The menu, guided by seasonal produce and tropical fruits like mango and pineapple, has also expanded to include raw items prepared by vegan chefs such as savory salads, flax crackers with cold-pressed fruit pulp, pies, chi puddings and protein bars, homemade nut milks and tonics. The retail section includes nut butters, raw granola and dehydrated snacks - all with compostable packaging.
Baiocchi has been passionate about wholesome food since childhood. She was raised in Sebastopol and would ride her pony through orchards enjoying the smell of ripening Gravensteins.
Her neighbors, pianist Elaine Langlois and violinist Mark Sokol, would hold classical concerts in their home and serve delicious vegetarian food to their guests. Nine-year-old Gia, Elaine's student, would help out.
After high school, Baiocchi learned about culinary herbs and food as medicine from Rosemark Gladstar and Catherine Abby Rich, master herbalists and educators.
In 2003 she moved to Kauai where she raised vegetables, sold goat cheese at the farmer's market and later worked as a line cook, head chef, and manager of the juice bar and catering kitchen at the Blossoming Lotus, an all-vegan and raw foods restaurant that she says made the little town of Kapa'a “a culinary hot spot for the entire island.”
“That's where I grew my entrepreneurial spirit. There were seven of us hippie kids in our twenties. It's a miracle we stayed in business as long as we did,” she laughed. “We're all still friends. It was an epic experience.”
She left knowing she wanted a healthy, sustainable lifestyle aligned with the highest good for all people and to be of service, but did not have a clear picture of what that might look like.
Eight years later, Baiocchi met a friend, Jeffrey Hustler, in Sebastopol, for coffee at Taylor Made Farms in the Barlow complex and noticed an empty space designated for a juice shack, a business that had been approved and the space was ready for build out.
In 2014 she returned to the Barlow but saw only an empty shell in the proposed juice shack location and had an “aha!” moment, saying to herself, “I'm going to open a juice bar.” She called her friend to partner with her financially.
“Barlow developer Barney Aldridge had lived in Kauai and knew about The Blossoming Lotus, so this was a real ‘aloha in' for us,” she said.