Napa’s Amorim Cork America launches ‘cork taint’ tech; Wine Entrepreneurship classes to begin; more North Bay business news

Amorim Cork America in Napa launched Naturity and Xpür technologies designed to remove detectable 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, a mold compound commonly known as TCA and a chief culprit for “cork taint.” The new technologies are used on natural corks and to create a new segment of micro-agglomerated stoppers, respectively.

The company stated that research for the patent-pending Naturity technology began in 2016 with the NOVA School of Science and Technology, and is based on the principles of thermal desorption through a proprietary, nonsequential use of pressure, temperature, purified water and time.

“No artificial elements are used in the process, which facilitates the extraction of 150+ volatile compounds, including TCA. Launching in USA and worldwide, Naturity expands non-detectable TCA performance in the natural cork product segment, while further strengthening the operational deliverables of NDTech, the advanced screening service that individually analyzes and removes any natural cork with more than 0.5 nanograms per liter of TCA.“

Amorim Cork America is the North American sales and distribution division of Corticeira Amorim is the world's largest cork processing group with annual sales topping 780 million euros.

Sonoma State University Wine Business Institute’s Wine Entrepreneurship program will be offered online in spring 2021. The nine-week master class exposes participants to frameworks to develop or reposition a vineyard and winery, as well as different models for profitability.

The program is led by Anisya Fritz, proprietor of Lynmar Estate, a family-owned producer of ultrapremium pinot noir and chardonnay, and published author of numerous articles on competitive strategy and international entrepreneurship in leading journals such as the Harvard Business Review. 2021 will be the 10th year Fritz has been offering this program at Sonoma State. Application deadline for the Wine Entrepreneurship program is Feb. 11, and classes begin Feb.18.

Previously, Fritz was an associate professor at Florida International University in Miami and a visiting professor at the Stockholm School of Economics in Stockholm, Sweden. She received her Bachelor of Arts at Loyola College in Maryland and her Masters of Science and doctorate at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg.

In addition to the Wine Entrepreneurship program, the Sonoma Executive Wine MBA is also launching this spring. Application deadline is set for Feb. 28 and the program launches in April 2021. The GMAT is waived for those who have eight-plus years of progressive work experience. To learn more and apply, visit the Executive Wine MBA program website

Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits (Southern Glazer's) announced that it has expanded its distribution agreement in 16 additional markets with Sonoma County’s Rodney Strong Wine Estates.

It is a family-owned wine company that includes Rodney Strong Vineyards, Davis Bynum Wines, Knotty Vines, and UPSHOT Wines. Rodney Strong sustainably farms 14 estate vineyards and produces wines from Sonoma County’s finest appellations. Rodney Strong Vineyards was founded in 1959 by Sonoma County wine pioneer Rod Strong and was the 13th bonded winery in the county.

Quattrocchi Kwok Architects, a planning and design firm serving Northern California’s education industry, has signed a lease for a new office space in the heart of Oakland’s Jack London Square. The move relocates the firm’s current East Bay office from Pleasanton with 50% additional capacity, the firm stated.

Also, the Santa Rosa headquartered firm recently brought on two new project architects in the East Bay, Henrik Malinowski and Manuel Ordonez. Project Manager and Studio Lead Joel Williams heads the office

QKA is currently working on projects for Oakland Unified School District and served as lead architect for Historic Alameda High School’s seismic retrofit and restoration. The 3,000-square-foot office space will eventually house 15 Quattorcchi Kwok employees.

Travis Credit Union, headquartered in Vacaville, and Community Housing Development Corporation have partnered to promote the launch of the developer’s Driving Clean Assistance Program as part of the Light-Duty Financing Assistance in Disadvantaged Communities pilot project. This project allows the builder to provide financial assistance of up to $5,000, enabling consumers to purchase advanced technology (plug-in, hybrid and battery electric) vehicles.

The Driving Clean program is part of the California Climate Investments Initiative, a statewide program to reduce greenhouse gases while providing local benefits to California neighborhoods, with an emphasis on disadvantaged communities.

For additional free financial education opportunities, visit

Napa Valley’s Clif Family Bare Honey received a 2020 Good Food Award for Solar Grown raw honey. Harvested from hives located on pollinator-friendly solar farms, backers says it combines creating healthy habitats and food sources for honeybees, native bees and other pollinators with developing a unique specialty food item.

Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford, co-founders and co-owners of Clif Bar & Company, founded Clif Family in 2004.

The portfolio includes small production Napa Valley wines and handcrafted foods, such as savory nut mixes, chocolates, fruit preserves, hot sauces and extra virgin olive oil.

Sonoma State University has been awarded $4.96 million from NASA to design and implement a program that will engage students on the autism spectrum in informal STEM learning.

Over a five-year period, hundreds of high school autistic learners in both California and New York City will engage in informal NASA activities, including building and launching rocket payloads and using SSU’s NASA funded telescope. One of the California high schools that will participate in the program is the Anova Center for Education in Santa Rosa.

The program began this month with the NASA Kickoff meeting for the SciAct program. Cominsky said they are currently co-developing NASA resources with autistic learners to ensure they create learning opportunities that meet their needs. For more information about NASA’s Science Activation Program, visit

Mountain Mike’s Pizza, which has local franchisees, announced 2020 was the best sales year yet for the fast-growing franchise; beating out 2019 which held the previous record.

The brand ended its fiscal year 2020 with total system sales up 13.3% and same store sales up 7.3% over 2019, the firm announced.

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