Archive for the 'Wine Country Living' Category

Wine Country and Bicycles

filed under: Wine Country Living posted on May 14th, 2012

Thank you to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat for this photo. Click on it and you can see a nice slideshow of yesterday’s Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California with Captions that identify the various spots in West Sonoma County on the 118 mile route. One of the commentators yesterday stated that the route competed with some of the best in the grand European cycling tours for scenic beauty and complexity. Tomorrow we will be back to our regular real estate programming, even as the Tour continues throughout California, working it’s way down to LA. Stay tuned and here how the real estate market is red hot!

Wine Country and Bicycles Amgen Tour of California Peleton along Occidental Road in Sonoma County Stage 1

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Amgen Tour of California Winding its Way through Santa Rosa and Sonoma’s West County Today!

filed under: Wine Country Living posted on May 13th, 2012

I have been having fun today following the progress of the breakaway group and peleton on Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California . A bunch of us from the block were able to walk to the corner and watch the tour go by this morning! Big stuff for a sleepy country neighborhood! You can keep up with their progress on an app which is handy because it shows it on the map in real time.
It is a big deal in Santa Rosa this week but the riders are travelling through a big chunk of West County from Windsor, Healdsburg, Sebastopol, Occidental, Monte Rio, Cazadero, down the Sonoma Coast and back over Coleman Valley Road to Occidental and finishing later today in downtown Santa Rosa! There are some pretty steep but short climbs in Cazadero on King Ridge and then heading down to Highway 1.  One of the most spectacularly beautiful roads anywhere in the world is Coleman Valley Road coming up from the coast highway back in to Occidental.  Truly amazing coastal views and then you climb back up in to the redwoods!

Besides redwoods, some of the commentators on the app have suggested the riders stop at the numerous Russian River Wineries they are passing, but as far as I know they are saving that for later!

I’l have some video later but this picture of some of my neighbors will have to do for now!

Watching the Amgen Tour of California Stage 1 in West Sonoma County May 13, 2012

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Why Levi Leipheimer calls Santa Rosa Best Place in the World to Live: AMGEN Tour Starts here this Sunday May 13

filed under: Wine Country Living posted on May 8th, 2012

Santa Rosa flies under the radar compared to  the more glamorous wine country towns of Healdsburg and Sonoma.  This love letter to Santa Rosa by world class cyclist Levi Leipheimer makes me happy!   Santa Rosa is the starting point for this year’s seventh running of the Amgen Tour of California, on Sunday May 13. The peloton will actually will pass right by my house which is located along the 115 mile route! Check out why Santa Rosa in Sonoma County is such a great place to live.  Don’t just take my word for it.

For more info on the race and stage one, go here. A map of the Sonoma County race route is here.

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on Why Levi Leipheimer calls Santa Rosa Best Place in the World to Live: AMGEN Tour Starts here this Sunday May 13

Begin with the End in Mind: How to find your Dream Wine Country Home

filed under: Buyers, Country Property, Sellers, Wine Country Living posted on May 1st, 2012

A ridgetop view north from ForestvilleOver the last year we have seen a broader range of quality wine country properties for sale in Sonoma County, with sellers who are more realistic about pricing.  That combination, and ultra low interest rates, have brought out of the area buyers out in force.  In 2011 and 2012 alone I have worked with people from the East Bay, San Francisco, France, the UK, Idaho and Texas for a start. There is a lot of competition for the best properties, and as a smart buyer you will want to do your homework to find the best spot and country package for you!

That said, it is possible to find a special property within an hour’s drive of the Golden Gate Bridge (more or less) that can give you years of pleasure and rejuvenation.  So where do you begin in your search for a wine country home?

Begin with the End in Mind!

(with a nod to Steven Covey in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”)

When I first start to work with new clients I spend a lot of time learning what they hope to accomplish in working with me–what are their ideal outcomes, where would they like to be six months from now?  In that way I can learn more about their values and how to serve them most effectively.

With buyers in particular, I often offer a visualization exercise to help them envision their ideal home.  For people coming from outside California this really feeds in to their “w00-woo” image of us!  But I have worked with doctors and lawyers and other very left-brained individuals and couples and found that this exercise serves them as well as it does all the right-brained folks who are ready to jump on board.  With country property or horse property, we are not only talking about types of homes but types of grounds, terrain and microclimates.  (Disclaimer: this could be a huge post but I am going to try to break the topic in to bitsized pieces!)

To get back to  Stephen Covey:

Habit 2 is based on imagination–the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes. It is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint. If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default.

Why is this step so important to purchasing a second home or a new main home in Sonoma County’s wine country?  I was discussing this with clients (now friends) the other day at Sunday brunch.   During the week they live in San Francisco’s Noe Valley.  In 2007 we found them a second home  in the countryside of Northeast Santa Rosa.  The other day they said to me, “we had no idea we could find the perfect country property in Santa Rosa!  All we knew were Napa and the Russian River area”. When we met they had already looked at property in Napa County to the east and Lake County to the north.  Lake County was too far from home in SF and in Napa they could not find the “wine country experience” they wanted to have at a price that made sense for them.

They each had a sense of what they wanted to acheive in a second home and we worked to clarify that vision.  They wanted a certain experience of peace and privacy, to be surrounded by nature and inspiring views, to have a pool and home where they would enjoy entertaining friends and family. They wanted a complete get away from it all experience that was still accessible, ie only a maximum one hour drive from SF.

They both have pretty high power jobs that entail a lot of travel so it needed to be easy to get to enough that they would be there regularly.  It didn’t really matter what Sonoma County town it was in so long as it met their criteria.  NOTE:  This is an important point to consider in your property search! To find the right combination of terrain, vegetation, house and views, there are a dozen or more areas you can consider, and should consider, to find the right package for you.

As Jeff and Brian told me, most of their friends and colleagues in the Bay Area did not know much about specific Sonoma County towns so we looked in a variety of communities–“West County” aka Sebastopol, Occidental and Graton, Northwest Santa Rosa and Forestville and Northeast Santa Rosa, where we finally found their home.  With other clients we have expanded that list to include Healdsburg, Windsor and Guerneville, Sonoma, Kenwood and Glen Ellen and other parts of Santa Rosa.

As a country property specialist, I make it a point to search out the best listings in a wide area to meet my clients’ needs. It is very difficult in our market of a collection of charming small towns and countryside to focus only on one community.  I recall from my own search for my country home covering a very wide swath of ground till I found the right setting and home for the horses.  I ended up buying in a place I had not even considered initially and am very happy with the choice.  Later this month we will look at other aspects for finding your wine country home.

(HINT:  If you are a seller of such a wine country property, please call me, we need more inventory to sell, and that is a topic for another post soon!)

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on Begin with the End in Mind: How to find your Dream Wine Country Home

Welcome 2012 in Sonoma County with a Guide to New Year’s Celebrations

filed under: Wine Country Living posted on December 31st, 2011

Welcome 2012! from Sonoma County

Welcome 2012! from Sonoma County

One of my favorite local Sonoma County Guide sites, “Sonoma Uncorked”, appears to be active again with a nice interactive map guide to New Year’s Eve celebrations from Healdsburg to Petaluma.

Whether you choose to go out or stay in this evening, here is wishing you the best for a FANTASTIC 2012! from Wine Country and Horses.

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on Welcome 2012 in Sonoma County with a Guide to New Year’s Celebrations

National Geographic Travel names Sonoma County One of the Top Destinations in the World for 2012

filed under: Wine Country Living posted on November 12th, 2011

Tucked between Costa Brava, Spain and the cottage country of Ontario is Sonoma County, one of the top travel destinations for 2012 according to National Geographic.

Why am I not surprised? I liked it so much that after many years of touristing trips and then horse boarding here, I moved here in 1999 from the Bay Area. Now I help clients and friends from all over the world find the perfect property here. Meanwhile I am constantly amazed at the beauty of Sonoma County, from the one of the most spectacular rugged coasts in the world to the redwoods, vineyards, horse farms and orchards from Sebastopol to Healdsburg to Glen Ellen and Sonoma.

Anyway when I heard the news that National Geographic named Sonoma County as one of the top twenty places to visit in 2012, I couldn’t agree more. I am a shameless booster! ( and I have to say some of those other spots look pretty tempting as well! The Virunga Volcanoes!….Take a look!

(West Sonoma County photo courtesy of Autumn Photo Blog)

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on National Geographic Travel names Sonoma County One of the Top Destinations in the World for 2012

The Most Beautiful Time of the Year in Sonoma County Could be Now

filed under: Russian River Area, Santa-Rosa, Wine Country Living posted on November 1st, 2011

Typically we think of springtime or summer as the most beautiful time of the year but for all of October and now November  here in Sonoma County wine country of Northern California it feels like right now is the best time of year.  We had some early rain (after six typical dry months) in September.  The grass has gone from golden brown to emerald green.  The vines and trees throughout the county are turning red, gold and orange.  The skies have been brilliant blue and the weather has been delightfully warm but not too hot.  LOVE IT.  Maybe that is part of the reason why the real estate market has been so active this fall.  Much busier than the typically busy summer months.  Perhaps it is 30 year fixed rate mortgages at 4 percent?  Ten year fixed jumbo loans at 3.75%!!! Perhaps it is health of many tech companies and startups in Silicon Valley and San Francisco.  Who knows for sure but it has been a great time to be showing and selling property and out and about on these beautiful days.  Has kept me away from the blog for a bit.  I apologize, and I am back!

A brilliant November day and old vine zinfandel in the Russian RIver Valley appellation of Santa Rosa, Ca

A brilliant November day and old vine zinfandel in the Russian RIver Valley appellation of Santa Rosa, Ca

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on The Most Beautiful Time of the Year in Sonoma County Could be Now

One person’s artistic vision is grounded in Graton

filed under: Country Property, Sebastopol, Wine Country Living posted on June 4th, 2011

Hollynn D'Lil in her Graton Garden courtesy of the Press Democrat

My friend HolLynn D’lil is like many of my friends and clients who have moved to Sonoma County from successful lives elsewhere. She had a vision, a feeling, a sense of the possibilities that her new life could be in our pocket of country paradise a short hour north of San Francisco. She wanted room to garden and a studio for painting and a home environment that nurtured her creativity.

More so than many, she did not allow a bare flat patch of dirt and a dated home deter her from realizing her vision. Now she lives in a creekside sanctuary in the heart of the small Sonoma County community of Graton. I first walked on to HolLynn’s property for a dinner party last fall, which was my first meeting with her as well. Within five sentences I said to her–have you ever thought of having your home on the West County Garden Tour ? (a benefit for Food For Thought in Forestville). She said–I have always wanted to do that but didn’t know who to approach. This May 15th she was one of eight gardens and homes in West County featured on the tour. Yesterday, the Press Democrat newspaper did a feature story on HolLynn’s journey. I thought I would share it with you as a wonderful example of the creation of a dream in Sonoma’s West County.

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on One person’s artistic vision is grounded in Graton

Check Out This Impromptu Singalong at Petaluma Whole Foods Market

filed under: Wine Country Living posted on December 17th, 2010

The Heritage Music Theatre at Cinnabar Theatre in downtown Petaluma created a great guerrilla marketing event at the local Whole Foods Market.   Imagine a fruit aisle stocker spontaneously bursting in to song from behind the pineapples and a bass player emerging from the cooler.  Imagine yourself minding your own business shopping away when a half dozen singers burst into Woody Guthrie’s stirring “This Land is Your Land” from over by the papayas and you get the idea.

Woody Guthrie’s American Song opens December 31st and runs through January 23 just down the block from the fruit aisle!

For a taste, the video below is really worth watching to see the involvement of the shoppers grow as everyone gets in to this “Random Act of Culture.”

PS If you want to check out the latest homes for sale in this town of spontaneously musical produce aisles, you can see them on a map by clicking the link on the right, or here.

posted by Pam Buda // 2 Comments »

A New Look in the Wine Country

filed under: Wine Country Living posted on November 15th, 2010

AutumninSonomaCounty

If you don’t live in Northern California you might not be aware that we don’t have rain for about six months of the year, from April to October. Plant, animal and human life has adapted to drought conditions during the hottest months. But early October everything starts to look pretty parched and dusty. The hills are golden and brown, we have some of our best warm weather, but it is time for rain. Everything feels thirsty.

Then the first rains come. Everything is transformed.

We have probably had about four inches in the last few weeks. Now the hills are turning emerald green and they will stay that way till May or June. The trees and vineyards are turning all sorts of orange, red and golden tones. Every year I am surprised again about the incredible range of colors on our sunny days, from the emerald grass, to the colorful vines and the amazingly clear blue sky. I took this shot last week as I walked my dog. These colors inspired the new version of my blog design that you see today for the first time. After 3 and an half years, we were definitely due for a freshening, both of the design as well as some good new tools. Now it’s back to writing about real estate and life in Sonoma County. Happy Autumn and thanks for visiting!

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on A New Look in the Wine Country