Archive for the 'Wine Country Living' Category
One of the most appealing things about living in Sonoma County is the tremendous range of fantastic amenities for such a rural community.Â People come here for the scenic beauty and they stay, moving from large cities in the San Francisco Bay Area or Southern California because there is so much to do, from great dining and wine tasting (of course!) to a thriving small theatre and music scene to a large arts community.Â Granted, it’s not Manhattan, where the world is at your doorstep, but we pack a surprising amount into a scenic package.
One of the things I enjoy most about working with Sonoma County real estate buyers, is sharing with them the personal discoveries I have made and my favorite haunts in communities from Sebastopol to Sonoma, Glen Ellen to Healdsburg, Santa Rosa to Windsor, Occidental, Graton, Kenwood, etc.Â One of my goals with this blog over time is to collect some links and tools that will serve as my personal guide to Sonoma County.Â Over the coming months, you will see more community pages with my personal recommendations and links to handy resources for Sonoma County residents and would-be residents of the Wine Country.
In the meantime, I have found a great tool to help you get started learning about any home you might consider buying:Â Walkscore.com.Â Â It provides a Walkability score for any given address.Â What is that?Â From the Walkscore Home Page:
Picture a walkable neighborhood. You lose weight each time you walk to the grocery store. You stumble home from last call without waiting for a cab. You spend less money on your carâ€”or you don’t own a car. When you shop, you support your local economy. You talk to your neighbors.
What makes a neighborhood walkable?
- A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a discernable center, whether it’s a shopping district, a main street, or a public space.
- Density: The neighborhood is compact enough for local businesses to flourish and for public transportation to run frequently.
- Mixed income, mixed use: Housing is provided for everyone who works in the neighborhood: young and old, singles and families, rich and poor. Businesses and residences are located near each other.
- Parks and public space: There are plenty of public places to gather and play.
- Pedestrian-centric design: Buildings are placed close to the street to cater to foot traffic, with parking lots relegated to the back.
- Nearby schools and workplaces: Schools and workplaces are close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.
One of the most walkable homes in Sonoma County that I know just happens to be my charming listing at 414 Piper Street in Healdsburg. Â From there you can walk to world class restaurant Cyrus, to dozens of wineries, to several great taquerias, grocery shopping, drug andhardware stores–you name it!Â Take a look at what a Walkscore of 83 out of 100 will get you.
I was catching up on my Google Reader account and noticed that Curbed and Eater SF reminded us that this last weekend was the Slow Food Festival in San Francisco.Â Coincidentally today, one of my clients was just telling me today that she was there enjoying the scene (Sidenote: we are looking for at least 5 acres in a good Sonoma County location with good water and some outbuilding for her chicken ranch venture, by the way, if you have something like that to sell let me know!–then she will have plenty of quality organic eggs and chicken from Sonoma County to sell next year.)
Sonoma County is one of the most active producers of slow food (think the opposite of fast) with several convivia throughout the county, from Glen Ellen to Cloverdale.Â I was a member a number of years ago and was invited to numerous mouth-watering gatherings here with everything from local cheeses to heritage turkey, heirloom produce and more.Â Only the Sonoma Valley,Â Russian River and Petaluma (Marin) convivia have websites so I thought you might be interested in some local links to some of the fine food resources we have in Sonoma County. Yumm!Â And I didn’t even talk about the wine! Â Â Harvest is in full swing–I spoke to friend Kathy Klopp.Â She and husband Ted are about halfway through their harvest of Russian River Pinot from Sebastopol and Laguna Road in Santa Rosa already and it is only September 2nd.Â Very early this year.Â I guess it is getting close to dinner time…Bon appetit!Â Back to real estate topics very soon. Â But this is why we live here!
BONUS LINK:Â Recently the New York Times featured a Sonoma County Guide to Sustainable Agriculture.Â Here is a link to their slide show on the subject.
other images courtesy Google Image Search.
We ended our tale last week of the prince and princess returning to their San Francisco Bay Area commutes, living separate lives from their two chargers, Seamus (an Irish sporthorse with a 3-day eventing habit, and Rohan, his 2,000 lb Percheron sidekick whose horsely habit we shall hear about a-nonce.)
The prince and princess dreamed someday of being re-united with their steeds on a home in the country that would fit all of them someday–but when would someday ever come? Would they have to wait years until retirement, with Seamus and Rohan growing greyer than they already were? Could they ever have it all, and sooner than later? After all, the prince had an opportunity for a new job up towards the area where the lovely vineyards, valleys and horse properties were–could they find a place to live now and continue to work but keep the horses at home? Should they try to find a castle further away that they could retire to someday, and maybe all visit together for summer vacations and holidays? They didn’t know what to do or think, they just knew they wanted to someday all live happily ever after on a farm with their animals, teaching their subjects (more about that later).
The princess knew she could stand a long commute 2 or 3 days a week, and she could spend much of her time tele-commuting. They owned their own home on the peninsula of the San Francisco Bay–it was worth a pretty penny. Surely there was a new home with room for the prince, princess and the steeds for what they could afford.
She needed to find a wizard or a good witch to advise them how to find their way to their true home. She consulted the Oracle of Google and found a good witch of wine country horse property, sealed her wishes in an email and sent them out to the universe. What happened next was very magical…
(To be continued..)
Once upon a time there were a prince and princess living on the peninsula of the San Francisco Bay area, commuting their separate ways to high powered jobs, spending many many dollars each month to board their horses, who lived in yet another direction from the high powered jobs. The horses, Rohan and Seamus, were lonely. They had each other but they only saw the prince and princess on nights and weekends. Even though the prince and princess brought carrots and lots of treats, they missed them the rest of the time. And because of barn politics or zoning issues, or whatever fancies, Seamus and Rohan always seemed to have to move to a new barn. They missed really being able to settle in somewhere. The prince and princess were frustrated–they would spend weekends at events with their horses and then miss them during the week. Since they lived in a small house with a small yard, Seamus, Rohan and the neighbors would not be happy if they brought them home to Belmont!
One weekend the prince and princess drove their son to his first year of college at Humboldt State University. On the way home, they drove through many beautiful valleys and over beautiful hills and mountains, passing vineyards, forests and meadows. This was Sonoma County, only a short drive from the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. They thought “Wouldn’t this be a beautiful place to live happily ever after some day with Seamus and Rohan?.. I guess we will have to wait till we retire. Sigh…..” And they returned home to suburbia and their high-powered jobs.
The prince and princess wondered how they could live happily ever after with Seamus and Rohan all on the same property and keep their high powered jobs? Maybe they didn’t need to wait until someday?
TO BE CONTINUED…..
Please come join me today at 5850 Gilmore Avenue in Cotati, my latest listing and a fantastic country property that is well-thought out, secluded yet convenient and very up to date. You and your family and critters could just move right in. When I looked for my current country property home I wanted a property like this–lots of usable land, nice house, really cute second unit and most importantly I wanted scenic beauty and a really peaceful location away from traffic so my cats and dogs would be safe, not to mention humans as well.
I also wanted to be convenient to town and services, and to commute to the Bay Area. Don’t be mislead by the Cotati address on this cool property–it is actually on the west side of 101, north of 116 on the way to Sebastopol. Don’t get me wrong, Cotati is a neat town with lots of fun shops and restaurants, but this location on Gilmore would just as easily appeal to someone wanting Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, Penngrove or Petaluma. This little country pocket in Cotati is peaceful, has lots of horse properties and small farms as well as vineyards surrounding it, and many of the neighbors have been here for years. My clients have owned the property since 1977 and their meticulous care and updating shows. Yet this home is about5 minutes to 101 so it is a great commute location that feels miles away.
It is my experience that people looking for Sonoma County country property don’t first think of places such as Rohnert Park/Cotati or Windsor, but you can uncover some gems by searching and thinking a little outside the box. Come see for yourself today. This property could accommodate horses (and does with a 2 acre pasture (+-), stalls and tack room. It also is home to roller pigeons and has two coops and a small aviary. There is a shop for painting autos with air compressor and 220 power plus another shop (called the “man” building) for hanging out. Plus a cute 2002 small modular with kitchen, den, bedroom and bath, all in its own fenced in, redwood lined yard at one corner of the property for privacy. There is only one home past this property on a sleepy lane, and many bigger parcels surround it, with views of the hills, vineyards and trees. See you soon!
My wonderful client Jill is an excellent horsewoman. She and I met riding on Fred MacMurray’s beautiful Twin Valleys ranch on the border of Healdsburg and Forestville. It is only fitting that her wonderful classic Healdsburg bungalow be the subject for an innovative open house this Sunday from 1-4 PM. Jill get’s what were doing so she was very excited to allow Trulia and me to set up a live webcast on Trulia’s blog for the first open house at her home at 414 Piper Street. Only concern she had that it would be like the Truman Show.
We thought this home and its fantastic close to the Healdsburg plaza location would appeal to the type of people who would be watching the Trulia blog who may be frequent visitors to Sonoma County and appreciate the finer things that a community such as Healdsburg has to offer. While Healdsburg is about 80 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge, it is a very sophisticated community with country charm. Since the early 80’s when I used to visit good friends Joan and Larry Franceshchina, I fell in love with the wine country of Sonoma and eventually made a home here.
Since 414 Piper Street would make a great weekend getaway or fantastic tele-commute location I thought it would be a great fit for the folks on Trulia to see and appreciate.
So tune in Sunday from 1 to 4 pm or thereabouts. Maybe you will fall in love with 414 Piper Street, Healdsburg.
FYI, this property has an excellent walk score of 83, meaning many amenities and services are available with a block or three or four. Just park your car and enjoy.
It was a glorious sunny day for touring West Sonoma County and seeing the latest properties to come on the market for the Sebastopol MLS. I am continually amazed at the breathtaking beauty of our back roads and the incredible variety of terrain, vegetation, trees, views and micro-climates that make up Sebastopol and Graton. So many nooks and crannies offering everything from 1910 farmhouses to contemporary estates and Tuscan style villas, vineyards, horse properties, garden paradises (where was the experimental farm of Luther Burbank?), apple orchards, organic farms, dairies –both cow and goat–and idyllic country retreats. Not to mention redwood groves and ocean views. And this was just today’s tour! 😉
Today we started with a delightful end of lane listing at 8349 Lewanna, off of Elphick. For $699,000 you can have a 1232 sf home on just under an acre. A modest home which could use updating but the views are spectacular:a panorama of the SE Santa Rosa hills and the home looks directly over a sprawling vineyard. Properties don’t come up often on this lane and the setting is truly unique. With a property like this you have the benefit of what I call “borrowed acreage” –you can look at it and pretend it’s yours but you don’t have to take care of it or pay for it. Small parcels bordered by little ones can be delightful in this way.
Next we drove way out Burnside Road to view Cary Fargo’s latest cool listing at 4910 Burnside Road. This is the quintessential old farmhouse with fir floors and a tilting chimney, spring and tiny studio and pond. Lots of chamomile and herbs tumbling around and we spotted a doe and fawn leaping away. The spring has a hand dug 10 foot deep well and tiny well house covering it. Not much as been done to this house except for some blue tiles that appear to date from the 70’s in the kitchen and a massive open beamed ceiling in that room. Lots of wainscoting and original character and KILLER views of Mt. St. Helena.
The 3 plus acres appear to be very usable and Cary said there are some potential building sites on the property so that perhaps the cute farmhouse could become a granny unit and leave room for a larger main home. Check with Sonoma County PRMD on that and any other building possibility. DEFINITELY a great property for someone with vision, taste and skills, and priced at $689,000. One of two extremely special properties today.
There were a number of really interesting properties today depending on your needs–from a lovely contemporary style home on a lane off Tilton Road with lovely gardens and just over 2 usable acres, great views and a garage with a studio/office with bath above for $837,500. Nearby, an extremely artful 2993 sf home on yet another lane off Tilton on 3.39 secluded acres. An 80’s home that shows beautifully, with several levels, stunning contemplative gardens and oaks, raised vegetable beds. $1,200,000.
The most unique property was Steve Prandini’s new listing on Facendini Lane. This 14 acre property sits on one of the prettiest lanes you will ever see and is balanced between wooded acreage with meandering paths and a manicured apple orchard currently managed by Dutton Ranches, according to Steve. The 2200 sf contemporary style home is 2 BR and 2 BA with some lovely outdoor seating areas, great for orchids and people. Plus more fabulous views of the eastern Santa Rosa hills. This would be a great retreat or family getaway property, idyllically situated between Sebastopol and Occidental and near Graton. The big limiting factor for this property is the fact that this is a water scarce area, so agricultural pursuits and much building expansion would probably be limited. But for the right people (and for $1,300,000) this is an enchanting and peaceful property. There is more to talk about on this week’s tour, feel free to email or call me with questions about these or any other Sonoma County properties.
When I started to ride seriously as an adult, my Hanoverian/Thoroughbred cross Reilly and I trained with Sarah Sheehy, Terry Church and Siri Larssen, all in either Marin County or Sonoma county at the time. I have stayed in touch with them over the years and just received word of an updated website, Natural Sporthorse.com which links them all together and promotes Natural horsemanship, inspired by Tom Dorrance and others, for the disciplines of hunters, jumpers and dressage. The purpose is to develop a partnership with your horse based upon improving the rider’s balance and feel so as to allow the horse to develop their utmost potential in a sound, healthy and natural way. There are many practitioners of natural horsemanship in Sonoma county. Natural Sporthorse links to some of the best and has links to many other resources as well. Worth a visit!
I was surprised to note how many of the people who visited my open house last month at a cute farmstead in Sebastopol were looking for property for their dogs! This property was in a great location at the end of a private lane well away from main roads and neighbors who might be disturbed by the occasional bark.
Well I shouldn’t be surprised since one of the main reasons I moved to Sonoma County was to have more room for my two dogs (Vizslas) and the horses as well as the humans of course, yet still be within an hour of the Golden Gate Bridge. Finding a safe property off the main thoroughfares was a key priority to me, and is to many of the buyers of Sonoma County real estate I meet.
Sonoma Pets is a print publication and on-line pet directory for Sonoma County published by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. There are many excellent small animal and equine veterinarians in the county, so much that many pet owners from the Bay Area will travel here for specialty care.
After feeding the horses, and then dressing up, I am headed out with a group of friends and clients (many times one and the same!) to tonight’s Equus Awards, Sonoma County’s Academy Awards for the horse community here! It is the annual benefit for the Sonoma County Horse Council, and its only fundraiser of the year.
WineCountryandHorses (this blog) has put together a table of ten and we are looking forward to perusing the silent auction items. I have advised everyone to bring their checkbooks, and friend and tablemate Christine DeLoach of Hook and Ladder Winery has also graciously donated several cases of Hook and Ladder Third Alarm Chardonnay to the Council for this evening’s festivities. I think a few bottles of red may find their way in tonight as well!
I guess Rush (below) will have to eat dinner at home with Giles and Missy while we party!
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