Auction beat, home winemakers dilemma, and not-fishing ponds

The Sonoma Valley Wine Auction needed more ice buckets Sunday. After the wine was gone, the high bidders could have iced down their exhausted paddle elbows – the event raised $1.4 million, twice the usual take. The afternoon, this year with a Samba theme, was the usual blend of wine country cool, vaudeville routine and Broadway musical, with master auctioneer David Reynolds at the helm, at one point employing a samba beat to drum up successively higher bids. The big production number once again came from the Women of Magnum Force, the troupe of industry insiders that delivered an elaborate dance routine longer, but certainly not louder, than the shimmering tropical-colored mini dresses they were wearing. Banana hats off! Somewhere, Carmen Miranda is smiling over a well-garnished Rum Punch.

Members will be pouring wine at the annual Sonoma Home Winemakers Celebration, just not their own. Organizers of Saturday’s event were warned by the state that it would start enforcing a long-ignored law that prohibits ‘amateur’ wine being served to the public. Odd timing. The new California Homemade Food Act makes it legal for home cooks to make and sell a wide range of products, such as jams and baked goods, without using commercial kitchen space or complying with zoning and other regulations. And yet the folks down the hall at Alcoholic Beverage Control suddenly decide to prohibit home winemakers from pouring their finest – and at a charity event, no less.

Those fish ponds at the Leland Fly Fishing Ranch are not for business, by the way. They are, the county has decided, “landscape features.” David Mace isn’t happy about it. “Good thing forensics can tell the crash site investigators what the bird ate just before its collision with an aircraft,” he says. “Only one place trout would come from, as it’s not indigenous to these parts.”

Freedom Day USA should make veterans smile. On September 12, Synergy Dental Group will provide free dental exams, cleanings and fillings to those who have served in the U.S. military. “The services provided to our country by these ladies and gentlemen are very much appreciated,” says Dr. Kimberly Hubenette who is also the local Freedom Day USA city director for Sonoma and the co-director for California. Other local businesses offering special deals that day: Flag Emporium; Adams Chiropractic Offices; Arroyo Veterinary Hospital; Clutterbug Professional Organizers; Walter & Pistole Law Offices; Charles Creek Vineyard; Red Grape Pizzeria; Terri’s Hot Shots; Janelle’s Java; Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau; Café Scooteria; Field of Greens; Large Leather; and Rabobank. Find out more at

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