A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

January 9, 2024

Written by Ken Wornick

Backed by 20+ vintages and many dozens of wines produced, Ken is a Sonoma-based wine consultant and founder of Sonocaia Estate Vineyeards, Dysfunctional Family Winery and Hydeout Sonoma.
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In case you missed this post, it is a fun review of the holiday season in Sonoma Valley and the Sonocaia winery. Give yourself 10 minutes to catch up with wine country. Warmly, Ken Wornick

Join us for a year-end wine country photo journey in our final Sonocaia blog post of 2023:

Locals tasting event

With the help of some very wonderful friends, we sold out another ‘grand opening’ winery event – mainly for locals that missed the initial launch of Sonocaia estate winery.

I presented a story of ‘wine in context’ – when tasting wine it is important to know “why” this wine was produced. In our case, we started almost twenty five years ago in the Santa Cruz Mountains developing vineyards for private clients. A decade later we had more than 40 vineyards built and were making a lot of personalized wine for those clients in our urban winery in Redwood City. Some of those wines won Gold and Double-Gold from the SF Chronicle wine competition. We sold the vineyard development and winery businesses to an investor. See this link for more. Over the next ten years, we built a second client-based vineyard development and wine making business, this time in Sonoma Valley. And sold that business in 2023. See this link for more.

Our newest project is the Sonocaia estate winery  – focussed exclusively on Sagrantino, a rare red variety of very high repute from Montefalco Umbria Italy. Meanwhile, our second brand, Dysfunctional Family Winery, still lives on with the motto “serious wine, irreverent style” offering fun blends for all taste preferences and budgets. See link here.

A sold-out crowd enjoyed the stories, wines, food, and conversation…

KW3 - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

Working our way through the wine lineup

Opening 4b - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

Answering a question about the unique clonal history of the Sonocaia Sagrantino grapevines

Opening 4a - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

New friends being made all around the table

Opening 4c - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

The tasting continues deep into the library wines

Sonocaia cars - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

At the end of the tasting, a couple of wild local yahoos in their ridiculous jacked-up sport cars hit the gas and ripped up our nice new parking lot! Nah, not really, just kidding NF and GM.

But wait, there’s more…

A large, warm, and wonderful family from all over the U.S. (and three generations!) spent an afternoon with us the day after Thanksgiving ’23. We had a ball tasting through many wines, having lots of technical questions and answers about growing grapes and making wine, and generally having some great laughs. The toddler played with my guitar and beat a wine barrel with the drum sticks. Thank you Ginny and Larry.

guest family tasting thanksgiving - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

Sonocaia in the Sonoma Index-Tribune newspaper

Our local Sonoma newspaper took an interest in our new Sonocaia winery project. Find the full article here.The author, Emma Malloy, did a great job detailing the history of our winery project. They lead with this headline: More than a winery: Sonocaia, and agricultural gem.

KSVY 91.3FM Community radio

Our local radio station KSVY 91.3FM has great wall-to-wall programming including talk, music, news, food, politics, and so much more. Not everyone is aware of the quality of the programming, yet. I’ve been a frequent guest on station manager and KSVY Exec Director Bob Taylor’s “Morning Show” many times. If you are a Sonoma local, it is well worth tuning in and supporting. They recently launched a new transmission antenna and expanded their reach from Sonoma, now reaching into Petaluma, Novato, and Napa. And last month, KSVY held a very unusual fund raiser. At the vaunted and historic Sebastiani Theatre, built in 1933, five great bands played country and western music all afternoon to the hoots and hollers of a large crowd. Learn more about KSVY here.

Sebastiani and KSVY - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

The crowd begins to gather at the Sebastiani Theatre

Bob - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

Bob Taylor, Executive Director of Sonoma community radio KSVY 91.3 (and lead guitarist of ACDC cover band “Illegitimate AC/DC”)

Roger - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

Patrons Diana Bugg and Leslie Carlson; and Roger Rhoten, widely beloved manager for over 30 years of the Sebastiani Theatre

KSVY 3 - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

Sonoma Valley Museum of Art

SVMA, our treasured Sonoma art museum, situated on Broadway very close to the Sonoma Plaza, held a very fun ‘poetry, food, and wine’ event in the museum’s gallery. Sold out weeks in advance, the poetry was provocative, warm, and hilarious. A far cry from the sleepy prose that I recall from English class in 7th grade. I poured Sonocaia and Dysfunctional Family wines at the event. See more here. Carole Copelan poured her Owl’s Perch and Harpsichord wines. And Chef Kyle Kuklewski served some delicious bites which paired beautifully with the wines and the poetry. The art in the background in some of the images below are from Richard Mayhew and the exhibition is called Inner Terrain.

SVMA 5 - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey svma 1 - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey svma 2 - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journeysvma 4 cyn - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

Sonoma International Film Festival

Named “One of the 25 Coolest Festivals” by MovieMaker Magazine and one of “America’s Top Ten Destination Film Festivals” by USA Today, and coming up on March 20th – 24th, 2024; all passes to the Sonoma International Film Festival are on sale right now. It is a fully park-and-walk festival with great venues, truly excellent films, delicious food, and first class wine. You don’t want to miss it!

The staff and board of the film festival gathered for our holiday party. Many of Sonoma’s non-profits were also represented. And as always, the event was hosted by Kevin and Rosemary McKneely, our most important and generous patrons.

Screenshot 2023 12 18 at 4.27.11 PM - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

SIFF party 2 - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

In the center, film festival board members Lisa Mango and Patty Elkus

SIFF party - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

Film festival patrons

DYS Kev - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

Kevin McNeely, Executive Director Emeritus of the Sonoma Valley International Film Festival, hoists a giant Methuselah of 2018 Dysfunctional Family Winery ‘Red Blend’, equal to 6 liters or 8 bottles. The SIFF film festival and Dysfunctional have teamed up several times for outdoor movie nights on the lawn, and we’ll return to that program someday soon.

SIFF leadership - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

Sonoma International Film Festival – Kevin McNeely (Emeritus Creative Director), Bob Berg (Board Chair), John Curry (Emeritus Board Chair), and me, Ken Wornick (Board Vice-Chair)

Community Hanukkah

Supporting the Jewish community in their time of extreme stress, and for the right of Israel to exist, we attended a Hanukkah holiday event at the local Shir Shalom temple, then we cooked traditional potato latkes (don’t tell the cardiologists) and joined the larger Sonoma community for a public inter-faith community-wide menorah lighting and some street dancing too, on the last day of Hanukkah. The local Sonoma police and the County Sheriff’s offices blocked off a portion of Spain Street near the Plaza and provided a watchful vigil during the ceremonies, for which all attendees were quite grateful.

Below, winery client Patty Elkus submitted this beautiful image she titled “Lil Vignette of Santa and his Rosé” for the holidays. Seemed like just the right image for us to include with the Hanukkah story!

Dear Santa - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

Bees and wax candle making

We put our Hydeout farm bee hives to bed for the winter, allowing the bees to build a seal around every crack and crevice of their hives, thus sheltering themselves from wind and rain and cold during the winter. Before that, we did the necessary hive work and collected some of the extra wax for various projects, seen here. I want to particularly thank Nic Freedman of Bees Rock Ranch and Chere Pafford, a renowned holistic bee keeper, both of whom acted as my mentors during this entire season.

Olives and oil

We harvested over a ton of Hydeout olives this year. Like everything on the farm, our approach is 100% organic. Due to last winters excellent rain, and the light crop in 2022, the 2023 crop was not only large, but nearly completely free of olive fruit flies. All in all a great olive harvest yielding deeply unctuous green oil.

Fall harvest – our final harvest of fruits and veggies from mid-December here at the farm
Fall vegetables - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

The very last of the tomatoes, persimmons, and figs picked just before the first rain (with a few peppers and some fresh eggs too).

What’s next for 2024?

The 2022 and 2023 vintages of Sagrantino are resting in barrels for the winter. The wild grasses and mustard are pushing up through the wet dirt from the recent three inches of rain. The winter solstice arrived on December 21st. Now the days get longer once again. We’ll prune the grape vines, mow the cover crop, and start in on another vintage. The 2024 vintage will be my 25th vintage.

Wishing all of you a wonderful New Year.

And when the holidays are done and things have returned to normal, we’ll still be here  – ready to supply you with delicious wine. You can always order wine and pick it up at the winery. And we can ship too. Just click on this link!  https://www.sonocaia.com

Happy new year everyone! – Ken

Ken in a Barrel - A year-end wine country lifestyle photo journey

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Grand Opening Invitation to Sonocaia!

Grand Opening Invitation to Sonocaia!

Join us for the grand opening of Sonocaia winery, a Sonoma-based estate project meticulously growing Sagrantino, a delicious and intensely fascinating red variety from Monte Falco, Umbria, Italy

3 Comments

  1. Diana

    Ken,
    You are an amazing writer and so generously cover other important news about our nonprofit community which is so near and dear to our hearts!
    Well done my friend.
    Happy 2024
    Diana

    Reply
  2. Bob Berg

    Ken,

    Nice write up! Thanks for all the SIFF plugs too! Wishing you and Sonocaia a happy and prosperous year.

    Bob

    Reply
  3. carlos james

    Lifestyle is all about finding balance and joy in the everyday moments. Let’s embrace the little things that make life beautiful.Capable Apparel

    Reply

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