Sophie's Cellar Local Night (You Dont Have To Be A Local)

Tasting Room

Tasting Room

In the Russian River Resort Area and along the Sonoma Coast is Sophie’s Cellars Wine Tasting Room. It is only 8 minutes from the ocean in the town of Duncans Mills. The small town has 24 merchants, antique stores, galleries gourmet foods and wines. Locals night is a locals favorite hang out on Friday. I love to sit on the deck eat some local cheeses, salmon, salamis, crackers and fruit. I am excited to see John’s picks on wines by the glass and Beer from Russian River Brewing Company. I personally am not an IPA drinker but fear not they have Pliny the Elder for those of you who love an IPA. It is a great wind down into the weekend.

Tasting Room: 25179 Hwy 116, Duncans Mills, CA 95430, USA | Current Hours: Wed, Thu, Sat & Sun: 11am-5pm, Fri: 11am-7pm. Locals’ Night (you don’t have to be a local) Fri: 4pm-7pm

Bodega Bay Independence Day Maritime Celebration.

Thursday July 4th, 2019

Thursday July 4th, 2019

Bodega Bay is steep in Maritime history and traditions. Their Commercial Fishing industry provides fresh crabs, and fish including a prize King Salmon. The sport-fishing charters offer fishing, whales and bird watching, ash scatterings and custom charter cruises.
This July 4th the town will be celebrating this heritage, our Independence and the harbor and bay. There will be an entire day and evening of events for the family. The morning will start off with a Freedom Paddle, for art lovers you will be able to see local artists painting the harbor. Go to Campbell Cove and learn about tide pools and our local marine life with the Stewards of the Coasts and Redwoods Tide Pool Adventure. If you are camping at Doran Beach in the afternoon Second Wind will have monster kites blowing in the wind. In the later afternoon there will be a Maritime Celebration Boat Parade staring at 3:30pm. To cap off the day during the evening there will be live music and a dance at the Harbor Yacht Club. Show your Red, White and Blue. The Sonoma Coast Visitors Center will be given out American flags. Several local businesses will be hosting viewing parties and specials. Go here to see an entire day of events.


Salmon Is On!

Photo: F/V Reel Magic

Photo: F/V Reel Magic

Bodega Bay has a great fleet of Sport Fishing Boats. The Fish are biting and many charter boats are catching their limits for the day.

Epic Day Today in Bodega Bay!!! THEY ARE BITING!!

LIMITS today for clients and crew. 14 Kings to 15 lbs.!!! Fished West of the head from 33 to 50 fathoms OW. Fish came at 120' and 90' OTW on Flashers and my favorite hoochie!!

Fish were feeding on Anchovies with Krill below. Whales were there too!!

Catch up with you soon!!

Capt. Merlin Out!

The Reel Magic is Bodega Bay’s only Catamaran available for charter fishing.

She is one of the fastest boats in the harbor and is an impressive fishing machine at 34 feet with a 12-foot beam. Twin 330 HP Cummings Turbo Diesels produce a respectable 21 Knot cruising speed. The Reel Magic has a full-sized stand-up head with an operational sink and a freshwater reserve tank. She is a very safe and stable vessel, especially while running and fishing. The Reel Magic is an awesome fishing platform!!

Call Now at 707-875-BOAT (2628) to make your reservation while there is still room available.

Photo F/V Reel Magic

Photo F/V Reel Magic

Valley Ford Creamery Opens A Storefront in Valley Ford

Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery was founded in 2008 and is located on Mountain View Jersey Dairy, off the rural coast of Sonoma County, California.

When Karen Bianchi-Moreda decided to start making artisan cheese, it was only natural to produce that same cheese which was a staple in her family for years.

They now have a store front in Valley Ford located on Highway 1 near the beautiful California coast. They are serving fresh coffee and danish to start the day and a lunch menu that makes the flavors of their cheeses come to life.

Mothers Day Menu:
Live Oak Farm Asparagus Focaccia - farm egg, pea shoots,
Highway 1. Farmers cheese stuffed french toast - blueberry, walnut, reme fraiche.
Spring salad - Baby lettuce, fava beans, radish, herbs.
Valley Ford Grilled Cheese. Mimosas and Bloody Beer.

Memorial Day Weekend Menu:
Raclette over potatoes, pickled onions, bread and gerkin.
A Pulled pork slide with vinegar slaw.
A grilled cheese, smoked turkey with potato salad.
A House cheese tasting for $20.

Fathers Day Menu:
Valley Ford Creamery Cheese Flight
Focaccia, asparagas, prosciutto + egg
Strawberry walnut french toast
Estero Gold biscuits and gravey with egg
Grilled cheese with meat
House cheese & Charcuterie

They also have a variety of fresh baked goods. I had the coffee cake and it was so good. The moistness and flavor of it elevated it to the best I have ever had. I love baked goods. I bake them as well. So it is a high compliment when I say it was the best coffee cake I ever had or made. What type of baked goods may you find there? Baguettes, Zucchini bread, Lemon cake, Black Bottom cupcakes, Quiche, scones and triple chocolate cookies.

Tentative hours:

Monday & Tuesday- Closed

Wednesday & Thursday 7 am - 3 pm

Friday- 7 am - 6 pm

Saturday- 8 am - 6 pm

Sunday - 8 am - 3 pm

The Epicure Interviews

The art of the table is serious here in West County. Tasty food and beverage consumption is aligned to my personal and perhaps selfish interests! As I have jokingly noted to friends, I am slightly thirsty or slightly hungry or both at any given moment. I live in a small town and like many of my neighbors, I will often buy pre-made ingredients to consume with our meals. A small round of cheese, perfectly beautiful mushrooms or a nice bottle of pinot noir - local products made in the western edge of Sonoma County are different. There is something about the food here that tastes better, richer and more wholesome. Perhaps it's the coastal influence, the skill level or passion of the producer.  Food makers here are producing interesting, artisanal foods that I have enjoyed or want to enjoy. And I want to know and understand more about what they do and why. 

To highlight my culinary neighbors, I am introducing a new series -  "The Epicure Interviews". Starting this month, I will post a new interview about a west county beverage or food producer. 

For our inaugural interview, I recently spoke with Ross Halleck owner of of Halleck Wines. Please take a moment and enjoy. Preferably with a tasty morsel or drink. 

I'll set the table,


Rain, Rain Go Away

We are Sonoma Strong and we will rebuild in the areas affected by the flooding. Some areas along the coast were not affected. If you are planning a trip to the area here are some links to help plan your trip and avoid closed roads, areas under evacuation or that are experiencing power outages.

To check on road conditions to those towns go to this link.

Another resource is the Sonoma County Emergency Website

For electric outages in the areas you may want to visit go to this link.

The 30th Annual Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest


What fun we had at the 30th Annual Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Festival. Proceeds benefit Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s agricultural education activities, including Ag Days for over 6,000 elementary school children, teachers and parents, scholarships, 4-H & FFA, Young Farmers & Ranchers, youth leadership activities, local fair exhibitors, farm worker and management training, environmental education and Farm Bureau Institute.

We chatted with local wine and cheese makers and enjoyed a tasting. To me it is all about the personal connection with the people. They work so hard to create and share their personal taste on wine and food. I meet cheesmaker Keith Adams of Wm Cofield. They are creating proper British Cheese on the Sonoma Coast. Keith Adams and Rob Hunter, founders of William Cofield Cheesemakers, are proud to introduce Wine Country to two tasty and exciting new cheeses: a complex, Stilton-inspired blue, a lush, cloth-bound aged Cheddar.

In my conversation with Karen Bianchi-Moreda of Valley Ford Cheese she told me that they were going to open a new place in Valley Ford. The barnwood building used to be a wool shop. She is going to give me a sneak peek of what they are going to do. Stay tuned. By the way love their cheese.

There were lots of great silent auction donations. In addition to supporting this great cause we came for the Sonoma Coast Dungeness Crab. It was great to see all of the Future Farmers of America and 4H club young members serve bowls filled of crab.

Will be an annual event on our calendar.

A Coastal Life

Our life on the coast is tied to the sea in many ways. Either through our local recreation or commercial fishing industry. We all know someone whose livelihood is tied to the sea. Seafood is on most restaurants menus. Crab Feeds during Crab season raises money for local firehouses or non-profits. Hotels, vacation rentals and RV campgrounds need that bump in the winter season during Chowder Day, Fisherman’s Festival and recreational crab season. One year crab season had an extended delayed and the impact on the community was huge. Some have not recovered from that season. Our local Coast Guard and their families are now impacted by the government shutdown.

Local artist celebrate the sea through their art. Local Bodega artist Maralee Wisewomyn creates baskets out of woven twisted seagrass, redwood bark, raffia, roots and buckeyes.

Available at the Artisans’ Co-op in the town of Bodega.

Available at the Artisans’ Co-op in the town of Bodega.

Certain type of wine grapes thrive in the coastal fog and temperatures along the Sonoma Coast. Hartford Wines Far Coast Vineyard is a cool site surrounded by redwood forests, almost two hours north of the Russian River on a Sonoma Coast mountain ridge. Lingering coastal fog in the valleys below yields the right amount of cool on the vines of Fort Ross-Seaview. The region rises above the fogline to occupy a completely unique ecosystem—one that’s dryer, sunnier and warmer than most. This elevated, “coastal cool” maritime climate is ideal for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Photo by Francesca Scalpi

Photo by Francesca Scalpi

We see global warming effects on marine life and weather patterns. There was a time that our tidepools were abundant with starfish. Sea stars along much of the North American Pacific coast experienced a massive die-off in 2013/14 due to a mysterious wasting syndrome. The disease, called “sea star wasting syndrome” (SSWS) has persisted at low levels in most areas, and continues to kill sea stars. Our kelp forest are disappearing. The unprecedented collapse has been observed along hundreds of miles of coastline from San Francisco to Oregon. The region's once-lush stands of bull kelp, a large brown alga that provides food and habitat for a host of wildlife species, have been devoured by small, voracious purple urchins. California fish and game commissioners extended the ban on recreational abalone fishing another two years (2021) to give the ailing species more time to recover from a near-total collapse on the North Coast.

Living on the coast also provides a good life. A way of life worth fighting for no matter what the odds. Visitors find solace and a renewal of life among the crashing ways and coastal trails. The farm/sea to table food sustains us. We come together in good times and bad.

Northern California Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Delay Extended

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham announced an additional and final 15-day delay of the northern California commercial Dungeness crab season. Pending possible closures due to elevated levels of domoic acid, the season is now set to begin on Jan. 15, 2019.

Delays due to quality only affect the northern commercial fishery in California Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). Sonoma County Commercial Dungeness Crab Season is open.

It is all about the CRAB!

On the Sonoma Coast the boats go out of Bodega Bay harbor in search of that succulent Dungeness Crab. Several local coastal restaurants are celebrating Dungeness Crab on their menu’s. Here is just a sample of the local restaurants celebrating CRAB. (Please note we do not receive any compensation from these restaurants to be listed on the website.)

LUCAS WHARF RESTAURANT (707) 875-3522, 595 HWY 1, Bodega Bay, CA 94923
Crab Menu: Crab Cakes, Crab Sandwich, Crab Louie, Crab Boil Whole or Half, Cioppino and Steak Oscar.

River's End, 11048 Highwy 1 Jenner, CA 95450 | Tel: (707) 865-2484 ext. 111
Has a special Dungeness Crab Five Course Crab Dinner.

Jan. 19, Feb. 9 & 23, Mar. 9 & 23
Annual Crab Feed Series at The Tides Wharf, Bodega Bay. $59.95 plus tax & gratuity. The restaurant in Bodega Bay features chilled Dungeness crab, cocktail sauce, drawn butter, Tides' mustard sauce, clam chowder, pasta, green salad & French bread. Reservations are recommended. The series continues through March. Stay overnight! Special room rates are available at the Inn at the Tides, 800-541-7788. Located at The Tides Wharf Restaurant - 835 Coast Hwy. One in Bodega Bay. For more information call 707-875-3652.


We are blessed in Sonoma County to have such a talented group of artists. This holiday support your local art community by purchasing a holiday gift for a loved one from a Sonoma artist. There are lots of holiday art fairs, art gallery pop ups, art shows at galleries and art centers.

156 Main Street. December 8th to December 31st, 11am to 6pm.

282 S. High Street. December 7th to January 4th

17175 Bodega Hwy, Bodega. December 22nd to January 3rd

230 Lakeville St, Petaluma. December 8, 2018 – January 5, 2019

Dungeness Crab

There is something about Thanksgiving and Dungeness Crab. Yes I know it is also about the turkey. In Sonoma county the bounty of the first Dungeness crab harvest is a celebration of the sea. For recreation crabers like me I love grabbing some food at Spud Point Crab Shack and going out with my hoop crab pots. Baiting the pots, placing them in the water, grab some food and wait for the crab. One year we took our SoCal friends out for some crabbing. We teamed up with each team manning a hoop. My team wanted to tease so we raise our crab pot screaming we had crab. Well in the excitement of our fake out we did not look in the pot when we raise it out of the water. To our surprise we had two legal size crabs looking back at us.

The campgrounds are filled and the boat trailers lined along Westside drive.

For the commercial fishermen and women it is their lively hood. A delay in the crab season can financially wipe them out. I wish them a bountifull crab season. Stay safe out there!


Pazzo Marco Creamery in Gualala


On your trip through the Sonoma / Mendocino Coasts visit Pazzo Marco's Gelato Cart at the Surf market on Labor Day Weekend. Their products are also sold at Surf Market and on the menu at Timber Cove Resorts Coast Kitchen.

Pazzo Marco Creamery -

Makers of gelato and cheese!  What a combo.  Marco studied in Italy for several years, making gelato, and has now expanded to making cheese, along with his partner Paul.

Gelato: Pazzo Marco gelato is made from scratch in small batches beginning with farm fresh, local, organic milk from grass-fed Coastal Jersey cows. The milk is collected fresh from the farm just after the morning milking.

Monsieur Philippe – In the style of Manchego, this cheese is typically made with Sheep’s milk, we use local organic Jersey cow’s milk.

Madrone Grove – Our Alpine / Tomme style cheese. Mendocino Coast terroir: buttery, nutty, and grassy flavors. Made with local organic grass fed Jersey Cow’s milk. Aged 90+ days.

L’Amitié (Friendship) – Our Bloomy Rind Cheese and cousin of Camembert is made with local organic grass fed Jersey Cow’s milk.

Eureka Hill – This hard rind cheese is reminiscent to Italian table cheeses of the Vincenza region in the Dolomites.

Let's Go Fishing

Hailibut, Ling Cod, Salmon, Rock Fish - Pt Reyes to Elephant Rock and Bird rock.

Halibut was being caught off of Hog Island and Marshal areas of Tomales Bay. Jellyfish was bad from 70 feet out. Lawson's Landing reports fleet of boats fishing between the Tomales Bay outer buoy (02) and Elephant Rock in 50 to 90 feet of water.

King Salmon (Chinook)
King Salmon run from spring to fall with the season typically closing at the end of October. Peak time of year for salmon fishing is typically July.

Although Halibut is open year round, the most productive months are during the summer months from June thru September.

Various Rock Fish
Rockfish season starts in April and will go to the end of the year.

Ling cod
Lingcod opens in the spring and is typically open all the way through December.

ALbacore Tuna
Albacore Tuna can be caught in the late summer and fall months, but only if the warm water comes in close enough and has very distinct temp breaks and blue water.

White seabass
This elusive fish can show up in numbers one year and not the next. It all depends on if we have a good squid spawn, which means a good Seabass season. July thru September being the most productive.


A Wine Emergency

An hour before party guests were to arrive, the jeroboam of 2008 Melville Pinot Noir was finally being opened. Francesca expertly removed the heavy red wax covering the cork and then took a spiral corkscrew and went to work.

"Uh oh".  The cork was spongy and there was a neat hole in the middle where it had been pierced. Unfortunately, the cork was firmly in place and no standard corkscrew was ever going to get it out. "We need an ah-so". To need. That was us. We didn't have one.

Living rural, buying one from a store was out of the question. What to do? Ever thinking, Francesca recommended that we call "Rivers End", a local high-end restaurant with a nice bar. Perhaps we could borrow one. 

I was soon dialing their number and spoke to a cheerful hostess named Monica. I quickly went into 911 mode. "Hi my name is Lotus Fong, I live on xyz street and I have a wine emergency" I said emphatically. "I am in desperate need of an ah-so". After giggling a bit, she said they had one and I was welcomed to use it. Yay!

I bundled up the jeroboam in my arms and realized I had moved our cars far from our home that morning to make room for our guests. So, I went to my neighbors, knocked firmly at their door and explained the wine emergency. Neighbor Pamela did what all good thinking wine drinkers would do. She stopped what she was doing and drove me to the restaurant with haste. 

A few minutes later, with the proper tool in hand, the cork slid off and a delicious time capsule was finally opened. Success! Disaster averted! And yes, the wine was delicious and yes, we finished that bottle and several more. And yes, I've since purchased a two prong corkscrew.

Exploring the Flats

Yesterday afternoon, I gathered my new aluminum collapsible shovel, a bucket and some extra clothing and drove the short scenic drive to the Bodega Bay flats. With my new fishing license in hand, I put on my hot pink beach shoes and clambered down the rocks to the flats.  I was all ready to dig for clams.

Negative tide was still a couple of hours away but the flats were "dry". Walking on the sand several feet towards the bay, I sunk into the water-logged sand and my once dry feet were now squishy with ocean water. I loved it.

For company, there was a white egret and two chicks -a dinosaur family! A flock of godwits pecked at the water's edge looking for lunch and a few gulls patiently scanned the beach waiting for an opportunity.

Digging at the water's edge, I saw long, thin red worms, various dead crustaceans and once I found a rather odd looking worm with a dark jeweled stripe on its back. Whenever I dug a hole, it would fill with water almost immediately. A successful clamming day it was not. But what I did discover were orange tunicates, several jellies which had washed ashore and a rather large and beautiful red and black crab with arms raised and ready to fight. I found the pure joy of overturning rocks to peer into the world of small crabs. While I did find clams, I did find calm beauty and certainly, I will be visiting this world again soon. 

Remembering a Chardonnay

A month and now two has quickly come and gone since my last post. Vineyards, their fruit and most deliciously, their wine continues to absorb my attention. Feeling thirsty one afternoon, a neighbor kindly took me to the La Crema Estate at Saralee's Vineyard. From our coastal homes, we drove the scenic and windy River Road through little towns and great groves of trees that dot the riverside. Turning down one road and then another until we arrived at the winery with it's swooping vista of recently harvested vines. We entered the tasting room reserved for members with it's rich woods, old world feel, stunning views and pastoral art. But it was the tasting that was the fun. As always, we started with the light whites and then proceeded with the varying degrees of chardonnays and then to the pinots. I was undisciplined about the tasting. No notes but good conversation. And through the banter, the distractions, the pouring and the drinking, there was one wine that stood out - their Kelli Ann Chardonnay. Balanced with rich, baked fruit. It's a chardonnay with complexity and memory. That, I remembered.


Give Thanks By Helping Others

In the midst of non-stop fire chaos and increasing anxiety over what might be, my heart was torn ragged. The Sonoma fires started on a Sunday night. Six days later, it was still less than 50% contained. On Saturday, I left our home in Jenner at 7 am to volunteer at the Bodega Bay Grange where evacuees arrived through the day to gather supplies they would otherwise not have.

I thanked donors who traveled from near and far, hauled their donated goods, organized clothes and food, guided evacuees to food, clothes and blankets as well as help deliver food and medical supplies. Twelve hours later, we arrived at the safety of our home. Shoes off, feet up, I drank in a glass of alcoholic grape juice and reflected. Sure, I was really tired but most of all I was extremely thankful. Thankful to have a place called home, thankful to be able to make a difference, thankful for being part of an adopted tribe that was Sonoma Strong.

I was in humbled by the aching reminder that resilience and love is what moves us forward. Life is here today and gone tomorrow. So, what do we do with the moments we have?  To me this is not a rhetorical question. There is an answer. We give thanks by helping others. That's what we do with our moments. Or as my mother would say, remember those who have nothing.

A Time Of Great Sadness

The fires that have ravaged both Sonoma and Napa County is devastating. Many people have lost family, friends, pets, belongings, homes and businesses. On the Sonoma Coast we are caring for the evacuees who are coming here to escape the fires. Our local communities and charities have open their hearts and emergency shelter. Our local fire service, ambulances, sheriffs, CHP, and 1st responders have headed the call. We thank all of the people who have come to help from all over the state, country including our international communities Canada and Australia. If you would like to help our local Bodega Bay charity Waves of Compassion Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit. Any monetary contribution will go directly to help the fire victims.