News

Harvest Begins for Schramsberg Vineyards

Crews harvested 10 tons of Pinot Noir from the Richburg Vineyard and 12 tons of Chardonnay grapes from the Sisters Vineyard early Tuesday as harvest 2019 began for Calistoga’s Schramsberg Vineyards.

Mid-morning on Tuesday, Emrys Davies, 15, and his brother Hughie, 10, were on the crushpad with their young cousins and their father, Schramsberg vintner Hugh Davies, for the winery’s annual celebration marking the beginning of the harvest. It’s a tradition that Schramsberg founders Jack and Jamie Davies, Hugh’s parents, first began in 1965, just weeks before Hugh was born.

When asked, young Hughie couldn’t remember anything about prior harvest parties, although his cousin, Matthew Nelson, said he remembers a lot of people celebrating. And Emrys added he remembers stomping on the grapes when he was little. He also remembers his grandmother, Jamie Davies, who died in February 2008.

Later, after Hugh Davies spoke in English and Spanish to the crowd of about 50 people, Hughie was on top of the Pinot Noir grapes and jumped up and down, with his blue shoes on, crushing the grapes, while Brandy, a Golden Retriever, watched.

“This harvest will be a little smaller than last year, because the yields are expected to be smaller,” Hugh Davies said, adding that 2018 was “a monster year.” The 2019 harvest, judging by the picks done early Tuesday, will be “definitely lighter than last year, but closer to normal,” he said. “We’re planning to make a little less wine than we did last year.”

In 2019, Schramsberg is planning to harvest some 1,800 tons and is targeting 90,000 cases or maybe 95,000 cases, Davies said. “We selling about that much, so we should be making a little more to build a library, if nothing else,” he added.

Sean Thompson, director of winemaking, said he is expecting fruit from 10 new vineyards this year, thanks to the efforts of viticulturist Sam Rubanowitz, and for the first time will be crushing Chardonnay grapes from Anderson Valley. He introduced five of the six interns for this year, including Jack Davies, Hugh’s nephew and son of Bill Davies, Georgia Dale, Brian Hurley, Gita Mallya and Nathan Sneller. Michael Barrett was not present.

Hugh Davies addressed the interns and other vineyard workers present: “Thanks again for the hard work you’re about to do,” adding he expects the harvesting of grapes to go on for 10 weeks.

He also thanked the workers present, many of whom have worked for Schramsberg Vineyards for more than 40 years.

Davies admitted the start of harvest was about the same as last year, adding that both years were late. “Aug. 20 is a little late. Typically, I would say it is Aug. 14, so maybe we’re a week behind what would be normal.” In 2011, the first grapes were picked the first week of September, which he called “an extremely late harvest,” and in 2015, the first grapes were picked at the end of July. “It was a very low crop and the fourth year of drought conditions. It was early,” he said.

The grapes are brought in half-ton plastic bins, which Davies said are gentle with the grapes. “For the most part, the berries are unbroken and the juice won’t come out of the skins until it is inside the press,” he said, adding, though, that it’s impossible to have no juice at the bottom of the bin. Looking at the press, Davies added that even though it’s bigger than ones used in the past, it is part of a gentle process.

“We extract the juice fairly slowly,” with the press that was put in use in 1999, and “the amount of solids we get in our free-run juice today is minimal. It’s pretty nice and there’s a very crisp, polished feel to that free-run juice that is an improvement over where we would have been all those years ago,” Davies added.

The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were picked at 20 Brix, which is higher than normal for winegrapes used for making sparkling wine, but Davies said last week’s heat spike raised the sugar in the grapes. “We’ll be picking more tomorrow from the Richburg Vineyard,” he said.

Part of the harvest celebration tradition includes a group of winery employees using sabers to open bottles of Schramsberg Querencia Brut Rose. On Tuesday, seven people took sabers to the bottles of 2015 wines: Hugh Davies, Sean Thompson, Sam Rubanowitz, Jessica Koga, associate winemaker, intern Jack Davies and two enologists, Shawn McIlvenna and Mara Ambrose.

After the bottles were opened, they were poured onto the picked Pinot Noir grapes, seeking good luck for the harvest.

And, so harvest 2019 begins. As the back of one of the workers’ T-shirts said, “Eat. Sleep. Crush. Repeat.”

By: David Stonberg, editor@sthelenastar.com

Barneys Files for Bankruptcy, Plans to Close Most Stores

Barneys New York Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection with plans to close most of its stores and a $75 million financing package that would give the luxury retailer time to find a buyer.

The restructuring plan, filed early Tuesday morning, has Barneys, which operates 13 department stores and 9 warehouse stores, shutting down stores in Chicago, Las Vegas and Seattle. The retailer will continue to run seven stores, including its flagship Manhattan store, the company said.

The chapter 11 filing in the Southern District of New York indicates the company has more than $100 million in assets and more than $100 million in debts. The creditors include fashion houses such as Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Gucci.

The retailer, controlled by the New York hedge fund Perry Capital, struggled to navigate the rise of e-commerce and increase in rent which nearly doubled this year to $27.9 million from $16.2 million for their store in Manhattan. Barneys fought the rent increase but lost during an arbitration proceeding earlier this year, prompting the retailer to hire restructuring advisers.

The Wall Street Journal went on to say:

“Barneys Chief Executive Daniella Vitale said Barneys had been hurt by a broader downturn in retail as well as “excessively high” rent. Bankruptcy protection “will provide the company the necessary tools to conduct a sale process, review our current leases and optimize our operations,” she said.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday the company was close to filing for bankruptcy and near a financing deal with Gordon Brothers and Hilco Global, firms specialized in selling assets for distressed companies. The loan was expected to fund the company’s stay in bankruptcy for 60 days while it attempted to clinch a deal with a buyer, according to people familiar with the matter. If Barneys cannot reach a deal, it would liquidate, they said.

Barneys is much smaller than rivals Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, which each operate about 40 department stores. Barneys was carrying approximately $200 million in debt, the people said.

Barneys’ existing lenders Wells Fargo & Co. and TPG Sixth Street Partners, a credit investor partly owned by private-equity firm TPG, allowed the company to take the junior loan from Gordon and Hilco.

A number of potential buyers have expressed interest in the iconic chain but need time to complete their due diligence, some of the people said.

In recent months the company hired restructuring advisers and lawyers M-III Partners LP, Houlihan Lokey Inc. and Kirkland & Ellis to negotiate a restructuring and prepare a bankruptcy filing.

The filing marks the second trip through bankruptcy court for the retailer, which filed for protection from creditors in 1996. It avoided another bankruptcy in 2012 when Perry Capital, one of its lenders at the time, took majority ownership of the company in an out-of-court deal.

Barneys’ travails come as traditional retailers are struggling with the shift to online shopping and facing off against a host of technology-driven startups like Net-a-Porter, an online fashion seller, and The RealReal Inc., which lets consumers buy or sell secondhand luxury goods.

Department stores, in particular, have struggled to bring shoppers into their cavernous locations. Chains from Macy’s Inc. to J.C. PenneyCo. have closed hundreds of stores, and others, including Sears and Bon-Ton Stores, have resorted to bankruptcy filings.”

—Andrew Scurria contributed to this article.

Write to Soma Biswas at soma.biswas@wsj.com and Juliet Chung at juliet.chung@wsj.com

Housing Affordability in California: The Breakdown

Ability to purchase a median-priced home: According to the State Legislature in Q1 of 2019 only 28% of the population in Napa County can afford to purchase a median-priced home compared to Lassen county with 63% (the highest affordable county). A couple of others: San Francisco and Santa Cruz - 20%, Santa Clara - 23%, San Diego - 26% and LA and Mendocino - 27%. For any other counties of interest please contact me.

1 out of 4 homeless people live in California. The states with the largest increases from 2016-2017 are:

California - 16,136 (13.7%)

New York - 3,151 (3.6%)

Oregon - 715 (5.4%)

Nevada - 435 (5.9%)

Texas - 426 (1.8%)

The Minimum Annual Income Required During Affordability Peak (Q4 2012) vs. Current.

Region 2012 Q1 2019 Q1 %CHG

CA Single Family Housing $ 56,320 $ 114,860 103.9%

CA Condo/Townhomes $ 44,440 $ 94,690 113.1%

Los Angeles Metro Area $ 53,780 $ 107,110 99.2%

Inland Empire $ 35,170 $ 76,810 118.4%

S.F. Bay Area $ 90,370 $ 186,230 106.1%

US $ 32,000 $ 53,620 67.6%




















New Tenants Moving Into Ben Franklin Building in St. Helena

Four local tenants are moving into the newly renovated building between Sunshine Foods and Wells Fargo Bank.

A fitness studio, real estate office, physical therapy office and an unannounced food concept will occupy four spaces in the former Ben Franklin building.

What's Happening in Napa Valley in August & Hotel Deals

If you are going to be in Napa Valley or are interested in staying even just for a night or so here are some highlights of Wine Tasting, Festivals, & More:

Gary's Wine & Marketplace coming to St. Helena

Wine retailer Gary Fisch signed a lease Monday to open Gary’s Wine & Marketplace at the former Dean & DeLuca space in south St. Helena.

Fisch envisions a store “in the image of what Dean & DeLuca was in its early days,” except with more wine in the mix.

“Same concept, different name,” Fisch said.

The store, opening as soon as early September, will be the fifth under the Gary’s Wine & Marketplace brand. The other four are in New Jersey, two owned by Fisch and two owned by his wife, Liz.

Fisch is frequently one of the top bidders at the Napa Valley Vintners’ annual Premiere Napa Valley, which he’s been attending for more than 20 years.

“Spending more time in Napa Valley has been a dream of mine forever,” Fisch said. “This opportunity is allowing me to do it without retiring.”

Like Dean & DeLuca in its heyday, the new store will offer coffee and breakfast items, salads and sandwiches for lunch, charcuterie, cheese, olive oil, fresh-based bread, and light catering.

Fisch said it will offer “significantly more wine” than Dean & DeLuca ever did, focused on Napa Valley wine but also stocking a “hand-selected group of non-Napa wines” from regions like Burgundy, Alsace and the Loire Valley.

Advertisement (1 of 1): 0:10

“When you walk in, you’ll know you’re in the best wine shop in the Napa Valley,” Fisch said.

He also wants to offer a “concierge service” where customers can taste wine and arrange to visit particular wineries.

He called Dean & DeLuca an “iconic brand,” and he was sad to see it decline. When he visited St. Helena in May, the store was a shadow of its former self.

It didn’t close until early July, but by late May Fisch had already reached an agreement in principle with the family of the late Leslie Rudd to take over the space. The Rudd family continues to own the property even after Rudd sold the Dean & DeLuca brand in 2014 to Pace Development, a luxury real estate development company based in Thailand.

Fisch hopes to open in early September, as soon as the liquor license is in effect. On Tuesday, workers were starting cosmetic improvements inside the building.

When Fisch first visited the Napa Valley in 1979 as a sales rep for a New Jersey wholesaler, his first stop was at Louis M. Martini Winery.

“Forty years later we’re opening a store literally across the street,” he said. “For me it’s super-exciting.”

Article from Napa Valley Register

Highest Mortgage Rates in More Than 3 Weeks

Mortgage rates moved decisively higher this week as the underlying bond market finally began shifting gears.  After the Fed meeting in June, rates moved to the lowest levels in more than 2 years and had been holding in a narrow range since then.  The risks of a breakout were set to increase as the market digested several key events.  One of the most important of those events was this week's congressional testimony by Fed Chair Powell.  

Interestingly enough, Powell's testimony actually helped rates at first.  In the 2nd part of the testimony yesterday, there wasn't much of a market reaction.  Instead, it was stronger economic data and poorly received Treasury auction that pummeled the bond market.  As bonds weaken, rates rise. 

Not all lenders fully adjusted their rate sheets to reflect yesterday's market movement.  That means many lenders offered even higher rates on Friday despite the fact that the underlying bond market actually improved somewhat.  That leaves today's rates at the highest levels since before the Fed meeting on June 19th.


Loan Originator Perspective

Bond markets recovered a good portion of yesterday's pronounced losses, but we're far from out of the danger zone here.  Market sentiment has gone from bond-friendly to (at least) bond-neutral.  It's going to take a LOT to spur rates lower, and not much motivation for them to rise.  I'm locking loans closing within 45 days. -Ted Rood, Senior Originator


Today's Most Prevalent Rates

  • 30YR FIXED - 4.00%

  • FHA/VA - 3.625%

  • 15 YEAR FIXED - 3.5-3.625%

  • 5 YEAR ARMS - 3.375-3.75% depending on the lender

    Ongoing Lock/Float Considerations 

  • Early 2019 saw a rapid reevaluation of big-picture trends in rates and in markets in general

  • The Federal Reserve has been a key player, and while they aren't the ones pulling the global economic strings, their response (and even their EXPECTED response) to the economy has helped rates fall more quickly than they otherwise might.

  • Based on the Fed's laundry list of concerns, the bond market (which determines rates) will be watching economic data closely, both at home and abroad, as well as trade-related concerns. The stronger the data and trade relations, the more rates could rise, while weaker data and trade wars will lead to new long-term lows.

  • Rates discussed refer to the most frequently-quoted, conforming, conventional 30yr fixed rate for top tier borrowers among average to well-priced lenders. The rates generally assume little-to-no origination or discount except as noted when applicable. Rates appearing on this page are "effective rates" that take day-to-day changes in upfront costs into consideration.

Mortgage News Daily

Mendocino Coast’s 35th Annual Winesong! Announces Jackson Family Wines as Vintner of the Year

It was announced on July 2nd that “Jackson Family Wines will be honored as 2019 Vintner of the Year at Mendocino Coast’s annual Winesong. The region’s Vintner of the Year designation is always a highly-anticipated award, and is especially significant this year as Winesong celebrates its 35th anniversary as Mendocino Coast’s capstone event. Set along the picturesque Mendocino coastline, the beloved two-day festival will take place September 6th and 7th 2019, and is both a showcase of the region’s exquisite wines as well as special wines from Napa, Sonoma, Oregon and beyond. The weekend event offers a full entertainment experience, characterized by local wineries, breweries and cideries, as well as regional culinary vendors, fine art, music, and charitable giving.

Jackson Family Wines Chairman & Proprietor Barbara R. Banke said, “I am honored to be named Winesong’s Vintner of the Year. My family has grown grapes in Mendocino County for more than 25 years and we’ve long believed the wines stand among the best in the world. We’re proud to support the region’s premier event that also gives back to vital health services in the community.”

The Jackson family has long been committed to Mendocino County. They acquired the Edmeades Estate in 1988 after falling in love with the Anderson Valley’s rugged beauty and distinctive wines. In addition to making Edmeades wines, the family also owns and farms the Skycrest, Sable Mountain, Edmeades and Maggy Hawk estate vineyards in the Anderson Valley. Their Maggy Hawk wines are dedicated to showcasing the region’s nuanced and elegant Pinot Noir. Today, several wineries within the family’s portfolio of wines, including Hartford Family Winery, Copain, Windracer, La Crema and Kendall-Jackson, continue to craft world class wines from estate vineyards and other exceptional sites in the Anderson Valley.

Winesong is hosted by the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation, and has raised more than $8 million to date for improvements in local healthcare, including equipment, facilities and services at the Mendocino Coast District Hospital. The centerpiece of Winesong weekend is always the Charity Auction, which will take place Saturday, September 7th, featuring both a silent and live auction (Silent Auction: 11am–3pm; Live Auction: 2pm–5pm. Celebrated author, writer and former Winesong Auction Director, Norm Roby, will serve as Honorary Auction Chair. Roby founded the Charity Auction and has been its beating heart for 30 years, “I am happy to be back for the 35th anniversary to reunite with those who attend and contribute to my favorite event. I like to think I still keep the exclamation mark in Winesong!”

In addition to honoring Norm Roby and Jackson Family Wines, Winesong will also honor longtime donor Karen Bowers as its 2019 Artist of the Year. Nationally and locally recognized for her evocative watercolor paintings, Bowers’ artwork will be featured on the official Winesong poster – always a treasured commemorative keepsake for event attendees.

A Pinot Noir Celebration will kick off the weekend on Friday, September 6th (from 1-4pm) when guests will enjoy 35 outstanding wineries (in celebration of 35 years!) in an intimate setting at the Little River Inn (two miles south of Mendocino Village) accompanied by a taste of the Inn’s famous culinary delights. Tickets are $85 and can be purchased here.

The Winesong Wine & Food Tasting will take place Saturday, September 7th, from 11am–2 pm in Fort Bragg’s lush Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, featuring world-class wineries from Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, and beyond, as well as live music and regional bites from local gourmet food purveyors (see list of past wineries and epicurean participants here). 

Radio and television wine personality Ziggy Eschliman (aka Ziggy the Wine Gal from The Krush 95.9 FM) will build excitement as the newly appointed Auction Chair with lively bidding in the auction tents for nearly 200 live and silent lots, featuring spectacular wines from the world’s most prestigious wine producers, rare vintages, large format bottles plus special vertical and horizontal collections. Other auction highlights include original art from acclaimed California artists and photographers (including work by the renowned local photo-artists George Rose and Andy Katz), as well as highly coveted international wine getaway packages to South Africa, the Caribbean, and a six-night castle stay for up to six people in Mazzo di Valtellina, Italy, including a personal concierge to arrange comped private wine tastings, VIP historical tours, and a wine-paired dinner on Lake Como.

General Admission tickets are $150.00, and include a commemorative glass and plate, full access to the tasting & Silent Auction, and festival seating around the Live Auction tent. Auction Reserve tickets are $250.00 and include all of the above plus reserve seating, reserved parking and a commemorative tote bag, with wine and lunch in the Live Auction Tent. The Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation thanks ticket holders for their support of its hospital!

A full list of events along with ticket purchase information (including pre-sale) can be found at winesong.org/events/purchase-tickets/. Directions to all events can be found here, along with a generous Winesong shuttle schedule from a wide array of pickup/drop-off locations. For more ticket and logistical information, email ellen@mchfoundation.org.

About Winesong!

Winesong is an annual charity auction and wine + food tasting produced by the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation. Proceeds are used to enhance equipment, facilities and services at the Mendocino Coast District Hospital. The Diagnostic Imaging Center, Medical Evacuation Helipad, Out-Patient Surgical services and Emergency Department Equipment are just a few of the vital areas that Winesong funds have enhanced. Since 1985 Winesong has raised over $8 million for improvements in local healthcare.

Head to mchfoundation.org/about-us/what-we-support/ for a comprehensive list outlining previous years’ capital improvements funded by Winesong proceeds and donations from the Mendocino community.

About the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation

Since 1984 the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation has engaged in fundraising and community activities to provide support for vital equipment and services at Mendocino Coast District Hospital. The hospital’s unique rural locale presents an environment in which the provision of comprehensive hospital services and up-to-date equipment is a tremendous challenge. The Hospital Foundation exists to help the Hospital and our community to meet these challenges.
 
About Jackson Family Wines

Jackson Family Wines is a family-owned wine company with a penchant for exploration. Founder Jess Jackson placed his faith in farming and a meticulous expression of wine with his first landscape-changing vintage in 1982, an ethos that chairman and proprietor Barbara Banke, the Jackson family and the company’s employees continue to uphold to this day. The family’s collection of 40 wineries span significant winegrowing regions across the globe, from California, Oregon, France and Italy in the northern hemisphere, to Australia, Chile and South Africa in the southern half of the globe. Artisan winemaking underscores a steadfast commitment to making exceptional wines in the most responsible manner. The Jackson family’s focus on vineyard ownership remains key to consistent high quality and environmental stewardship for future generations. To learn more, please visit: www.jacksonfamilywines.com

Article from Wine Industry Advisor.


Is Mortgage Debt Out Of Control?

The housing crisis of the last decade was partially caused by unhealthy levels of mortgage debt. Homeowners were using their homes as ATMs by refinancing and swapping their equity for cash.

When prices started to fall, many homeowners found themselves in a negative equity situation (where their mortgage was higher than the value of their home). As a result, they walked away. This caused prices to fall even further.

Headlines are again talking about record levels of mortgage debt, making the comparison to the challenges that preceded the housing crash. However, cumulative debt is not an important data point. If we look at the debt as a percentage of disposable personal income, we are at an all-time low.

Here’s a visual representation of mortgage debt as a percent of income:Furthermore, according to a new report from ATTOM Data Solutions, more than 1-in-4 homes with a mortgage have at least 50% equity. The report explains:

Mortgage Debt.jpg

“[O]ver 14.5 million U.S. properties were equity rich — where the combined estimated amount of loans secured by the property was 50 percent or less of the property’s estimated market value — up by more than 834,000 from a year ago to a new high as far back as data is available, Q4 2013.”

Bottom Line

Unlike 2008, homeowners have a comfortable level of mortgage debt and are sitting on massive amounts of home equity. They will not be walking away from their homes if the housing market begins to soften.

Millennials Are Increasing The Demand For Condominiums

I know a lot about the Condominiums in St. Helena and Yountville in Napa County and have seen an uptick in the interest to purchases. Condominiums are more affordable in a lot of ways which makes them a great starter home, second home or downsize.

When deciding to buy a home, people are presented with many different options. The type of home you buy depends on your needs, budget, and in many cases, the desired maintenance level. For many millennials, their choice has been buying a condominium!

According to CoreLogic,

Last year about 43% of all condo home-purchase mortgage applications were submitted by FTHBs… Similarly, the data show condos were more popular with young homebuyers and empty nesters. For instance, 21% of all condo home-purchase mortgage applications were submitted by buyers aged 18 to 30, compared with just 17% of all single-family home-purchase mortgage applications by the same group in 2018.”

With home prices increasing year-over-year, it makes sense millennials are buying condos instead of a single-family house. As a result, the demand for this type of home has been increasing.As this graph explains,

The younger millennials are the largest cohort and are likely to drive much of the condo demand in the coming years”.

millennials and condominiums.jpg

Bottom Line

If you are a millennial considering buying a home, understand that there are many options available. You may find yourself in a condominium as your first home. If you would like to determine which type of home best fits your needs, sit down with a real estate professional that can help evaluate your options! I’m happy to help if you are in northern California.

kate.spadarotto@compass.com

c. 707.321.6231

11 Ways to Avoid Being Scammed

There are thousands of new scams every day, trying to get your money and/or your identity. Follow these tips to help protect you and your families.

If you are involved in a Real Estate transaction be aware of wire fraud. I have a disclaimer on the bottom of my signature stating: “If you receive an email / text providing wire instructions or requesting personal financial information that appears to come from me or any Compass representative, do not respond, send or wire any funds. Instead, call me immediately. Be advised such instructions may be fraudulent. To ensure authenticity contact the escrow/title company to verify the authenticity of the wire instructions. Do not call the number provided with the wire instructions. There have been instances of wire fraud in connection with real estate transactions, observe this protocol to protect yourself.”

These other tips are very helpful and were supplied by the Better Business Bureau:

  1. Never send money to someone you have never met face-to-face. Seriously, just don’t ever do it. And really, really don’t do it if they ask you to use wire transfer, a prepaid debit card, or a gift card (those cannot be traced and are as good as cash).

  2. Don’t click on links or open attachments in unsolicited email. Links can download malware onto your computer and/or steal your identity. Be cautious even with email that looks familiar; it could be fake.

  3. Don’t believe everything you see. Scammers are great at mimicking official seals, fonts, and other details. Just because a website or email looks official does not mean that it is. Even Caller ID can be faked.

  4. Don’t buy online unless the transaction is secure. Make sure the website has “https” in the URL (the extra s is for “secure”) and a small lock icon on the address bar. Even then, the site could be shady. Check out the company first at bbb.org. Read reviews about the quality of the merchandise, and make sure you are not buying cheap and/or counterfeit goods.

  5. Be extremely cautious when dealing with anyone you’ve met online. Scammers use dating websites, Craigslist, social media, and many other sites to reach potential targets. They can quickly feel like a friend or even a romantic partner, but that is part of the con to get you to trust them.

  6. Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether it’s over the phone, by email, on social media, even at your front door. This includes banking and credit card information, your birthdate, and Social Security/Social Insurance numbers.

  7. Don’t be pressured to act immediately. Scammers typically try to make you think something is scarce or a limited time offer. They want to push you into action before you have time to think or to discuss it with a family member, friend, or financial advisor. High-pressure sales tactics are also used by some legitimate businesses, but it’s never a good idea to make an important decision quickly.

  8. Use secure, traceable transactions when making payments for goods, services, taxes, and debts. Do not pay by wire transfer, prepaid money card, gift card, or other non-traditional payment method. Say no to cash-only deals, high pressure sales tactics, high upfront payments, overpayments, and handshake deals without a contract.

  9. Whenever possible, work with local businesses that have proper identification, licensing, and insurance, especially contractors who will be coming into your home or anyone dealing with your money or sensitive information. Check them out at bbb.org to see what other consumers have experienced.

  10. Be cautious about what you share on social media and consider only connecting with people you already know. Be sure to use privacy settings on all social media and online accounts. Imposters often get information about their targets from their online interactions, and can make themselves sound like a friend or family member because they know so much about you.


Joe Montana's Rustic Ranch in Calistoga FOR SALE for $3.1M

Access to this beautiful two legal parcel site, totaling 87.25 +/- acres, is over a private gated bridge entrance. The parcels boasts spectacular vineyard views, a lake, 11 stall breezeway barn with tack room, covered arena, round pen and ranch office with arena activity viewing, bathroom and storage. Also listed as MLS #21915527

Click here for more information!

Joe Montana's Rustic Ranch in Calistoga FOR SALE for $3.1M

Access to this beautiful two legal parcel site, totaling 87.25 +/- acres, is over a private gated bridge entrance. The parcels boasts spectacular vineyard views, a lake, 11 stall breezeway barn with tack room, covered arena, round pen and ranch office with arena activity viewing, bathroom and storage. Also listed as MLS #21915527

Bloomberg's Real Estate Report-The Housing Market and Affordability

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American was interviewed today on the podcast by Bloomberg Radio’s Denise Pellegrini and had positive things to say about the Housing Market. According to Mark Fleming:

  • Affordability is increasing and fastest in certain cities including but not limited to Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

  • Interest rates remain consistently low.

  • The labor market is improving.

  • Wage growth continues to grow.

  • House prices nationally, in our concept of real buying power adjusted terms, are 18% below the year 2000.

All of these bullet points bode well for millennials. We just have to be patient and allow them to get educated so they become future home owners.

15 Things to do in Napa Valley in July 2019

If you are planning on visiting the Napa Valley during the summer or fall months visit this site for a complete list which includes the following JULY events (for fees and more specific details please click on the links):

Now You Know! 5 Myths About Wine

This article was in Wine Spectator and too interesting not to share.

Misinformation on wine and health is all around us, so we talked to the experts (actual health professionals, not your aunt's friend's know-it-all neighbor) to separate fact from fiction, breaking down five of the most popularly perpetuated wine-and-health myths, and revealing the truth behind each.

Alcohol Kills Brain Cells

Though your brain may feel fuzzy after a couple glasses of wine, it's not actually a sign of cell death. Ethanol (the kind of alcohol found in wine, beer and spirits) does have the ability to damage cells, but the human body has ways of processing it to curb major long-lasting destruction, including in brain cells. Typically, what you experience after drinking are short-term symptoms, which will go away once the alcohol is cleared from your system.

What can happen when you drink, however, is the damaging of dendrites, which are extensions of nerve cells that carry messages between neurons. While this effect of alcohol, which was discovered in 1999 by scientist Roberta Pentney, can alter the structure of a neuron, it does not totally destroy cells, and is believed to be mostly reversible.

Of course, there are serious concerns when it comes to drinking and long-term brain health. Exposure to alcohol during critical periods of development (such as in the womb or during teenage years) can cause lasting damage, as can binge drinking during any stage of life.

Specifically, heavy drinkers are at risk for developing a neurological disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a chronic memory disorder that is caused by a deficiency of the vitamin thiamine.

On the other hand, recent studies have pointed to potential benefits of moderate wine drinking on brain health. As with most alcohol and health concerns, it appears moderation is key.

Verdict: False

Red Wine Is Healthier than White Wine

Red wine tends to get all the attention and praise when it comes to health benefits, mostly thanks to its polyphenolic content. Polyphenols such as resveratrol, quercetin and ellagic acid are all found in grape skins, and therefore are more abundant in red wine than in white. But while these compounds do have beneficial properties, they're not the only elements of wine that have health-boosting potential.

Whether red wine or white wine is "healthier" for you might depend on what aspects of your health you are focused on. A 2015 study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that while red wine drinkers enjoyed boosted levels of HDL cholesterol (the good kind), white wine drinkers enjoyed better blood sugar controls.

There is also still much to be discovered about the health benefits of both red and white wine. "Many studies indicate that the type of alcohol—red wine, white wine, beer or liquor—likely matters less, and that the alcohol itself is what drives these observed benefits," Dr. Howard Sesso, a researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told Wine Spectator in 2017.

Verdict: Not necessarily

A Glass of Wine Before Bed Is a Good Sleep Aid

Sure, drinking alcohol can make you feel sleepy, but it’s not a good idea to use booze to help you snooze. Thanks to alcohol’s sedative effects, a tipple before hitting the hay will help you fall asleep faster, and there is even evidence that some wine grapes contain high amounts of the sleep aid melatonin.

But that sleep is less likely to be restful and restorative. A study published in 2015 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research revealed that subjects who drank alcohol experienced an increase in deep sleep early in the night, but then experienced sleep disruption, greater numbers of awakenings and more time spent awake later on in the night.

While you probably won’t cause any major sleep problems if you drink moderately in the evening, it is not recommended to use wine as a sleep aid.

Verdict: False

Men and Women React the Same to Alcohol

A 5'9" 160-pound woman should be able to process three glasses of wine consumed over three hours identically to a man of the same proportions, right? Wrong.

Alcohol affects women and men differently, in ways ranging from metabolism to hangover recovery. This is why the U.S.D.A. Dietary Guidelines recommend up to two drinks a day for men and up to only one for women.

We've all been told that our body size plays a big role in the way alcohol affects us, and this is true. But it also has to do with our chemical makeup, which differs. For example, according to women’s health expert and author Dr. Jennifer Wider, women do not have as much alcohol dehydrogenase activity as men do, meaning they’re unable to process the same amount of alcohol before it reaches the bloodstream. This means women generally grow more intoxicated more quickly than men.

Verdict: False

Sulfites Cause Headaches and Hangovers

Sulfites are probably the source of wine's biggest myth. They're naturally occurring, and most winemakers also add supplemental sulfites to wine to help protect it against spoilage and oxidation. Sulfites are also frequently blamed for headaches and hangovers. But, according to science, this is not a fair accusation.

Per the FDA, only 1 percent of the population is sensitive to sulfites. And even if you are among the small set of people who do have reactions to sulfites, these substances are not to blame for your hangovers. Instead, they might cause an allergic reaction.

Though there is no one answer as to what, scientifically, causes hangovers, we do know that the severity of a hangover can be directly correlated to how much alcohol was consumed and how rapidly. Dehydration also plays a big role, as does the amount of congeners that a person has consumed through their beverages.

Verdict: False

By Lexi Williams June 25, 2019