Family Friendly Wineries


1. VJB

  Photo courtesy of: VJB

 Photo courtesy of: VJB

VJB Vineyards & Cellars is a welcoming family owned Tuscan-style villa encompassed with a tasting room, marketplace & deli, outdoor pizza kitchen, and a spacious piazza with a portfolio of over 15 wines to taste. VJB is located in Kenwood, right off of Hwy 12.

2.  M A T A N Z A S   C R E E K

 Photo courtesy of: Matanzas Creek

Photo courtesy of: Matanzas Creek

Matanzas Creek Winery is located in the Bennett Valley region of Sonoma County, surrounded by sustainably-farmed vineyards & lush lavender fields. Here, you can enjoy the delicious wine with a nice picnic under the Oak trees, play a game of bocce ball, or explore the estate grounds. Wines theyʼre known for: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay & Merlot.

3.  I M A G E R Y  E S T A T E  W I N E R Y

 Photo courtesy of: Sonoma and Napa Wine Country Tours

Photo courtesy of: Sonoma and Napa Wine Country Tours

Located off of Hwy 12 in Glen Ellen, Imagery is known for having “edgier wines.” While sipping wine in the tasting room, you can enjoy a variety of art & jewelry, or you can buy a bottle (or two) and enjoy a picnic outside on the large lawn & picnic tables, & play a round of bocce ball. Wines to try: Malbec, Tempranillo, & Lagrein.

4. T R U E T T  H U R S T  W I N E R Y

 Photo courtesy of: Truett Hurst Winery

Photo courtesy of: Truett Hurst Winery

Truett Hurst is located in Dry Creek surrounded by 26 acres, 15 of which are planted with Zinfandel & Petite Sirah. You can enjoy the wine in their tasting room near the dry creek, or on their beautiful patio with eye catching views of the valley. Take a walk with the kids and visit the goats, chicken & sheep that live on the vineyard. 5. V. Sattui Photo

5.  V.  S A T T U I

 Photo courtesy of: V. Sattui

Photo courtesy of: V. Sattui

V. Sattui is located in beautiful St. Helena, in the Napa Valley. They have a large tasting room, which is connected to their marketplace & deli, and 2 acres of picnic grounds surrounded by oak trees, flowers & vineyards. On the weekends, V. Sattui has weekend BBQʼs with made to order pizzas in their wood-fired pizza oven, ribs, salmon & tri-tip. V. Sattui also does daily tours, and food & wine pairings.


Blogger BBQ at 480 Fircrest

A couple of weekends ago we hosted six gorgeous Bay Area bloggers at one of our spectacular Mendocino County listings. Perfect for entertaining, this location is decked out with an amazing pool (and waterslide!), game room, outdoor kitchen, and amazing views!

Love it as much as I do? Please be sure to contact us if you’d like to stop by for a viewing. Thanks so much to the following influencers who came to hang out: Carlina from Allergic to Vanilla,  Alyson from The Beauty Vanity, Erika from Whiskey and Lace, Megan from Attn: To Detail, Emily from The Blonde Poptart, and Kat from Kat Walk SF. We had such a good time hosting you ladies!

The Wine Country Colbert Group 

For more information about this property, visit

Wine Country Dinner at Soda Rock

While Sonoma and Napa counties are well known for their spectacular vineyards, they’re known for their fresh farmed fruits and vegetables, too. That said, there’s absolutely nothing better than pairing a nice bottle of MacRostie Chardonnay with some delicious Laura Chenel’s goat cheese and crackers. 

Oh, and don’t forget that a beautiful tablescape is the best way to set the ambiance for your next dinner with friends or family! 

~ The Wine Country Colbert Group

March in Sonoma, the Best Vacation Destination from Money Magazine


Money Magazine names Sonoma as one of the best places to travel in March of 2017. Source: Money Magazine 

March: Sip and stroll in Sonoma, Calif.

Napa Valley may get more buzz, but Sonoma is just as beautiful—and hotels can be about 40% cheaper, even in this quiet shoulder season. Another plus: "You're more likely to chat with the winemaker in a tasting room and get prime reservations in popular restaurants" than during the summer, says Lauren Krause, owner of Beltane Ranch B&Band vineyard.

LOCAL'S TIP: Stop at the Dry Creek General Store, a local fixture in Healdsburg since 1881, for house-made pesto and fresh mozzarella panini ($10).

Read more here


Valentine's Day in Sonoma and Healdsburg

Romantic Restaurants in Sonoma and Healdsburg


The Girl & the Fig
"One of the best restaurants for fine dining on the Sonoma Plaza."

110 West Spain Street
Sonoma, CA 95476
For Reservations :
707.933.3000 ext 10


Saddles Restaurant, at MacArthur Place
"The place to go when you want the very best steak you can get." - Santa Rosa Press Democrat

29 East MacArthur Street
Sonoma, CA 95476
For Reservations : 


Della Santina's Italian

"A quaint Italian restaurant on the Sonoma Plaza."

133 East Napa Street
Sonoma, CA 95476
For Reservations : 


The Depot Hotel and Restaurant
"Rustic Italian cuisine in a
historic Wine Country setting"

Offering a Special Valentine's Day Dinner

241 1st Street West
Sonoma, CA 95476
For Reservations : 


Madrona Manor
"Stylish, high-end cuisine in a cozy, old-world setting."

1001 Westside Road
Healdsburg, California 95448
For Reservations : 


Romance is in the air at Valette on Valentine's Day, Chef Dustin Valette has created a 5-Course Tasting Menu in honor of this very special day.

Dinner is $85.00 per person plus tax and gratuity. An optional wine pairing menu will be offered for an additional $55.00 per person.

344 Center Street
Healdsburg, CA
For Reservations:


Dry Creek Kitchen
Spend a romantic evening with your special someone in Dry Creek Kitchen with picturesque views of Healdsburg’s town square. Executive Chef Scott Romano's menu highlights the best of local Sonoma County ingredients, featuring Short Rib and Sonoma Saveurs Foie Gras Raviolo and Liberty Farm Duck Breast. Six Courses | $105 per person | $75 optional wine pairing

317 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, CA 95448
For Reservations:


Seven Modern Kitchens for the Culinary Contemporist



Inspiring and minimalistic, modern kitchens have a subtle elegance that will never go out of style. From a refined design in Houston, featuring wooden panels and marble countertops, to a colorful one in the Hamptons, these seven kitchens are a study in contemporary elegance. Visit the Sotheby's Art of Living Blog . 


Holiday Events and Attractions in the Wine Country


Dec. 17
Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

on December 17th from 6-8:30pm.  Watch a magical parade of beautifully decorated boats stream into the Petaluma Turning Basin.

The Napa Valley Wine Train celebrates the return of the Santa Train.

Guests will embark on an all new musical and interactive journey to Santa's Workshop accompanied by some of Santa's best friends. Magical wristbands will transform the experience, while guests enjoy hot chocolate, and a cookie.

Santa Train Fare starting at $55.00

For more information, visit

The Nutcracker in Yountville

Performance Dates:

Sat, Dec 17, 2016 @ 2:00 PM
Sat, Dec 17, 2016 @ 7:00 PM
Sun, Dec 18, 2016 @ 2:00 PM

Seating and tickets:


Farm & Ranch | In a Modern Space


This is a good read about connecting modern home design with rural settings from the Sotheby's International Realty Extraordinary Living Blog. 

While most Farm & Ranch properties share defining categorical features, architectural style is something that can group homes into their own subset. In our first installment of Farm & Ranch, let’s take a look at the sleek, striking and modern spaces that have come to redefine the rural, Farm & Ranch lifestyle. Read the complete article here


Thanksgiving's Best Wine Pairings


Article source: the Food Network, written by
Stevie Stacionis, Wine Blogger

Thanksgiving: Ohh, sweet, delectable Turkey Day. I'm obsessed with this ultimate feast and the ever-swelling gathering of family and friends crammed into a too-tiny, hectic and utterly delicious-smelling kitchen. I adore the sight of hands everywhere eager to help prepare, stories being shared and everyone sitting down together to a veritable smorgasbord. And while this uniquely American holiday's history has given us a fairly good idea of what to eat, the question of what to drink is perhaps not so easily answered.

To start, let's get one thing out of the way: There's not a "right" or a "wrong" wine to slug with your stuffing — but there are wines that just might be more likely send you to sensory elation. So, where to start?

One of the most relied-upon "rules" of wine and food pairing is "If it grows together, it goes together." The idea is that wines and foods naturally evolved together as a whole regional cuisine. For example, you'd be more likely to find lots of fresh, crisp whites in a warmer-climate area adjacent to the sea than you'd be to find huge, dark, spicy reds (the former wines pair better with seafood than the latter). The concept isn't as easy to apply in modern-day America, but you can still relish the uniquely American spirit of Thanksgiving by drinking American wines. And my, oh my, do we have some good ones to choose from!

If it's a red you're after, I'd bet most heavily on a Pinot Noir. Lighter in body and softer on the palate than something like a Cabernet or a Merlot, California Pinot Noir's plush, easy berry fruit is just the right match for poultry and all your T-Day fixins. Pinot Noir from Oregon is also stellar — I find it has a touch more earthiness and a little less forward, juicy fruit than its sisters further south.

For whites, a fuller-bodied wine will stand up nicely to the rich dishes on your dining room table. A great California Chardonnay with a bit of toasty oak in it definitely fits the bill with its round mouthfeel and slight creaminess, which just begs for some buttery mashed potatoes and gravy. If you’re not a die-hard fan and usually dislike Chardonnay, ask your wine merchant for one that's un-oaked, which will allow more bright, appley and citrusy fruit to shine through while the grape's full body will still satisfy.

Alternatively, a wonderfully aromatic, lighter-bodied white with pronounced notes of fruit and flowers can act as an excellent contrast to the many savory, substantial foods of Thanksgiving. Washington state produces some excellent Rieslings (both dry and sweet, though I'd vote for dry and save sweet for pairing with pie), and the grape's naturally high acidity cuts nicely through the richness of the food. Gewurztraminer is another favorite: Highly aromatic with a touch of warm spice, the best ones are coming out of cooler-weather areas like Washington and Oregon. On the East Coast, look for any of the aforementioned grapes coming out of the Finger Lakes region of New York.

In the end, Thanksgiving is about celebrating our blessings. So whatever beverage ends up on your table, raise your glass and toast to the good things!

Read more at:


Cirque de Boheme at Cornerstone


Created in Paris during “les Années Folles” this is an old style circus based on the French tradition of the 1920’s filled with the promise of enchantment, thrill and wonder.  Cirque de Bohème  is an intimate gathering limited to 150-200 guests per show held under the charming french original circus tent.
Cirque de Bohème presents the circus performer as a human being, accessible to everyone, and uses the performer's circus skills to make connections by demonstrating the shared emotional experiences that unite us all.
Cirque de Bohème is a unique universe where one is transported, regardless of age, to a magical land full of adventure, innocence and wonder.

Shows will be held at Cornerstone, Sonoma, 
November 25, 26 & 27 and December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 2016

For tickets and more information,


Take a Gondola Ride at Sterling Vineyards this Fall


Article Source:

Watch the leaves change in late fall.
Perched 300 feet above the historic town of Calistoga, Sterling Vineyards offers brilliant wines and stunning panoramic views of Napa Valley. Sterling has been long been held as one of Napa Valley’s landmark “must-see” wineries. Upon arrival, climb aboard the only one of its kind, an aerial gondola to soar up to the top of the hill. Greeted with a glass of wine, begin your journey from grape to glass as you walk through the terraces tasting the current release wines. While taking in the stunning views of the South View Terrace, savor a glass of delicious Sterling wines, perfectly paired with one of our delightful cheese and charcuterie platters for two.
Read the article here



Sonoma County Pumpkin Patches



As Sonoma Wine Country sets into the fall mood, the mornings have a crispness in the air but the days still turn warm. Summer warm. The leaves are just starting to turn, the grapes are being harvested, apples are still being picked, and picturesque fields are given over to pumpkins.

Family farms feature a variety of gourds for your autumnal mood and Halloween creations. You could find a kid fest, a down home farm experience, do a little wine tasting, and find the perfect pumpkins for your seasonal decor.

Most pumpkin patches are open through October. Check their websites for different September start dates.

View the list of Pumpkin Patches here


Your 2016 Guide to Sonoma County Harvest Parties


It's the best time of the year in the Wine Country, the Fall Harvest season is finally here. This article from shares some of the area's best events happening this month. 

Harvest time in Sonoma County, known to the locals as “5th Season,” is perhaps the most celebrated time of year in wine country. Wineries bring out new wines, throw parties, and host delightful farm-to-table feasts prepared by celebrated chefs in idyllic, autumnal locations. We’ve compiled a group of events custom tailored to the Sonoma wine enthusiast. 

Harvest Celebration at Matanzas Creek

Matanzas Creek Winery
September 10, 2016
2 p.m. – 4 p.m. 
6097 Bennett Valley Rd
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
(707) 528-6464 

Tucked away in the outskirts of Santa Rosa on a Bennett Valley hillside, Matanzas Creek Winery is one of Sonoma County’s hidden gems, offering world class Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc made from grapes grown nearby. Matanzas Creek hosts its annual Harvest Celebration on September 10th, featuring appetizers, live music, and of course, fabulous wine. Entry is $25. 

Insider tip: Enjoy the celebration, then head over the hill and treat yourself to a delicious meal at the Fig Café in nearby Glen Ellen. The Pan-Seared Flounder pairs well with the Tangent Viognier. 

2016 Sonoma Valley Crush

Various Locations
September 16 – 18, 2016
11 a.m. – 4 p.m. , $10-$35
Kenwood & Glen Ellen, CA 

Head over to the Sonoma Valley for a weekend of immersion in enology and viticulture. Wine lovers will get the opportunity learn all about how wine is made, can sample fermenting wine, and get hands-on experience with wine making equipment. Wine makers will be onsite to answer questions, and each ticket garners a souvenir wine glass. Tickets run from $10 to $35 

Insider tip: Let someone else drive. With so much fabulous wine to taste over three days, we recommend putting up the extra $10 for a designated driver. 

Kendall-Jackson 20th Annual Heirloom Tomato Festival

Kendall-Jackson Winery
September 24, 2016
11 a.m. – 4 p.m. 
5007 Fulton Rd
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
(707) 571-8100 

Come celebrate the “other” favorite fruit at Kendall-Jackson’s 20th Annual Heirloom Tomato Festival. Celebrity chefs will prepare tomato-based edibles and compete for the Critic’s Choice, with guests acting as the benefactors of the contest. Other highlights include fantastic food and wine pairings, seminars, and live music. General admission is $95; premier access can be had for $175; and dinner costs $225. 

Insider tip: Show up a day early and get tickets to the Friday evening farm-To-table dinner prepared by “Top Chef Masters” winners and served in the Kendall-Jackson Estate Gardens. Proceeds from the dinner benefit the “No Kid Hungry” foundation. 

Read the complete Harvest Season Guide
from Here


The Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival


The 40th Annual Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival is this weekend, September 10th and 11th, in Guerneville on Johnson's Beach. 

For the last 39 years, music festivals have been a vital part of the Russian River community, and Omega Events is proud to have owned the festivals for the last 10 years. Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville offers a picturesque venue that rests along the beach of the Russian River, only a few miles from over 100 wineries. Music lovers have enjoyed a stellar history of acts, including the Doobie Brothers, David Sanborn, Al Jarreau, Dr. John, The Neville Brothers, Etta James and many more.

For tickets and more information, visit


Take a Drive North to Ukiah for food, fun and spiritual respite


You don’t have to drive very far north on Highway 101 to find the hidden charms of Small Town USA.From the newly renovated movie theater in Cloverdale to the family wineries of Hopland and ethnic restaurants of Ukiah, the Redwood Empire has been reinventing itself while staying true to its wild and, oftentimes, unconventional roots.“In the 1960s, there were hippies, homesteaders and cults,” said Craig Strattman, the former chef of Healdsburg’s Chalk Hill Winery who has opened two restaurants in Ukiah in the past 13 years. “People came here to get closer to the earth and to commune with nature.”An overcast day provided the backdrop for a leisurely drive up to Ukiah, with stops at hidden gems such as Campovida Winery (the former Fetzer Vineyards Valley Oaks Ranch) and the City of 10,000 Buddhas in Talmage, one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in Northern California. Although only 61 miles from Santa Rosa as the crow flies, this relatively short journey provided a glimpse into another world and offered a taste of nature on a grander scale, accompanied by spiritual and physical respite.Here’s a few places you may want to check out along the way.CloverdaleThe sleepy village of Cloverdale has a couple of places to get a cup of Joe in the morning, with even more are on the way.At Savvy on First, which opened in 2013, chef/owner and Sonoma County native Kristine Bodily-Gallagher has created a cozy cafe and neighborhood gathering place where you can grab a fresh pastry and a cup of coffee Wednesday through Friday mornings or brunch on weekends. They also serve salads and sandwiches for lunch, and dinner on Thursday through Saturday.“We make everything ourselves, including the bread,” said waitress Maria Scalese, a Cloverdale native. If you enjoy kayaking or fishing, Scalese suggests taking a side trip to the northern shores of Lake Sonoma and the Yorty Creek Recreation area, which comes with a boat ramp and barbecue pits.Coffee is also one of the main reasons to visit Plank, a hipster coffee shop where you can meet the locals or just set up your laptop. The coffee bar is owned by Mike Morisette and Marne Dupere, who also run the adjacent farmers market on Tuesday afternoons and 14 Feet, a boutique on the other side of Plank that sells vintage and modern home furnishings.Christy Anne Latchford, who works at 14 Feet, said the town offers plenty of places to stretch your legs and hike, including a walk along the Russian River just east of town, where you’ll find a paved trail that’s just a three-mile jaunt, round trip.New stores have also started popping up, including Bolt, a fabric store geared to quilters that also offers some unique gifts for the home.Along with massage therapists, Cloverdale tends to attract all kinds of artists who show their work at the Cloverdale Arts Alliance and along the Sculpture Trail, which stretches from Geyserville to Cloverdale.“We have a new (sculpture) installation,” said Mark Tharrington, executive director of the Cloverdale Arts Alliance. “I think it gives the town a good vibe, and you can stop and look at it.”Tharrington also books the bands for Friday Night Live concerts in the summer, which ends on Sept. 2. The alliance also hosts a Jazz Club concert the first Thursday of the month and a Blues Session the second Saturday.“Cloverdale is getting some traction right now,” Tharrington said. “It’s busting loose. There’s a natural foods store going in, and the Trading Post is a big deal.”In the works for several years, the only existing portion of The Trading Post Market is its bakery (warning: hours are 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday), with the restaurant expected to open soon. Chef Erik Johnson of J Vineyards has been tapped for the job of creating the casual restaurant’s comfort food menu.In addition to mainstays like Pick’s Drive-In and the Hamburger Ranch, you can grab lunch or dinner at Cloverdale Ale Company’s Ruth McGowan’s Brewpub, which features $3 tacos on Tuesdays and live music on Saturday evenings.Cloverdale residents are extremely proud of their movie theater, The Clover, which offers a scoop shop and comic book store in its lobby. Owners Kathryn and Ryan Hecht moved from Brooklyn to reopen the cinema four years ago and are gradually renovating the historic theater into a first-rate venue.HoplandWhile Cloverdale is without a single wine tasting room, you can find plenty of fermented grape juice just up the highway in the small but energetic hamlet of Hopland.Hopland is also home of the Real Goods/Solar Living Center, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this summer. The center includes educational exhibits and a retail outlet for sustainable goods like solar ovens and food dryers, plus you can wander through the certified organic garden, take a tour and even camp on a limited basis. It’s a great place to take the kids and give them a taste of holistic living.If you don’t have the rug rats along, then be sure to stop at one of the many small, family wine-tasting rooms in Hopland, such as César Toxqui Cellars at 13500 South Highway 101.Toxqui went from laying bricks to counting brix when he became assistant winemaker at Brutocao Cellars. Later, he launched his own brand, sourcing grapes from Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties for his eponymous line of biodynamic wines.With his son, Hugh Oliver, he makes a refreshing blanc de noir sparkler and a fruity Immigrant Zinfandel.“At one point in our lives, we all were immigrants,” he said. “Just open a bottle and enjoy what America has become.”Other interesting wine-tasting stops in Hopland include the Graziano Family of Wines, which specializes in Italian and unique Old World varietals; and Saracina, owned by organic and biodynamic pioneer John Fetzer.Just east of town, drop by Campovida’s winery and gardens at the former Fetzer Vineyards Valley Oaks Ranch on Old River Road. This iconic winery, garden and culinary center, developed during the heyday of Fetzer Vineyards in the 1980s and ’90s, has been revitalized and renovated under new ownership, offering lush gardens alongside its wine and olive oil tasting.To get into the garden, you need to pay for a tasting ($10 for six wines plus olive oil) or buy a bottle of wine, but it’s worth it to stroll along the pollinator gardens, listening to the sounds of Stellar Jays and woodpeckers while watching butterflies flit amid the roses. On Saturdays at 11 a.m., you can taste and tour the garden with garden master Ken Boek (reservations recommended).If you’re hungry, the winery’s sister property, Piazza de Campovida pizzeria and taverna in downtown Hopland, will sate your appetite with an interesting array of small plates, salads, pizzas and large plates from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. And there are a few rooms there as well for overnight guests.TalmageFrom Campovida Winery, you can follow Old River Road north, past vineyards and old pear orchards, to Talmage and the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, a Buddhist monastery launched in 1976 on the grounds of the former Mendocino Mental Hospital.In addition to an elementary and high school, there are university-level programs on the grounds at the Dharma Realm Buddhist University. Several families of peacocks also roam the grounds, and their loud, calls echo through the 700-acre property with piercing and haunting regularity.Most visitors drop by to enjoy lunch at the Jyun Kang restaurant, which serves all-vegetarian Chinese cuisine, including appetizers, soups, noodle dishes and fried rice, all at bargain prices. You have to pay with cash, and no alcohol is served.David Hall and Nikolas Pelekis of Santa Rosa stopped by the restaurant on their way to visit Orr Hot Springs outside of Ukiah and were shocked by the strange, otherworldly ambiance emanating from the grounds.“You hear the peacocks, and their cries are coming from everywhere,” Pelekis said. “I felt that I had entered their area, and they were hunting me ... in a good way.”UkiahIf vegetarian fare is not your thing, there are plenty of dining choices in downtown Ukiah. Chef Ari Rosen, owner of Scopa and Campofina in Healdsburg, grew up in Ukiah and highly recommends Oco Time, a California-Japanese restaurant, and the take-out tacos at the Chavez Supermarket across from the airport.Strattman opened Patrona restaurant across from the courthouse on Standley Street more than a dozen years ago, and since that time, the neighborhood has come back to life with all kinds of trendy boutiques and eateries.A year ago, Strattman also opened the Asian-inspired Chop Chop restaurant just down the street, serving Tiki drinks plus exotic fare ranging from Korean Tacos to Bahn Mi sandwiches. On Thursday nights, you can get a John Ford Beef Burger and a pint for $12.There are also plenty of places to grab a beverage in Ukiah, from the urban, hipster coffee drinks at Black Oak Coffee Roasters on North State Street to the Mendocino Brewing Ale House on Airport Park Boulevard, home of the famous Red Hawk Ale, Peregrine Pilsner and Black Hawk Stout.Germain-Robin, a craft brandy distiller in the Redwood Valley, makes world-class brandies, liqueurs and grappa. As American Craft Whiskey Distillery, it also makes whiskey, and as Tamar Distillery, it creates hand-crafted gin and vodka.You can taste the renowned German-Robin spirits on Monday through Friday, but you need to call to make a reservation the day before at (707) 468-7899.There area also plenty of wineries, including Rivino, located on the Russian River just south of the downtown. The 100 percent estate family winery hosts a lively happy hour on Fridays, with live music.If you’re looking to get into the country, grab a picnic from the Ukiah Natural Foods Coop — a community gathering spot celebrating 40 years — and head out towards Lake Mendocino to the Shakota Trail or commune with the old-growth coast redwoods at Montgomery Woods on Orr Springs Road, about 30 minutes from Highway 101.If you’re into music, Mendocino College offers live concerts, and several music stores sell used CDs, old guitars and ukuleles. You might even run into Windham Hill guitarist Alex di Grassi, a resident of Ukiah, or blues guitarist Robben Ford, who was raised there.The naturally carbonated waters of the historic Vichy Springs Resort, which flow from six miles under the earth, are open to guests of the hotel as well as to outside guests who purchase a day pass.Like the famous Vichy baths of France, the bubbly “champagne” water is renowned for improving circulation, softening the skin and creating an aura of warmth and peacefulness. When consumed, its alkalinity is believed to heal a wide range of acid-based ailments, from gout to ulcers.In addition to the bubbling bathtubs, Vichy Springs includes an Olympic-size swimming pool, a hot pool and 700 acres of walking and hiking trails.Staff writer Diane Peterson can be reached at (707) 521-5287 or On Twitter @dianepete56. Visit Campovida in Hopland to stroll through organic show gardens, and taste some wine and olive oile. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat) Kristine Bodily-Gallagher is the owner of Savvy on First, in Cloverdale. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Art Collecting 101 from Sotheby's International Realty

Insider Tips on How to Get Started (on Any Budget)

  Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s, featuring Elizabeth Pisano.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s, featuring Elizabeth Pisano.

Source: Art of Living Sotheby's International Realty

You don’t have to be a gallerist to know that walls look better with art on them. But many people find the art world intimidating, auctions daunting, and works of art way, way, wayyyyyy too expensive.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. We talked to Sotheby’s American Paintings Specialist Elizabeth Pisano for her insider tips. On the eve of their online auctions, she gave us the lowdown on art collecting, how auctions work and advice for finding pieces you love, even if you’ve only got a few hundred bucks in your bank account.

  William James Morley Clayton, Americana / Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

William James Morley Clayton, Americana / Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.


Got $50? Then you can start a serious art collection.

Even Sotheby’s, one of the largest, most established auction houses in the world has affordable works of art. Bids for their current online auctions start as low as $50. “It’s a really great opportunity for young collectors who don’t necessarily have the means or desire to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get really high-quality interesting pieces,” says Pisano.

Let yourself get caught up in the excitement.

Ever seen an auction portrayed on a TV show or in a movie? That’s not too far off from how they actually are. “There’s a lot of excitement in the air. The auctioneer keeps the pace up really well and it’s just a fun event to be a part of,” Pisano explains. Don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated by the thought of an auction. Be sure to do your research ahead of time, set your budget, then enjoy yourself.

See works in person before purchasing.

“The emotional connection you have to something is really about standing in front of it,” Pisano says. Even if you’re planning on buying a piece online, try to see it in person first. Both of Sotheby’s online American Art sales are actually on exhibition for the course of the auctions, so if you’re in New York, you can check them out before you place your bid.

Buy what you love, not what you think you should own.

“I think the number one mistake people make is buying something they think they should buy as opposed to buying something they actually want to own and live with,” says Pisano. Listen to your gut reaction. If you discover a piece and feel moved by its every detail, then it’s a good buy. It doesn’t matter if it’s worth something to anyone else.

An investment doesn’t mean blowing all your money on one “important” piece.

“A collection can be serious in a lot of different ways. It can be serious because you know so much about it and it’s a big part of your life, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to its monetary value.” Start small and purchase pieces that have personal value to you, not those that have dollar sign value to the art world at large. Art world tastes and valuations can be fickle, so be sure to buy something you love.

  Shirl Goedike, The Arena Crowd, Madrid / Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Shirl Goedike, The Arena Crowd, Madrid / Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.


Introduce yourself to the art of collecting through emerging artists.

Don’t have to have unlimited funds to start an art collection? Pisano recommends getting your foot in the door by exploring the work of emerging artists. “Lesser known artists, those that don’t have as big of an auction track record tend to be less expensive.”

If you must go big, go with safe buys.

“Right now, I would say the strongest component of our market are the American modernists,” Pisano says. “Big names like Georgia O’Keefe and Arthur Dove, semi-abstract pieces and those with bright graphics seem to be what people want right now.”

Everyone may want the Richard Prince piece, but it’s important to remember that contemporary artists draw incredible influence from those who came before them. “The most famous, well-known, and highest valued contemporary artists were often influenced by and looking at older American artists,” Pisano remarks. So do a little research and you may be able to find a similar work in a different market.

  Vincent Jannelli, Cityscape with Airplanes and Dirigibles / Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Vincent Jannelli, Cityscape with Airplanes and Dirigibles / Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.


Visit your local galleries and determine what speaks to you.

“One of my favorite things to do is wander around the city and pop into small galleries and stores. Just because something is inexpensive or you find it an unexpected place doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value or it won’t have meaning to you,” says Pisano. “Learn all you can, read about what’s going on in terms of arts and culture where you live and I think you’ll find that it’s not that difficult to seek out awesome things. I just think as a base line you should buy the art that attracts you. You really can’t go wrong if that’s the rule that you live by.”

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