Thursday, September 24, 2009

Part 1 of 4: SonomaValley Retail Tour


PART ONE of FOUR REPORTS:

A Sonoma Wine Country Tour, without touring even one vineyard or tasting a drop of wine—what a concept!

What the heck? You ask.

That's right, I was there to see rather than sip! I toured the retail scene for potential locations of future Cabana Home Stores.

I’ve been reading about various stores and designers from the Sonoma Valley, particularly in Healdsburg and Sonoma, so I took a road trip with Michael from our Cabana Home Mill Valley Store to see for myself.


So within moments of being picked up at the Oakland Airport, the smoggy city and distant step sister to San Francisco quickly gave way to the clear skies of the Sonoma Valley.





So far so good!

Soon the empty roadsides were filled with fields of grapes, then the vineyards with their imposing estate homes, and it became such a frenzy of where to look or even which way to go, that this sign was a perfect example of the anxiety that any oenophile must feel as they drive through this region.



Our first stop was Cornerstone Sonoma, a really interesting shopping experience that housed some of the coolest retailers in the region.





The project is located on a corner (true to its name), on Highway 121 outside of downtown Sonoma.
The project is distinguished by a “Flying Fence”, a white painted picket fence that, well, literally flies.


It’s where I saw my first Sonoma Grapes up close and personal. Actually, there is a vineyard painted at the back of the dirt parking lot, where we had been directed by the valet parker's, because the paved lot was full of attendees at a benefit garden festival.

Notice the leaves turning a fall color. That’s right, the harvest is upon us and will occur anytime between now and the next ten days.

The Corner Stone development is a very interesting mix of retailers. First of all it fronts a two lane highway close to nothing other than a corner filling station.
The tenet mix was varied, with a couple of garden stores, offices of a landscaped architect, an Asian antique store, an architectural salvage store, a Zen fashion store, a kitschy design store, an outdoor furniture designer and importer, several interesting restaurants and even a party facility that you can rent for events. They host corporate events and wedding's on the property in their adjacent vineyard.


The Giant open air party tent can be rented for private events. Notice the huge, one piece concrete table top on an iron base. The massive table is on wheel's so it can be moved out of the way after dinner to make way for dancing! The table is bar height and all of the chairs are bar stools.

THE STORES:

POTTER GREEN (by Nina Gerety, nina@pottergreen.com). There were actually two shops in two different spaces. The first was a garden type store with unremarkable fountains, garden planters, and over sized and under-styled furniture made with reclaimed lumber. Egad! But…
I’d heard great things about this store, and fortunately redemption of Potter Green was just across the courtyard in the main shop.
The owner is an importer of Asian furniture, and she has an exceptional eye for not only antiques but for excellent value.

CLOISONNE CANDLESTICK - What a great color on these cloisonne candlesticks, $880 for the pair. Idea: Make them into a pair of table lamps—they would be incredible!
Of particular interest was a four foot tall carved Buddha, priced at only $800. Something similar at one of the antique stores in Summerland or in Montecito would be priced in the $2,500-$4,000 range. Yes, the Asian imports were really a great value.


STEEL CHAISE SCULPTURE- Maybe not so comfortable to sit on, but a great piece of sculpture in the garden.
Potter Green also had the steel chaise lounge sculpture, above, and a handsome group of contemporary occasional tables.




Tomorrow, more on the great retail stores at Cornerstone Sonoma.


Good night moon!

1 comment:

Leann said...

Great blog.. love the shots as well.You should get in touch with the bizymoms Santa-barbara community to feature these on their page. It’s free and the moms will love them