There is no ‘e’ in blight; Hotel Depot News; pot champion; and more – Sonoma Sunshine


Posted on July 1, 2022 by Sonoma Valley Sun

There’s something a little quirky about The Sonoma Cheese Factory, namely the “E” in cheese, on the building’s sign. The venue is a major draw, perched on The Plaza. And there’s certainly been plenty of time to fix (at nominal cost; that’s no neon sign) the blight bit. But, and this is true of his many other neglected properties around the valley, owner Ken Mattson doesn’t really care how embarrassed the town is. Lately, the gorilla campaign to “Put the E back in the cheese” has emerged, complete with a pop-up banner, and of course the yellow-painted guy carrying a protest sign. For Pride Month, there was even a Rainbow E, a commentary on the Mattson family’s views on gay rights. He was last seen in the company of General Vallejo, who was watching the building from his permanent post across the street. At this point, the General might be easier to move than the Mattson company.

Nearby, a kind of entertainment at the Depot Hotel & Restaurant, which Mattson bought and closed nearly two years ago. It’s reopened for take-out and self-service dining, with a pared-down menu. (Former owner Gia Ghilarducci and her son Michael, the former chef, are not involved.) The name has been changed to The Depot, so if the other letters fall out of the way, no big loss.

Sonoma’s 4th of July Parade is themed ‘Honoring Our Frontline Workers, and Grand Marshals will be workers from the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center, including CEO Cheryl Johnson and Outreach and Events Coordinator Maricarmen Reyes…While we live our best lives without a mask, Covid is spreading rapidly in our community, says John Hennelly, CEO of Sonoma Valley Hospital. “It is infecting and re-infecting residents at an alarming rate.” Fortunately, the rising infection rate has not led to a dramatic increase in hospitalizations, he says, and SVH is ready to respond. Meanwhile — and ironically — federal relief funding to Sonoma County ends on July 1. To start, 20 staff members will be cut from the county’s COVID response unit. Bottom line: keep those masks (and protest signs, if that’s you) handy.

Agoston Haraszthy is widely recognized as the father of California viticulture, but it was an Amerindian, baptized Viviano, who planted and maintained the vines. He probably also owned the first vineyard in the valley (near Fourth Street East and Spain) as the first commercial grower. On May 15, the Native Sons of the Golden West dedicated a plaque to Viviano to recognize her contribution. “I am very happy to see Viviano, an almost completely unknown Native American, receiving recognition for his work in the 1830s,” said Dr. Peter Meyerhoff, who did much of the research. The plaque is temporarily on display at Depot Park Museum, pending permanent placement. Meyerhoff said Viviano’s previously unrecognized work “more than qualifies him for this honor in the Sonoma Valley, which is proud of its history and winemaking heritage.”

Glen Ellen-style, Mike Benziger went from vines to marijuana plants. Glentucky Family Farm won a gold medal – for a variety called “La Bamba” – at the inaugural California State Fair Cannabis competition. “To say we’re thrilled would be an understatement,” Benziger said. “Ironically, this award comes 40 years after our Glen Ellen winery won its first wine award at the Sonoma County Fair. What an evolution!

Nationally, the bar for political candidates is quite low. They seem mean, vengeful, and not very smart (looking at you, Georgia). So if you live in Sonoma and can speak in full sentences, you’re already viable by comparison. The City will fill three seats on City Council in the November 8 election. The filing period begins July 18 at Sonomacity.org/elections/.

The current city council has voted to extend the secure parking program indefinitely which allows overnight parking/sleeping in the police station parking lot on West First Street. Sonoma Overnight Support advocated for the extension, and its drive-in customers will continue to have access to showers and laundry at The Haven, and meals at Springs Hall.

Judy Drinkhall took to social media to comment the sad state of the butcher’s shop after the young man behind the counter told him he couldn’t carve his whole chicken. He didn’t know how. “That must be why they call it Whole Foods.”