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Celebrate Sonoma County Strong

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(Gerry Furth-Sides) Sonoma County people, survivors who remain strong, brought me to tears with their thoughtfulness when they sent me a holiday package of Carol Shelton wine, VOLO chocolate, whimsical socks and a pouch reading: What’s Your Passion.   Clearly their’s is a several generations old tradition of smart, savvy and spectacular products — while the artisans make it look like so much fun.

Sonoma wants everyone to know that the fires did not hinder them and visitors are more than welcome!


Here is the update 2018 news

What’s Old: Gundlach Bundschu celebrates 160 years.  Just east of the town of Sonoma, it’s California’s oldest family-owned and -operated winery.  Dutton-Goldfield Winery will celebrate its 20th harvest. For details about these and other anniversaries, read Sonoma County milestone celebrations 2018.

Find out what’s new in Sonoma County wineries, restaurants, and communities, including a brand new American Viticultural Area. For a free visitors guide or information on hotels, wineries, events, spas, attractions, and dining in Sonoma County, visit www.sonomacounty.com or call 707-522-5800 or 800-576-6662. For a complete calendar of upcoming events, visit www.sonomacounty.com/sonoma-events.

Carol Shelton has been Mastering the Zen of Zin since 1978. Focusing mostly on her favorite varietal, Carol is a guru of single vineyard Zinfandel. California has been the home world class Zin for over a century, making it the benchmark varietal of American wine culture.

Carol & Mitch Mackenzie, her husband and business partner, have sought out exceptional vineyards throughout California.  Many of her vineyard sources are organically grown and decades old.


She develops close partnerships with each grower to ensure her wines maintain and express the unique terroir of the vineyard.

Based out of an industrial park in the city of Santa Rosa, Carol continues to meticulously hand-craft her wines with a combination of experience, creativity, and passion. Each of Carol’s Zinfandel wines receives its own whimsical and memorable name.

We just tried the wonderful young, fruity 2014 KARMA RESERVE – with an Indian Chicken dish!  Reserve is Carol’s nickname for the wonderful Reserve Zin she makes from the Rockpile appellation.

Award-winning Carol has won Winemaker of the Year five times, has countless gold medals for her wines and was named one of eight Pioneer Women Winemakers of Sonoma County in 2005 and being named in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2014.

VOLO (https://volochocolate.com) chocolates make the perfect complement to the wines. After 16 years of owning  premier Wine Country restaurant, Zin,  in Healdsburg, Ca. and being co-chefs at a boutique resort near Todos Santos in Baja, Mexico Susan and Jeff  jumped at the opportunity to make chocolate.

The delicious results run deep with  flavor.  Candied Orange Peel is a perfect example.  It is one of the most popular sellers in the year-old VOLO Chocolate business in Windsor, in Sonoma County.

The couple’s taste for Mexican chocolate is in every bite of the intense flavor, distinctive salt and spice notes.  And it is purposely compatible with savory ingredients.

Their particular Cacao or Cocoa Bean, sourced from the state of Chiapas, has been grown in Mexico for 1000’s of years.  Co-workers from various parts of Mexico had also honored them by generously entrust beloved family recipes to them.

The beans are carefully roasted to bring out their rich flavors of this 73%  cocoa to make their “deepest, darkest” chocolate bar.  Organic Unrefined Sugar is balanced by a pinch of Sea Salt before being molded into 2.5 ounce/72 gram bars.

Jeff and Susan candy the orange peel themselves using oranges from artist Cathy Shanahan’s trees in Healdsburg.  An inherent caramel and cocoa flavor, is backed by a  hint of orange citrus and nuttiness.

“We approach it from the standpoint that it’s a food and not a candy,” said Susan.  Any way you describe the bars, they are scrumptious.


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Gerry Furth-Sides

Gerry Furth-Sides

Content Editor/Columnist

Photo-journalist Gerry Furth-Sides has been covering the ethnic and American culinary scene in California since it first came into prominence 25 years ago.