Nicki’s Blog

Charles M. Schulz Museum in Sonoma County: A Mecca for Peanuts Fans

The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center can be found right here in Sonoma Country. I just love the Peanuts gang, especially Snoopy whose antics remind me of my crazy corgi, Ellie. For more than sixty years, this group of precocious, angst-ridden children has situated themselves into our national consciousness. That’s why the museum honor [...]

Sonoma County Art Trails

Sonoma County Art Trails
As I mentioned in a previous blog, locals and visitors alike are invited to enjoy the abundance of creative talent Sonoma County has to offer by visiting working professional studios of the Sonoma County Art Trails 10am to 5pm daily on October 8, 9, 15 and 16, 2016. The event is sponsored by the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, one of the most v [...]

Introducing the Green Music Center

Green Music Center
The Green Music Center is a world-class performing arts complex in the heart of Sonoma Wine Country. Here, locals and visitors alike experience the true Sonoma Wine Country lifestyle in the form of music, food, and beverages, in a gorgeous natural setting. There’s an amazing performance lineup for the many venues at the center. Think cha [...]

Historic California Compound Ties For Most Expensive Home For Sale In America

Expensive Home For Sale
The historic California compound once owned by media-titan William Randolph Hearst is back on the market. This time for $195 million; making it one of the most expensive homes for sale in the country. If you are looking to buy a piece of history, this estate is for you! According to the Los Angeles Times, William Randolph Hearst and Actress [...]

Introducing Open Studios Napa Valley

Open Studios Logo
If you’re an avid art collector or just curious about art, I have the details about Open Studios Napa Valley, a program made just for you. Each year 60 to 75 artists participate by sharing their artwork with visitors from all over the United States. Held over two weekends in September, this is an incredible opportunity to peer into the creative [...]

Is Sonoma County the Perfect Place to Live?

Sonoma County
If you ask residents what makes Sonoma County the perfect place to live, you’ll get numerous answers. Some love the amazing food and wine while others say our rolling roads and beautiful beaches are alluring to residents. Still others say our commitment to community makes Sonoma County stand out. According to the Huffington Post, Sonoma County is [...]

The Sonoma County Cheese Trail: Say Cheese! Eat Cheese!

Sonoma Valley Cheese Trail Map
Do you know about the Sonoma County Cheese Trail? It winds through about a hundred miles of canyons, pastures, and oak-covered hills, linking close to 30 farms and creameries. Some of these farms invite guests to take full tours, while others hold daily cheese tastings. There are even cheese-making classes offered along the trail. Plus, you can vi [...]

The Perfect Living Room in 9 Steps

The Perfect Living Room
I just read an article in the national edition of Curbed with 9 steps to create the perfect living room. Gone are the stuffy parlors from the past, today’s living rooms are the places where we live. Really where we do just about everything. I think there’s some excellent intel here, so I want to share it with you. Here we go: Start with [...]

Raising Interest Rates: When Will the Federal Reserve Act?

Rate Hikes
If you’ve been on the fence about selling or buying California wine country property, now is the time to act because the Federal Reserve is considering raising interest rates sooner than the market expects. That, according to an interesting article in Barron’s regarding possible rate hikes. Given the Fed’s mandates to aim for maximum emplo [...]

Sonoma County Farms and Farmers Markets

Sonoma County Farmers Market
Sonoma County Farms and Farmers Markets are two of the best reasons for living in this beautiful part of California. Imagine living here, in close proximity to the freshest produce for your farm to table dining experience, twelve months a year. It’s peak harvest season now as summer eases into fall. You can meet many of the farmers at these marke [...]

What to Ask a Realtor®: 5 Questions

Nicki Naylor
Ever wonder what to ask a Realtor®? Whether you’re planning on buying or selling your property, asking the real estate agents you are potentially going to hire important questions upfront can save you time, money and hassle. Here’s a look at the questions to ask: How long have you been in the business? First, you’ll want to ascerta [...]

4 Favorite Sonoma County Happy Hours

happy hour
There are some amazing Sonoma County happy hours. Many of them are upscale and serving craft cocktails, gourmet small bites and more. Some of my favorite restaurants draw crowds from 3-6 p.m. in an effort to get customers to stick around for dinner, or at least to try some top shelf alcohol. Here are 4 of my favorite places to spend an afternoo [...]

Sonoma Valley Events: Two Not to Miss This September

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
There are always so many Sonoma Valley events to choose from, some might find it difficult to select which ones to attend. Two of my all-time favorites are coming up: The Sonoma Wine Country Weekend and the Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival. If either or both of these two September Sonoma Valley events sound intriguing, buy your tickets now! [...]

The Importance of a “Green Home”

Green Home
Are today’s homebuyers really looking for a “green home?” Yes they are!  Recent consumer preference surveys indicate that energy-efficient features top homebuyer wish lists today. Green elements are increasingly used in newly built homes and are topping the list of those remodeling their existing home. A recent survey by The National As [...]

Napa and Sonoma Valley Driveways Set The Trend Nationally

Napa and Sonoma Valley Driveways
Once again, Napa and Sonoma Valley are setting the trend. This time it’s for driveways. For many grand winery estates here in wine country, the driveway can be the most arresting part of a home’s landscape. The photo above is a good example, for my listing at 3880 Silverado Trail. According to The Wall Street Journal, today’s driveways go [...]

My Favorite Santa Rosa Wineries

Santa Rosa Wineries
In a previous blog, I shared my favorite Napa and Sonoma wine experiences, but I didn’t cover Santa Rosa wineries, nor those in very close proximity to this county seat of Sonoma County. According to an article in San Francisco Magazine, wineries in the areas immediately north and west of Santa Rosa – such as Russian River, Healdsburg and Bodeg [...]

Is White the New Black for Luxury Homes?

Luxury Homes
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, white is the new black for luxury Real Estate. The team at Benjamin Moore chose white as the color of the year for 2016 because the New Jersey-based paint manufacturer found that Simply White OC-117 is popular with homebuilders, developers and designers. We’re even seeing a white-on-white [...]

Outdoor Dining in Sonoma County

It’s summertime, the perfect weather for outdoor dining in Sonoma County. In a previous blog, I shared with you my favorite Napa Valley restaurants. In this blog, I am going to discuss some of my absolute favorite places to dine alfresco, complete with shaded patios and sun-dappled gardens. Ready? Let’s go… Barndiva 231 Center St. H [...]

Spotlight Napa Valley

Napa Valley Map
I’m sure you are familiar with California’s most famous wine region, Napa Valley, known for often stylish, sometimes charming tasting rooms, quaint towns, and elegant lodging. Roughly an hour’s drive north of San Francisco, Napa Valley is a wine connoisseur’s paradise, featuring more than 500 wineries dotting the picturesque valley. Just 30 [...]

My Favorite Napa and Sonoma Winery Experiences

Napa and Sonoma Winery Experiences
There are some amazing Napa and Sonoma winery experiences that offer more than a simple wine tasting. And I am not the only one that feels that way. In fact, Sonoma Magazine just explored 11 unique winery experiences here in wine country. My five favs include: 1) Portal to the Middle Ages at Castello di Amorosa, Calistoga Dario Sattui, a [...]

The Very Best Wine Books

Wine books
Why do people read wine books? Those of us lucky enough to call Sonoma and Napa home know when you get into wine, it can be seen as a survey of the world and its people. Wine helps connect cultural history with the earth and you can actually enjoy the fruits of your understanding. Reading the best wine books strengthens that understanding. Wheth [...]

Pet Friendly Sonoma County

Hi, I’m Ellie and I’m here to tell you about pet friendly Sonoma County. If you have a pet like me, then you know we want to be with you all the time. Those who live and play in Sonoma County are in luck. This place is pawsome! Here are some of my favorites things to do and places to visit: There are several off-leash, fenced dog areas [...]

The Best Sonoma and Napa Valley Spas

Napa Valley Spas
After a day of wine tasting, there’s no better way to treat yourself than by visiting one of my favorite Napa Valley spas. I’ve personally done the research. Here are some of my favorites: unique in their treatments, ambience, and approach: Auberge de Soleil Spa 180 Rutherford Hill Road, Rutherford, CA 94573 The Auberge spa is a natural [...]

It’s Showtime: 11th Annual Festival Napa Valley, July 15-24, 2016

Festival Napa Valley
Are you attending the 11th Annual Festival Napa Valley? The celebration, formerly known as Festival del Sole, is a ten-day celebration of art, music, dance, theater, wellness, cuisine and, of course, wine, taking place July 15-24, 2016. Think of it as the place that the wine country lifestyle meets the big city arts scene with exclusive engagements [...]

Introducing the Dramatic Sonoma Coast

Sonoma Coast
Do you know about the dramatic Sonoma Coast? Sonoma County’s western border is made up of more than 55 miles of dramatic, rugged and breathtaking Pacific Coast, while its southern border offers a quiet coast resting along San Pablo Bay. If you’re here during a sizzlin’ summer day in Sonoma County, here are some beautiful beaches where you [...]

5 Celebrity Owned Vineyards in Napa Valley

celebrity owned vineyard in Napa
Everyone knows wine country in northern California is home to some of the best wineries in the nation, but do you know there are at least 5 celebrity owned wineries in Napa? Here’s a hint: celebs that own vineyards in the area are some of the wealthiest and most affluent residents in the state. Still don’t know? Keep reading. 1) Andretti Win [...]

4th of July Celebrations in Napa and Sonoma Valley

4th of July fireworks
There’s a plethora of Fourth of July celebrations to choose from in and around Napa and Sonoma Valley, however, personal fireworks of any kind are banned everywhere in the county except St. Helena. For those interested in spending the 4th in St. Helena, “safe and sane,” state approved fireworks can be purchased at the city’s well-known f [...]

Will Brexit Affect the Luxury Real Estate Market in the U.S.?

Brexit illustration
According to Yahoo Finance, it’s all-good for luxury real estate I just read on Yahoo Finance that Brexit might be good for the luxury real estate market in the U.S. According to the article, although the post-Brexit vote selloff in equities took a particularly heavy toll on British homebuilder shares, experts predict it may lead to money flow [...]

Wine Country Real Estate Market Report for May

The good news: according to the Wine Country Real Estate Report, a flood of inventory hit the market in Napa and Sonoma Valley in May. Listings were up last month in every part of the Bay Area. The bad news: excess inventory didn’t last long. Still, experts say the strong job market and pent-up demand for inventory allowed people who have been st [...]

Introducing The Eclectic Town of Healdsburg in Sonoma County

Beautiful Northern California has many fabulous destinations, and the town of Healdsburg in Sonoma County is at the top of the list. Small town charm, sophisticated dining and shopping, nearby wineries, and outstanding weather are just a few of the trademark qualities that make Healdsburg so popular. The town combines world-class cuisine, rolli [...]

A Different View: Exploring California’s Wine Country from Above

Exploring California’s Wine Country
There are several ways to explore California’s Wine Country from lofty heights. Earlier this week, I shared a blog about floating majestically over Sonoma County in a hot air balloon. Here are even more ways to view Sonoma and Napa Valley, as well as nearby San Luis Obispo County, from far above the madding crowd, courtesy of SF Gate: 1) GLIDE [...]

Are You Attending The Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic?

Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic
The 2016 Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic celebrates its 26th year this weekend at Kaiser Park in wine country. What was started in 1980 by a group of volunteers will again launch the festivities and fill the skies of Windsor, California, with Hot Air Balloons! This two-day event begins early Saturday, June 18th, and continues through Sunday, [...]

Go Glamping in Napa Valley at Bothe-Napa State Park

glamping in napa valley
Is glamping in Napa Valley on your bucket list? Glamping, also known as luxury camping or glamorous camping, is that escape you’ve been meaning to take. It’s that little break from the hustle and bustle. It’s your chance to be adventurous, be secluded, be daring, be free – glamping lets you do all of that and more. Napa Valley’s Bothe [...]

Hiking in Napa Valley: 4 of the Best Treks

You probably don’t consider hiking in Napa Valley when you think of the world famous California wine region. Most likely, you ruminate on the excellent wine and food. But there’s plenty to do in the area, especially for outdoor enthusiasts. One of those activities is hiking. The Vaca and Mayacama mountain ranges offer access to great hikes with [...]

Sip, Swirl and Sweat: Pair Napa Valley Biking with Your Wine

Napa Valley Biking
While most people explore California's Napa Valley from the seat of a tour bus or limo, there’s a new trend in the valley: pairing Napa Valley biking with the wine. Napa Valley is a beautiful place to explore by bike, with rugged mountain ranges, Redwood covered creeks and beautiful lakes. Traveling the region by bike is an optimal way to take i [...]

Follow the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley

Silverado Trail
Exploring the Silverado Trail is without a doubt one of the ultimate Napa Valley experiences. Originally built in 1852, the road winds its way along the eastern side of the valley for 29 miles from the town of Napa to Calistoga. The scenery will take your breath away and you’ll discover so many wineries along the way, you could travel it for a we [...]

Sonoma Valley From a Local Perspective

Sonoma Valley
In a previous blog, I discussed some of my favorite spots in Sonoma Valley, and in the town of Sonoma, recently listed as one of America’s Favorites in Travel and Leisure Magazine. Here are some more reasons why the town came in #11, and Sonoma County itself is world renowned: more than 425 wineries, miles of rugged Pacific coastline, towerin [...]

Sonoma Ranks #11 on the List of America’s Favorite Towns

According to Travel and Leisure Magazine, Sonoma is one of American’s favorite towns. I couldn’t agree more with the preeminent travel publication that serves up expert intelligence and inspiring travel lifestyle content.  Among American towns, ours came in #11 in the latest reader survey. Respondents were asked to submit their favorite pl [...]

Wine Country Real Estate Market Report

Home for sale in Sonoma Valley
We are currently experiencing a robust demand and high home prices overall in Napa and Sonoma Valley according to the latest Wine Country Real Estate Market Report. For now, the region remains a seller’s market with significant activity and interest. We experienced a rise in the number of listings and property sold in March compared to the previo [...]

Smart Homes: 7 Ideas for Creating Your Own

smart homes
By now, we’ve all heard about “smart homes.” Luxury Portfolio International, in its popular section “LuxeTrends,” offers the details on how you can create your own smart home. It can seem overwhelming keeping up with home technology and innovation in luxury, but this article breaks it down nicely: Homeworks QS A total home control [...]

Sunset Celebration Weekend: One of Sonoma Valley’s Premier Events

sunset celebration weekend
If you are a fan of Sunset Magazine, then you don’t want to miss the 18th annual Sunset Celebration Weekend, taking place this Saturday and Sunday in a new location: Cornerstone Sonoma. Join the editors of Sunset, along with celebrity chefs, vintners, craft beer brewers and renowned lifestyle experts for two full days of culinary, wine, garden [...]

Do You Need a Family Office?

family office
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Family offices are private firms that manage just about everything for the wealthiest families: tax planning, investment management, estate planning, philanthropy, art and wine collections—even the family vacation compound.” Back in the 1800s, the family office was created to manage the burgeoning [...]

Sonoma Plaza: A Historic Centerpiece of California Wine Country

Sonoma Plaza
In a recent blog, I shared the history of Sonoma Valley, so today’s post digs a little deeper; focusing on the historic Sonoma Plaza. The 8-acre Sonoma Plaza is just one significant site found near the Sonoma State Historic Park and the Mission San Francisco Solano. There’s no better place to begin a meaningful journey into California’s wine [...]

The History of Sonoma Valley: The Birthplace of California’s Wine Industry

Wine Country doesn't get more real than Sonoma Valley, world renown as the birthplace of California's wine industry. Indigenous tribes lived here for 12,000 years before the Spanish, Mexicans and Americans arrived. In fact, legend has it The Miwok Tribe named this beautiful place “Sonoma," meaning “Valley of the Moon.” Gazing at the starry sk [...]

Famed Celebrity Photographer Annie Leibovitz and Family Members Acquire Building for Art Gallery in Healdsburg

Photographer Annie Leibovitz
Sonoma and Napa Valley may be seeing a lot more of famed celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz in the near future. According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Leibovitz and her family just invested in an old machine shop in downtown Healdsburg which they plan to convert into an art gallery. Megan Steinman, the celebrated photographer’s niece [...]

The Sonoma County Barrel Auction: Are You Invited?

The Sonoma County Barrel Auction
Are you attending the Sonoma County Barrel Auction? The live auction of wine futures from the county’s top growers and winemakers features once-in-a-lifetime wines. A team of masters, invited from around the country, will evaluate the auction lots and attend the invitation-only event. Proceeds will support Sonoma County marketing initiatives. The [...]

Introducing the latest issue of Intero Prestigio International Magazine

Intero Prestigio International Magazine
Guess who’s listing graces the cover of the current issue of Intero Prestigio International Magazine? It’s my amazing and exclusive one-of-kind California Ranch Estate with a European Soul. Inside the publication, you will find four full pages dedicated to the expansive property that encompasses more than six hundred acres of woodlands, pasture [...]

Napa Valley Wine News: Constellation Buys The Prisoner Wine Brands

The Prisoner Wine
The Napa Valley Register reports that Huneeus Vintners has agreed to sell The Prisoner Wine Brands to Constellation Brands, in an all-cash transaction for $285 million. The sale includes five fine wines in The Prisoner Wine Brands Company portfolio: The Prisoner, Saldo, Cuttings, Blindfold and Thorn. The Prisoner is widely recognized as one of Napa [...]

Chef Francis Mallmann: Another Reason to Attend Auction Napa Valley

Chef Francis Mailmann
In a previous blog, I encouraged you to get your tickets now to Auction Napa Valley, which takes place June 2-5, 2016 in America’s iconic wine region. This blog is going to give you another reason to attend what’s become known as one of the most popular wine auctions in the world: sampling the delicious talent of Chef Francis Mallmann, famous f [...]

My 3 Favorite Napa Valley Restaurants

Napa Valley Restaurants
Of course, Napa Valley restaurants are some of the best eateries in the world! While most people come to Napa Valley to sample great wine, the 100+ restaurants in the area are also world-renowned: receiving more Michelin stars per capita than any other wine region in the world. That’s a good thing since fine wine pairs nicely with great food [...]

Auction Napa Valley Tickets Provide a Golden Opportunity

auction napa valley
Get your tickets now to Auction Napa Valley, one of the most popular wine auctions in the world. This extraordinary annual event is a mingling of world-class Napa Valley wines, memorable meals from talented chefs, the beauty of the breathtaking landscape at every turn, the music and design and, of course, the thrill of bidding on one-of-a-kind Napa [...]

Sleep Among the Vines in Sonoma and Napa Valley

The Poetry Inn
I always recommend that my clients who are looking for wine country property in Sonoma and Napa Valley spend some time in the area getting to know the various communities. San Francisco Magazine just published a story about four local wineries that invite guests to spend the night. What better way to get to know the area? 1) The Poetry Inn, [...]

NOW is the perfect time to list your Sonoma or Napa Country Property

Sonoma or Napa country property
Sellers ask me all the time, “When is the best time to list my Sonoma or Napa country property?” That’s no surprise since timing can significantly influence the final sale price of a home, and how quickly a home will sell, according to this story in “It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s a function of demand being very seas [...]

French Bordeaux Vintners Buy Wine Country Estates in Napa Valley

checking out a wine country estate in Napa Valley
I just read an article in Bloomberg Business about how Bordeaux winemakers from France are now snapping up wine country estates in Napa Valley and the surrounding areas. We’re talking about high-profile French vintners moving here, like French fashion house Chanel, whose billionaire owners Alain and Gerard Wertheimer bought the St. Supéry  [...]

Napa Valley Events: 3 Not to Miss This Spring

art in napa valley
There’s always so much to do in Sonoma and Napa Valley, including exciting not-to-miss events exploring the arts, the wines, the culinary delights and more. You might want to mark your calendars for these three April events: 1) Arts in April: The 6th annual Napa Valley "Arts in April" officially kicks off on April 7, 2016, with the opening of [...]

New Listing: Glen Ellen Wine Country Estate

Glen Ellen Country Estate
My new listing is a Glen Ellen Wine Country Estate that offers a truly serene sense of place. The lovely William Turnbull home with pool, guesthouse and lush gardens is nestled in the oaks below the estate’s old Pinot Noir vineyard. Featuring 55.1+/- acres, including 3 legal parcels, with approximately 16 acres of plantable vineyard land this am [...]

Get ready for the Sonoma International Film Festival

Sonoma International Film Festival
It’s not too late to purchase tickets for the upcoming Sonoma International Film Festival. Celebrating the best in film, food, wine and spirits, the festival is now in it’s 19th year with an exciting five-day program-taking place March 30th to April 3rd, 2016. The Sonoma International Film Festival takes place in the heart of Northern Califo [...]

5 Ways To Freshen Up Your Home: Get Your Sonoma or Napa Valley Country Property Ready For Spring

Freshen up
I just read a story in Realty Times about ways to freshen up your home for spring. It’s hard to believe that spring is almost here. For those of us lucky enough to call Sonoma or Napa Valley home, spring is an absolutely beautiful time of year. It’s also the perfect time to refresh the inside of your country home, adding a touch of that [...]

Get Ready for Yountville Live

Yountville Live
Yountville Live combines the very best in music, wine and food with the small-town lifestyle and sophisticated ambiance of Yountville. One of the benefits of living in Sonoma and Napa Valley is attending the area’s amazing events as a resident. The upcoming Yountville Live is one example. This ultimate luxury getaway event features exclusive p [...]

Buying Country Property in Sonoma or Napa Valley?

Don’t let the process overwhelm you when buying country property in Sonoma County or the Napa Valley The search for the perfect country property in Sonoma or the Napa Valley can seem like a daunting task. Rest assured, I am here to help you through this process and to make certain it is a highly enjoyable one. After all, this is wine country! [...]

Does Luxury Home Staging Work?

 Check out my 7 home staging secrets that attract the most discerning of high-end buyers The Wall Street Journal’s blog recently started a discussion about home staging, asking if the process is something that really pays off. As a luxury country property specialist and preeminent real estate agent serving Sonoma and Napa Valley in Northern C [...]

Why Follow My Real Estate Blog?

My blog focuses on real estate in Sonoma and Napa Valley. I am not your typical Realtor® and I guarantee this will not be a typical real estate blog. As a country property specialist and real estate agent serving Sonoma and Napa Valley in Northern California, I pride myself on offering both sellers and buyers a world of advantages they won’t [...]