Jackson Family Wines To Build Sonoma County Brewery

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You know the brewing industry must be doing something right if one of America’s largest producers of wine has decided to jump in with a new brewery. Brewbound has the scoop, with Jackson Family Wines Proprietor Launching Sonoma County Craft Brewery.

It’s certainly not the first time. Does anybody else remember Sonoma Mountain Brewing? And more recently, Carneros Brewing built a brewery on the grounds of their Ceja Vineyards. And don’t forget that Korbel Winery once launched their own small brewery, hiring a young brewer to make the beer. After a short time, they decided to get out of the beer business, and brewer Vinnie Cilurzo obtained the name and moved Russian River Brewing to downtown Santa Rosa, and with his wife Natalie Cilurzo, built it into a destination brewery that’s undoubtedly helped put Sonoma County on the map for beer, as well as wine. So some have worked great, others not so much.

This one at least seems off to a big start. It’s not officially a project of the Jackson Family Wines, but Christopher Jackson, who is the son of winery founder Jess Jackson. Of course, most start-ups don’t have the resources to start by “constructing a 25,000-barrel craft brewery” with “an initial brewing capacity of 8,000 barrels.” Most start-ups don’t have $8 million as their initial capital, even though Jackson states that “[i]t is a passion play” and I “am the sole proprietor and it is my project going forth, but we are employing a lot of similar philosophies from my wine background.”

The new brewery will apparently be called Seismic Brewing Company, which name Jackson bought from San Diego’s Rough Draft Brewing. The new brewery will be located at 2870 Duke Court, Santa Rosa and plans to open in late summer.

It sure seems like Sonoma County is indeed becoming a “craft beer Mecca,” as Jackson called Santa Rosa. I think that’s truer of the whole county, but certainly between Santa Rosa and Petaluma the county’s doing pretty well. Sonoma County currently has 31 licensed breweries, at least according to the latest number from the CCBA, which means we’re nowhere near the 100+ that are now open in San Diego County. Still, I think Sonoma probably has more than most counties.

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Bear Republic To Open 2nd Brewpub

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One of my favorite breweries, and the 2nd largest in Sonoma County, announced that they will be opening a second brewpub in the town right next door to me, in Rohnert Park, California. Bear Republic Brewing, whose original brewpub in is Healdsburg, and also operates a production facility in Cloverdale, has taken over the former Latitude Island Grill space in Rohnert Park, just off the Gold Course Drive exit.

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Here’s the press release:

In keeping with the tradition of honest ales and family values, Bear Republic Brewing Company®, its employees and the Norgrove Family are excited to announce that after twenty years, Bear Republic will be opening the company’s third brewery operation in the City of Rohnert Park, California.

“Bear Republic looks forward to developing a positive relationship with the Chamber of Commerce, the City Fathers, the local business community and the citizens of Rohnert Park,” said Bear Republic Brewing Company® President & CEO Richard Norgrove.

The former Latitude Restaurant will be the new site of Bear Republic’s Rohnert Park brewpub.
The brewery and brewpub operation is currently in the planning stages and will commence with the construction phase at 5000 Roberts Rd, formerly the site of Latitude Restaurant. No opening date is available as of this writing.

“Rohnert Park is thrilled to have Bear Republic coming to town,” said Rohnert Park City Council Member Amy Ahanotu. He added, “A brewery of their quality is exactly what we’ve been looking for to expand the dining and entertainment choices for our residents and visitors.”

That’s going to be awesome, with Bear Republic so much closer to my house, but also in building their business with this third location. For more information about the space, here’s the original designs from Latitudes.

Sonoma State Beer Appreciation Class Open For Fall

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Sonoma State University will again be offering my “Beer Appreciation” certificate course this fall. Classes start in just over two weeks, on September 9. The class is through SSU’s Extended Education school, and fueled by Lagunitas, which is where the 12-week, 36-hour course will be held.

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Classes are once a week, beginning September 9, on Wednesday nights from 6:30-9:30, and again classes won’t be in a stuffy classroom, but will be held in special lounge room at Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma. If you’re interested in learning more about the class, I set up a page with more about my Sonoma State University Beer Appreciation Course. Or if you’re ready to go, here’s the official SSU class page and there’s information online about registration, too.

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A scene from last semester’s class, with Dan Gordon talking about lagers, while Vinnie Cilurzo waits in the wings to present to the class about sour and barrel-aged beers.

Sonoma County Gets Crafty With Beer

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Today’s infographic is local to me, and concerns my home county of Sonoma. Entitled Sonoma County Gets Crafty With Beer, it shows how Sonoma has been growing lately in terms of the number of breweries and their overall production. Even though the infographic was created in 2013, two more have actually opened and we now have 20 breweries within our borders. I recently sat on a panel discussion at the Sonoma County Beer, Cider & Spirits Conference, which was put on by the county’s economic development board. We certainly live in a great place for beer.

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Click here to see the infographic full size.