What Gives Sonoma County its “Sense of Place” – Summer 2014 Place Project at SSU

Place ProjectHow does one talk about place in Sonoma County without a reference to our agricultural and viticultural roots?

Today, SSU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) kicked off its TASTE MATTERS lecture series which will feature guest speakers from food and wine industry. This is the second part of their Summer 2014 Place Project supported by a grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation and a contribution from Connie Codding.

In June, the Place Project hosted a series of explorations into natural and cultural history of Sonoma County, on topics of History, Art, and Science that toured off-campus locations as diverse as Sonoma Plaza and Osborn Preserve.  In July, the Place Project begins its sensory series – TASTE MATTERS.

Today, Evan PTaste Mattersontoriero President/Winemaker/Viticulturist at Fogline Vineyards and Board member of the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Association and Duskie Estes Owner/Chef at ZAZU Kitchen + Farm and Owner at Black Pig Meat Co. regaled us with tales of their adventures in Sonoma County and why place matters to them!

Evan comes from an Italian-American family where his father made wine in the garage, but it was the grapes that come from the Petaluma Wind Gap that created a sense of place for him.  These grapes blown by the wind, develop an intensity that is unique to the Wind Gap and helps him create his signature Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah based wines.  Fogline Vineyards Tasting Room is located at 875 River Road in Fulton just down from John Ash and the Vintners Inn.

Duskie, ever the consummate story-teller, runs an authentic Farm to Table Kitchen, growing produce with farmer Milo Mitchel and operating Black Pig Meat Co.  ZAZU Kitchen + Farm supports local agriculture and farmers buying what they don’t produce from Sonoma County neighbors.  ZAZU Kitchen + Farm is active in the Snout to Tail Movement (utilizing ever part of the pig) and says you can support sustainable, local farmers by voting with your dollars.  They are located in the Barlow Center at 6770 McKinnley #150, Sebastopol.

OLLI Banner SSU BannerThe TASTE MATTERS series is ongoing through-out July and can be taken as a single class or in multiple classes.  The “Place Project” will culminate with Place Matters on July 29, 2014, and will bring together students from all three OLLI campuses to document, discuss and create a “sense of place” in Sonoma County. Presented at the new Student Center (Ballroom A), the event will include three panels comprised of OLLI SSU students from all three campuses (main campus, Oakmont and Healdsburg), and chaired by faculty from three different SSU departments: Margie Purser, Anthropology; Ray Johnson, Wine Business; and Steve Estes, History. Each panel will explore a different aspect of place:

  • Place as Identity
  • Place as Memory and Legacy
  • Place as Community

Regional historian Gaye LeBaron will provide opening remarks, setting the scene for the discussions that follow. Creative expressions of place will include a juried art exhibition of work by OLLI students representing the complexity of place in Sonoma County, and a published anthology showcasing place-based writings from OLLI students. The selected artwork will be on view in The Hub, and local historical societies and museums will open their collections to OLLI students as part of the project. Finally, a concert by SSU students will root attendees in the performance of place. 

For additional information please see the SSU website.