Sonoma Aperitif is the culmination of many long-standing interests of mine, including a lifelong love of wine and great food, a commitment to environmental sustainability, and a deep gratitude for the beauty and bounty of the natural world.  I started my career as an environmental reporter in the 1980s, working for the East Bay Express, a wonderful alternative press newspaper in Berkeley, CA. That's also where I got my first gig writing about wine and food as editor of the first edition of Northern California Best Places, a guide to the best places to eat and stay in Northern California. Later, as managing editor of NorthBay biz magazine in Santa Rosa, I covered the wine industry, wrote restaurant reviews, two regular wine columns, and had the privilege of editing Rich Thomas's always lively and amusing monthly wine column, "Vinewise." Tired of just reading and writing about great local wines, I decided to try my hand at creating some--and Sonoma Aperitif was born. 

My goal with Sonoma Aperitif is to create aperitif wines of beauty and subtly that enliven the senses and rekindle our awareness of the seasons and the beauty of the earth--all the while having a damned good time.  

Some basic facts:

  • I started working on this project in February of 2013 and opened officially in November 2015.
  • Most of the fruit, herbs and flowers used my aperitifs is sourced from trees in my backyard,  my friends' backyards, and generous folk donate their excess backyard bounty. (Really, who doesn't hate to see fruit just laying on the ground going to waste!)  I also source fruit at farmers markets and buy in bulk from local markets like Community Market and Andy's in Sebastopol. 
  • I could not have launched this project without the help of several wonderful friends, including Kathy & David Bennett, John Raeside, Gus DiZerega, and the women of my Sebastopol Salon (Ellie Dwight, Jeanie Daskais, Robin Pressman, Janine Steinleib, Carolyn MacAleavy) and the women of Fabu (Andrea Silvestri, Megan Armstrong, Melanie Curry, Ellie Dwight, Carolyn MacAleavy, Ginie Thorpe, Lisa Haney, Beth Moughty). 

Random and weird facts about me:

  • I'm a California native, born in West Covina,  a suburb of Los Angeles.
  • Graduate of U.C. Berkeley, BA, English 
  • I co-wrote the County Music edition of Trivial Pursuit. 
  • I went swimming in piranha and alligator-infested waters in the Ecuadorian Amazon and lived to tell to the tale. 
Laura Hagar Rush, founder, Sonoma Aperitif. Photography by Miranda Rush