2017 Stanford Real Estate Council Wine Country Retreat

The Stanford Real Estate Council (SREC) enjoyed a weekend of beautiful weather in Healdsburg mixing real estate and fine wine. Over the weekend of April 28-30, SREC members had the opportunity to connect with one another over property tours, gourmet meals and wine tastings with multiple alumni vintners.

Fifteen members and their significant others gathered Friday evening for a farm-to-table welcome dinner in the Modern Grange private dining space at SHED restaurant in the charming town of Healdsburg, California. An interactive “shim and shrub” cocktail making class kicked-off the evening and lead nicely into the Stanford vintner reception. Alumni vintner Alice Sutro (’06) of Sutro Wines joined Andy Chambers of Bodkin Wines and Scott and Jana Harvey of Scott Harvey Wines in presenting and discussing their wines.

On Saturday morning members headed out for a full day starting with a tour of the Warnecke Ranch and Vineyard. Margo Merck (’73) and Alice Sutro (’06) took the lead. They shared their family’s love of Stanford, as well as the family’s history of land ownership along the Russian River for over a hundred years. Their grandfather and great-grandfather were both renowned architects running the world’s largest architectural firm in the US during the 1970s. The trove of architectural archives – plans, photographs and paraphernalia – may be one of the world’s largest privately-owned collections – held in a former barn on the property. John Carl Warnecke (’41), Alice’s grandfather, was an alumnus and part of the Wow Boys Football Team, designed the Stanford Bookstore, the Post Office, Maples Pavilion, Meyer Library (RIP), and Lake Lag dorms.

Up next, the group headed to Rodney Strong Vineyards and was greeted by owner Tom Klein (’73, MBA ’79) and his wife Kate Kelly (’79), along with their outstanding winemaker Justin Seidenfeld, for a tour of their newest, coolest, most environmentally friendly, and the only one of its kind in California, square tank fermenting winery. Members got to experience their Artisan Cellar, which opened in 2005, where they make some of their highest quality RSV Single Vineyard cabernets, a Bordeaux-styled red called Symmetry, and all of their RSV Reserve wines. One of the most notable parts of the weekend was a lunch on the terrace. The multiple-course meal prepared by the vineyard chef served on a Sonoma County spring tablescape was a memory making experience indeed.

Before heading out for a reception and epicurean winemaker dinner with Bill and Dawn Williamson of Williamson Wine, SPIRE President, David Butler (’96), provided a tour of Mayacama Resort, of which he is a partner. Mayacama was founded in 1999 after developer David Wilhelm and his partners purchased 675 acres from Marv Soiland and Peanuts cartoonist, Charles M. Schulz, to create a Jack Nicklaus signature 18-hole golf course.

Williamson Wines was a perfect end to the day. Members learned that the vineyard grows fourteen varieties of grapes across twenty eight vineyards from which they make forty five different wines with total production of about 15,000 cases. With dozens of industry awards, the wines are sought after by knowledgeable wine lovers, receiving limited quantities via wine club membership.