Hidden Hills Magazine • Fall 2021

Page 1

SOLD HIDDEN HILLS | $3,995,000
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Compass is a real estate broker licensed by the State of California and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. License Number 01991628. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only and is compiled 25354 PRADO DE LA FELICIDAD JUST SOLD RECORD BREAKING SALE - HIGHEST SALE IN ALL OF SAN FERNANDO VALLEY / CALABASAS CALABASAS | $32,000,000 Compass is a real estate broker licensed by the State of California and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. License Number 01991628. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only and is compiled from sources deemed reliable but has not been verified. Changes in price, condition, sale or withdrawal may be made without notice. No statement is made as to accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footages are approximate. 25354 PRADO DE LA FELICIDAD JUST SOLD RECORD BREAKING SALE - HIGHEST SALE IN ALL OF SAN FERNANDO VALLEY / CALABASAS CALABASAS | $32,000,000
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This issue rounds out seven years that we have been publishing Hidden Hills Magazine. If you are a regular reader, you know that we have evolved to not necessarily focus solely upon the community of Hidden Hills but rather the spirit of this community that keeps us grounded. While we are fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful areas on the planet, we remember, particularly with the coming of Fall, those things around us that add dimension and sentiment to our daily lives... Giving to and helping others, creating art that sparks our imagination, innovating, imagining and taking the time to savor all of the local flavors.

We hope that you will all continue to get out and enjoy the season and, whenever possible, support the local advertisers that help to make this free publication possible.

Happy Fall!

Lonna Weber & Joe Bellissimo




Elyse Glickman’s work as a journalist and editor spans the globe and topics including gastronomy, wine and spirits, wellness, business profiles, interior design and fashion. She served as a Senior Editor for business/executive lifestyle magazine C-Suite Quarterly (CSQ) magazine, covering food and travel.


Elle Rama graduated with a BA in Business from the University of San Diego and has been helping emerging brands grow through strategic marketing and graphic design branding. She currently works full-time as a volunteer at the Labelle Foundation and is dedicated to helping spread awareness to save the lives of animals in need. In her spare time she sews for her swimwear brand and practices fine art oil painting.


Lonna Weber

Joe Bellissimo


Joe Bellissimo

Copy Editors

Linda Raznick

Carly Fentress

Advisory Board

Linda Raznick

Steve Weber


Advertising: Lonna@Longvalleymedia.com

Editorial: joe@Longvalleymedia.com

Hidden Hills Magazine is published four times a year by Long Valley Media. LLC. It is mailed to residents of the city of Hidden Hills, California as well as distributed at commercial and retail locations in the greater Los Angeles and Ventura County areas.

Long Valley Media, LLC

5115 Douglas Fir Rd. Suite C Calabasas, CA 91302

All Rights reserved. No article illustrations photographs or other editorial matter or advertisements herein may be reproduced without permission of the copy write owner (s). Long Valley Media, LLC does not take responsibility for the claims provided herein. Printed in the U.S.A.


Britt moved to Hidden Hills in 2008 and quickly became involved in community activities like CERT, the Valentines Musicale, and as a Calabasas Library Commissioner. She practices yoga & meditation daily, and loves living adjacent to the Santa Monica Mountains where she can be found when she is not walking the bridle trails in the neighborhood.


Sam Wyatt Lenkov is a renaissance man in the making. At only 16 years old, he’s already launched his own charity www.wyattsgarage.com helping pediatric cancer patients. Sam also loves animals, making Lego art, jamming with friends, making short films and of course, contributing here as magazine photographer.


With over twenty years of experience internationally, German born Volker Fleck has built a reputation for understanding the essentials of filmmaking and photography. Over a one-year residence in New York, Volker became forever connected with the U.S., both professionally and culturally for the years to follow. Volker enjoys the challenge of bridging the cultural barriers between the countries, and bringing two creative teams together to create with artistic impact and international appeal.

10 Hidden Hills Magazine | Fall 2021
from the
©2021 Hilton & Hyland Real Estate, Inc. Broker does not guarantee the accuracy of square footage, lot size or other information concerning the condition or features of property obtained from public records or other sources. Equal Housing Opportunity. DRE 01160681 HILTONHYLAND.COM RICHARD MASLAN DRE 01304570 - BY APPOINTMENT ONLY $4,900,000 | 4BD 4BA | VINEYARD, ARENA & STABLES ZunigaRanch.com EQUESTRIAN ESTATE ON 9.8 PRISTINE ACRES IN OLD TOPANGA CANYON 23585 ZUNIGA RD | TOPANGA RICHARD MASLAN 310.435.2196




Alison Eastwood harnesses the power of community and her passion for animals to create a haven for the abandoned and abused.



The Agoura opening of a new gallery offering the limited edition works of photographer Norman Seeff.



Fire season is now a year round reality. There is more you can do to protect your home.



Local artist Ruben Rojas recolors the community around us with a simple and positive message.



The early renaissance of historic downtown Ventura is happening. Discover it for yourself!



Meet the wine makers who want you to sip to your heart's delight while leaving the land in a pristine ecological state.


ADOPT SOME DONKEYS "Gidget" and "Fannie" are looking for a new home.

On the


Alison Eastwood with a rescued chihuahua

Photo: Volker Fleck

Story on page 14.

12 Hidden Hills Magazine | Fall 2021
22 40
2021 features
49 63
31 24



Alison Eastwood is a perfect example of how those who take risks find out how far they can go. Notably, she made her motion picture debut at age seven when she played an orphan in her first feature film Bronco Billy. She followed this uncredited role with dozens of other significant performances in movies such as Tightrope (1984), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), Absolute Power (1997),

Breakfast of Champions (1999), Pool Hall Junkies (2002) and Once Fallen (2010).

Alison shares many of the same characteristics as her famous father and film legend Clint Eastwood. Her acting career is bookended by working with this iconic actor: initially in a part as a seven year old orphan in her first movie, and then in 2018 when she came out of retirement at his request. “It was an offer

I couldn’t refuse,” she says of her highly acclaimed role of the daughter of a drug transporter played by her father in The Mule (2018). In addition to acting, she worked as an international runway model gracing the covers of such magazines as Vogue & Playboy. Over the course of her career, in addition to the many noteworthy years spent in front of the camera, she has found additional success behind the camera as a television and movie writer, director, and producer.

14 Hidden Hills Magazine | Fall 2021
| Photos courtesy of the Eastwood Ranch Foundation | Alison Eastwood portrait by Volker Fleck
Fall 2021 | Hidden Hills Magazine 15
Alison Eastwood at home in Calabasas, CA

Alison was raised in the Carmel & Pebble Beach areas where she could stick her toes in the sand as easily as she could hike, bike, or ride a horse through rolling hills, pockets of chaparral, and oak woodlands. She remembers that her father Clint fell in love with these central coast communities when he was stationed at Fort Ord during the Korean War. It was important to her nature & animal loving parents that she grow up in an area with rich wildlife, a diverse habitat, and many outdoor recreational opportunities.

These are the same reasons that brought Alison to live in Calabasas. “I love that I can have horses and animals, and depending on the traffic I am close to civilization, the city, and airports.” Alison continued flourishing in the family business, however it was her passion for animals that was instilled within her from her parents that transformed the next part of her life.

Over a decade ago her career as an animal crusader began after a conversation with a friend about the animal shelter system and its abuses in America. She immediately wanted to get involved once she learned about the magnitude of cases of animals in danger. She became the producer and host of a show on National Geographic Wild called Animal Rescue in an attempt to educate audiences about exotic animal abuse. She responded to scenes where animals were being mistreated by transporting and fostering them. In addition, she began to personally relocate animals from high kill shelters who were about to be euthanized.

After Alison retired from the entertainment business in her forties, she could have coasted on her prior success or family name. Instead she chose to

16 Hidden Hills Magazine | Fall 2021

make an impact in the lives of animals by continuing to advocate on their behalf with the creation of the Eastwood Ranch Foundation in 2012.

On any given day, you can find dozens of happy and adventurous kittens, puppies, cats and dogs creating their territories in various areas of Alison’s home rescue. There are two major differences between shelters and rescue groups. Shelters are usually run and funded by local governments. Rescue groups are funded mainly by donations and most of the staff are volunteers. While some shelters

place animals in foster homes, many are housed on-site in kennels.

Alison, her husband Stacy Poitras, and a

homeless, sick, or abandoned animals. There is no discrimination on age, breed, or circumstances, as the goal is to improve the welfare and find healthy places for these once abused animals to grow and thrive. Alison picks up & cares for many of the animals, finds foster homes for those she cannot house, and meets with potential owners to discuss possible placements and inform about how to keep a safe and clean home for pets. She has saved the lives of thousands of animals over the years.

Community and celebrities come together to raise needed funds for the Eastwood Ranch Foundation.

CLOCKWISE: Alison's father, Clint Eastwood, Alison Eastwood, Eloise and Paul DeJoria, Alison's husband, Stacy Poitras. Alison and Stacy.

A fund raiser selfie that includes ERF supporters Dennis Haysbert, Jaimie Foxx, Smokey Robinson and Sugar Ray Leonard.

small group of dedicated volunteers have worked for almost a decade to provide medical attention, care, and homes for

Besides local animal rescue, Alison works on behalf of any and all animal

Fall 2021 | Hidden Hills Magazine 17

THIS PAGE: The architect's plan for the new Agoura Hills, CA Eastwood Ranch Animal Rescue & Adoption Facility and an elevation rendering (OPPOSITE-TOP).

OPPOSITE: Alison breaking ground at the new rescue.

18 Hidden Hills Magazine

welfare causes by helping raise awareness, educating, and campaigning/ petitioning for animals. “Seeing people happy and families changed by animal adoption are some of the best parts of my work.” However the toughest parts of her work are that there is so much need. Alison is haunted because she can’t save them all. “I receive over fifty emails a day because animals are in jeopardy, sick, or going to be put down.”

Thankfully after years of fundraising, the Eastwood Ranch Foundation closed escrow on land in Agoura Hills, & were able to break ground on a new rescue facility and adoption center in May 2020. This will be a community space where people can adopt a new family member, volunteer, learn & participate in helping shelter animals in need. This project has strong community support and is already halfway completed.

They are hoping to be finished construction by next spring with additional outreach including events

such as the ERF Pro-Am Celebrity Charity Event that was held at Sherwood Country Club in July. The fundraiser featured a day of golf, lunch, dinner, and entertainment provided by Paul Anka. Also featured were puppies and kittens that were rescued from highkill shelters in Southern California and Mexico. Animal activists and enthusiasts, athletes, celebrities, and VIP guests showed up to raise money for the Eastwood Ranch Foundation.

A true animal lover, Alison emphasizes that there are other ways of helping in animal rescue besides contributing money. Donating blankets, towels, and sheets to a rescue or shelter; sharing social media posts of animals in need; fostering a homeless animal; or adopting an animal.

If you are looking for more information on animal advocacy, welfare, and rescue, please sign up for the Eastwood Ranch Foundation Newsletter at www.eastwoodranch.org

Fall 2021 | Hidden Hills Magazine 19
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22 Hidden Hills Magazine | Fall 2021


chandeliers & tulips owners create a dedicated gallery offering the limited edition works of norman seeff

Six months ago, Hidden Hills Magazine included as its cover story an indepth feature on the life of rock and roll photograper, Norman Seeff. Through the process of interviewing Seeff, and being immersed in his expansive collection of iconic works, I couldn't escape the thought that the local community would probably welcome the opportunity to experience them first-hand—and might even love the ability to acquire a print for their own home.

Soon, I arranged a meeting with Seeff and the mother/ daughter team behind Agoura's

Chandeliers & Tulips, Nancy and Shanessa Fath. Not only did they "get it," but they went straight to work creating a dedicated gallery. "When I met Norman his words and work touched my soul," recalls Nancy Fath. "I knew immediately I was going to create Studio C|T and jumpstart Norman into my life!"

On September 18th, 2021, Studio C|T officially opened to the public in Whizin's Market Square. The space is a fully immersive, 360 experience that features some of Seeff's most famous works from the last 50 years, including shots

of Steve Jobs, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell and The Rolling Stones (to name only a very few). The gallery also includes clips from Seeff's legendary video archives and an intimate lecture/performance space, where Seeff will appear from time-to-time.

"Norman is all about the creative process. So much so that he calls it 'Love's Work'," muses Nancy Fath. "We wanted this space to embody the spirit of that ideal and we are so excited for everyone to come in and experience it!"

Fall 2021 | Hidden Hills Magazine 23


fire season in california has become a year-round reality. have you actually done all you can to protect your home?

The hint of concern begins as you walk out the door. the hot, dry weather, coupled with the occasional wind gust lets you know what most california residents can instinctively sense by now; “red flag warning.” As the day goes by, you stay aware, hoping all will remain

quiet and calm, then, you spot it—a billowy mushroom cloud of smoke far on the horizon. At one time, this might not have been so distressing, but as recent history has shown, on a day like this, by the time you see a cloud like that, it may already be too late to contain it, and your home may be in its path. Your concern is now more

than just a hint, and it grows like the fire in the distance. A quick, mental inventory of the location of your sentimental items, critical documents...your pets, your family race through your head. Where will you go? And when you return, what will be left standing? Have you actually done all that you can to prepare?

Fall 2021 | Hidden Hills Magazine 25

in 2020, 58,950 wildfires burned 10.1 million acres, the secondmost acreage impacted in a year since 1960; and nearly 40% of these acres were in california. In California alone, the 2020 wildfire season killed more than 30 people, destroyed some 8,500 structures, and torched a record-breaking 4 million acres of land—double the acreage burned in 2018, the state’s secondworst wildfire season on record. There are predictions that costs for the 2020 wildfire season could total between $130 and $150 billion. Over the coming decades, western and northern North America are projected to have a major escalation in wildfire activity, five or more times the current levels in total wildfire area burned which is why Jim Moseley embarked into the world of fire prevention and burn proofing properties.

About ten years ago while living in Valencia, Jim initially learned about creating innovative ways to manage fires from a friend who was a CFO of an aerospace company. Jim didn’t have a background in fire defense, but he was intrigued by aerospace parts such as fire retardant tiles and blankets from the Space Shuttle introduced to him by his friend. The $15 fire preventative blankets were developed using aerospace technology to protect rockets against extreme heat during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere and were more cost effective than the $1500 tiles. Jim believed these amazing inventions could have a positive effect of creating more survivable fire shelters to save the lives of firefighters so he introduced them to

the Forest Service and LA County Fire Department.

Jim continued to evolve the fire prevention products to make them available to the public. He recognized an Intumescent Coating Spray could work like a blanket to protect firefighters or property

by creating a temporary fire proof shelter. Intumescent coatings work by undergoing a chemical reaction when heated to form an expanded, thermally insulating layer, which Jim saw as an opportunity for safety. After much tenacity, Sun Fire Defense was conceived to apply these fire prevention principles to save personal

26 Hidden Hills Magazine | Fall 2021
Many are familiar with "Phos-chek," which is neon red and dropped by aircraft on already burning fire areas. By contrast, Sun Fire's Intumescent Coating is invisible and is applied to structures and homes, long before the imminent danger of an approaching blaze.

property and lives. Jim’s motto is “Redundancy because we want to take care of multiple things.”

Sun FireDefense is the premier provider of advanced fire defense and home wildfire protection products in the U.S. They provide different levels of fire prevention protection with environmentally safe fire resistant products. By utilizing aerospacegrade materials, they deliver lasting, high-temperature protection that stops the ignition and spread of fire for years with one application. After much research and development, the Sun FireDefense Intumescent Coating Spray was realized because Jim wanted to create a spray-on product that creates a thermal barrier to help delay the burning of a shelter. Even a delay of two minutes increases the chances for firefighters to save homes and lives.

There are additional products that provide whole home protection. Clients utilize the Sun FireDefense FireShield Fabric which has been incorporated into fire shelters for firefighters and the Forest Service because it will not burn and provides long-lasting insulation to over 2300 degrees. This fabric can be used in buildings to secure vents, structural openings, or manufactured into covers and frames, as it creates no smoke or fumes when hit by flames. Sun Fire Defense Window Laminates are crystal clear coatings applied to the inside of windows that insulate against the extreme heat of a wildfire, and prevent panes from shattering and falling out under extreme temperatures or on impact. They provide added security against

Fall 2021 | Hidden Hills Magazine 27
Sun Fire Defense Founder, Jim Moseley
A home protected by Sun Fire Defense

burglary, and increased safety during earthquakes and fires.

Jim Moseley’s passion was ignited to provide the highest quality fire protection products and services on the market. Even though he was inspired to make a difference after seeing all the property losses caused by fires, he asserts “The bottom line is protecting the lives of firefighters.” Thankfully in addition to protecting the treasured lives of firefighters, Sun FireDefense has made it a mission to increase the probability of defending homes and open spaces from imminent jeopardy.

28 Hidden Hills Magazine | Fall 2021
TOP: Sun Fire's utility pole and perimeter protection vehicle. BELOW: Moselye meets with Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum and Dubai Civil Defense after the New Years Eve Burj Khalifa skyscraper fires.



Fire departments respond to a fire on average every 24 seconds in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Jim Moseley of Sun FireDefense shares these tips to slow or stop the spread of wildfires and to help protect your home from catching fire. In addition to defending your home from from embers, direct flames or radiant heat, you will provide firefighters a safe area to work in.

1. CREATE DEFENSIBLE SPACE around the home. Defensible space is the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it. California law requires homeowners to maintain 100 feet of defensible space around homes and structures to increase your homes chance of withstanding a wildfire.

2. CREATE OTHER PERIMETER PROTECTION to keep your property clean and to help protect your family and home. Use proper landscaping that focuses on plants that resist the spread of fire to your home.

3. KEEP THE GUTTERS, ROOF AND OUTDOOR SPACES FREE OF DEBRIS like old fences, leaves and twigs. Trim trees, overgrowth and undergrowth.

4. CLEAR OUT WINDOW SCREENS, ATTIC VENTS & UNDER THE HOME of leaves and other possible fuel.

5. MOVE FIREWOOD AT LEAST 30 FEET FROM THE HOUSE . Be careful of using wood chips/mulch around the home.

6. Use ROOFING MATERIALS with the highest Class A fire rating.


8. Purchase and maintain a POOL PUMP if possible.

9. PROTECT YOUR WINDOWS with window laminates.

10. Protect one's home with Sun Fire Defense INTUMESCENT COATING Spray.

Fall 2021 | Hidden Hills Magazine 29
The Best Real Estate Decision… JUST ASK AROUND Melissa Improta Estate Agent missy@improta.com 310.597.1914 DRE 01265975 Compass is a real estate broker licensed by the State of California and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. License Number 01991628. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only and is compiled from sources deemed reliable but has not been verified. Changes in price, condition, sale or withdrawal may be made without notice. No statement is made as to accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footages are approximate. Jason Improta Estate Agent jason@improta.com 310.597.1915 DRE 01432200 23617 LONG VALLEY ROAD HIDDEN HILLS SOLD FOR $3,750,000 24878 LONG VALLEY ROAD HIDDEN HILLS SOLD FOR $4,500,000

While some of the world’s great artists effectively captured the mood, values and current events of their times, L.A.-born and San Fernando Valley-raised artist Ruben Rojas’ artist’s journey exists on a different plane. Rather than capture a moment, his work provides the beauty and optimism that his audience needs in the current moment.

the love of art

Anybody who enjoys regular visits to the Getty or the Broad clearly appreciates how art allows one to travel through time via the various paintings, sculptures and multimedia work on display. Whether your thing is Medieval History, 18th Century Decorative Arts, Impressionism or 20th Century photography, the artists whose works hang in those hallowed halls were not only able to communicate with their contemporaries but also future

generations about the realities of their times.

Some signs hanging in the Getty and the Broad point out that the artists behind a canvas or sculpture were mentored or influenced by others who proceeded them. Other signs explain how a given artist made waves by having something to say about the society he lived in. Iconic murals all over Los Angeles, meanwhile, are often described as reflecting the city’s history

and cultural diversity. Ruben Rojas has faint memories of driving past the famed murals of runners along the 101 and the 10 Freeways (dating to the time of the 1984 Olympics) with his family as well as glimpses of Judith Baca’s “The Great Wall of Los Angeles” (California history through the eyes of women and different minority groups) along the Tujunga Wash. However, he will admit that at that age, he had no idea what a mural was or what a muralist did.

(Continued on p. 32 after fold-out)

Fall 2021 | Hidden Hills Magazine 31
Rojas, taking in the presence of his first "Love Sculpture" out in the public. Photo: John Troxell

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Captivating, unobstructed city, and mountain views envelop this stunning Hidden Hills Manor. Perched atop a privately gated 1.5 acre knoll, an impressive motor court welcomes you to this 8 bedroom, 10 bath estate compound. A grand 2 story foyer and main hall open to an array of dramatic public living areas warmed by numerous fireplaces and adorned with custom millwork and gleaming wood floors. The professional chef’s kitchen boasts top-of-the-line appliances, a center island, and a sun-lit breakfast room. The adjacent great room adorned with rich wood paneling, custom fireplace, beamed ceiling detail, and impressive entertainers bar is the heart of this home. Two en-suite guest bedrooms and a handsome library completes the main living floor. The upper level features an elegant primary suite plus 3 additional secondary en-suite bedrooms. Additional living quarters include a charming detached guest house and a separate guest apartment. Sparkling pool and spa, outdoor dining terrace, and dual BBQ Stations are accentuated by the pristinely manicured grounds colorful gardens, numerous citrus trees, and private wine-producing vineyard. Bon Appetit!

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FG-B Hidden Hills Magazine | Fall 2021
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Fall 2021 | Hidden Hills MagazineFG-C
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Although he would not describe early dabbling in artistic techniques as “formal training,” Rojas fondly remembers how his mother encouraged him and his siblings to take weekend classes to learn how to create with charcoal, water colors, oil paints and woodwork. His journey to where he is now, in fact, was quite roundabout, and took him to places he did not expect—including deep into his own mind and heart when he realized he may have made a few wrong turns, career-wise. However, if you were to see him in action, over the summer, you would never guess how tumultuous that journey was based on his confidence and his easy-going command over his audience when his latest murals themed around “Love” were unveiled in one of Westlake Village’s busiest shopping areas.

“I feel I created everything around me as far as my artwork goes,” Rojas affirms. “When I started out, I didn't know anything about the art world, how galleries and gallery shows

worked, agents or managers. What I did know all along, however, was that being able to create my artwork on my terms was important to me and the people whose lives were affected by it. Every time I create and finish a mural, people post their thoughts about it on social media and get word out about it. The joy I get out of those reactions go beyond just liking that particular mural. Those posting about it go deep and get vulnerable when sharing their personal thoughts and emotions that the artwork brought out.”

While Rojas’ murals and sculptures can be found all over Los Angeles, as well as in Chicago, Houston and even Paris, France, and he now has a clothing line that underscores the reach of his work, he says he’s most proud of the fact that he can make a living, “creating artistic expressions for the sheer impact of how it can impact humanity as well as the individual humans looking at it.” He also credits social media and how it enabled him to spread word about what


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Fall 2021 | Hidden Hills Magazine 33
(Continued from p. 31)
Completed drone shot of Rojas' "Love on Lincoln" mural in Venice, CA.

he’s creating, why he’s creating it and what it has to say to the public looking at it. Although commercial success has fueled more demand and public art commissions, however, he believes that to keep the love rolling in (and in both directions), he continues to sharpen his skills so he can continue to grow as an artist and be very discerning about what projects he takes on as he wants his motto, “Live Through Love” to be a point of reflection rather than a slogan.

“’Live through love’ is an active way of being human,” Rojas explains. “Just as Nike says, ‘Just do it’ to motivate the audience to embrace sports and fitness, I send my message out to relay that we have a choice to function in the world out of love or out of fear. In terms of my use of the word ‘love,’ it’s about the way I have decided to use it in terms of encouraging others to build a lifestyle around love and positivity rather than fear. I want to make people consider how they can interact with each other through love and express it in different ways. I don’t just put it in my art, but I also find ways to make it relevant. Whether I put the word “love” within my portraits of Kobe Bryant, the American Flag, or a pair of hands holding, I do it with intention—even if one of my pieces with ‘love’ as a design element ends up on a BMW or a bottle of alcohol. I want onlookers to consider what it would be like to live their lives through love.”

Rojas also believes that the act of being creative, positively or negatively, becomes of the culture and the history books, which is why his radar is tuned to seeing where positivity is most needed. During the height of the pandemic, for example, he would paint on panels of plywood boarding up stores that made the streets of L.A. look “a little bit like a scene out of The Walking Dead.

“If we could put art on top of those boards, and spread a positive message during this turbulent time, I felt it was an opportunity to put a smile on someone's face and allow something good to come out of the pandemic,” Rojas says. “That mural had the message, ‘You can’t quarantine love,’ and it went viral. I chose to use the word “quarantine” for a reason, but I used it in a way to differentiate love from fear in that the quarantine compelled us all to stay connected with family and friends, whether in one’s pod or through technology like Zoom. While the message encouraged people to reaching out to others they care about, but it also

compelled them to think about was most important to them.”

It goes without saying that he wants to leave a relatable mark on a variety of community sites, including prisons and schools. With regards to L.A. school murals, he points out that the students are not the only ones needing inspiration. “Everybody coming into that building to work should be able to have some beautiful artwork that inspires them every single day,” he affirms. Before Rojas takes on a paid commission with a person or company, he asks whomever is commissioning it about the ‘why,’ or reason behind the project as this is going to be a collaborative effort. Precisely, what and whom will be impacted through

34 Hidden Hills Magazine | Fall 2021
Photo: John Nodillo Photo: Dylan Scarsone

the finished artwork and how will the work resonate with them.

“The American Express mural in Clarksdale, Mississippi (my fourth major mural) was a very powerful project for me because the subject matter would focus on financial literacy,” he details. “As a former advisor, the program spoke to me as too many people have not been taught skills like maintaining good credit and don’t understand the importance of building their savings. This was about reaching an audience that may (ask themselves) what are these guys from L.A. doing here, and then get them to connect with the importance of financial literacy through the art. While American Express is doing an excellent job with the financial literacy aspect of the program it set out to promote, and we're helping the public relate to that subject—making your dream your reality with financial literacy skills— relatable. Tom’s, meanwhile, wanted our collaboration and those with other artists to communicate messages about ending gun violence to a broad audience.”

Rojas is so self-assured in his vision that it’s hard to believe that he lived in a state of flux in his early adult life. Initially, he set out to be a doctor, and studied exercise science, physics, chemistry and kinesiology. Before he started medical school, a friend lured him into real estate, and almost instantly, he made a lot of money and excelled until 2008 when the housing bubble burst and he lost his fortune. A year later, he parlayed his persuasive personality and marketing prowess into success as a financial advisor for about a decade. Even though his clients were happy with his work, and he was on top once again, he was unhappy.

“There was no purpose in what I was doing,” he affirms. “I was trading time

for money, just as I had in real estate. However, while I was young, I bought a lot of things to fill all of these voids. As I got older, I realized that people need life experiences and a purpose in life to fill these voids rather than the acquisition of possessions. One friend convinced him to participate in an art program, and as he was completing it some time later,

a classmate who saw him doodling a graphic for a class project (a design for the back of a “team uniform” hoodie to worn by those graduating from the program) said, “We’ve got to get that up on a wall!” That design would become part of his class’ community service project.

Fall 2021 | Hidden Hills Magazine 35
OPPOSITE (TOP): Rojas working on his custom "Love M440" for BMW. OPPOSITE (BOTTOM): Seven stories up in Oakland, CA painting the "Love Me Before I’m Gone" Mural. ABOVE: Resting while painting the "Create Your Moments" murals. Photo: Annie Janssen

“It was the first mural I designed, and it was painted between December 2013 and January 2014,” he recalls. “Over the next couple years, (even as I was) still working as a financial advisor, I found the time to paint more murals. Initially it was just about, ‘Cool! You’re letting me paint your wall.’ However, I was wondering how I could make money at this as I was still working with clients and maintaining by books. I did not know about how to make a living as an artist, as I did not go to school to specifically study how to have a career in art. However, I did not let my fears stop me. Eventually, I took on some projects to make money from my art. Those early projects (did not) look like the art I am creating today, but they gave me the confidence to know I could make a living

doing this and move forward. And when that happened, I quit, cold turkey, and did not go back into the office.”

By the end of 2017 and with the support of his financial clients to embrace the artists’ life—albeit with a lot of marketing savvy—Rojas handed his book of business to a colleague and dedicating time to seeing how far he could take his art into a full-time vocation which now encompasses a clothing line launched this past summer and working with smaller canvases. On a larger scale, he’s optimistic about his future as well as the positive direction his hometown is headed in from a cultural and a business perspective.

“I love this city, and plan on living out my life here even if work takes me elsewhere,” Rojas concludes. What I appreciate most about L.A. is that it is constantly changing. People are still coming here to fulfill a creative dream, and not just Hollywood entertainment, but also other industries like tech and hospitality and all the constant change and growth keeps this city relevant. I am very excited about the fact we’re getting the Olympics in 2028. I was just a tiny kid when they came through town in 1984, and if anything, I remember the positive by-products of those games. Hopefully, all the improvements being made to the city ahead of the 2028 games will bring in a ton of art from all kinds of creative people as other opportunities.

36 Hidden Hills Magazine | Fall 2021
CLOCKWISE: Just Just wrapped-up painting the "You Belong" mural at Westfield Topanga. Sitting in the studio giving the art a moment to breathe and settle. Finishing touches on the "Do What You Love" mural in Marina Del Rey, CA. The beginning of the mural process. Photo: Jun Endo Photo: John Nodillo Photo: John Nodillo
2019 2020 2018 2021 Best of Houzz 2021 Best of Houzz 27 years in business • 5x Best of Houzz winner • High-end 2019 2020 2018 2021 Best of Houzz Design 2021 Best of Houzz Design 27 years in business • 5x Best of Houzz winner • High-end 2019 2020 2018 2021 Best of Houzz Design 2021 Best of Houzz Design 27 years in business • 5x Best of Houzz winner • High-end 2021 of Houzz Design
2019 2020 2018 2021 Best of Houzz Design 2021 Best of Houzz Design 27 years in business • 5x Best of Houzz winner • High-end

VenturaDay Trip

The renaissance sparked by the pandemic in historical downtown Ventura has truly transformed the area into a destination for new restaurants, breweries, and shopping. Though it is often skipped, and many head straight to Santa Barbara, the local business owners have curated a bustling hub of delicious food and craft beer, chic home decor, vintage shopping, and live entertainment. In an effort to support the local eateries and shops, the Main Street Moves program allowed restaurant spaces to double occupancy outdoors within the half-mile street closure that has been likened to the atmosphere of the European restaurant scene. Just in the half-mile stretch, Main Street boasts 36 restaurants, bars, and cafes surrounded by neo-classical architecture, victorian style homes, and indigenous landmarks that belonged to the Chumash tribe hundreds of years ago. This hidden gem tucked into the coastline is a must-visit for SoCal residents that are ready to get out in the world again - socially distanced of course.

by Elle Rama | Photos by Sam Lekov


Located just off the freeway, Harvest Cafe is a farm-to-table vegetarian restaurant with many vegan & gluten-free options, dedicated to making a positive impact on customers’ perspectives of what healthy eating means while prioritizing the planet. All of their ingredients are grown locally and are sustainably sourced to provide the healthiest possible culinary experience. From waffles to breakfast burritos, the Harvest Cafe has a wide-ranging menu along with a pastry counter and a fridge packed with premade pressed juices, dips, salads, and sandwiches to stash for later.


In the heart of Main St. sits a small taste of France at the quaint, Cafe du Suro. Known for its fresh-made croissants and Intelligentsia espresso, this teeny coffee shop serves decadent European pastries as well as classic deli sandwiches. Their charming aesthetic and free wifi make for the perfect spot to relax

or get a bit of work done before a long day of shopping, people watching, and most likely more eating.


Seat yourself in the beautiful courtyard of The Blue Agave for an authentic Mexican dining experience. This family-owned sports bar and restaurant serves dishes originating in the South

of Mexico, Oaxaca, Puebla, and Yucatán to provide customers with a true taste of Mexican culture and cuisine. The sports bar is decorated with 5 TVs and offers over 700 tequilas and mezcals to make their fish-bowlsized specialty cocktails with. The outdoor patio has gorgeous views of the surrounding fountains and murals that line the walkway to the San Buena Ventura Mission just up the way.


For a more lively atmosphere, head over to Limón Y Sal where the party starts at 1 PM, and tables are packed with groups drinking signature mezcal mixers and cervezas. Their head chef has been making their authentic Mexican dishes from scratch for over 20 years with a menu known for its great vegan options and large portions to leave you feeling satisfied. Light your mouth on fire with their infamously spicy enchiladas a

The Blue AgAve

la diabla as you are serenaded by a live mariachi band and served icy frozen margs. After dark, their rooftop bar, Cantina 31, turns into a nightclub with a dance floor, live DJ, and of course their award-winning margaritas.


While you may not have traveled to Ventura to go to an Irish pub if you don’t stop by Dargan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant you’ll be missing out. Since 2004, owner Liam Sherlock has continued on his family trade of friendly Irish pubs in the small beach town of Ventura. Once you step inside you will probably (definitely) notice their absurdly large bar selection, but also the wistful Irish decor. Serving typical Irish dishes like fish & chips, shepherd's pie, or the family’s recipe Irish stew, you can’t go wrong

as long as it’s paired with a Guinness.


For a Western feel and classic American food, Winchester’s Grill and Saloon is the perfect place to grab a great burger and beer before watching local artists play country and bluegrass through sunset. Their full-service bar features over 40 (mostly local) beers on tap and over 45 whiskeys for your exploration, along with craft cocktails and over 25 wine selections. The bar opens up into their patio and

expands into a large outdoor area with great views of the heart of Main St.


Head over to Finney’s Crafthouse for an impressive food and cocktail selection that will seriously make your mouth water. The familyowned and operated restaurant and bar brings upscale cooking to casual dining and their local, seasonal ingredients are the soul of their culinaryinspired American fare. Previously a 100-year-old bank building, the Gastropub is decorated in old brick,

high vaulted ceilings, and Victorian detailing all the way through to their second-floor mezzanine where you can play skee ball, watch a game, and have a great time with friends.


The opulent atmosphere of the Casa Bella seafood and steakhouse is a unique twist to the predominant beach vibe that permeates the restaurants on Main St. As one of the pricier eateries on the street, the business offers deals like their famous four-course meal, ‘Best of Bella’, their ‘Lobster Wednesday’ featuring a 9oz warm-water Australian

42 Hidden Hills Magazine | Fall 2021

lobster tail, and their ‘Sunday Bottomless Champagne Lunch’. This establishment is definitely a destination for celebration and will serve as a one-stop for an amazing dinner, alcohol list, and dessert.


As one of the only restaurants that serves sushi on Main St., Masa Sushi has created a truly romantic outdoor space for customers to enjoy fresh fish and other Japanese dishes. Truly taking advantage of the outdoor seating scene, Masa Sushi has set up a tent

brimming with white, pink, and lavender flowers for a lovely meal under a decorative floral masterpiece. The sushi and sashimi are caught fresh and served in a wonderful presentation to accentuate the romantic atmosphere.

Capriccio Inc. *4

At each end of Main St. sit two amazing choices for great Italian eats. Capriccio Inc. has a delightful menu full of classic pastas, unique salads, and delectable pizzas. What better start than free fresh-baked, rosemary bread rolls with a tangy balsamic and olive oil dip to a satisfying Italian meal. Alongsidektheir traditional menu of entrees comes a delightful and exclusive dessert menu including a pear-based brûlée, tiramisu, and some classic cheesecake.


At the North end of Main, Bank of Italy - Cocktail Trust, focuses on their craft cocktails and describes their menu as having an Italian flare. Their

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chef has created a quirky spread of Italian comfort food with thoughtfully sourced, local ingredients to pair wonderfully with their specialty cocktails, local brews, and natural wine list. This bar is one of the more sophisticated and trendy spots on the block with a modern interior and gorgeous neoclassical detailing on the exterior. Though it is small and you may have to make reservations in advance, the ambiance, aesthetically pleasing plates, and to-die-for cocktails make the experience entirely worth your while or wait.


Start your night at Grapes and Hops, located at the site of Ventura’s first-ever bar. With the help of local vineyards, breweries, bakers, artists, and musicians, they have created a regional flavor that is unmatched. Thursday through Sunday live bands begin playing at 2 PM drawing in the older crowd for some top-shelf drinks, incredible jazz and blues bands, and a vintage speakeasy atmosphere to honor the building’s roots. Their incredible share-plates

of assorted cheese boards, pretzels, and flatbreads add to the elegant ambiance making for the perfect place to unwind before grabbing a meal.


Ventiki Tiki Lounge and Lanai is a Pan Asian bar and restaurant known for their extensive rum selection and creative signature cocktails served in large tiki mugs that are only $8 during happy hour from 4 PM-6 PM. Start your night on the Lanai patio where you can feel the warmth of the islands and eat fresh sushi surrounded by their tiki waterfall, wahine muraled flower garden, and fire pit for those chilly island nights. This hole in the wall has a classic island vibe to it decorated with vibrant colors, custom art, and lots of tiki heads.


Leashless Brewing is a certified organic, artisanal independent craft brewery making the world a better place, one glass of organic beer at a time. The founder is a local entrepreneur from Carpinteria who was inspired

by his love for the ocean and the earth to go further than his own eating/drinking habits and create a truly environmentally conscious and sustainablyminded brewery. His goal is to use the brewery to help turn others onto an organic lifestyle one pint of organic craft beer at a time, no matter how difficult it is or how long it takes to source their ingredients. Their taproom is open for outdoor and indoor dining with regular entertainment from ThursdaySunday and food trucks for some savory compliments to their brews.


You can also find some great old-time bands and heavenly comfort food at the womenowned Fluid State Beer Garden. Their $24 sourdough pizzas are fit to feed a small army, their cheese plates are multifarious in cheeses, and their beer menu brags 33

beers, 24 of which are on tap - not including ciders, wines, and house-made cocktails. Their impressive outdoor patio accommodates many large picnic tables under tarps lined with dazzling light strands and welcomes your beloved 4-legged family members on leash.

Fall 2021 | Hidden Hills Magazine 45



In the middle of Main St., a small courtyard is tucked in from the road with several remarkable stores. The Vom Fass shop is lined in aged barrels to taste test an array of oils, vinegar, and liqueurs. Their wall of open tap barrels displays all kinds of whiskey, rye, bourbon, wine, and even a vodka made from apples and pears. The employees are very knowledgeable about the history behind everything they offer to provide a very personal experience tailored to your preferences. You are sure to leave with at least several samples and a new perspective

on easy ways to elevate your cooking.


While it may be tempting to hop from bar to bar, the woman-owned small business, Passport Habits is overflowing with elegant and adorable gifts for your loved ones or your own home. If you stop in, you will likely meet the lovely woman that has sourced her store’s products from all over the world to create a cozy haven to fulfill all your interior design dreams.


Contrast is another unique vintage shop owned by a sister-brother duo that handpicks all of their vintage clothing and home decor along with surfboards that are hand-shaped by pro surfer and co-owner, Curren Caples. Their store is the epitome of a beach town boutique, decked in vibrant midcentury nicknacks, prints, and furniture.


Tiki Girl is a boho-chic clothing boutique specializing in designer swimwear, affordable quality clothing, gifts, and natural cosmetics. Greeted by a vibrant sun mural and surrounded by pastels at the very least you will be sure to get an aesthetically pleasing Instagram post from your visit. Including prints from Peruvian artist Daniella Manini, their beautifully decorated shop is full of the trendiest apparel for women and children as well as other sweet beachy novelties.


“Sustainability,” “authenticity” and “artisanal” are terms that are so widespread that their nuances are at risk for evaporating into marketing buzzwords. Like wine grapes and vineyards themselves, it's in every wine lover's interests for these words to age well into rich, enduring and meaningful ideas. In the last few decades, viticulture has become so embraced on a mainstream level that some wine lovers and industry professionals are concerned those important words may get lost in translation.

Cases where the “wine-aslifestyle” pitch has gone a touch too far are France’s St. Emillion and California’s hallowed Napa. Excellent wines at all price points come out of these regions, which are both undoubtedly lush and gorgeous. However, the attributes that put them on the

Sustainable sonoma

map have long been obscured by “wine country” trappings and tropes that renders them oenophile theme parks. Additionally, too much of a good thing can mean that important make-or-break things the protection of the natural resources making wine possible can become an afterthought.

To counterbalance this, several wineries in neighboring Sonoma and upand-coming AVA’s (American Viticultural Area) like the Livermore Valley, have taken on a dual commitment to educate visiting wine drinkers at all levels of experience about the importance of sustainability and engineer the “destination” elements of their properties to reflect local history, family wine production traditions and the betterment of their surrounding communities.

The charming and historic Concannon Vineyards, Livermore, CA.

When you visit Concannon Winery in the Livermore Valley, the Imagery Estate Winery and Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen, or Dutcher Crossing in northern Sonoma County, you’ll find sophistication and an aspirational vibe running through the landscaping, tasting rooms, interior design and nearby restaurants they adamantly support. However, the guided tours through these vineyards, production rooms and bottling rooms prove there’s nothing fake or manufactured about the dayto-day workings of the wineries. The owners’ personalities shine through as does the evolution of their winemaking approach through the generations. Even with charisma to spare, however, nobody is shy about frank discussions about situations when the growing conditions, weather or economy were less than idyllic. They clearly want to have visitors fully understand why “sustainable” is anything but a marketing device to push bottles in the tasting rooms, liquor stores and wine clubs.

What defines ‘Sustainability’ in wine production, of course, depends on which winery you are visiting. No matter how each of these winery goes about it, they all will touch upon all stages of production, from the maintenance of the land and the plants to harvesting, aging, bottling and distribution. This is why they've made it a point to stress that learning about sustainability is integral to the enjoyment of the vineyard walks, wine tastings, special programs (tasting dinners, wine blending classes) and other aspirational activities that makes Northern California a perennial

favorite destination among Southern Californians.


On the surface, each winery has its own full-bodied, with the spicy gee-whiz, appeal of your favorite science class and smooth finish of something aesthetic, be it an art gallery or a picnic area right out of a Mid-Century issue of House & Garden. The sheep you see on the “Sustainability Walk” on the Benziger property are irresistibly cute (while making pesticides completely unnecessary). The “timeline” wall at Concannon is museum grade (so much so that some of the same bottles can also be viewed at the National Museum of American History at Smithsonian in Washington, DC). You could spend an entire day soaking in the aromas of grapes and mull over the parallels between the “label art” in Imagery's art gallery and nuanced wine expressions. Each winery provides a framework on why sustainability makes sense—not just with the bigger picture of conservation in our state, but also with crafting wine in a way that returns to the roots of quality-focused, terroir driven winemaking.

Concannon winemaker James Foster points out that while this winery is known for its modern, elegant expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon, its roots run deep figuratively and literally...back to 1883...making it America's oldest continually operating winery. Its reputation as a quality winemaker and some of its hallowed Cabernet Clones (7, 8 and 11) originating from a single “Mother Vine” founder James Concannon

50 Hidden Hills Magazine | Fall 2021
TOP: The Concannon tasting room in Livermore, CA. BOTTOM: The sustainably grown Concannon Chardonnay.

quietly brought in from Chateaux Margaux. She still stands proudly at the head of the grounds surrounded by some of her “children.”

While Concannon’s identity as a designated sustainable California winery does not go back as far as 1883, Foster points out it is one of the state’s and the nation’s first trailblazers in sustainable winemaking. Using the museumlike timeline display to highlight key innovations before adding the winery’s contributions have also been immortalized in the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

“Our success is not just about the methods in which we grow our grapes, maintain our vineyards, and do our part to protect the environment,” says Foster. “We’ve always looked at the bigger picture of environmental stewardship that will positively impact other winemakers. In fact, it goes beyond being a good neighbor to other growers and producers, to engaging in philanthropic activities in our community and creating an exemplary work environment for our employees. While we’ve long been a strong advocate of sustainable farming, Concannon was an active participant in the development of the Wine Institute’s “Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices” (or CSWA) in 2009.”

Foster then clarifies that Concannon was one of 17 California wineries that participated in the CSWA “Certified Pilot Program” to test the efficacy of the certification requirements and offer feedback for introducing a statewide certification program as well as establishing a set of sustainable standards for all California wineries through third-party verification and meeting requirements for continuous improvement. As our group of enthusiastic oenophiles heads toward the Mother Vine, he concludes his history lesson by noting that in January 2010, Concannon was among

the 13 first wineries to be awarded this rigorous certification, proving that the commitment to stepping up the existing conservation practices and business standards had paid off.

There are many sides to every story, along with different routes to the main plot, and McManis Family Vineyards near Livermore (and in the heart of

the McManis' proprietary Lodi Valley Appellation, River Junction) has one so compelling that it draws serious wine enthusiasts from as far away as Canada and Sweden even if it doesn't have the manicured gardens, swanky tasting rooms, cafes and gift shops of other wineries.

Justin McManis (representing the winery's fifth dynasty along with sister Tanya and Dirk Heuvel and winemaker Michael Robustelli are witty and approachable, but clearly no nonsense

Fall 2021 | Hidden Hills Magazine 53
TOP: McManis Family Vineyards 2017 Chardonnay, grown at their 100% Sustainable Certified vineyards. LEFT: A tasting au naturale at McManis Vineyards.

in their tour (where we taste things in the middle of the vineyard, as they may do). When they get visitors, they assume they are mainly there to see where the magic actually happens as nature intended rather than an interior designer.

“We started our journey towards becoming 100% certified sustainable in 2008, and when we certified our first vineyard, we realized right away that we didn't really have to change our farming practices stresses Robustelli. “It was just a lot more documenting what we were already doing. We were already implementing solar power, recycling all of our back-flush water so nothing gets wasted, implementing permanent cover crops and just really looking at the biodiversity within the vineyards to enable beneficial insects to thrive as well as enhance other naturally occurring resources that nourish in the vines.”

Justin McManis adds that getting involved in the sustainability program, the “Lodi Rules,” affirmed they had been doing almost everything correctly. However, as the Lodi Rules is the oldest sustainable vineyard farming programs in the state of California, its success (along with the successful harvests and production participating wineries experienced) begat other sustainability programs, including the California Sustainable Wine Growing Alliance

(CSWA), which McManis is now officially certified through. While the CSWA requires affiliated wineries to engage in continuous improvements to their properties in the program, it contrasts with the Lodi Rules as the rules for required upgrades was not quite as stringent.

“We started focusing a little bit more on the day-to-day farming and what we were doing and trying to just grow a better quality product,” says Robustelli. “Sustainability goes beyond farming. There's the human resources side of the sustainability as well as the economic side of it, and they all need to co-exist for the whole operation to be sustainable. However, with the CSWA the entry level to get certified right off the get-go is a little bit easier than the Lodi Rules so the Lodi rules, it's not a continuous improvement program, but it's definitely has the bar set higher to become certified sustainable.

I think the CSWA is one of the only programs that certifies a vineyard and a winery, so we decided since we are such big growers in the Lodi Appellation (all of our red varietals are Lodi Appellation), we decided to stay with the Lodi Rules program as it has a lot deeper roots than the CSWA which is a broader program for the whole state. Lodi Rules is the program specifically designed for the Lodi Growing Region, though I believed that the Lodi Rules

program is being used in three different countries now.

At Benziger Family Winery, Chris Benziger (younger brother of winery founder Mike Benziger) exudes the kind of charisma one would expect from a Brand Manager and one-time Brand Manager as he discusses the original 19th Century owners of the land, literary figures who squatted there (most famously, Hunter S. Thompson), the hugely popular Benziger wine club, and how the aforementioned sheep came to work on the property. He also intersperses stories of how he, Mike and the rest of the Benziger kids learned valuable lessons of sustainable farming and conservation that continue to shape the operation. Winemaker Lisa Amaroli plays straight man to Chris, but owns the spotlight once we’re inside the winery looking at the inner workings of production and doing the barrel tastings.

Chris’ “once upon a time” begins like this: “When the family came out here in 1980,

54 Hidden Hills Magazine | Fall 2021
McMannis Family Vineyards

there wasn’t a lot of organic farming going on. Integrated pest management was rare, (and) we farmed as our neighbors did, and the Monsanto guy would show up with a big bag of metho-level-bad stuff and spray it everywhere with his Nifty Fifty sprayer. Let’s say you had leafhoppers, you go and nuke the leaf hoppers, and next time there would be mildew and you would chemically treat that. In very short order, we were collectively pushing nature out of this beautiful piece of property…the unintended aspects of chemical spraying. We realized that the earth was being killed by those very chemicals we were using to save it. Our wine quality was not getting better, and we realized we were putting scars on our land. When (we first moved to Northern California) and we played around the vineyard, it burst with all sorts of life. Before we switched over to (biodynamic farming) all you could hear was the wind with no birds, insects or any other animals.”

Even if the grapes look pretty, you end up “growing sugar water balloons” using those chemical-industrial farming methods, according to Chris Benziger. He further explains that chemicals stop the roots from, “going into that rich geological lasagna,” the plant stops growing because it doesn't have to work as hard to get

nutrients. His case for biodynamic wine is humorous but powerful: While the beautiful grapes can grow, they lack the flavor—the terroir—that makes quality wine.

Once the Benziger family had committed itself to sustainable farming along with the environmental and social issues the winery's “Biodynamic Journey” addresses, there was no going back as Chris explains it. In the first two decades of the 21st Century, growers and colleagues at other wineries followed its lead. Other opportunities for the Benziger family

arose over time, including the Imagery Series, originally introduced in 1995 as a series of special edition wines through a collaboration between winemaker, Joe Benziger and noted artist Bob Nugent. Joe's daughters Jamie (Imagery's winemaker) and Jill (Consumer, Trade and outreach Liason) have clearly not only worked hard to bring it to life as a separate winery, but also take winemaking and tasting room visits into a different direction. As a result, Imagery Estate Winery is regarded as a sister winery with its own singular merits.

Fall 2021 | Hidden Hills Magazine 55
Jamie Benziger with the spin-off label she developed, Imagery Wines Benziger Family Winery, here, and at right.

Before entering Imagery Estate Winery to see how the magic of artisanal winemaking and artisan talent happens, Jamie Benziger lays out the winery was certified biodynamic in 2000-2001. And with that, she continues the story about how

her family members brought their hardearned knowledge and support to outside growers.

“What my father, Joe, did was form his own sustainability program called 'Farming for Flavors,' before LODI Rules and the CSWA came along,” she says, beaming with pride.

“We used our sustainability program to teach all of our outside growers how to be better stewards to the earth, from water recycling, being a good neighbor, not spraying (pesticide chemicals everywhere), protecting wildlife and biodiversity in the vineyards, things like that. We had that program until a year ago, when CSWA became the bigger umbrella and the one that’s industry recognized, so CSWA covers all of our wineries. Here in Sonoma sustainability has been huge across the board. In fact, it seems as if every winery in Sonoma County is sustainable (certified) in some way. In 2019, when Imagery's wines launched and sold nationally, we encouraged all of our growers to become certified sustainable.

“The industry in Sonoma is very collaborative,” continues Jill. “(Uncle) Mike and the others have always been open book encouraging others to come and see what we’ve done, how we created best practices and how we’ve applied those practices to the vineyards, from water recycling to better ground maintenance methods free of chemicals to temperature control. We encourage any winemaker or winery or grower interested in expanding their sustainability foot print to come out and see us. We are less about having a competitive edge and more about all of us growing together as a rising tide. While

there was always an interest in learning about old school things in nature like rising tides and the position of the moon it equaled the interest in modern technology. But the goal is to be proactive rather than reactive.”


Benziger Family Winery

1883 London Ranch Road

Glen Ellen, CA (707) 935-3000


Concannon Vineyard

4590 Tesla Rd

Livermore, CA (925) 456-2505


Imagery Estate Winery

14335 Sonoma Highway

Glen Ellen, CA 95442 (877) 550-4278


McManis Family Vineyards

18700 E River Road

Ripon, CA (925)-456-2505


Recommended Hotels

El Dorado Hotel + Kitchen 405 1st St West

Sonoma, CA 95476 (707) 996-3030


56 Hidden Hills Magazine | Fall 2021
The Imagery Wine tasting room... ...where guets can sip vintages and take in local art.

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Michael Bloom



“We are thrilled that Michael has joined our Calabasas Office Family. He is an touches the hearts of everyone he encounters. With many years of Real Estate Hidden Hills, Michael brings a level of sophistication, knowledge and personal that is unmatched by most. We are delighted to welcome Michael to The Agency celebrate his growth and success.”

A longtime Hidden Hills resident, Michael brings a strong work ethic, genuine love knowledge of Calabasas, Woodland Hills and Hidden Hills. Fluent in Spanish deeply involved in the community, serving as an Ambassador to the Calabasas a Board Member for the Foundation for the Las Virgenes Schools and Commissioner

and CEO Mauricio Umansky, Calabasas Managing Partner Emil Hartoonian, Valley Sales Manager Jason Galardi are proud to welcome Micheal Bloom to The Emil Hartoonian, Managing Partner and Jason Galardi, Sales Manager
LUXURY REAL ESTATE AT THEAGENCYRE.COM Michael.Bloom@TheAgencyRE.com LIC. # 01188440
As a resident of Hidden Hills for more than 40 years, I have a unique understanding of how our community, and the homes in it, has evolved into something almost beyond imagination. There is an intangible here within our gates that ads value to anyone looking to redefine their lifestyle and become part of this great and ongoing story. I love telling that story, and helping people to understand what it means to live here, and I love being able to communicate the potential of every home.
It is the greatest of compliments when those who have known you the longest believe wholeheartedly in what you can accomplish.”




Long time residents and best friends, miniature donkeys Gidget and Fannie have been a big part of the HH community for that last 8 years! Both ladies are rescues but they settled into the the HH lifestyle quickly. From participating in the parades, to nightly walks on the trails, they love living here and are now looking for their forever home and family to love. While they are certainly tame and love to be around people, they do need someone with experience to be their main handler because donkeys can be stubborn! Please contact editorial@longvalleymedia.com if you think you are their next special family.

Fall 2021 | Hidden Hills Magazine 63
Proudly Represent HIDDEN HILLS SOLD 5370 Whitman Road Offered at $7,495,000 FOR SALE 24760 Long Valley Road $11,595,000
MARC SHEVIN | 818.251.2456 || SARA SHEVIN | 818.205.2095 THESHEVINS.COM MARC SHEVIN | 818.251.2456 || SARA SHEVIN | 818.205.2095 THESHEVINS.COM Lic# 00559629 Lic# 02038247 FOR SALE 5889 Jed Smith Road $15,495,000
MARC SHEVIN | 818.251.2456 || SARA SHEVIN | 818.205.2095 THESHEVINS.COM MARC SHEVIN | 818.251.2456 || SARA SHEVIN | 818.205.2095 THESHEVINS.COM FOR SALE 25220 Walker Road $20,000,000
Paradise Valley Road
Butterfield Road
©2021 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties (BHHSCP) is a member of the franchise system of BHH Affiliates LLC. BHHS and the BHHS symbol are registered service marks of Columbia Insurance Company, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate. BHH Affiliates LLC and BHHSCP do not guarantee the accuracy of all data including measurements, conditions, and features of property. Information is obtained from various sources and will not be verified by broker or MLS. Buyer is advised to independently verify the accuracy of that information. Top Broker-Market Share Reports, published 8/2020 for 1/1/12 - 12/31/19 & published 7/2021 for 1/1/20 - 6/30/21, Trendgraphix, Inc. NUMBER ONE REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE SERVING HIDDEN HILLS 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2 0 2 1 PEPPER FARM I OFFERED AT $22,500,000 BY MARC & SARA SHEVIN 24304 Little Valley Road, Hidden Hills, CA 91302 | 818.223.9100 | bhhscalifornia.com NUMBER ONE REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE SERVING HIDDEN HILLS 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2 0 2 1 PEPPER FARM I OFFERED AT $22,500,000 BY MARC & SARA SHEVIN 24304 Little Valley Road, Hidden Hills, CA 91302 | 818.223.9100 | bhhscalifornia.com

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