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Sonoma County honors International Women’s Day

Amy Levin, owner of St. Florian's Brewery in Windsor.

Born in Mexico City, and a biochemist by training, Ana Keller oversees wine making at Keller Estate Winery.

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International Women’s Day on March 8 is the perfect time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Women’s History Week — which eventually became National Women’s History Month — at the movement’s birthplace: Sonoma County.

The Movement's Birthplace: Sonoma County

Up until the 1970s, women’s history was practically an unknown topic in school curriculums or in general public consciousness. So 40 years ago the Education Task Force of Sonoma County created the first “Women’s History Week” starting March 8, 1978. More than 100 women participated by making special presentations in classrooms, and an essay contest drew hundreds of entries. The week’s finale was a parade and program in downtown Santa Rosa.

In February 1980, President Carter declared the week of March 8, 1980 as National Women’s History Week. The National Women’s History Project was founded that same year, with its headquarters in Santa Rosa and a goal of “writing women back into history.”

By 1986, 14 states had declared March as Women’s History Month, and in 1978 Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity.

Sonoma County Women Leaders

Here in Sonoma County we salute the contributions of women in all walks of our society. They’ve taken the lead in the wine industry (Kathleen Inman, Inman Family Wines; Bettina Sichel, Laurel Glen Vineyards; and Marimar Torres, Marimar Estate). They are brewers (Natalie Cilurzo, Russian River Brewing Company; and Amy Levin, St. Florian's Brewery) and distillers (Ashby Marshall, Spirit Works Distillery; and Amy Groth, HelloCello & Prohibition Spirits).

They get their hands dirty (Libby Batzel, Beet Generation Farm; and Jennifer Bice, Redwood Hill Farm). And they cook our food (Duskie Estes, Zazu Kitchen and Farm (pictured below); Sondra Bernstein, the girl & the fig; and Liza Hinman, The Spinster Sisters).

They make life more beautiful (Bonnie Z., Dragonfly Florals; Jan Tolmasoff, Russian River Rose; and Melena Moore Gilbert, Bliss Organic Day Spa). And they are artists and shopkeepers (Katia Vincent, beekind Honey Shop and Apiary; Caryn Fried, Valley of the Moon Pottery & North Eagle Gallery; and Andrea Caron, Silk Moon).


Learn about the contribution of women in Sonoma County at these upcoming events:


Recognizing 38 Years of Operation: The National Women’s History Project

Learn about the history of the National Women’s History Project, it’s impact on women, and its future in a presentation by Molly Murphy MacGregor, the project’s co-founder and executive director. MacGregor is a former high school social studies teacher who has worked for more than 40 years in the field of gender equality and women’s history.

Thursday, March 15, 2018, 6:30-8:30 p.m., History Museum of Sonoma County, 425 7th St., Santa Rosa, CA, 707-579-1500, [email protected], www.sonomacountymuseum.org; $10 prepaid or $15 at the door; $5 for students; free for museum members.

Visit the "She Persisted" Exhibition at the Healdsburg Museum

Discover the colorful lives and significant achievements of notable Sonoma County women in the 19th and early 20th centuries through the “She Persisted” exhibition at the Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society, in northern Sonoma County. Learn how these women’s lives shaped the character of their communities. The exhibition includes historic artifacts, narratives, and photographs, plus an extensive display of local historic artwork by Jane Raabe, Myra Hazen, Ollie Gaddini Bacigalupi, Maude Needham Latimer, Alice Haigh Dixon, and Rosinda Holmes. At the exhibit, here are a few of the women you’ll learn about:

  • Josefa Carrillo de Fitch, Californio owner beginning in 1849 of the Sotoyome Rancho, the 48,800-acre Mexican land grant that included and pre-dated the city of Healdsburg
  • Fanny McGaughey Martin, teacher, principal, attorney, County Superintendent of Schools, suffragist, circa 1900
  • Lucy Smith, renowned Pomo basket weaver of the mid-1900s
  • Isabelle Simi, owner and manager of Simi Winery from the early 1900s, who created the first wine tasting room in Healdsburg after repeal of Prohibition
  • Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, Olympic champion and “First Lady of Tennis,” 1920s
  • Ladies Improvement Club, founded in the late 1800s as a literary group, promoted civic amenities such as the municipal water system, but also axed down the bandstand in the Healdsburg Plaza to eliminate its unsavory influence as a gathering place for the imbibing of alcohol

She Persisted exhibit on display through April 15, 2018. Healdsburg Museum, 221 Matheson St., Healdsburg, 707-431-3325, [email protected], www.healdsburgmuseum.org.

Celebrating Women’s History with Books, Bubbles

Two novelists with books about historical women, suffragette food prepared by a culinary apprentice program for at-risk young adults, and a Houdini-style magician are all part of the Women’s History Month festivities at Breathless Wines, in Healdsburg. “The Secret Life of Mrs. London” by Rebecca Rosenberg reveals the love triangle between celebrated author Jack London, his wife Charmian London, and the magician Houdini.

And Patricia V. Davis, author of the award-winning Secret Spice Café series, presents her books “Cooking For Ghosts” and “Spells & Oregano.” The Worth Our Weight culinary program will prepare Suffragette cookbook recipes from Houdini and London, and Frank Balzerak will perform Houdini magic. Breathless Wines is the creation of three sisters, Sharon Cohn, Rebecca Faust, and Cynthia Faust, working with award-winning winemaker Penny Gadd-Coster.

March 17, 2018, 1-4 p.m. Breathless Wines, 499 Moore Lane, Healdsburg, 707-935-7300, [email protected], www.breathlesswines.com.

Sonoma County Women in Conversation

Prepare for an extraordinary evening of thought-provoking conversation with Ashley Judd, Adama Iwu, and Lindsay Meyer. The three were featured in the TIME Magazine ® 2017 Persons of the Year issue honoring "The Silence Breakers," the thousands of people across the world who have come forward with their experiences of sexual harassment and assault.

March 20, 2018, Mix & Mingle at 5 p.m. and speakers at 6 p.m.; $55. Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, 707-546-3600, [email protected], www.socowomensevents.com. 

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