Charter Oak Winery: Bringing Old World Charm to Modern Day Wine

Robert Louis Stevenson once said that wine is bottled poetry. Hidden in the heart of Napa Valley in St. Helena rests the modern day poet, Charter Oak Wines.

Touted as being the “most original, old-world,” winery of some 500 wineries in Napa Valley, Charter Oak produces elegant zinfandel’s, petite sirah’s and a cabernet sauvignon. Using winemaking tools and equipment passed down from the Ragghianti family, Charter Oak carries on the handcrafted winemaking process that began in an old European wine cellar, where wine was hand pressed, barrel-aged and bartered from a basement. The result is a wine reminiscent of its heritage – silky, balanced and ready for drinking. It is the wine for wine lovers. Image

Current vintages include:

  • 2010 Old Vine Monte Rosso Hillside Zinfandel Sonoma Valley
  • 2010 Guido Ragghianti Old World Field Blend
  • 2011 Old Vine Petite Sirah
  • 2010 Zinfandel Mind TZM
  • 2009 Napa Valley Roberto Fanucci Estate Zinfandel

Charter Oak wines are available in restaurants and retail stores in California, New York, Florida, Texas and at select locations throughout the U.S. The wines can also be purchased directly online.

Learn more at

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Chicago Live! Goes On The Road

Chicago Live

After a brief break, Chicago Live! returned on November 1 with its new quarterly and expanded show format, this time taking the show on the road with its first stop at Governors State University in University Park. The acclaimed stage and radio show produced by the Chicago Tribune and hosted by veteran Chicago reporter, author and radio/TV personality Rick Kogan featured guests from the worlds of arts, entertainment, sports and popular culture, as well as Chicago’s top newsmakers. For its opener at GSU, the show joined former alderman and WVON host Cliff Kelley, hip-hop artist PsalmOne, Three Floyds Brewing’s Barnaby Struve and blues musician Sugar Blue with the Tribune’s Josh Noel, Dawn Turner Trice and editorial page editor Bruce Dold. Check out individual sets and a surprise collaboration between PsalmOne and Sugar Blue and watch Barnaby Struve of Three Floyds Brewing explain craft beer.

More than 200 guests have appeared on Chicago Live!, including Billy Corgan, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Stephanie Izard. Chicago Live!’s next stop is at Ravinia Park – Bennett Gordon Hall on February 14 in Highland Park. Video, audio and photos from past shows are available at

Visit for updated lineups and direct links to purchase tickets.

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DIFFA/Chicago Presents 2012 Dining By Design Celebration

DIFFA/Chicago (The Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) has announced their annual Dining by Design event celebration will take place Nov 1 – 3 at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. Dining by Design pairs leading designers with table hosts in a one-of-a-kind table installation exhibit. This year’s celebration offers four events at varying ticket prices and brings together design and food lovers with some of the most creative individuals in the Chicago area.

The celebration kicks off with “Cocktails By Design,” a cocktail party and silent auction preview on November 1st from 5:30–8:30 p.m. A public viewing of the three-dimensional installations will take place on Friday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. On Saturday, DIFFA/Chicago partners with La Crema wines, EFFEN® Vodka and Stella Artois along with some of Chicago’s top restaurants, including Spiaggia and Piccolo Sogno Due, to feature “Table Hop & Taste” before closing with the spectacular Dining By Design Gala, which includes cocktails, dinner and a silent auction. New to this year’s installations will be a Sustainable Mission and the Emerging Designer Program.

For more information or to purchase tickets, go to

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Forum Studio Sets Sights on Chicago Expansion with Key Hires

Forum StudioForum Studio is growing its presence in Chicago with an office expansion and new hires. The firm’s plans signal confidence that a revival of the local architecture industry is underway.  Read it in Crain’s Chicago Business.

Below is information announcing Forum Studio’s new hires in Chicago and St. Louis.

CHICAGO — Forum Studio, a subsidiary of Clayco, Inc., is announcing ambitious plans for its full-service office in Chicago with an eye on growth and the addition of key associates.

Occupying a new 30,000-square-foot space at 35 E. Wacker, with another 22,000 square feet cited for expansion, Forum’s plans are to significantly grow its presence in Chicago.  Forum Studio is the architecture, interior design, engineering, landscape and planning arm of Clayco.

With designs on building its workforce, Forum’s Chris Cedergreen, president and senior principal, AIA, has named Alli Chapman, Associate AIA, as principal and vice president.

Mr. Cedergreen said,  “Alli has the business development and design experience necessary to build Forum Studio into a premier architecture and engineering firm with global reach.  She is a proven thought leader and her expertise will be essential to the growth of Forum and in advancing its standing as an award-winning, integrated planning and design firm.”

Ms. Chapman will work in tandem with Mr. Cedergreen as she sets course to develop a dedicated branding, marketing and communications strategy for the firm.  In addition, she will lead efforts in building Forum Studio’s team in Chicago and will participate in key project work.  Ms. Chapman recently served as vice president at VOA Associates Incorporated.

Forum Studio is also announcing the addition of several new associates to the Chicago office, including:

-Kapil Khanna, vice president, formerly with VOA Associates Incorporated.
-Evan Jahn, project manager, most recently at Howard Ecker + Company.
-Valiha Strecker, interior designer, formerly with Lawrence Group.
-Shawn Clark also joins Forum Studio in Chicago as project manager.

These new hires add to the recently announced appointment of Chip Crawford, senior principal, FASLA, named to head Forum’s Planning and Landscape Architecture Group in St. Louis.  Mr. Crawford arrives at Forum Studio after 28 years at HOK, where he founded the HOK Planning Group and most recently served as senior vice-president.

Joining Mr. Crawford at Forum’s St. Louis office are key associate moves from HOK, including:

-Neil Eisenberger, landscape architect, RLA, ASLA
-Matthew Marzana, landscape architect, RLA, ASLA, LEED AP
-Matthew Snelling, landscape architect, RLA, ASLA
-Andrew Kilmer, landscape architect, RLA, ASLA, LEED AP
-Ron Johnson, most recently at Arcturis, has also joined the St. Louis office as an associate principal.

Mr. Cedergreen explained that Forum’s plans are to build a dynamic, collaborative workplace with the best talent in the business. “Forum’s Chicago and St. Louis offices will be aligned and fully integrated to effectively and efficiently respond to the multidimensional, mission-critical needs of each of our clients.”

About Forum Studio

Founded in 1999, Forum Studio, Inc. is a single source design firm that creates great environments through responsive, responsible and respected architectural, interior design, engineering, landscape and planning solutions. With more than 110 diverse projects completed and built within the last 13 years by a staff of more than 70 professionals, Forum Studio works closely with clients and contractors to produce the highest quality collaborative designs. For more information, visit

About Clayco

Clayco, Inc. is one of the nation’s largest full-service real estate development, architecture, engineering and construction firms. With annual revenues of $820 million, Clayco specializes in “the art

and science of building,” providing fast-track, turnkey building solutions on a nationwide basis for commercial, institutional and industrial building types. For more information, visit

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The Chicago Tribune Announces 2012 Literary and Heartland Prize Winners

The Chicago Tribune has honored Elie Wiesel, Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor, with this year’s 2012 Chicago Tribune Literary Prize, an award that has also been bestowed to Arthur Miller, August Wilson and Joyce Carol Oates, among others.

Wiesel’s contributions to literature includes more than 50 books.  He is most known for his book “Night”, which recalls his experience in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps and the near-destruction of his family. The book is one of the most recognized pieces of work in Holocaust literature and has been translated in more than 30 languages. Wiesel will receive the honor on Sunday, November 11 at Chicago’s Symphony Center during a Chicago Tribune Printers Row program in conjunction with the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Chicago Tribune also awarded the 2012 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction to Paul Hendrickson for his work “Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961.” He will receive his award on November 11 at a 2 p.m. discussion at the Harold Washington Library Center. Richard Ford received the 2012 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction for “Canada.” Ford will be honored the same day during a 6 p.m. program at Northwestern University School of Law’s Thorne Auditorium.

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Award Winning Designer, Frank Ponterio, Interviewed by Traditional Home Magazine

Our very own award winnning Frank Ponterio was recently interviewed by Traditional Home for his participation in the Simply Magnificent: A Showcase of Homes, which took place in April and May at the new Ritz-Carlton Residences, Chicago, Magnificent Mile.

As part of the project, Frank incorporated his timeless interior design style into a comfortable, urban apartment to create a truly exceptional space.

Ritz-Carlton Showcase Apartment By Frank Ponterio

“I think that in most of my interiors, no matter how formal they are, people feel like they can actually interact with the things that we do. That they can put their feet up if they want to. They’re not afraid to sit on anything. That’s really important to me as far as the design sensibility—it would be tragic if people didn’t want to interact with the space. ”

Read more of the interview with Rebecca Christian and see a slideshow of the apartment here.

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ASID 2012 Design Excellence Awards Call for Entries


Entries are being accepted now through June 22 for the ASID Illinois 2012 Interior Design Excellence Award Competition. The competition is open to all ASID and IIDA Illinois Chapter Members and registered interior designers in the state of Illinois. This year, for the first time ever, entrants can submit projects digitally via the ASID Illinois online Call for Entries page. This new submission process was instituted by ASID in an effort to conserve materials and streamline entries.

The 2012 Call for Entries ushers in some other notable changes to the competition. Designers and/or firms can submit a maximum of six entries in the following overarching categories: contract, residential, product design and sustainable design. Additional awards have also been added, including honorariums provided by Gala co-sponsor Cosentino, honorariums provided by Sub-Zero/Wolf and recognition for Best of Design. Also, through submission entrants agree to attend the Celebration of Design Gala at The Art Institute of Chicago on September 14.

The American Society of Interior Designers, Illinois Chapter (ASID-IL) is a professional association representing the interests of more than 1,100 Illinois interior designers, students and design industry partner members. Its vision is to be the voice of design in Illinois, to provide information through quality, timely communications, to educate its members and clients and to grow and support market expansion. ASID-IL is led by a volunteer board that includes the Chapter’s president, president-elect, five directors and a student representative. Please visit for more information.

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