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Nick Frey knew this much about the wine grape — 0 — when the transplanted Iowan went to work in Sonoma County 14 years ago.

"I knew this part of the grape," he said as he swirled what was left in his wine glass Friday at a grand luncheon held in his honor at Kendall-Jackson's Slusser Road grove.

Rep. Jared Huffman, four county supervisors and 500 local growers, makers and advocates of wine came to wish Frey a happy retirement and thank him for his historic contributions to the quality and renown of the Sonoma County grape.

Frey sniffed back tears several times as he recounted his pleasure at serving as president of what's become the Sonoma County Winegrowers.

"Wineries can buy grapes anywhere," said the humble and wise man who bears many tons of credit for the fact that so many premium wineries want to buy them here.

Frey, whose retirement gift was a bottle of wine from every person at the luncheon, isn't too sure what he and his wife, Angie, will do now. But they're sure of one thing.

They will not be moving back to Iowa.

SHE HAD $500 in cash when she walked out of her bank on Santa Rosa's Yulupa Avenue. But when Julie Malm arrived home, there was but $200 in the envelope.

She shot back and was recounting the loss to the branch manager when in walked a young man carrying a wad of $20s. He reported finding the money in the parking lot.

When Malm offered him a reward to supplement her gratitude, he declined.

The presumption that honor and integrity are dead simply is not getting through to some people.

AT THE SAME TIME, Rosemary Milbrath would hope to see more of those qualities in the people who think it's OK to harvest flowers and other plants from others' yards.

Whoever cut roses and plucked peonies and Oriental poppies from the sidewalk strip in front of Milbrath's home in Santa Rosa's Grace Tract could not know how deeply she prized them.

She'd received a number of live plants as gifts of condolence when her only child, Rainer, died three years ago at age 36. She planted them out front.

"Though I'd never had a green thumb," Milbrath said, "the plants flourished and their life and beauty represented to me that he still lived on."

They flourished, that is, until they were raided. Milbrath asks that if we think about harvesting something from someone's yard, we think again. Then take only an admiring look and mosey on.

THOSE PEACOCKS strutting their colors in the Howarth Park area previously sojourned for about three months at Michael Sawyer's place on Melita Road, a few miles to the east.

Sawyer's family loved having the birds around and took to calling them Fred and Ricky. Sawyer doesn't know why the peacocks migrated to the west a month or so ago and now visit only occasionally, but he suspects that somewhere there's an Ethel and Lucy.

REMEMBER LIZZIE? A second-grader at Santa Rosa's Spring Creek Elementary, Lizzie Beiswanger, donated $100 to kick off a food-and-money drive at her school.

Schoolmates kicked in and Temple Beth Ami, just across Mayette Avenue from the school, put up a matching grant of $500.

Today Lizzie will visit St. Mark Lutheran Church and Christ Church United Methodist and give them $800 each, in addition to a load of canned edibles, for their food pantries.

Lizzie is feeling good because she knows how much food-bank food $1,600 can buy for people in need. A lot.

LOVE THAT SIGN at the Bananas At Large music store in downtown Santa Rosa, the one that reads, "Free air guitar; one per customer."

But you have to wonder if it's an offer that comes with strings attached.

(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.)