Press Democrat wine writer Peg Melnik scopes out wine lists around the North Bay, looking for good value and the occasional splurge.

This week's picks (prices are retail; restaurant markup varies.)

<strong>Sebastiani, 2012 Sonoma County Chardonnay,</strong> 13.5 percent alcohol, $14. A lovely chardonnay with layered flavors. Notes of apple, butterscotch and toasty oak. Well-integrated. Balanced.

<strong>Graziano, 2010 Mendocino County, Petite Sirah,</strong> 13.5 percent, $18. A robust petite sirah with a soft side. While it has firm tannins, it also has a round texture. Notes of blackberry, chocolate and vanilla. Great undercurrent of spice.

<strong>River Road Family Vineyards & Winery, 2012 Reserve Alexander Valley, Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon,</strong> 13.8 percent, $20. A lively cab with a lot going on. A touch earthy, with layered notes of blackberry, black cherry, cassis, cedar and a hint of vanilla. A steal for the quality.

<strong>Decoy, 2012 Sonoma County Zinfandel,</strong> 13.5 percent, $25. A zesty zin with high-toned red fruit and a kick of spice. Firm tannins. Nice length.

<strong>Joseph Phelps, 2012 Freestone Vineyards, Sonoma Coast Chardonnay,</strong> 14 percent, $55. This is a gorgeous chardonnay with great complexity. Rich, with aromas and flavors of stone fruit, lemon, cr?e brulee and brioche. Lingering finish. A standout.

<em>Want to share a current wine on your favorite restaurant's list? E-mail or check out her Tasting Room blog at</em>

Changes under Judy Sakaki

Key actions were taken by SSU President Judy Sakaki during her first five months:

- Pulled the plug on plans for $10 million outdoor concert pavilion at the Green Music Center.

- Declared her intention to hire more full-time faculty.

- Began beefing up SSU’s Student Affairs division by consolidating services in multiple departments under one administrative umbrella. Brought in Michael Young as interim vice president for student affairs. Young recently retired as chief of student affairs at UC Santa Barbara. Matthew Lopez-Phillips, who held the job previously, was named as his associate.

- Brought in a new team of interim cabinet members with national reputations to help her in the transition. Created a new permanent chief of staff post filled by Bill Kidder, former associate provost at UC Riverside. Announced the retirement of Larry Furukawa-Schlereth as vice president of administration and finance and co-executive director for the Green Music Center. She replaced him with Stan Nosek, retired vice chancellor for administration at UC Davis.

- Announced plans to move graduation for the first time to Weill Hall in 2017 and to split up commencement ceremonies by departments.