Business Buzz – November 2019

(Elana O'Loskey, Photographer)
Gallery owner Christian Ehrhorn is an artist in his own right; his painting Kekova is one of the works on display at his space in downtown Orinda.

Christian Ehrhorn Fine Arts
    As Christian Ehrhorn drove by the under-construction building at 37-43 Moraga Way across from the Orinda Theatre he noticed he had memorized the phone number on the front of the building. This signaled that a long held dream of his – to open his own gallery – was rising to the surface; action was required. He made the call.
    With his three sons in Orinda schools, he said it was important for him to locate his gallery in his home town.
    Months later, as remodeling and construction of the space reached completion, Ehrhorn’s dream gallery took shape. The tall ceilings and light pouring in from the street onto pristine white walls created the perfect backdrop to show off original artwork. Spacious, uncluttered and serene come to mind to describe the vibe.
    “I like being in the middle of downtown Orinda,” says Ehrhorn, “Spending time here has proved to me that there are plenty of people passing by who might stop in to see some original art.”
    A UC Berkeley grad who studied social science and environmental design, Ehrhorn’s is the owner/designer/contractor at Misty Morning Gardens, a local landscape design and construction company, since 1998.
    “In response to all the technology we are inundated with on a constant basis, I believe that craftsmanship and the arts should be celebrated and witnessed more than ever. As a parent I appreciate our Lamorinda school districts which value the arts, music and sciences. I feel encouraged by our commitment to our children to value these aspects of human existence and offer them the opportunity to participate,” says Ehrhorn. The gallery will showcase various genres of art from local, regional and national artists including Ehrhorn’s original art.
    A grand opening takes place 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 1. Light refreshments will be served. Christian Ehrhorn Fine Arts is at 39 Moraga Way. Open Wed. to Thur. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fri. – Sat. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call 510-703-7020 or email for more information.

Contributed Photo
From planting trees to pressing olives for oil, Frederic Autran and his team at Oleascape offer a full range of services in support of the sustainable tree.

Oleascape Boutique Olive Oil
    Frederic Autran grew up in Provence surrounded by olive trees and their production. Olea – part of his business name – defines the genus we know as olive trees (Olea europaea). No wonder the mix of olive trees on his Orinda property mimics southern France, complete with two sleek donkeys to keep the weeds down and provide fertilizer (they can safely eat poison oak).
    During his 10 years in the sustainable landscape business he says he learned a lot about what that means in the Bay Area. The drought California experienced during this time raised the bar as to what sustainable looks like in any landscape. Olive trees definitely qualify as sustainable.
    When his landscape contract ended he enrolled in a one-year program at Montpellier University in France. Known as the No. 1 location for agro-environment-biodiversity, the campus is also the research leader for new agricultural models and environmental management. Surrounded by people from all over the world, students were there to learn about olive trees for a different reason. Is the soil good? Is the climate good? What is the light orientation?
    Beginning in 2016 he focused for two years on planting his own trees and maintaining his olive grove. After purchasing his own press in 2018 he pressed the oil for all his clients. “Some clients want to spend the day pressing the oil; others just want the bottle. It all works for me,” says Autran with a grin. He’s happy to let homeowners do as much or as little as they want from beginning to end of each project.
    Oleascape LLC offers design assistance to bring fresh ideas to a garden using a legendary old tree; help with cutting edge planting techniques that are environmentally friendly and maintenance.
    Autran might begin with a delicious question: Do you have a preference as to the kind of olive oil you like? Greek? Spanish? Tuscany? Next he looks at the land, sloped or flat; what are your potential planting areas? Then comes a soil test; the journey to your own olive oil has begun.
    When he and his wife, Nancy, moved to Orinda in 2016 he says the whole idea was to connect with people, exchange ideas and promote small-scale production of olive oil on individual properties. While terroir is important for a vineyard, Autran doesn’t believe the same is true for olive trees. Instead, it’s the practices, maintenance and health of the olives – whether it is one tree or many – that makes the difference.
    “Harvest time is Oct. 15 to Nov. 15,” he says. “I recommend harvesting and pressing on the same day or at most the morning after harvest. Keep the pressed oil in a glass container at room temperature in a dark place and use it within a year.”
    Contact Autran at 415-595-0815, email or visit for more information.

Hilton House Consign and Design Celebrates 20th Anniversary
    When Cyndi Hilton Girgis opened Hilton House Consign and Design in 1999, she had no idea it would become a go-to spot for San Francisco Bay Area shoppers seeking fine jewelry and estate pieces.
    “Customers tell me we have the best selection in the Bay Area of unusual gold, gemstones, diamonds and pearls. These are the number one items that sell in Hilton House,” says Girgis.
    The store is filled with brand names such as Waterford, Lalique, Baccarat, Pottery Barn, Ethan Allen furniture and Restoration Hardware. Recycling items that are too good to donate by offering them via consignment is a good option when people move. If the items don’t sell, Girgis offers to donate them to one of the Hospice of Contra Costa County’s 13 locations.
    The anniversary celebration begins Dec. 5 with an Open House from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. during which time visitors can fill out a card for a chance to win one of three gift certificates. Hilton House Friends and neighbors are also invited to attend the Orinda Chamber Mixer from 5 to 8 p.m. Enjoy light refreshments and live music by Jose and Marcella Avila on keyboards and vocals.
    Contact Hilton House Consign and Design at 19-21 Orinda Way, 925-254-1113, or visit Follow them on Facebook or Instagram @hiltonhousedesigns.

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