About Us

Covering topics ranging from travel, culture, and personalities to entertainment, recreation, and food, Napa Sonoma magazine is written specifically for Wine Country visitors and enthusiasts.

Napa Sonoma is a product of Diablo Publications, which also publishes Diablo magazine.

Editorial Bios

Susan Dowdney Safipour

Editor In Chief

Other kids bugged their mothers for toys and candy at the five and dime check out. Susan bugged her mother to buy her magazines. In third grade, she launched her first magazine. To get her classmates and teachers to subscribe, she put quizzes in one issue and the answers in the next. The next step was journalism school at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a string of newspaper jobs before landing at Diablo in March, 2000. She is still a magazine junkie.

Contact: ssafipour@maildiablo.com

Twitter: @diabloeditor


Matt Villano

Sonoma Editor, Napa Sonoma

As the Sonoma editor of Napa Sonoma magazine, Matt writes and edits from his home office in Healdsburg. In 18 years as a full-time freelancer, Matt has had pieces published in TIME, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Sunset, National Geographic Traveler, Islands, Backpacker, Coastal Living, and Entrepreneur, to name a few. He serves as senior editor of the Expedia Viewfinder blog from Expedia, and writes the weekly gambling column for the San Francisco Chronicle. Matt also blogs about family travel on his own site, wanderingpod.com. For more about him, visit Whalehead.com.

Twitter: @mattvillano


Ali Saragoza

Managing Editor, Napa Sonoma

Alejandra, also known as Ali, has been an avid reader and writer for as long as she can remember. When she was a child, she could often be found writing short stories or poems in her journal, and she had her first work published when she was 11 years old. While Alejandra had always wanted to pursue a career in writing, it wasn’t until she took her first journalism course in high school that she realized she also wanted to become an editor. She decided to hone her skills by attending UC Santa Barbara, where she took journalism courses and professional writing and editing classes. During her college years, she interned at Diablo magazine for a summer and then at an English-language magazine in Madrid when she studied abroad. She has since held various editorial positions at notable companies and magazines, and her articles have appeared in several publications, including The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Via, and Touring & Tasting. When she’s not at the Diablo office, Alejandra can be found hiking with her yellow Labrador, sipping a cocktail at her favorite bar or restaurant, binge-watching a show on Netflix, or baking something unhealthy.

Contact: asaragoza@diablopubs.com
Instagram: @asaragoza


Rachelle Cihonski

Managing Editor, Diablo

Most parents punished their children by forcing them to read; Rachelle’s parents disciplined their daughter by limiting her to finishing one book per day. Despite this minor setback, Rachelle pursued a bachelor’s degree in English. And after doing a brief stint in L.A. for college, Rachelle was immediately convinced that the Bay Area, where she was born and raised, was more to her liking. Upon her return she began interning at Diablo in pursuit of her desire to work as an editor, which was soon fulfilled when she accepted the assistant editor position in 2014. Rachelle enjoys her morning cups (yes, plural) of coffee, running, culinary experimentation (then consuming said experiment), weekend boating or camping trips, and burying her nose for the billionth time in any of the seven books in the Harry Potter series. 

Contact: rcihonski@maildiablo.com

Twitter: @rachellealyse

Peter Crooks

Senior Editor/Senior Writer, Diablo

Peter returned to his hometown of Lafayette and began working at Diablo magazine in 1998, after spending most of the '90s as a scuba-diving, movie-watching, library-frequenting vagabond, living in Micronesia, Australia, and the Grand Canyon National Park. In addition to his love of all things East Bay, Pete is a major film buff—his movie blog, Pete's Popcorn Picks, can be found at Diablomag.com, and he has contributed weekly reviews for radio programs on KFRC, KNBR, and 107.7 The Bone. He has written stories for the Arizona Daily Sun, Via magazine, Athletics magazine, and Theowlmag.com, and appeared as an expert tipster on the television programs Bay Area Backroads and Eye on the Bay.

Contact: pcrooks@maildiablo.com

Twitter: @popcornpicks

Katie Henry

Associate Editor

After writing her first "novel" at the age of seven, Katie quickly realized she had a deep love for the written word. This love only grew at Chico State, where she majored in English and worked on campus in the writing center. There, she realized that words were not only amazingly fun, the nitty-gritty of following grammar rules was pretty awesome, too. Katie began her professional career as a high school English teacher but eventually decided to pursue her editorial dreams, one of the best choices she’s ever made. She can be spotted all around the East Bay, running the open space trails or sipping a brew on the patio of a favorite restaurant, enjoying the splendor of this beautiful valley she has called home all her life.

Contact: khenry@diablopubs.com

Instagram: @katie_houseofhenry


Christopher Sawyer


Christopher is an award winning and industry honored Sommelier, Wine Educator and Journalist who has been featured in a wide array of national media, including USAToday, MSN, NBC, ABC, CNN, Redbook, Maxim, National Geographic Traveler, Esquire and The Hollywood Reporter. For 10 years, he worked to develop unique programs as Head Sommelier and Wine Educator at Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar and The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort and Spa, including weekly wine education classes, celebrity wine bartender nights featuring proprietors and winemakers. Christopher is also a judge at many prestigious international wine competitions. He currently consults for special wine industry events and maintains a blog about his adventures: www.sawyersomm.com.


Samantha Schneider

Art/Web Assistant

Samantha’s interest in art and design started in kindergarten, when she was introduced to finger painting. She studied design and communication at UC Davis and started her career as a web intern at Diablo Publications. When Samantha is not at the Diablo office you can find her running local 5k, 10k, and half-marathon races; eating ice cream; watching The Walking Dead; taking photos at local events; or planning her next trip to Disneyland.

Contact: sschneider@maildiablo.com