Visit Sonoma

Show Sonoma Love in Wine Country as they recover from the recent fires

The city of Sonoma, Calif., is a unique place that has a special appeal to all tastes. It is a one-of-a-kind town that continues to offer a feeling of anticipation every time I visit, even after many decades.

I have had the good fortune to have a big reason to make my way to Sonoma often over the years. My sister and brother-in-law have lived there for decades, so I always have a welcoming place to stay.

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The recent devastating fires in Napa and Sonoma County was a scary time and many people are still trying to piece their lives back together into “the new normal.”

I have probably visited Sonoma hundreds of time, yet, every time I travel there it feels like the first time and I am reminded of the South of France. It is a beautiful drive. The rolling hills and nearby mountains and vineyards offer both a feeling of tranquility and excitement and anticipation.

The tranquility is felt from the slower pace than the City and the excitement is a reflection of all there is to do and see in Sonoma. Sonoma offers endless possibilities.

Visitors to Sonoma have a wide variety of interests and the town appeals to everyone, both children and adults alike. Besides dining, wine tasting, food, and the historic town square, a visitor can enjoy the outdoors while hiking, biking or enjoying the Russian River.

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Sonoma has a rich history. Thousands of years ago, Native American tribes made their home in what is now Sonoma County. Spain held claim to the territory for a while as they searched for silver and gold somewhere in “New Spain.” [Note: Spain street runs along the north side of Sonoma’s historic “Sonoma Plaza.”]

Russian fur traders settled in the area in hopes of monopolizing the fur trade.

Next came Mexico as they sought independence from Spain. The Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma was founded in the present-day City of Sonoma in 1823.

I often think about ways to help Wine Country get back on their feet after the devastating October fires. Things are getting back to normal and there are many experience to see, places to eat and ways to share the wealth (spend money).

One of the most well-known author’s of our town, Jack London, bought property in Sonoma starting in 1905 and began the practice of sustainable farming. (More about Jack London later.)

Food is a big part of the culture in Sonoma and wine is the perfect pairing. Besides the great weather, some things to do in Sonoma include ballooning, food, wine, outdoor activities, golf, picnic, hiking, culinary adventures, farmers markets, arts and nightlife, just to mention a few.

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The Bartholomew Park Winery, just northeast of the Sonoma Plaza, offers history, hiking, wine and picnicking. But, there is more. Amusingly, their is a connection to journalism at the Bartholomew Park Winery. San Francisco newsman Frank Bartholomew (“Bart”) purchased the 435-acre site from Buena Vista in 1943 for $17,050. When Bart went off to cover the war in the Pacific for United Press, his wife, Antonia, stayed behind to build an operating winery. Bart became director of United Press International in 1955 and the couple were largely absentee owners.

An annual event that draws many visitors to town is the annual film festival. The annual Sonoma International Film Festival recently celebrated its 20th year of presenting films at the historic Sebastiani Theater on the town plaza. The next round of films will be screened on March 21-25, 2018 and this is an exciting time for the town as they step into the Hollywood spotlight. (The “Sonomawood” sign at city hall marks the beginning of the film festival.)

My final tip to “Visit Sonoma” returns us to Jack London. The Jack London State Historic Park is offering free parking for the rest of 2017 and one can see “The Wolf House,” Jack’s dream house. This is a park, too, so there is also the opportunity to walk, hike, relax, ride horses or bikes or generally enjoy the nature all around. I hope that you enjoy all Sonoma has to offer.

As we remember the October fires, let’s try to support the town of Sonoma by visiting and spending money in the region to help them get back on their feet again. Enjoy!



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