Sonoma County Winery Guide
Due north of San Francisco Bay at the foot of the rugged Mayacamas, Sonoma and Coastal mountain ranges, verdant river valleys attracted Spanish and Mexican explorers in the 1700s, and later, Gold Rush roustabouts of the mid-1800s, many of them Italian immigrants. In their travels they discovered that the Sonoma area reminded them of home. The sunny, semi-Mediterranean climate, touched by the foggy fingers and cooling breath of the ocean, was perfect for grape-growing. By 1900, more than a hundred commercial wineries were operating in Sonoma County. The names of pioneering farm and winery families are still prominent in the Sonoma valleys, and you will see their names on many a wine bottle label––Sebastiani, Foppiano, Pedroncelli, Seghesio, to name a few.
Many of the villages and small towns that sprang up during the population booms of 19th century still exist in all their picturesque charm, and their residents, for the most part, continue to make their livings in agriculture.
Vineyards, orchards, grain and other crops were planted in the early 1800s around the Spanish mission town of Sonoma, a popular tourist destination that today is delightfully anchored by the largest original plaza in the state. Nearby in Jack London’s “Valley of the Moon,” in the hills above the tiny creekside hamlet of Glen Ellen, is a state park with riding trails and a delightfully spooky ruin in a redwood forest. Rising in northern mountains and flowing all the way to the Pacific, the Russian River Valley is a prime summer vacation destination and wine-lovers mecca. Located where the Russian turns west toward the Pacific Ocean, the town of Healdsburg has another lovely old town plaza. Oenophiles base in Healdsburg and make slow drives, or bike rides, to wineries in the Dry Creek Valley.
On the pages that follow, you can plan you own Sonoma Valley winery tour and sample the best Sonoma Valley wineries and wine tastings.
- Sonoma Winery Tour
- Alexander Valley Winery Tour
- Dry Creek Valley Winery Tour
- Valley of The Moon Winery Tour
- Russian River Winery Tour
- Green Valley Winery Tour
The article on this page is adapted from the book, Backroads of the California Wine Country by Karen Misuraca (www.karenmisuraca.com), published by Voyageur Press.
Photo Credit: The pictures on this page are by Lisa Moore. www.studioponderosa.com