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Three Perfect Days: Sonoma

Long considered Napa Valley’s sleepy cousin, Sonoma is ripe with vineyards and rugged valleys that are now just tame enough to conquer.

Author Sarah Horne


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WANDER THE STREETS OF AFFLUENT HEALDSBURG, the symbolic heart of Northern California’s Sonoma County, and there’s little doubt that these valleys and rolling green hills—once unkown—are now a world-class destination for oenophiles and food lovers. Among the winemakers and rugged fourth-generation locals, there are more and more glitzy types clad in linen or draped in cashmere, and they feel right at home. Sonoma has arrived.

To its detractors, hippie-dippy Sonoma is a cultural no-man’s land where oddball characters cavort in the hills. Of course, that’s exactly how the locals like it. After all, only the scrappiest of pioneers made their way to this stretch of the remote West, digging in and adapting to its dramatically varied microclimates. In the generations that followed, hardworking farmers, largely Italian-American immigrants, worked the land for lumber and produce. Importing their family winemaking traditions from the old country, they discovered something vital: The local wine was pretty darn good. Visitors soon began to understand all the fuss over the region’s soil and air, and all the care that’s put into everything produced here, from lettuce to cheese and wine.

Though Sonoma is quickly becoming the next big thing, it still contains many hidden corners you’ll feel as if you discovered on your own. And the locals, finding you off the beaten path, will welcome you with a wink, and let you imagine that you have.

6 Responses to “Three Perfect Days: Sonoma”

  1. Shana Ray Says:
    January 2nd, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    It is truly a wonderful place to visit (and live) and there is more to Sonoma than simply wine tasting, which you captured here perfectly! Great description of the area.

  2. Alana Gentry Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Headsburg is my favorite town in Sonoma County. Two other completely different regions (45 minutes from Healdsburg) is Kenwood (Kunde Winery is there) and Sonoma, the town. The town of Sonoma has been called “the island” by the locals, it’s the place with the quirky characters. Healdsburg is full of friendly, fun types.

  3. Grace Hoffman Says:
    January 13th, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I’m from Iowa but when I visit Northern California, Healdsburg is my favorite place to visit! I can’t recommend it and the Dry Creek Valley area enough! I’ve made so many great friends and visited so many beautiful places. Michel-Schlumberger is awesome! I was just there last Summer and hiked their vineyards! Just spectacular!

  4. Simon Kitchen-Dunn Says:
    February 1st, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    If you would like to live the dream why not doing perched above the Alexander Valley on Chalk Hill Road on 17.5 secluded acres at the end of a country lane.

  5. Sonoma William Says:
    February 23rd, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Great article. Good picks on wineries. So many more gems not mentioned though, make sure you come spend 2-3 days and explore fully!

  6. Lisa Villarini Says:
    March 14th, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Healdsburg is definately the best of the best of Sonoma County-You got it right with Lime Stone the perfect shop to take home special one of a kind items like the wine label tray made from local somoma wineries and right next door is the best restaurant Dry Creek Kitchen-food is exceptional and service was top notch!

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