There are way more than ten reasons, but these are the very top reasons that come to mind.
1.) It’s not Napa. Sonoma is larger, arguably has more great wineries, but is a world away from the glitz and glamor of its trendier cousin. Sonoma is more Wild West than it is Hollywood. You still find wineries here where the tasting room is someone’s shed. And the winemaker hops off a tractor to give you a tasting.
2.) Sonoma is just as much if not more about growing food than it is about grapes. That’s food as in heritage, sustainable, organic and tasty!
3.) Case in point, a major bridge in Sonoma is named after a famous local cheesemaker (The Ig Vella Bridge.)
4.) Sure you’ll find trendy capuccino joints, but early in the morning, it’s guys with manure-spattered cowboy boots who are lining up for their morning “joe”.
5) The kind of issues that spark intense controversy are things like whether the local diner has too many statues of bears outside it.
6) Also whether or not residents can free-range their chickens on the Plaza (sadly, voted down due to a rogue rooster pecking a tourist kid.)
The controversial bears salute the flag outside The Black Bear Diner
(according to their mission statement, “The Best Damned
Bear-Themed Family Restaurant in California.”
7) There’s always SOMETHING going on in the Plaza. A farmer’s market. Mariachi Bands. Classic Car Shows. Or my favorite: the local fire department’s main fundraiser, a barbeque where they roast an ox.
8) People walk everywhere. For exercise, to get places and just for the the heck of it. And not just young fit people. But old people, pregnant women, parents with kids, fat people with dogs. Everybody.
9) I have yet to drive down one of the residential streets leading to the Plaza and not have someone wave hello to me.
10) And yeah, there is all that wine!
Thank you for your love note to Sonoma. My husband and I are planning a northern California vacation in about a week and your blog has me so excited. We purposely plan to stay in Sonoma because it’s not Napa — not that we’re anti-Napa, but we want a lower key experience where we’re more likely to meet the farmer/vintner/chef/cheesemaker when we stop someplace.
Perhaps we’ll stop by to say hello to you, your husband and your terriers.