san francisco de solano, sonomaYesterday, as I was attempting a quick recap of my Mission Mission, I came to the shocked discovery that I’ve never written a post on my own home mission, San Francisco de Solano, also known as The Sonoma Mission. Luckily, I was on the eve of one of the few religiously oriented events to be held at the mission — which most of these days is a State Historic Park. And it wasn’t just any religious event, but one I could definitely get behind: the Blessing of the Grapes to open up the Sonoma Vintage Festival. (You may recall I told you about this festival, one of the oldest agricultural festivals in California, here.) That got myself and my camera down to the corner of the Plaza for a front row seat. And for a little photo excursion into the mission.

I’d always known that the Sonoma mission was little more than an afterthought. It wasn’t part of Father Serra’s ambitious plan to colonize and Christianize the coast of California — a plan the King of Spain wholeheartedly endorsed as a way to strengthen and secure his holdings. By the time Sonoma Mission was founded, Serra was long dead and California had passed from Spain to independent Mexico. It was the bright idea of someone in that government to found a mission as a way to forge alliances with local Indians and solidify Mexican claim to the area in the face of incursions by Russian fur traders on the Sonoma Coast. As a result, our poor little misson looks pretty homely compared to the glories of the likes of Santa Barbara, San Juan Capistrano and San Fernando.

chapel interior san francisco de solano, sonoma

I'm not sure our little chapel could fit seven seats across.

altar, san francisco de solano, sonoma

Our little altar is very modest compared to almost all the other missions.

But I’ll tell you where Sonoma RULES!

prickly pear cactus in mission courtyard, sonoma

There is NO mission that does cactus like we do!

prickly pear cactus, sonoma

Beautiful healthy cactus that must be two hundred years old.

cactus and sonoma mission

Cactus in front of the mission, cactus behind the mission, cactus at all four corners of the mission.

With that established, we could be the mission capital of tequila making. But instead, we’re concerned with wine. So much so that we’re blessing the grapes today. (Yes, I have circled back to that topic.)

boy scout color guard at sonoma mission

You have to love a ceremony that involves a Boy Scout Color Guard.

They brought in a lovely, twinkly Irish priest, Father Kelly, from Saint Francis Solano Catholic Church down the road. He was all sparkly wit and Irish brogue.

blessing of the grapes, sonoma

So it seems awfully mean to wish that he'd been dolorous and Spanish just for atmosphere. No matter, he did a great job.

blessing of the grapes, sonoma

Ending the service with a not-quite-liturgical but very Sonoma, "Hip Hip Hooray!" Bacchus would approve.

Note to self: Get a bottle of Two Terrier Vineyards wine up on that dias. We can always use this kind of help.