I recently had the pleasure of reacquainting myself with one of Northern California’s oldest towns, and one I had lost touch with over the years. Sonoma is only a short drive from where I grew up in Marin and one of my earliest elementary school memories was taking a field trip to see the historic Mission, probably around 4th or 5th grade if memory serves correct.
Fast forward a few decades and I am representing clients looking for a home anywhere from Guerneville to Mill Valley, albeit in a price range more northern than southern Marin friendly. Sonoma seemed to fit the bill, nestled between two of their adult children living in Napa and Rohnert Park. California’s commercial wine industry started here in 1857, with that same temperate climate helping cement it as the place to find a new home for my eager buyers.
After a few diligent weeks of searching the perfect home popped up, and our offer was received before the dust had settled after the first open house. A charming 3 bed, 2 bath home with front and rear yards, each with its own shed, and a towering Redwood tree providing ample shade and endless outdoor entertainment options. The icing on the cake was an appraisal $50k north of our final offer.
Sonoma is cool, funky town of 10k people with some really interesting history I enjoyed brushing up on:
- The name Sonoma comes from a Wintun Indian word for “nose,” probably derived from a local Indian chief and tribe. Vallejo’s home (1850) and the restored mission now form the main part of Sonoma State Historic Park
- Legend has it that the region’s native people called the Sonoma Valley the “valley of the moon” because, from certain sacred places, the moon appears to rise and set seven times behind the peaks of Mayacama Range
- Sonoma is where the first state flag of California was raised, on June 14, 1846, by a band of armed men who rode into town, imprisoned General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, and declared California’s independence from Mexico
- Divided from the Napa Valley by the Mayacamas mountain range, Sonoma County is one of the most varied wine regions in the world. Its complex topography includes towering peaks, 50-plus miles of Pacific coastline, oak-studded hills, and sun-kissed valleys, lending the region’s 19 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) the wide array of microclimates and soil types that enable 60+ grape varieties to grow particularly well
- Sonoma County produces a whopping six percent of all the wine in California
- Sonoma Plaza is eight acres in size – the largest town plaza in California today – and was laid out by General Mariano Vallejo in 1835
Hopefully the next time you pick up a bottle of Sonoma Pinot Noir or Zinfandel you’ll have greater appreciation of the historic grapes your palate is experiencing :)