Santa Rosa, CA
The Heart of Sonoma County - Wine, Redwoods, and West Coast Wonders
Because of Santa Rosa's central location in Sonoma County, our game plan was to use it as a base of exploration, such that we could visit Muir Woods easily as well as a few of the local vineyards. When we began to research Sonoma County, we found that it stretches from the P acific Coast in the west to the Mayacamas Mountains in the east. It contains almost 60,000 acres of vineyards and more than 425 wineries.
We did not plan to visit but a very small list of "wine tasting" shops, but we wanted to insure that whatever we chose would be typical and offer good wine. We selected DeLoach Vineyards due to it's close proximity to Santa Rosa (7.1 miles) but also because of it's reputation of producing some good wine.
- Sonoma County is the birthplace of California’s modern wine industry and has the state’s oldest commercial winery at Buena Vista and the oldest, continuously operating family winery at Gundlach-Bundschu.
- It is the most diverse premium wine-grape growing region in the United States. In fact, it produces 6 percent of all the wine in California.
- Sonoma County has about 60,000 acres of grape vineyards.
- More than 8.4 million tourists visit Sonoma County Wine Country each year (2020).
- As early as 1920, Sonoma County was ranked as the eighth most agriculturally productive US county and a leading producer of hops, grapes, prunes, apples, and dairy and poultry products.
- The annual Sonoma County grape harvest is worth an estimated $200 million and represents 61 percent of the county’s total agriculture.
- With more than 425 wineries, Sonoma County has a varietal to suit any taste.
- Because of the range of soil types, more than 50 grape varieties are grown in Sonoma County. For example, the cool weather of the Carneros and the Russian River Valley produce exemplary Chardonnay and Pinot grapes; the warmer Dry Creek Valley and Rockpile produce excellent Zinfandel; and the Alexander Valley is famed for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
- Santa Rosa has been featured among America’s 5 Best Beer Cities in Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
- Santa Rosa boasts 57 parks within its city limits.
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As you can see in these images, the DeLoach Vineyards Tasting shop sits in the middle of one of their vineyards. Perhaps a half dozen tables, you tell the service staff what you want to do (you could select a "flight" of various wines, or you could zero in on one specific type). They have a small boxed charcuterie to have with your wine, and being that it was a nice day, we enjoyed ourselves as we snacked and tried their wines.
The tables in the patio area all had umbrellas to limit the sun if you desired. The inside area of the Tasting Shop contained bottles of their wines for sale, as well as some other merchandise - such as hats, t-shirts, etc.
We chose to do the wine tasting and the menu, shown above, had a Chardonnay, two Pinot Noir's, and a Zinfandel. We liked the Chardonnay the best and purchased a bottle before leaving. As you can see it was a picture perfect day, the temperature was in the mid 70s, the sun was shining, the wine was great and there wasn't anywhere else that we needed to be. If you are looking for a winery close to Santa Rosa we recommend giving it a try.
We drove from Santa Rosa to Sonoma along California Route 12 which brought us past a number of well known vineyards like; B.R. Cohn Winery, Arrowood Vineyards, Imagery Winery, Kenwood Vineyards, Chateau St. Jean Winery, Landmark Vineyards, St. Francis Winery, Ledson Winery & Vineyards, Schug Winery, Robledo Family Winery, Benziger Family Winery and many others. It was a beautiful drive, reminiscent of Tuscany in Italy. We are always amazed at the things that we have right here in the United States. Of course, there have been a few movies that have highlighted California wine country such as the movie "Sideways". Who can forget some of the scenes in that movie? Maybe they should do one called Under the Sonoma Sun which could be about a retired couple that spend their life savings on a shack and broken down vineyard and transform their lives and the vineyard at the same time. Hollywood are you paying attention?
NOTE: Click here to view a good website that will describe the wineries to be found along route 12 in Sonoma and Napa Counties.
After a quick lunch, we drove to Sonoma Plaza and found a parking place (follow the signs to the public parking area behind the western side of the plaza). We then explored various stores as well as Sonoma State Historic Park in the center of the square.
Quick History of Sonoma: Russians were the first non-American Indian group to settle in Sonoma County, and they established Fort Ross on the Sonoma coast in 1812. The Russians abandoned Fort Ross in 1841 and sold the fort to John Sutter AKA the man who created Sacremento and the owner of Sutter's Mill where gold was discovered in 1848.
On July 4, 1823, Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma was established by Father José Altimira. The Sonoma Mission was the only California mission established after Mexico achieved its independence from Spain on September 27, 1821, and it is the northernmost and final of the 21 missions established in California by the Franciscans. Click here to go to the Sonoma Wikipedia Page.
Sonoma Plaza is a mix of restaurants and shopping in addition to Sonoma State Historic Park. The park consists of six historical attractions including Mission San Francisco Solano, the Blue Wing Inn, Sonoma Barracks and servant quarters and the Toscana Hotel and Kitchen. General Vallejo's home is less than a mile from the plaza. Everything is well maintained and there are docents available to answer questions.
There are 30+ wine tasting rooms within one block of the Sonoma Plaza, offering primarily Sonoma County wines (click here to view the complete list). This is California's largest town square, and there are a number of interesting shops, restaurants, wine tasting rooms, etc, for you to visit or admire.
As can be seen in these images, the stores in Sonoma appeared to be prosperous - and yes - the Ferrari was owned by a local wine merchant. When he saw us admiring his car, he came out of his shop and spoke with us.
Wine Country Chocolates attracted our attention because they usually offer chocolate tastings. Unfortunately due to COVID tasting had been suspended. However we stopped in and purchased a mix of 7 chocolates and we relished them for the next few days as an afternoon treat. It's owned and operated by a mother and daughter who gave up their day jobs to become chocolatiers. It's a great story and their chocolate is fabulous. Check out their website for more information.
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