Exploring and Adventuring
In Sonoma County
Santa Rosa, California is the county seat of Sonoma County. The largest city in California’s North Coast, Wine Country and the North Bay (the fifth most populated city in the San Francisco Bay area). In 2013, Santa Rosa was ranked as one the “happiest cities” in the United States! Santa Rosa has a Mediterranean climate with cool, wet winters and warm, mostly dry summers. The area experiences fog from the Pacific Ocean as well as snow in the nearby mountains.
Sonoma County Wine
Sonoma County is one of California’s largest producers of wine grapes.
Link to Sonoma County.
Appellations of Sonoma County
- Alexander Valley
- Bennett Valley
- Chalk Hill
- Dry Creek Valley
- Fort Ross – Seaview
- Green Valley of the Russian River Valley
- Knights Valley
- Los Carneros
- Northern Sonoma
- Pine Mountain – Cloverdale Peak
- Russian River Valley
- Sonoma Coast
- Sonoma Valley
- Sonoma Mountain
That is a WHOLE lot of appellations!
Where to Start? Santa Rosa is close to the Russian River Valley, so that is the appellation that I explored during my time in Sonoma County. You have to know which wine appellation you are in or you will become overwhelmed pretty quickly in Sonoma County when it comes to wine. The lady at the Vistor’s Bureau stated that Sonoma County is about the size of Rhode Island!
- Grapes were planted in Sonoma County at Fort Ross as early as 1812.
- Padre Jose Altimira planted several thousand grape vines at Mission San Francisco Solano in what is not the city of Sonoma, in souther Sonoma County.
- In the 1920’s there were 256 wineries in Sonoma County, with more than 22,000 acres in production.
- During the Prohibition period, commercial winemaking declined. At the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, fewer than 50 wineries in Sonoma County survived.
- In the 1960’s, only 12,000 acres were vineyards.
- By 1999 Sonoma County had over 49,000 acres of vineyards owned by more than 750 growers and 180 bonded wineries.
- In 2007, of the 250 wineries over half are less than 20 years old.
- About 73% of Sonoma County’s agricultural production is growing wine grapes with 60, 302 acres of vineyards with over 1100 growers.
Popular Wine Varietals in Sonoma County
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley Wine Country
The Russian River Valley AVA lies adjacent to and west of the City of Santa Rosa and the southern reach of the Russian River, where the river bends westward and cuts through the Coast Range to the Pacific Ocean. Cooling Coastal Fog + the Petaluma Wind Gap + the Russian River = Great Producing Vines and Grapes!
Link to Russian River Valley Winegrowers.
Interesting Facts about the Russian River Valley AVA:
- Granted AVA status in 1983.
- Accounts for about one-sixth of the total planted vineyard acreage in Sonoma County.
- More than 15,000 acres planted to wine grapes.
- 79 wineries.
Sonoma County Harvest Fair
A Celebration of Sonoma County’s finest and best known products! Entrance into the Harvest Fair is FREE. The Harvest Fair is held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.
The main reason to visit Sonoma County was for the Harvest Fair. The Harvest Fair offers an all-inclusive wine tasting with 150+ wineries ($). This includes craft beer and cider tasting and food pairings. Taste the best of Sonoma County!
The Harvest Fair includes:
- Chef Demonstrations (Free)
- Wine Seminars (Free)
- The Grape Stomp (Free)
- Harvest Workshops, like How to Make Wine, Beer, Cheese at Home, Making Ciden, Organic Beekeeping 101, and Backyard Beekeeping (Free)
- The Wine Country Marketplace – wine, beer and cider sales
- The Marketplace – local and artisanal products for purchase
- The Garden of Earthly Delights – sit back and relax and watch the action
- Port and Chocolate Tasting ($5 per pairing)
Link to the Wine Awards for the Harvest Fair.
Link to the Craft Beers and Ciders for the Harvest Fair.
Link to the Food Awards for the Harvest Fair.
Bear Republic Brewing Company
Bear Republic Brewing Company is located at 345 Healdsburg Avenue in Healdsburg, California.
Cuvee de Bubba
Tasted: Cuvee de Bubba, a Sour brew. A custom blend of Bear Republic beers that is refermented in oak barrels using only the wild microflora and fauna native to the Alexander Valley. Stone fruits and cherry pie tartness/sourness.
Good Eats: I had the Crab Sandwich. The Tides Wharf’s fresh Dungeness crab (Bodega Bay) tossed in garlic aioli served on grilled sliced sourdough bread with tomato
Racer 5 IPA
Russian River Brewing Company
Russian River Brewing Company is located at 725 4th Street in Santa Rosa, California.
Tasted: Framboise for a Cure (proceeds donated to Breast Cancer Awareness), a Sour brew. Their Blonde Ale aged in Chardonnay barrels (the base beer is Temptation). Then 30 pounds of fresh raspberries are added to each barrel! A great tasting and very drinkable sour brew that is beautiful in the glass with pink to red tones. A nice balance between sweet and fruity to tart and sour. 100% of the proceeds of this brew goes to the Sutter Breast Care Center of Santa Rosa.
Good Eats: Had the Mikey Pizza with marinara, mozzarella, sausage, pepperoni, and carmelized onions.
The Sonoma Coast
(Photos by RSheridan)