Destination Sonoma

Posted on Oct 21, 2014

No doubt about it, California’s Sonoma Valley is a fantastic place to visit. Whether your vacation wishes are for sunshine, wine, delicious food, golf, outdoor recreation or just relaxing amidst beautiful surroundings, Sonoma has something to offer.

bunch of grapesSonoma is just an hour’s drive from San Francisco airport and a 20 minute drive from the smaller Santa Rosa airport. The Valley itself is 17 miles long and runs North/South, about 20 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. It is separated from its better known cousin, the Napa Valley by the beautiful Mayacamas Mountains on its Eastern border. To the West are the Sonoma Mountains which separate the Valley from the Pacific Ocean. The Valley begins just North of San Francisco, but being inland, it enjoys a drier and warmer climate than that city.

Summers in Sonoma can be very hot (daytime temperatures frequently in the high 90s F) and winter is pleasant but cool (temperatures in the 50s and 60s F). We think it is the Spring and Fall that offer the best weather for vacationers. Lots of sunshine and temperatures in the 70s and 80s make it just right for hiking, tennis, golf, cycling and all of the wonderful outdoor activities Sonoma offers. And you can count on lots of sunny days those times of year. It makes for a wonderful retreat from the harsh Canadian winters!

antique farm Jack London

One of the greatest attractions of visiting Sonoma is the Jack London State Historic Park. Located in Glen Ellen, just North of the town of Sonoma, the park is the former site of the Beauty Ranch, author Jack London’s personal retreat where he went to write, ride horseback and work on a number of experimental farming techniques. In many ways he was the first to implement sustainable farming practices in the Sonoma Valley. The Park covers 1400 acres and has over 26 miles of trails. It is a truly beautiful setting and is a must-see for hikers. While you are there check out the old stone Museum or hike up the mountain to see his now-restored cottage. Or have a gander over the beautiful Jack London Vineyard owned by his descendants and nestled into a 34 acre corner of the Park. The vineyards are managed by neighbouring Kenwood Vineyards who have had an exclusive contract to buy all of the grapes since 1977. Kenwood’s tasting room is a short drive from the park and a great place to try some of the Jack London Vineyard designate wines after your hike.

VJB pizza ribs wineFood and wine lovers will find Sonoma a true mecca. Proximity to the coast gives Sonoma a slightly cooler climate than neighbouring Napa. Whereas Napa is indisputably Cabernet Country, we think Sonoma excels in growing a variety of grapes better adapted to a cooler climate: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel are the standouts. And you would be hard-pressed to find a better, or as the locals like to say, more “real” tasting experience, than at a Sonoma tasting room. Sonoma vignerons are growers first; they are agrarians who happen to make wine. Expect to find tasting rooms that are attractive but not glitzy, that are friendly and welcoming. And expect to find wines at very fair prices on a comparative basis that can compete on the international stage. Good restaurants abound; the Sonoma signature is smaller venues with casual décor and atmosphere serving up intensely flavoured farm-to-table dishes. Check back to this blog for reviews of specific Sonoma restaurants, wineries and wines.

wine glass on a table

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