December 6, 2014

California: 5 things you didn’t know about Sonoma

I write this post sitting up in bed on a misty winter’s morning in the cutest hotel room – with its own fireplace! Admittedly it gives off no heat and is more about ambience than practicalities, but it sure looks the part 🙂

This is my first visit to California’s famous wine country and a few things have surprised me about Napa’s big sister…

1. There’s Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Town. And Sonoma County is huge. One million acres huge (404,686 hectares). 500 wineries huge, 400 of them with cellar doors for your tasting pleasure. Sonoma Valley is just one of five separate wine growing valleys so if you’re planning a tasting day, make sure you’re not picking vineyards that might be a 2-hour drive away!

Sonoma Valley

Plan your winery day in advance!

2. Peanuts! Famous cartoonist Charles M Schulz lived here in Sonoma County (his wife and kids still do) and there is a museum in his honour with some of the 17,000 Charlie Brown strips Schulz produced. This wall in the back of the room is made of ceramic tiles of his cartoons. Very clever. He lived just down the road and his office has been recreated here. The man was a machine producing a cartoon every day, many of them funny, some political and most with a little spin on what was going on at the time.

Schulz wall

Stand up close and you can see the 3,588 tiles of his comic strips that make this image

3. The Vintners Inn (where I am holed up in my king sized bed typing this) has New Zealand Waiwera water in the rooms!

Vintners Inn Sonoma

Quite possibly the cutest hotel in Sonoma!

4. This is giant redwood country and a trip to Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve to walk their gentle tracks is awesome. Especially if you can wing it, like I did, that no one else is around and it’s just you and the sound of silence in the woods. Allow at least an hour. I needed two for all the stopping and photographing I did.

Armstrong Redwoods root

Redwood root art

5. Sonoma is on the coast! It’s rugged. It’s like Big Sur and the west coast sunsets are amazing. A gorgeous thing to do would be to pick up a bottle of wine, grab a picnic or cheese from one of the many cheesemakers in the area (have a look at this cheese trail map) and head to the beach to watch aforementioned sun setting over the Pacific.

Bodega Bay Sonoma

Tranquil Bodega Bay late afternoon

I flew to San Francisco with thanks to Air New Zealand. Sonoma is about an hour’s drive from SFO.

See the Sonoma County website for more info – and to plan your vacay.

About Megan Singleton


Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this blog as well as on radio every week and a few newspapers and mags from time to time. I set off on this travel blog malarkey 17 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!)I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for monthly newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!

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