Wine-tasting can all be a little serious. Stop by Two Amigos Wines on Fridays for the Junk Food Friday that pairs wine with Doritos and Fig Newtons!
Sonoma Valley, also known as The Valley of the Moon, can be found about an hour north of San Francisco. The valley is hemmed in by two mountain ranges: the Mayacamas Mountains to the east and the Sonoma Mountains to the west. Nestled between them, the valley has played a central role in California’s brief but brilliant wine history.
The first vineyards there were planted by Franciscan monks in the early 19th century. Things began taking off towards the second half of that century but were soon punctured by the dreaded Prohibition: between 1920 and 1969 the number of wineries plummeted fro 256 to just 58. But if there is a constant in the ups and downs of this world, it is that people like to drink and won’t be stopped. By 2005, there were once more 254 wineries covering some 65,000 acres under vines.
Compared to its neighbour Napa, Sonoma takes things easy. Locals call it ‘Slow-noma.’ Here it is (a little) less bourgeois and you can drive something rickety and wear something you bought so long ago you can’t even remember when. Start off in the town itself, which has the state’s largest town square surrounded by 19th century historical buildings. Then set out for the wineries.
The original winery is the Buena Vista Winery. Established in 1857 by “Count” Agoston Haraszthy, it is still going strong. Order one of the winery’s picnic hampers and settle down in the cobblestone courtyard. Be sure to read about the flamboyant count himself, and the alligator that finished him off. Beyond that, the Gundlach Bundschu Winery, the Benziger Family Winery and the Kunde Family Winery are some of the best around. Take a few days to really enjoy them all (and pace yourself).
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