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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sonoma County: An Embarrassment of Riches

People generally visit for the wine and sometimes the scenery.  Living in Sonoma County does have some drawbacks namely high housing prices and general high cost-of-living, currently high unemployment compared to most places, and a fair amount of traffic if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But there are always trade-offs right?  Otherwise no one would be living in Hawaii.

Some things Sonoma County has to offer:
Home to some of the top-rated
beers in the world
Image from winecountrybeers.com

Hundreds of world-class wineries
But you knew that.

Over a half-dozen brewpubs
You probably didn't know this.   Look for beers on your retailer's shelf from Lagunitas, Russian River Brewery, and Bear Republic.

World-class cheeses
Ig Vella has been making cheese in the town of Sonoma for many decades. I stop in every time I go through town.   There are a bunch of other cheese makers, mostly in the western part of the county, with goat cheese,  sheep's milk cheese, Camembert-style cheese, etc.
World-class breads
If there's better bread than Costeaux French Bakery in Healdsburg let me know.   My local market carries probably three dozen breads from about ten local bakeries.

World-class olive oil
Local French bread dipped in locally grown olive oil.   Mmmm.

Duck Club Restaurant, Bodega Bay
Image from bodegabaylodge.com
World-class restaurants
Thanks to all the visitors looking for first-class food to go with the first-class wine there are probably three dozen top-of-the-line restaurants for an area that would normally carry just a couple.

Roads
If you have a sports cars, bicycle, or motorcycle Sonoma County has a bunch of two lanes roads winding through forests and vineyards up-and-down the hills.   Most visitors only know US101 and Highway 1 (The Pacific Coast Highway).   If you're the adventurous type try Trinity Grade, Spring Mountain, or Skaggs Springs Road.

Infineon Raceway
Speaking of roads, we even get Nascar in town and make them turn left and right!  Lots of other fun events going on at the track on many weekends.

Fairs
Sonoma County hosts two great fairs.  The summer fair has everything from kiddie rides to thoroughbred horse racing.  And since it's in the wine country you can have a glass of Cabernet with your corn dog.
The autumn Harvest Fair is mostly about wine (surprise!).  It's a chance to taste hundreds of local award winners.

Old growth Redwoods
Armstrong Redwoods, an old-growth coastal Redwood forest near Guerneville, is worth a trip.  You may not understand why if you've never walked amongst the world's tallest living things. BTW, it's pronounced GURN-vill, not gurn-EE-vill.
Rugged Sonoma Coast

Pacific Ocean
A place to cool off in the summer and a great photo op. There are dozens of beaches, usually separated by rocky cliffs, along the Pacific Coast Highway.  The water is cold, the air is often chilly, and the surf is dangerous in most places.

Weather
It's a Mediterranean Climate meaning not too hot and not too cold.  Typically 50s in the winter; 70s and 80s in the summer.  And it cools off at night even on the hottest days.  The grapes do best with cool nights and we want them to be happy!