About Sonoma Valley: The Birth Place of California's famed Wine Industry.

Wine Country doesn't get more real than Sonoma Valley, whose rich soils mark the birthplace of California's wine industry. It's also the closest wine region to San Francisco, just 45 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Cradled between the Mayacamas and the Sonoma Mountain ranges, Sonoma Valley encompasses a rolling patchwork of vineyards, quaint farms and 13,000 acres of scenic parkland. In the center of town, the eight-acre Sonoma Plaza is a National Historic Landmark, strewn with sprawling shade trees and bordered by carefully preserved adobe buildings. Up the road in Glen Ellen, author and bohemian adventurer Jack London lived and wrote at his pristine Beauty Ranch, now an 800-acre state historic park. For more historical information, visit the Sonoma League for Historical Preservation or the Sonoma Valley Historical Society website. You can also email

Legend has it the name Sonoma (also known as the “Valley of the Moon”) derives from an indigenous word for “many moons.” What's true, however, is that indigenous tribes lived here for 12,000 years before the Spanish, Mexicans and Americans arrived, and the name Sonoma may actually stem from “noma”--a Mayakmah word for town. Gazing at the starry skies…(Learn More)

In 1823, Sonoma’s Mission San Francisco Solano was founded as the last, northernmost mission in a string of twenty-one missions, a process which started in San Diego in 1769. But Sonoma has a distinction above the rest: it was the only mission built under Mexican rule in California. Mexico had wrested its independence from Spain in 1821, but continued the method which had proved successful in opening new territories: establishing a mission, a presidio (military post), and a pueblo (village).… (Learn More)

General Vallejo was sympathetic to California's incoming wave of American settlers, but the Mexican government wanted the intruders expelled. Awkwardly caught in the middle, Vallejo found himself arrested by a band of Americans who came to his door one morning in 1846. It was this revolt that ushered in a short-lived Bear Flag Republic. Less than a month later, the feisty… (Learn More)

Recognized as the birthplace of California’s wine industry, Sonoma Valley isn't just home to 183-year-old vines, it lays claim to a certain pioneering resilience. Despite General Vallejo’s efforts, the town of Sonoma lost its place as the county seat once the booming Gold Rush redirected the flow of commerce south to San Francisco. In the 19th century… (Learn More)