California’s Sonoma Wine Country and Coast: Hidden Highlights
There is so much to love about northern California, from its bountiful vineyards, rich history, and Pacific coast, to the towering redwoods. This region is truly remarkable with something for everyone, from long rides through the endless scenery of the coast and forests, to enjoying some of the world’s finest wines at lush vineyards.
Sonoma, the birthplace of the California’s wine industry and home to over 400 wineries, including the state’s oldest, Buena Vista winery, was actually established in 1857. The first grape vines in Sonoma were originally planted in 1812, and has since grown to 18 appellations and 66 different varieties to produce 6% of all of California’s wine. The annual haul of grapes is staggering, coming in at just over 250,000 tons a year! That’s enough for over 200 million bottles of wine!
This region is often compared to France’s Bordeaux and Burgundy area for their wine quality. The difference however is mainly noticed in the soil, an integral aspect of wine-making. The wines of these two regions were notably put to the test in the Judgement of Paris, a wine competition held in Paris in 1976. After several blind taste tests, California wines rated best in every single category and variety, shocking the world and placing California prominently on the world’s wine map. Over 80% of the grapes in the winning Chardonnay category came from appellations found in Sonoma, firmly cementing its status as America’s wine epicenter.
Many varieties, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and more, come from Sonoma, specifically from the Mediterranean-like Dry Creek Valley and the fog-shrouded Russian River Valley. One of the regions most popular is the Ferrari-Carano winery in the Dry Creek Valley, renowned for their Chardonnays and winning numerous awards for their 2015 release.
Along the Pacific Coast in Sonoma lies Bodega Bay, famously known for the shooting location in Alfred Hitchcock’s terrifying classic “The Birds.” Hitchcock fell for the endless open hills and the quiet harbors that sit alongside the Pacific, which were perfect for the film’s tone laced with suspense. Bodega Bay is a haven for coastal birds, lending it further credence as an ideal filming location for Hitchcock’s masterpiece. Spot some of the filming locations as you make your way along the rolling farmland on lightly traveled country roads.
There are countless places to lose yourself in the natural beauty of Sonoma. While the vineyards of wine country are full of vibrant greens and blue skies, the stunning scenery of the coastline offers amazing views of the Pacific, from the calm spray of the water along the shores and cliffs to the brilliantly colored sunsets that are sure to captivate. You may even spot seals, sea lions, and migrating gray whales. Away from Bodega Bay and the coast, you can find ancient groves of redwood trees whose towering canopies grow to be over 300 feet tall and can live for over 2,000 years, a truly spectacular sight to behold!
This gorgeous destination and the great Sonoma and Napa community are back in business after ravaging fires swept through the region last fall. In support of a region that has been a signature Sojourn destination for a decade now, Sojourn’s President, Raja Mukherjee has invited guests to travel with him the week of June 10th, as part of a special Ride with Raja in order to showcase the best this trip has to offer.