Sonoma County: Articles on California's Sonoma County Wine Region

Portrait of an Old Vine

In the winter, they stretch above the ground like old crows’ claws reaching for the sky. Amid the bright green of the groundcover and vivid yellows, reds and oranges of the flowering cover crops, one could easily mistake these black stumps for dead. But they are just dormant for now, mustering the energy to push out yet another year’s worth of fruit that will produce the liquid gold that old vine zinfandel can be.

Castle Vineyards: Sonoma’s Royal Secret

As a young girl, I had always dreamed about being a princess inside a castle full of beautiful surroundings and lovely wines.

Well, okay….maybe not the wines so much, but you get the point.

At Castle Vineyards in Sonoma, California, their small, quaint tasting room gives meaning to the word “royalty”. Why, you ask? It’s simple: The folks at Castle really know what they are making and selling and it shows. From the employees to the tasting room and of course, the wine itself, Castle knows how to make one feel like royalty.

California Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage Chart

Update: IntoWine has partnered with the California Wine Club to offer you great deals on 

Sonoma County: Call Me Home Girl

When I think of Napa Valley, it mostly, well, makes sense.  It is clearly defining geographically—basically one straight shot 30 miles long and 5 miles wide.  It has a clear varietal leader—in Napa, of course, Cab is King.  It is straightforward logistically, with two roads running the length of the valley, and the occasional cross street linking the two.  From Google Earth, it looks like a ladder.

Then there’s Sonoma County.  It’s often mistakenly referred to by novices as Sonoma Valley, perhaps because that would make it easier to understand.

Mission Possible: Keeping Sonoma True Through the Wine Patrol

Deep beneath the surface of the Sonoma Valley, a controversy lies. Little is known of this controversy unless one happens to delve deep into Sonoma’s rapid growth in recent years. Many people may be surprised to know that Sonomans don’t really want to be compared to, or put against, Napa Valley, its closest rival. Napa, at least some people agree, has become a commercialized Sonoma with high-end shops, high-class eating establishments and high-priced wines; many believe too high-priced.

Enter in the Wine Patrol, a group of individuals whose single most important quest in life is to locate, promote and praise Sonoma’s finest wines under $15-$30 and to bring public awareness to Sonoma and its original simple, non-glitzy charm that Napa has commercially overshadowed in the last few years.

Cool-Climate Syrah in Sonoma

Sonoma County winemakers are searching out the perfect marriage of locale and climate to produce noble cool-climate syrah.

“This is, honestly, one of the best places in the world to grow syrah,” said winemaker John Holdredge, who makes a cool-climate syrah from a Russian River Valley vineyard called Lovers Lane. “You can have a nice syrah from a warm climate but it’s just a different animal. I don’t think I’ve had one where I thought, wow, that’s pretty.”

A Mushroom Foray, a Wine Club Soirée

Wine clubs are an increasingly popular way to receive premium and uncommon wines, with regularity, and often at a discount. Many clubs offer special events, occasions to join with congenial and like-minded fellow-members, to get out in the world for a good time with wine, food, music, and sometimes adventure.

Napa versus Sonoma: Marcia versus Jan

Remember Jan from the Brady Bunch? She was the less pretty, less popular younger sister of the sparkling Marcia Brady. While she only melted down once during her four seasons of second class status, (recall the classic “Marcia Marcia Marcia!” episode of season 3), her insecurities were a constant.

We Californians have another, perhaps lesser-known rivalry, right in our front yard – that of the wine producing regions of Sonoma and Napa counties. (Yes, the Napa wine-as-buxom-blonde analogy has been done and overdone, but bear with me here). When it comes to wine production, Napa has historically been like Marcia – sexy and popular. Sonoma has been more like Jan – smart and pretty, but a little insecure. Fortunately, this may be changing.

Sonoma County: A Wine Country Overview

What sets Sonoma, California apart from any other wine-producing town in the world? Is it the history surrounding the region? Is it the cozy, romantic getaways that entice both first-time visitors and frequent guests? Is it the world-famous wineries that scatter throughout the picturesque landscape? Or, is it because upon entering the town of Sonoma, you are instantly transformed from the busy and stressed life you live to the laid back and relaxed person you long to be, well before you take a sip of locally produced wine? The answer to this question is simply: all of the above.

Located just an hour north of San Francisco, the Sonoma Valley is located in the southern part of Sonoma County, California. The southern end of this vast and hearty valley opens toward the San Pablo Bay and the northern end gives way to 17 miles of bountiful vineyards, quaint towns and plenty of wine tasting for any occasion.

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