My husband and I moved to Sonoma County in July of 2012 from the Central Valley after I graduated with my master’s degree in school psychology. After interviewing all over the state of California (because why on Earth would I want to be anywhere else?!) I was fortunate enough to be offered three positions, all in northern California, in the same week! After careful consideration of each area, my husband and I felt that we would be happiest in beautiful Sonoma County!
To be honest, prior to coming to Sonoma County, I thought zinfandel was white and puckered at any beer other than Blue Moon. Embarrassing I know! If you’ve never been to Sonoma County, it is a paradise for foodies, wine connoisseurs, and craft brew experts. I had a lot to learn. Since my husband and I didn’t know anyone north of San Francisco, we took the first year of living here to really explore and get to know the area. We were pleased to discover the multitude of opportunities for the avid outdoorsman/woman. We hiked, canoed, explored the coastline, and best of all experience the wine, beer, and food.
When I say experienced the wine, beer, and food I truly mean that. In Sonoma County, those three things are so much more than items to consume. It is a culture.
Wine tasting to some might be something fun to do for a bachelorette party, but up here it is a lifestyle. When you walk into a tasting room you are visiting someone’s family, rich with history and stories about where the grapes came from, how people put their heart and soul into farming them, and the process of actually making the wine. With every varietal you can taste what happened in the vineyard that year, whether it was a warm season or a rainy one, the wine tells a story. Sonoma County has multiple valleys with varying temperatures which makes growing grapes and making wine here so unique and diverse. There are coastal regions, warmer inland valleys, and even higher elevated volcanic rock. No two wineries are the same and everyone is so friendly that many wineries sell grapes to each other in order to get that perfect blend.
Sonoma County is not only a place to taste wine but is also a mecca for people who enjoy craft breweries. For being a less populated county in comparison with other counties in the state, we have three award winning breweries. Lagunitas, Russian River, and Bear Republic have some of the top ranked IPAs in the nation and are all within a 30 minute drive of one another. A few months after living here, I had my first sour beer at Russian River. I can’t even find another one to compare them to, they are that good. Even the less well known breweries in the area, and we are spoiled to have quite a few, are outstanding. I haven’t had a Blue Moon since I moved here, because what is the point?
With celebrity chefs abundant in Sonoma County and locally grown organic agriculture, it is no wonder that the food here is so amazing! I remember googling best happy hour in Santa Rosa when we had been here for about a week, and the restaurant that came up was Stark’s Steakhouse in Railroad Square. My husband and I were in awe of the cuisine. We had expected typical bar food and hot wings and were surprised to discover bahn mi, oysters on the half shell, and truffle fries for next to nothing cost wise. We are constantly trying new places in the area and when we have guests it is hard to choose which place we want to show off first.
After living here for almost two years, I feel that I still have so much more to uncover and can’t wait to do so. Leading up to my original intention for writing this post, I decided to get a part time position at a winery! Working in education, I am blessed with two months off during the summer and decided that this summer (and beyond) I want to experience wine country from the other side of the tasting counter. Remember when I said earlier that before moving here I thought zinfandel was white? Let’s just say I’ve come a long way in two years and can’t wait to become a bonafide wine snob!