When one thinks of “California wine country,” Napa immediatley comes to mind. That’s due in part to its close proxmity to San Francisco (about an hour) and the many wine tours that are available from there for tourists.
Yet there is another wine country that is actually a bit closer to “the City:” Sonoma County. Known to some as “the affordable Napa,” the region produces excellent – tho less prestigious (read: less expensive) – wines.
Recently, I was fortunte enough to be invited to an intimate wine pairing luncheon hosted by the Sonoma County Winegrowers, the non-profit organization that promotes the 1,800 winegrape growers in this Northern California region. And I must say, it was a spectacular experience.
It started with a glass of sparkling wine – the J Winery 2016 Blanc de Blancs – and advanced through three courses of tasting pairings. The restaurant was Fleming’s in San Diego. I chose French Onion soup for my appetizer and with it was served a nice light white, the Orsi Family Vineyards 2022 Biancolella D’iscina, which is a wine well suited for warm and sunny California days. Which are most of them, both here in San Diego and in Sonoma County.
For the next round, we were served two reds, the Dutton-Goldfield 2021 Emerald Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir and the Serres Ranch 2019 Marshall Cabernet Sauvignon. I particulary enjoyed the latter for it had a robust, rich flavor without being overpowering. Perfect! I had these with a salmon fillet in a Ceaser salad.
Dessert was a cheese plate, which thrilled me becuase I don’t eat sweets but love cheese. And the Sangiacomi Family Wines 2021 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay was the perfect accompanying wine to top off the luncheon.
As we ate and sipped, Sonoma County Winegrowers Marketing Director Aaron Millard talked about the region and its wines. A video of Sonoma County played in the background. Millard, supported by Assistant Marketing Manager Lily Zea, explained that Sonoma County is a large and diverse area. It has rich farmlands and vineyards, of course, but also redwoods, rivers and a coastline. Sonoma County also has a racetrack, Sonoma Raceway (or Sears Point, its original name) which hosts NASCAR, NHRA and professional sports car races.
@pubclub.com The PubClub.com Drnking Tip of ths Dsy from the Sonoma County CA Winegrowers. #pubclub #drinkingtipoftheday #drinkingtip #drinkingtipsforyou #wine #sonomacountywine #winetips ♬ original sound – PubClub
Sonoma County is also home to a whopping 425 wineries, as well as several grape growers, some of whom provide grapes for Napa Valley wines. The well-reknowned Russian River wines are in Sonoma County and it’s also home to “the Charlie Brown town” as I call it, Santa Rosa, the longtime home of Charles Shultz. As a tribute to him and what he created, there are several Peanuts character statues downtown. Santa Rosa is also home to the Sonoma County Airport, which means you can bypass busy San Francisco and Oakland to get there.
For those who don’t wish to drive through the countryside to do their wine tasting – which is me – the town of Sonoma has several tasting rooms around Sonoma Plaza, California’s largest town square.
So when thinking of the California Wine Country, don’t forget about Sonoma County. It has quality, diversity and excellent wines and is just as close to San Francisco as Napa Valley.
About PubClub.com And Kevin Wilkerson
PubClub.com is one of the original websites on the Internet. It features articles on nightlife, food & drink, events, activities, travel and sports. It has been featured in USA Today, the LA Times and American Way magazine, among other media outlets. Kevin Wilkerson is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in daily newspapers and with the Associated Press. He has tasted wines and written reviews on this topic from around the world.