Visiting Wine Country: A Local’s Guide to Eating, Exploring and Imbibing in Sonoma

Sonoma: there’s something still wild and dusty here—the Valley of the Moon—where farmers first settled to mine the land for juice. The rest of us just live here because we know what they knew at first press: there’s something about this town.

At the request of friends, family, clients and thirsty folks everywhere, get to know the spots from my personal Sonoma that you shouldn’t miss during your next visit to wine country. 

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Heading North: Stories from Sonoma

Heading North

Earlier this year, after five years in San Francisco, my husband and I packed up our tiny apartment that was perched on a foggy slope overlooking the mouth of the Bay. Its contents were damp with salty air. It was not a lavish space by any means—in fact it was growing mold and dust and decay in every corner by the time we left—but it was ours, and we managed to fit the yields of our years within those very thin walls (hi, neighbors who lived above us). On one occasion we even hosted a Thanksgiving celebration and had so many people carefully spooned into that apartment that I can still feel the heat of all those bodies in one small space.

All of us eventually learn the same lesson about space. The urge comes for room—indistinct from the bruises earned by curious extremities—and we listen before we outgrow our desires and abandon them. In February we found a house in Sonoma just outside of Glen Ellen, packed a UHaul with everything that would fit, and headed north to make claim to our land. [i]  

I always imagined I would settle along the sea, or at least close to the edge. I think it’s the sense of water actually commingling with land, and the eternal return of the waves that signals both newness and an incomprehensible vastness: there is more possibility than you conceive, but you must act fast.

The Valley of the Moon

We settled in wine country—another kind of holy water. Where the fog pats quietly along the valley floor in the morning, and moss grows on the trees like it did in the dark, vampy Northwest of my youth. As an added bonus: grapes grow everywhere and every season they squeeze their harvest directly into your mouth and you’re under the influence of their juices in a matter of minutes. Seriously.[ii]

The best part of moving somewhere new is the drunken exploration; uncovering the stories that make it unlike anywhere else you’ve been. Jack London lived here in the Valley of the Moon, and wrote a novel (of the same name) about a couple of labor workers who leave city life behind in search of land to farm. Life gets busy and I haven’t yet had the time to write the next great American novel about Sonoma; just give me one more lifetime. But I do hope to share some of the stories that make up the façade of this land of grapes and honey.

Stories from Sonoma

I hope you’ll stick around as I share some spaces, places the faces from Sonoma that are doing rad stuff, keeping tune with life’s riotous narrative, and having a grand time doing it. Check back for weekly updates and do let me know in the comments if you have suggestions or a penchant to explore something specific in these parts.

It takes some time to settle in and I'm still getting my bearings on newness, but I can elaborate on whether or not wine is food group, who Chuck Williams is and why he’s so obsessed with my kitchen appliances, and what they meant when they named this valley after our night's most perfectly illusive satellite. 


[i] Yes. Just like Tom Cruise in Far and Away. However, instead of that, home ownership looks a lot like those money emojis with wings. Farewell, my lovers.

[ii] Comments in this article are not endorsed by Sonoma County, its winemakers, Bacchus, or the people who purportedly squeeze the juices into all of our thirsty mouths.  

La Casa Grande, Sonoma Square -  Meghan Marsh King

La Casa Grande, Sonoma Square - Meghan Marsh King