Sunday, January 29, 2006


Like Napa, Sonoma is a town, a valley, and a county. When I woke up this morning in Napa, it was a little foggy, but I thought it might make for atmospheric drive so I aimed for the town of Sonoma. As if I'd wandered into Oz, Sonoma was surprisingly clear and sunny, with a mostly blue skies and rolling green hills.
This is just outside the town of Sonoma. I know what the word means, but I don't know what the sign means.

The downtown is centered around a square, which has a park and City Hall in the center.

I was just on a morning mission to scope out the town, so I just walked around the lovely square, which is lined with shops on the outside.
Sonoma Cheese Factory is a landmark on the square. They've been making cheese since 1931, and are known for their Sonoma Jack.
Lots of jack. Lots of free samples. After I tried them all, I settled on the hot pepper one.
Adult cheese whiz!
Although it's great fun to drive around wine country and visit what you find in the greens hills and valleys, a benefit of stopping in towns is that there are often stores operated by wineries that have tastings. Drunk driving is a big problem here, so such stores let you drink and rest and explore until you can drive again. In contrast, killing time in a rural winery's parking lot is little fun.
I was excited by the popular Basque Cafe.
But I was in the mood for walking and the display was a little too monochromatic for me, so no tastings were made. I am curious about what they put in that gateau basque on the upper right, though...
The square is quite large, and it was a good stroll to see the variety of establishments. I was impressed to see an art house movie theater.
I was also impressed by the prospect of a quilt shop... or maybe the idea of it--I didn't seek it out.
And how to get them hooked young....
The girl & the fig is probably the best known restaurant in town, and you'll see their products, such as spreads and sauces, everywhere in the valleys and beyond.
With so much competition, having an historic garden can't hurt.
There were also quite a few arcades around the square lined with little shops. Yes, this one has a store called Scandinavian Trends with a gnome in front of it.
Sonoma reminded me a lot of Healdsburg, which is a town in northern Sonoma County that is also centered around a square. The weird thing is that, despite the variety of stores and architecture, these towns also remind me of New England, with their modern quaintness and traditional quirkiness and assortment of jams for sale. The main difference is that New England rarely ever gets this dry and sunny.


Blogger Rod B said...

The next time you're in Sonoma, check out Vella Cheese Company. Their Dry Jack is great.

8:11 PM  

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