“Across Sonoma Mountain, wisps of sea fog are stealing. The afternoon sun smolders in the drowsy sky. I have everything to make me glad I am alive.”
– Jack London
Disclaimer: I am freshly in love with northern Sonoma County, so excuse me in advance if I am overly effusive. San Francisco and the California wine country have been my go-to American vacation spots for the last year or so and this obsession culminated in my recent move here after returning to the US from living in Italy for many years. Every time I visited this area I fell more in love with the extraordinary combination of fantastic climate, laid-back vibe, and worldly accoutrements. Then there is the lifestyle punctuated with the ongoing clinking of celebratory glasses, but it’s not just that.
Winding through some of the most breathtaking countryside in California, Sonoma County offers visitors picture postcard views of vineyards nestled between hills and valleys as well as amazing tastings of some of the world’s best wines. Sonoma County simply leaves an indelible imprint on the mind and a sense of peace in the soul.
This must be part of the reason that Italian immigrants made their way here too, before there was even one wine-producing vineyard in what is now known as Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Like me, maybe they felt a sense of being “home” here not only in the inland which is so reminiscent of the Italian countryside, but also in the proximity to the coast and seaside villages which is also a mainstay of living on the Italian peninsula.
It wasn’t only the Italians that settled here and became winemakers. In fact the Russian River Road offers an array of sights into the world of wine making from Italian villas to French-style chateaus to smaller garagiste wineries built when immigrants still made wine in their garages. Those Italians (and French) knew that Sonoma County’s ideal combination of warm days and cool nights had the potential to produce spectacular wines.
Sonoma County AVAs
Now, northern Sonoma County is officially a top international wine producer complete with a trifecta of AVAs (American Viticultural Areas): Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and the Russian River Valley. Each valley offers a jewel to add to northern Sonoma County’s crown. The Russian River Valley brings its internationally famous Pinot and Chardonnay, Dry Creek produces some of California’s best Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc, and the Alexander Valley boasts voluptuous Cabernet and Merlot. Sonoma County produces more than 60 varieties of grapes and houses dozens of international varietals. And now that I’m here, I plan to learn as much as I can about all of them and travel to every corner of wine country soaking up la dolce vita – just like in Italy. Evviva!!