Sonoma Valley, also known as the Valley of the Moon, is believed to be the birthplace of the California wine industry. The Sonoma Valley is blessed with exactly the right combination of soil, sun, seasonal moisture and geography for growing wine grapes of exceptional quality.
This rich, verdant valley boasts dozens of wineries, includng many names you will most certainly recognize. The valley begins in the north at the edge of Santa Rosa and extends 17 miles south to the Carneros Region, an area cooled by the drifting fogs of San Pablo Bay. It is bordered by two mountain ranges: the rugged Mayacamas to the east and the Sonoma Mountains to the west. The valley’s towns include Kenwood and Glen Ellen to the north. To the south, the town of Sonoma (population 9,686) offers an abundance of unique inns, restaurants and shops.
Activity in the town of Sonoma revolves around its picturesque and historic plaza. The plaza is a shady oasis dotted with more than 200 trees, and is the location of the Sonoma City Hall, a beautiful stone building that doubled as the Tuscany County Courthouse on the former TV series Falcon Crest. Built in 1908, the city hall was designed with four identical sides so that the merchants that surround the plaza would all have the same view. The plaza is the site of several celebrations and special events each year, such as the Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival in September.
The town of Sonoma draws thousands of visitors every year who come to enjoy the area’s fine wineries, great restaurants, unique shops, numerous resorts and spas, as well as its natural beauty and historical attractions. For more information, contact the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau, 435 First St., Sonoma, (707) 996-1090.
Just at the foot of the Mayacamas Mountains in eastern Sonoma is the town of Glen Ellen. This area is now a popular destination for wine tasters, honey-mooners and history buffs alike. Being in the climate it is, this region is best known for producing crisp chardonnays, dry Rieslings with a hint of spice and delectable, fruit forward Pinot Noirs. With the Napa Valley right over the hill with their robust Cabernets, and other red varietals, it’s refreshing to know that the Sonoma Valley offers a different specialty. Many of the wineries that lay on the valley floor around Sonoma, Glen Ellen, and Kenwood offer different wines than you will find on the other side of the hill.
But wine is not the only thing that this area is about. Glen Ellen’s history indludes one of the great all time American authors, Jack London. The Jack London State Park is where the once brilliant writer worked diligently on some of his most famous novels.
The small town of Kenwood also located in the Sonoma Valley has charm as well. Bed and Breakfasts, wineries and vineyards line the area.
Kenwood is also situated in close proximity to Sugarloaf State Park, where one can choose to hike, and enjoy the peacefulness of nature in the area.
Not far from here, on the outskirts of Santa Rosa, is Annadel State Park. This park is dotted with oaks and firs, and offers many hiking and jogging trails, as well as some solid fishing spots. Lake Ilsanjo holds a variety of fish, from bluegills to black bass. There have been black bass caught in the lake weighing up to a whopping 9 lbs.
While some come for the fishing, others come for the wildflowers that come into bloom during spring, and stay until the beginning of autumn. These can be seen off of the various trails that traverse the park, which can be navigated by foot, bike and in some cases by horseback.
Although the terrain of Annadel looks ideal for camping, it is not allowed, as well as no campfires, or grills within the park perimeter.
The park is east of Santa Rosa, and located at 6201 Channel Drive, Santa Rosa. For more information about the park, contact (707) 539-3911.