Unless you’re living under a rock, you’re probably familiar with the fires that recently swept through California’s wine country of Napa, Mendocino and Sonoma Counties – Including the area surrounding Sonoma Valley, one of BPR’s newest clients. Sonoma Valley is a 17-mile span within Sonoma Country that includes the towns of Sonoma, Glen Ellen, Kenwood and The Springs; 100+ award-winning premium wineries; 13,000 acres of state and regional parks; luxury hotels and spas; and cozy bed-and-breakfasts.
Unfortunately, the pictures and harrowing stories shared via traditional and social media throughout the duration of the fires may have many of you wondering if anything remains of wine country. Fortunately, the vast majority of Sonoma Valley lies outside the path of the recent fires, and due to the selflessness of the first responders who fought tirelessly to keep Sonoma Valley safe, none of the region’s stunning wineries, hotels and restaurants were destroyed or left inoperable. Even better, airports are open, roads are accessible, the smoke has cleared and local businesses have reopened. It’s time to go back to wine country! Why? Because not only are the local businesses – whose livelihoods depend on the tourists that flock to Sonoma Valley year-round – anxiously awaiting guests, but fall’s harvest season is one of the most spectacular times to visit.
If you’re still reading this (and not booking your ticket to one of the five nearby airports that serve Sonoma Valley), here are five more reasons to visit now:
- None of Sonoma Valley’s more than 100 wineries – 85 percent of which are family owned – were destroyed during the fire. As such, tasting rooms have reopened, and are ready to indulge visitors with some of the nation’s most acclaimed and delicious wine.
- The eight-acre Sonoma Plaza, a National Historic Landmark, will celebrate its annual lighting ceremony on November 18. Marking the start of the holiday season, the plaza will glow every night with more than 150,000 holiday lights, strung across eight acres. The picturesque, historic site was laid out by General Mariano Vallejo in 1835 and the largest plaza of its kind in California. Perusing the small shops that line the plaza amidst a ceiling of sparkling lights creates a uniquely memorable experience.
- As the temperatures get a bit cooler (and the leaves begin to change to beautiful shades of gold), Sonoma Valley is entering shoulder season, which means visitors will enjoy competitive lodging rates and all of the attractions for which Sonoma is known, without the waits at restaurants or wineries that often occur during high season.
- Visitors can meet the heroes who helped save Sonoma Valley from the fires, including the furry ones such as Odin the Pyrenees Mountain Dog who saved a herd of goats and two feral baby deer, as well as the animals – from bobcats and tigers to antelope and zebras – who made it safely through the fires and call Safari West, a wildlife preserve and African tent camp, home.
- Many of the valley’s local restaurants, hotels and tour operators will donate a percentage of revenue to relief funds; visitors are encouraged to come sleep, eat and explore, knowing that their good times will support good causes!
Looking beyond fall, the month-long culinary celebration Sonoma Valley Delicious! kicks off January 1, during which visitors and locals will enjoy prix fixe menus, food and wine pairings, tours, exclusive dishes, signature cocktails and more at the area’s participating restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, olive producers, cheesemakers, bakeries, breweries, retail shops and more.
If you don’t want to take it from us, just ask Forbes. We’ll see you in Sonoma Valley soon!