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Sonoma County is strong. But to fully recover from the devastating fires, the region will need the support of locals and visitors alike. Click through the gallery for a few ideas on how to help the region rebuild and recover. (Photo by Kent Porter)
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SHOP in SONOMA
Local businesses are the bread and butter of our economy. Did you know that for every $100 you spend at a local business, $48 goes back into our local economy? (If you spend at a chain, only 14 percent is returned.) By shopping local, you help local employees pay their bills and feed their families, and you also boost the local economy, which in turn supports those affected by the fires.
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If you live in Sonoma County, consider shopping at the local farmers market. Year-round markets include Petaluma East Side Farmers Market, Santa Rosa Farmers Market, Sebastopol Farmers Market, Sonoma Valley Certified Farmer’s Market. Cloverdale Community Market & Exchange and Windsor Certified Farmer’s Market are open until mid-December. (Photo by Beth Schlanker)
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The holidays offer an opportunity to give thanks and give back to your community by shopping local food and gifts. Buy signature Sonoma ingredients from local farmers, and locally-made gifts in Sonoma County stores. (Photo by Kent Porter)
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Get your Dungeness Crab from Bodega Bay. The fishing season kicks off in November; savvy locals line up at Fishetarian Fish Market, where fisherman Shane Lucas (of the Lucas Wharf restaurant family) displays the daily catch in ice-filled glass cases.
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Locally-made "Sonoma Strong" and "The Love in the Air is Thicker Than the Smoke" artwork, prints and decals are sure to be popular holiday gifts this year. This is a good way to support local artists, and fire relief efforts (all, or parts of, proceeds benefit fire relief funds). More information here.
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DRINK in SONOMA
Wine, whiskey and wheat beer - we've got it here, and it is all made in Sonoma County. Visit our acclaimed wineries, breweries and distilleries - they're open for business, pouring for your pleasure, and offering the same great views and vibes Sonoma County is known for. If you can't visit, buy Sonoma County wine, beer and spirits at your local grocery or liquor store. From Alaska to Florida, you can find Sonoma-made beverages in your own backyard.
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Visit Sonoma wineries: According to Visit California, out of more than 1,200 wineries in the region, fewer than 10 were "heavily damaged" by the fires. If you're planning a visit to Sonoma wine country in the coming weeks and months, you will have plenty to look forward to. In addition to serving award-winning wines, many of the local wineries are hosting holiday events, and donating proceeds to fire relief efforts. Too many wineries to choose from? Check out our list of the best Sonoma wineries for first time-visitors.
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Buy Sonoma wines: Call your favorite winery and order direct. Iron Horse Vineyards is donating $5 of every bottle sold of their 2012 Gratitude rosé sparkling wine to Redwood Empire Food Bank. Check out other wines benefiting fire relief efforts here.
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Visit Sonoma distilleries: Forget the wine, it's cocktail time! Over the past few years, Sonoma County has become a haven for spirited folks that like to craft hand-blended drinks like vodka, whiskey and gin. Often family-run, Sonoma distilleries offer an opportunity to see spirits being made on site, and many of them have tasting rooms where you can sample the goods, straight and in a cocktail. (Photo by Chris Hardy)
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Get in the holiday spirit at Spirit Works Distillery in Sebastopol. 100 percent of sales from their Sonoma Strength Whiskey, available only at their tasting room, benefits fire relief efforts. (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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Prefer to dine at home? Eat your way through this list of iconic Sonoma County foods. From Liberty Farms duck to Dungeness crab, olive oil to local peaches - you've got work to do for a good cause. In this photo, wood-fire roasted pork loin from Front Porch Farms and Santa Rosa plums served with a arugula and squash blossom salad next to an iron skillet of wood-fire roasted shishito peppers with Marcona almonds and shavings of Pennyroyal Farm Boont Corners cheese at the home of John Stewart and Duskie Estes in Forestville. (Photo by Erik Castro)
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STAY in SONOMA
Escaping the midwest winter with a trip to Wine Country? Looking for a quick weekend getaway from San Francisco? Or maybe you're just a Petaluman looking for a fun staycation in your own backyard? Rest your head at hotels, inns and B&Bs run by locals, after shopping, drinking and eating your way through Sonoma County. Several Sonoma hotels were recently voted among the best in Northern California. (Photo courtesy of Grape Leaf Inn)
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Check into one of the many family-owned bed and breakfasts throughout Sonoma County, like the Gables Wine Country Inn in Santa Rosa, which features a nightly happy hour with local wines and breakfast prepared with locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients.
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Breathe in the fresh coastal air during a night's stay at an oceanside hotel, like the Timber Cove Resort, where you can play bocce overlooking the ocean, hike seaside trails, and watch the sunset during dinner. More Sonoma Coast hotels here.
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Vintage lovers can stay in retro style at revamped Santa Rosa lodgings like the Astro Motel (pictured) and Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa. Sonoma County is a treasure trove of vintage and secondhand shops, check out Railroad Square in Santa Rosa, and downtown Healdsburg, Sonoma and Petaluma. (Photo by Christopher Chung)
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If you'd like to support all areas impacted by the wildfires (Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, and Lake counties), you can donate money to the North Bay Fire Relief Fund, a fundraising effort created by Redwood Credit Union in partnership with Sonoma Magazine's sister publication The Press Democrat, and state Sen. Mike McGuire. Donate to Sonoma County fire relief efforts via the Sonoma County Fire Resilience Fund, help rebuild housing for displaced residents through the Rebuild Wine Country fund, which benefits Habitat for Humanity, or support food programs such as Redwood Empire Food Bank and Sonoma Family Meal, which have served thousands of meals to those affected by the fires. Find other ways to donate money here. (Photo by Darryl Bush)
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The ongoing efforts of volunteers are critical to regional recovery. There are over 1,500 nonprofits in Sonoma County - many are volunteer operated. If you're able to donate your time - a little or a lot - this can have a tremendous impact: volunteering is not only beneficial for the cause, but also good for your heart and soul. Sort donations at the Healdsburg Free Store, or serve food at Sonoma Family Meal, after you get off from work. Help rebuild and clean up city, county and state parks after fires ravaged their trails. You can even become a volunteer firefighter. The best place to start is the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County, which places thousands of volunteers with their right "match" nonprofits annually. (Photo by Beth Schlanker)