‘Sonoma County Is About More Than Just Wine’ Says London Evening Standard

The British are catching on to something Sonoma County locals have known for quite some time. Something some of us would like to remain a secret.

As Sonoma County continues on the road toward recovery following last October’s devastating wildfires – rebuilding homes and making up for lost revenue – several newspapers across the pond are promoting the area as a travel destination.

A few weeks ago, the Scottish edition of The Sun said that “just months after the wildfire tragedy, Sonoma remains California’s most blissful holiday destination.” And now the London Evening Standard has published another Sonoma County travel reportage headlined “Why Sonoma County makes a great introduction to the California wine scene.”

The Evening Standard article begins with the assertion that, while “Sonoma County is less heralded than Napa Valley,” it is “as much a magnet for lovers of food and wine” and “makes for a relaxed introduction to the California wine scene.”

The Evening Standard’s introduction to the Sonoma County wine scene includes an itinerary different to that of the regular first-time visitor. Instead of touring Healdsburg and Sonoma Valley, travel reporter Holly Williams spent most of her trip on the Sonoma Coast, with excursions to The Barlow in Sebastopol and Bear Republic in Healdsburg. Williams spent the night at the Bodega Bay Lodge, dined at in-house Drakes restaurant, sampled wines at Gourmet Au Bay (also in Bodega Bay) and was “whisked around” on the coast by Beau Wine Tours, whose “luxurious” SUVs made her feel like she was “in a rap video curated by a sommelier.”

At the Barlow, Williams tried small-batch pinot noirs at Friedeman Wines, wild skin-fermented wines from Wind Gap, and a tasting flight at MacPhail Wines. She also visited Spirit Works distillery “to hear how they make their grain-to-glass vodka and gin,” and commented that “unusually for the drinks industry, seven of the eight-strong team are women.”

In between sampling Sonoma’s premier alcoholic beverage, Williams notes that the county “boasts more than vines” and has its “fair share” of “foodie trends,” from micro-breweries to artisan sourdough bakeries to its very own cheese trail, featuring 28 artisan cheesemakers. It remains unclear whether or not Williams tried any of these treats (other than craft beer at Healdsburg’s Bear Republic) but she concludes that she was “converted to the idea that Sonoma County is about more than just wine.”

(While the Evening Standard article mentions last October’s wildfires, Williams grossly underestimates their destructive impact: “California took a battering after last autumn’s wildfires but Sonoma County largely escaped, with just one winery destroyed.” Among other aspects, Williams fails to mention the 24 lives and 5300 homes lost in the fires, in Sonoma County alone.)