Top Five Sonoma Valley Secrets

Often times wine lovers visit a wine producing region and end up spending their entire visit driving from one tasting room to another. Nothing wrong with this. But it can be monotonous, particularly for those in the car that are not hard core wine lovers.

It’s with this in mind that I offer a few alternatives to those who would visit my Sonoma Valley and who might want to look behind the wines and get a little closer to some of the lesser known but worthy places to visit.


1. The Overlook Trail

With its trail head in walking distance from the Sonoma Plaza, our Overlook trail offers a the chance to take in an extraordinary view of the town of Sonoma and the surrounding area. The trail is easy to navigate and surrounded by manzanitas and oaks. You pass by vineyards and at the right time of year encounter amazing wild flowers. The treasure is at the top of the trail. There you’ll encounter that amazing vista of the valley looking southwest. At the summit you will also find a nice bench that has a coffee can tied to it. In the can is a note book and pencil. Visitors sit and write their impressions of the trail or the vista. Some indulge in poetic meanderings. From the Sonoma Plaza, the round trip is no more than an hour and 45 minutes.

2. The Mountain Cemetery

Located near the trail head of the Overlook Trail, Sonoma’s Mountain Cemetery is everything you want from such a place. Graves date from the Mid 19th century. Tall oaks drape the terraced resting place in shade. Old stone graves and crypts are off kilter. Spanish Moss hangs from the trees. While it might seem haunting to some, there is a romantic quality to this remarkable location.

3. Nonna’s Eastside Market

You have to want to get to this little market located about 10 blocks off the Sonoma Plaza on Napa Street East. It is in the middle of nowhere. However, it holds the best collection of value wines in Sonoma. And they aren’t just Sonoma Valley wines. Well priced, wonderful quality wines from across the globe are on their shelves. It really is an eclectic collection that clearly has a lot of thought behind it. There is more here, however, Lots of fresh produce, prepared foods for picnics, breads, cheeses, candy. Stop in get a nicely priced Spanish red, some cheese some bread and head out to the cemetery.

4. Taylor & Norton Wine Merchants.

Taylor & Norton is the place Sonomans go to find that very special bottle of wine. This little non-descript wine shop across from the Albertsons’ shopping center holds treasures like well aged First Growth Bordeaux, hard to find Spanish Priorat, older CA Cabernets, an awesome collection of Aussie Syrahs and a ton of other sought after wines. You’ll need to bring a fat wallet, however. One of the best things about Taylor and Norton is its owner Greg Taylor. Greg knows wine! And I’ve never been to the shop when he’s not there and willing to talk and talk for hours about wines if that’s what you want.

5. Oak Hill Farms

Located behind a large stand of Eucalyptus trees on Highway 12 between Sonoma and Glen Ellen is the perfectly authentic Oak Hill Farm, a place where locals go to pick up fresh produce, heirloom varietals and beautiful wreaths, all of which is grown on the farm. The sales take place in the Red Barn. And that’s exactly what it is: an old red barn. The property is quite historic. It’s about 700 acres but only about 40 are cultivated today. I mention that it is an authentic experience because that’s important. We are talking about a family run business from seeds to register.

Posted In: Culture and Wine


One Response

  1. Tyler - September 9, 2005

    Thanks Tom! You’re our man in Havana–er, Sonoma!

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