Sonoma boasts one of the richest histories of any town in California. Its Mission San Francisco Solano, established in 1823, was the northernmost mission established in a chain of 21 founded by Franciscan missionaries in what was then called Alta California. Subsequently, the town was the center of the short-lived Bear Flag Republic, and eventually became county seat of Sonoma County until 1854 when the designation was awarded to nearby Santa Rosa.
Today, the town is home to approximately 10,000 residents and is a popular tourist destination at the center of a premier wine producing region. Its historic Plaza hosts its early 20th century and still functioning town hall, as well as the painstakingly reconstructed original mission chapel and presidio, and casual to world-class restaurants, galleries, spas and shops. The town’s many charming homes include modest cottages, Victorians and more modern residences, while its outskirts host modest to world-class homes and vineyard estates. It is the economic hub of its namesake valley, which is home to approximately 40,000 people.
Considered by business leaders and historians alike to be the birthplace of California’s internationally acclaimed wine industry, Sonoma is named in documents showing wine grapes were first planted here around the time of the founding of Mission San Francisco Solano in 1823. Soon thereafter, California’s first winery was founded here by “Count” Agoston Haraszthy. Each September, California’s oldest wine heritage celebration, The Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival, takes place on the Plaza.
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