Wining and dining in the vineyards of Sonoma County by Charlene Sands

Charlene-with-Books Hi Everyone!

Today I’d love to share with you my recent travels to Northern California for a dear friend’s wedding, and as we drove past San Francisco, via the Golden Gate Bridge, we were treated to some of the most glorious scenery I’ve ever witnessed.  Vineyards abounded all along the highway and the inroads of small towns and bigger cities, until we reached the historic town of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, where we spent a few fun days. Thousands of years ago, Sonoma was home to the Pomo Indians, but now ranks as a top seller of fine wines.  Now, I ask you, is this not a beautiful sight? H grapes

Healdsburg was voted one of the Top Ten Smallest Towns in America due to the three most important award-winning wine producing regions of Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River in Sonoma County.  Healdsburg population is 11, 254.  After the Gold Strike in 1849, many who didn’t find riches in gold, found something almost equally beneficial in this verdant rich farmland.  Healdsburg

In 1857 there was a “squatters rights” war called the Westside Road War and Harmon Heald, an Ohio entrepreneur was one of the winners and Healdburg was founded.  Harmon Heald was quick to construct a post office and general store in what is now called Downtown Healdsburg. He laid out a town grid and sold lots for $15 each and plotted his town in the Spanish style plaza design.  The plaza still stands today and is host to free concerts, picnics and lively events.  The town flourished with the arrival of the Northwestern Pacific Railway. H plazaH horseH breweryHere are some pics of the plaza and a gorgeous horse sculpture near the entrance of City Hall.  And of course, where do we choose to eat lunch while in Healdsburg in the heart of wine country?  Well, at a brewery, of course!   I’m not sorry, the fish and fries were delicious!H cupcakesOh and the dessert was wonderful too.

As we toured around the amazing wineries of Sonoma and the miles and miles of vineyards, I found many that have been in business for over 100 years!

H vineyards

Here we are attending the wedding in Santa Rosa, just 12 miles from Healdsburg at the Paradise Ridge Winery.  I tell a harrowing story on Facebook about how we got completely lost in the maze of vineyards and if not for a lovely older couple guiding us out, we would never have made the wedding in time.  But in the end,  we did and much fun was had.  H winery wedding

I love learning the history of regions we travel.  I find it so intriguing how towns get started and get their names.  Do you love learning tidbits about places you visit?  Does your town have an unusual history?  Do you drink wine (if so, what’s your fav?)  or are you more a beer or soda kind of person?  I’d love to give away a backlist book and other goodies to one blogger today.  Winner announced over the weekend!  Be sure to check back!

Charlene Sands
Charlene Sands is a USA Today Bestselling Author of 35 novels, writing both western and contemporary romance. She's a lover of all things romantic, especially her bold, rugged, heartstopping "real good men" heroes! She's the recepient of the National Readers' Choice Award, the Bookseller's Best Award and the Cataromance Reviwer's Choice Award. When not writing, she spends time with her "hero" husband, enjoying Pacific Beaches and drinking iced mocha cappucinos!

Charlene loves to hear from her readers.
Drop her a line at www.charlenesands.com or write her at PO. Box 4883, West Hills, CA 91308
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Updated: September 5, 2016 — 6:42 pm

23 Comments

  1. Wow! Fabulous article and I loved your pictures. I’ve never been to California, but your post of this great town and area makes it tempting. I live in Southwest Kansas , Hugoton, KS, and the Santa Fe Trail is right in our back door, it runs 20 miles north & to the west of us. The Cimarron National Grasslands is in the neighboring county and as you drive the Santa Fe trial, historical markers are along the way with plentiful history. So I truly enjoy the history of this barren area.

    1. Sounds wonderful, Tonya. I love all kinds of American history!

  2. I do know the history of my town. We researched it as part of a Girl Scout badge. Nothing too interesting. It was founded by Puritans. I love wine. Riesling is my favorite but I do like many others. My daughter is in the Peace Corps in Moldova and they are big wine growers. Can’t wait to visit

    1. HI DebraG. I hope you get a visit with your daughter soon! Gotta love those Girl Scout badges. I still have all of mine!

  3. Your trip sounds like so much fun. I enjoyed seeing the pictures too. I would love to visit that area one day. I do enjoy history of places that I visit. I will usually take some kind of tour or read up on a place before and while I am there. Now that I see this, I see wine country isn’t always about wine. My husband doesn’t like wine, so he wouldn’t enjoy the wine tasting tours (but I would love it). My favorite wine is Silverado Merlot, but I don’t have it often as it cost a bit more than I can usually afford for a wine.

    1. Hi Janine! There’s a lot to see in wine country. Hubby and I paid a visit to the new River Rock Casino, up there. Paid, being the operative word, but we had fun. It’s beautiful country and it’s so pretty with the grapes ripening on the vines.

  4. Oh what a lovely-sounding trip. Thanks for sharing it with us. I got to visit the Napa Valley once on a business trip there but not to next door Sonoma sadly.

    We live on land bought from the Lenape Indians by William Penn, although we live much further north in the territory than where most of the first Quakers settled. A smaller tribe lived in our area and everything is named for them–the river, towns, townships, roads, schools, shops you name it. Later on in time, General Washington and his army were camped here in the fall of 1777. I didn’t grow up here, but in areas not that far away that are also chock full of Colonial and Revolutionary history, which is likelywhere my love of history and research comes from.

    To answer your other question, back when I drank wine it was usually a burgundy or zinfandel. On a very rare occasion now, I’d much prefer a lovely single malt Scotch; but my usual go-to is tea, hot or cold.

    1. Hi Eliza
      Oh, I’m getting chills reading about your home’s history. How cool!!

  5. Charlene, I love old towns and uncovering the history of some has led to interesting stories. One thing about it–those people back then were dreamers and visionaries. A lot of hard work goes into the making of a town. It doesn’t just happen by accident. Healdsville sounds lovely. It’s really lush and green. I don’t drink wine often but when I do, I like a white moscato.

    I LOVED Claim me, Cowboy! Just a really good story and was one of your best.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Linda!
      You’re right about the visionaries. I’m amazed at how enterprising our citizens were back then! It has always fascinated me.

  6. Before children we did some traveling and I loved it. Everywhere and anywhere is fascinating to me. I live in Pittsburgh and it has a long history of helping in the development of our country. And I love cabernet savignon.

    1. HI Catslady! I brought home a bottle of cab from Sonoma. Wish I could share it with you!

  7. The city I live in has lots of historic facts, but the big one is that we were home to Col.John McCrae who wrote in Flanders Fields. His home is Heritage Historic site. And there are a lot of small town around have lots to offer visitors. Not far from me, about an hour away is Ontario’s wine country in the Niagara region. Lots of great winery’s to visit and one of my fav small towns is Niagara-on-the-Lake. It is home to The Shaw Festival which you can see and enjoy many of the great George Bernard Shaw’s works on the stage.

    1. Hi Kathleen O. Sounds truly wonderful.

  8. Beautiful pictures. Have never visited Sonoma County.
    I am a soda person.

    1. Hi Estella… me too. I love cherry coke, but because of the amount of caffeine, I usually drink root beer.

  9. Enjoyed your pics! I do enjoy learning little tidbits… I am a soda person… not much of a drinker.

    1. Hi Colleen.. Glad you liked the pics!!

  10. North platte nebraska started out as a trading post and grew from there. They only thing people find of interest is that a woman named Annie Cook was a murder and a madame prostituting out even her daughters and granddaughters she is buried in the old cemetary here.

    1. Hi Kim,
      Wow, that’s some story.
      Nebraska has a long history in the US, doesn’t it?

  11. What a wonderful post, Charlene. The pictures make me want to go right now! Oh yes, I love learning tidbits about the places we visit. And yes, I love wine. My favorite is a red blend called Double Dog from my favorite winery in Temecula.

  12. I enjoy finding out interesting things about the towns and places I visit. Our town, Jonesborough, is the oldest in TN and the county seat. It is home to the International Storytelling Center. The International Storytelling Festival is held the first full weekend of Oct. every year, the 7th thru 9th this year. It is a wonderful event that draws tellers and visitors from all over the world. We are in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It has seen many historical figures and is home to the first Abolitionist press. The Downtown Historic District has preserved the 1800’s look of the town. There are events throughout the year, and May through Sept. there is a music concert on Main St. every Fri. evening and a family movie every Saturday evening. The whole area is rich in history.

  13. I always love to learn about the history of places we travel to or through! I’m just a boring ol’ water drinker 😉 Our little county in southern Illinois used to stretch all the way to Canada yet today it is one of the smallest in the state.

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