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Sonoma County

is on the northwest coast of California, in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, USA. Its population at the 2000 census was 458,614. Its largest city and county seat is Santa Rosa.

Sonoma is the southwestern county of California's Wine Country region: Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake counties. It has thirteen approved American Viticultural Areas, and over 250 wineries. In 2002 Sonoma County ranked as the second county in the United States in agricultural production. As early as 1920 Sonoma County was ranked as the eighth most productive U.S county, largely due to the abundance of high quality irrigation water.

Winemaking—both the growing of the grapes and their vinting—is an important part of the economic and cultural life of Sonoma County. In 2004, growers harvested 165,783 tonss (150,396 tonnes) of wine grapes worth US$310 million. In 2006 the Sonoma County grape harvest amounted to over 185,000 tons, exceeding Napa County's harvest by over 30 percent.[11] About 80 percent of non-pasture agricultural land in the county is for growing wine grapes—59,973 acres (242.70 km˛) of vineyards, with over 1100 growers. The most common varieties planted are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir, though the area is also known for its Merlot and Zinfandel.

Sonoma County is home to more than 250 wineries with eleven distinct and two shared American Viticultural Areas, including the Sonoma Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, Bennett Valley and Dry Creek Valley, the last of which is known for the production of high-quality zinfandels.

More than 7.4 million tourists visit each year, spending more than $1 billion in 2006. Sonoma County is the home of Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College.


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