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
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.
Winemakingboth the growing of
the grapes and their vintingis 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. About 80
percent of non-pasture agricultural land in the county is for growing
wine grapes59,973 acres (242.70 km²) 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
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.
Cities and towns
Sonoma County has nine incorporated cities
In order of population, they are:
Santa Rosa (156,200),
Rohnert Park (42,236),
(10,722), Sonoma (9,128),
Cloverdale (7,636), and
The county also has a number of
Hot Springs El Verano
Fetters Hot Springs-Agua Caliente
and Unincorporated Communities
Cazadero Duncans Mills Freestone
Penngrove Sea Ranch
Sonoma County is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, and has 76
miles of coastline. The major coastal hydrographic features are
Bodega Bay, the mouth of
the Russian River, and the mouth of the Gualala River, at the border
with Mendocino County.
Six of the county's nine cities, from Healdsburg south through Santa
Rosa to Rohnert Park and Cotati, are in the Santa Rosa Plain. The
northern Plain drains to the Russian River, or a tributary; the
southern Plain drains to the Russian River via the Laguna de Santa
Much of central and northern Sonoma County is in the watershed of the
Russian River and its tributaries. The river rises in the coastal
mountains of Mendocino County, north of the city of Ukiah, and flows
into Lake Mendocino, a major flood control reservoir. The Russian
flows south from the lake through Mendocino to Sonoma County,
paralleled by Highway 101. It turns west at Healdsburg, receiving
water from Lake Sonoma via Dry Creek, and empties into the Pacific
Ocean at Jenner.
Sonoma County's governing
board and legislative body is a five-member Board of
Supervisors. Supervisors are elected by district, at the Consolidated
Primary Election, and serve for four years. The Supervisors also sit
as directors of several local jurisdictions, such as the Water Agency,
and Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District.
The County Administrator is the county's chief executive officer,
reporting to the Board of Supervisors manage the county's departments.
Places of interest
Tolay Lake Regional Park Sonoma Coast State Beach including Arched Rock
Beach, Gleason Beach and Goat Rock Beach.
Fort Ross, former Russian fur trade outpost
Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, in Santa Rosa
Luther Burbank Gold Ridge Experiment Farm, in Sebastopol
Tolay Lake Regional Park
Jack London State Historic Park Author Jack London's Beauty Ranch, in
Rancho Petaluma Adobe, Petaluma
Mission San Francisco Solano, across from Sonoma Plaza, Sonoma
Sonoma County Transit is the
countywide transit operator, providing service to all cities in Sonoma
Santa Rosa Transit provides bus routes in and near the city of Santa
The cities of Healdsburg and Petaluma also provide their own local bus
Golden Gate Transit connects Santa Rosa and points south with Marin
County and San Francisco.
Mendocino Transit Authority runs north from Santa Rosa to Ukiah (via
US 101) and to the coast (via California Routes 12 and 1).