The city of Sonoma is the birthplace of the California wine industry. Sonoma Valley’s quaint towns glow with as much character as the local wines. Sonoma is a historically significant city in California; its historic town plaza is a remnant of the town’s Mexican colonial past. Today, Sonoma is the home of the Sonoma International Film Festival.
Many visitors along the way decided to become full-time residents and the population continues to grow. The valley has always been filled with a hospitable spirit. Most local residents will be happy to take the time to give directions, point the way, or help with questions. Feel free to ask!
The Town of Sonoma began in 1823 when missionary Jose Altimira declared Sonoma Valley as the best site he had seen for a new mission. Everything he was looking for was here: fertile land, mineral springs, creeks, abundant game and adobe soil for building materials, and the near perfect climate we all continue to enjoy today.
The Sonoma Plaza is the old town square and the largest of its kind in California. The plaza's eight acres and the surrounding street grid were laid out by General Mariano Guadelupe Vallejo in 1836, turning Sonoma from a mission town to a Mexican-style pueblo. He built the barracks for Mexican army troops at the northeast corner of the plaza across the street from the Sonoma Mission, and his family's first Sonoma home, La Casa Grande, on the west side. For a short time Sonoma was the center of traffic and trade north of San Francisco.
Today the Plaza is lined with charming shops, popular restaurants and Sonoma Valley agricultural specialties, including world-renowned cheeses and wines. Enjoy one of the fun events held in the Plaza or relax for a picnic and visit the friendliest ducks in town.
Dedicated in 1908, Sonoma's City Hall in the center of the Plaza was originally designed with four identical facades so that merchants from any side of the square could say the City Hall faced their businesses. Made of basalt stone from local quarries, the City of Sonoma government offices still remain in this central landmark of the valley.