Visit Sonoma County

If ever there were a good time to visit Sonoma County, it is right now. Counter-intuitive as it may sound, there may be never be a better time than the coming months to eat, wine taste, and shop in Sonoma County.

“Our lush vineyards, hundreds of wineries, stunning beaches, and ancient redwoods are here and most of them are open,” says Tim Zahner, interim CEO of Sonoma County Tourism. “We are going to need visitors now more than ever.”

Sonoma County Tourism estimates that the fires reached less than 10% of the acreage of Sonoma County. Meanwhile, the county’s 20,000 plus tourism jobs –  tens of thousands of individuals primarily employed by small, locally owned businesses – are the lifeblood of the community. What better way to support the people of Sonoma – the winemakers, brewers, cheesemakers, farmers, artisans, and chefs – than to enjoy their offerings?


The picturesque town of Healdsburg was perched between the Pocket Fire to the north and the Tubbs fire to the south, but was lucky enough to remain out of harm’s way. “Many Healdsburg workers have lost their homes or are displaced from their communities,” wrote the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce in a statement released this week encouraging tourists to visit and support those most in need. “We are extremely fortunate that Healdsburg businesses remain unscathed and workers have a place of business to return to where we can focus on the efforts of rebuilding and moving forward,”

The town of Sonoma and the historic Sonoma Square, were also spared fire damage. The Sonoma Creek Inn welcomes guests as does MacArthur Place Hotel and Spa which has offered discounted rates to first responders and those impacted by the fire. In Santa Rosa the historic Fountaingrove Inn was lost to the fire, but many hotels have reopened, including the Vintner’s Inn, (and the John Ash and Co Restaurant ) and the iconic Flamingo Resort and Spa. All Hyatt and InterContinental Hotel Group hotels in the area have remained open.

While the majority of Sonoma County hotels are open, are few are currently closed due to fire damage. They include: Olea Hotel in Glen Ellen, Kenwood Inn and Spa in Kenwood, and Sandman Hotel in Santa Rosa. For a regularly updated list, please visit Sonoma: Who is Open and Closed


The spirit of Sonoma County chefs was evidenced in the actions a trio of Healdsburg superstar chefs Dustin Valette (of Valette in Healdsburg), Scott Romano (of Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen) and Duskie Estes (of Zazu Kitchen and Farm) who served breakfast, lunch and dinner to first responders and evacuees. All three are back at work, still offering free meals to first responders in their dining rooms. What better (or more delicious) way to show gratitude than to frequent these restaurants.

While it is wise to confirm a reservation, most establishments across Sonoma County have regained power and are open for business.


Seven wineries (seven too many) were damaged or burned in Sonoma.  Among those that didn’t make it is the beloved Paradise Ridge Winery, where the winery burned to the ground but a 12’ L-O-V-E sculpture, remained standing, towering over a landscape of charred debris. The Paradise Ridge wines were in storage, which gives wine lovers the opportunity to support the winery through online and retail purchases. This is true for most of the wineries that suffered damage in the wine country fires. Chateau St. Jean has posted on Instagram, “While we do remain closed at this time, we look forward to opening our doors soon and welcoming you all back with a glass of wine.”

About Town:

A full calendar of fundraising events – from concerts to pancake breakfasts to art shows – can be found here: Sonoma County Fire Fundraisers and Benefits

Above photo by Dustin Valette, from Instagram.

Kirsten Jones Neff

Kirsten Jones Neff is a journalist who writes about all things North Bay, with special attention to the environment and the region’s farmers, winemakers and food artisans. She also works and teaches in school gardens. Kirsten’s poetry collection, When The House Is Quiet, was nominated for the Northern California Book Award, and three of her poems received a Pushcart nomination. She lives in Novato with her husband and three children and tries to spend as much time as possible on our local mountains, beaches and waterways. For more on her work visit KirstenJonesNeff.Com.