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Wine Country
 

Sonoma Plaza

Wine Country Sightseeing Attraction

Sonoma Plaza

Sonoma Plaza is the perfect mix of a rich historical tradition and modern sophistication. Located in the center of one of the most chic wine-growing regions in the entire world, the city of Sonoma's historic town square manages to have retained its small-town personality in the middle of a burgeoning wine empire. Complete with spas, upscale eateries, a relaxing open-air plaza, and a California mission, this town focal point is a true testament to the blend of old times and modernity that characterizes the entirety of the Sonoma Valley.

The plaza has a rich history and was involved in much of the state of California's development. Though the square is now the formal town square of the city of Sonoma, the region has humble beginnings in the form of several Native American settlements. The Miwok, Pomo and Wintun people all occupied the area, taking advantage of the same fertile soil and good weather now adored by wine connoisseurs throughout the world. However the town, directly adjacent to where the town square now stands, soon became known as "El Pueblo de Sonoma" after the settling of the spot by Mexican church leader Father Joseph Altimira. The Mission San Francisco Solano was built but promptly taken over by the Mexican army, prompting the creation of a military barracks (that still stands facing the modern town square today) and the basic layout of the town square itself. The commanding officer Guadalupe Vallejo spearheaded this construction, crafting the town much as would be a traditional Mexican village: with a large town square at its center.

Sonoma Plaza

However Vallejo's military presence here did not last forever. In 1846, revolutionaries calling themselves members of the "Bear Flag Republic" took power from the mighty Vallejo in a coup at the center of this historic town square. The individuals represented Colonel John Fremont and ordered that they were officially declaring the independence of California from Mexican rule. Their tactic worked, and the short-lived Bear Flag Republic was headquartered at this square until earning statehood in 1850.

Many of the historical buildings from this tempestuous period in California's history (the last half of the 19th century) still stand in the town square today. In one corner of the plaza, El Presidio del Sonoma, or the military barracks that General Vallejo's troops first occupied, are a California State Landmark and can be toured year-round. In the center of the town square, whose wide greens are the largest in the entire state, still stands Sonoma City Hall, part of which still contains the remnants of General Vallejo's grand Casa Grande, the large house he occupied during his reign over the territory. Mission San Francisco Solano also still stands as the farthest north of all missions, and its gardens can also be toured. Be sure not to miss taking note of the typical adobe-style construction, a common feature of all missions throughout California. Another typical adobe-style building (characterized by long, horizontal, one-story, white mortar and wood beam construction) that lies across from the mission was once the Blue Wing Inn, a gambling house and saloon during the region's heyday during the California Gold Rush, when prospectors came west in search for ever-elusive gold.

Sonoma Plaza

However the town square is not purely a historical destination. Many chic restaurants and spas line its exterior, and a playground makes the lush square kid-friendly. Additionally, many wine brokers are also present on the town square offering some of Sonoma's best wines old and new. Due to the abundance of wineries in the area, you can count on the store for a huge selection and the staff for having lots of knowledge about their product. Make sure to find a souvenir!

There are so many ways to enjoy this blend of past and present, be sure not to miss it while visiting the wine country!