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  • Janette Keating

Chapter 1: Sonoma, California

Our genuine interest in wine and the pastoral landscape in which grapes are grown inspired us to visit vineyards and wineries, and to travel to various countries and regions. In our travels we have acquired some knowledge about the factors that contribute to a great wine. We have visited areas in Canada, California, Oregon and Texas, as well as countries like France, Italy, Chile and Argentina to speak to growers and winemakers. We have learned much about grapes and wine along the way. One of the best ways to study wine is to taste it! We've done our fair share of that!

One of our favorite places has always been Sonoma Valley California, where California’s wine industry began. The location, terroir and climate in Sonoma is ideal for growing grapes, and ideal to spend time. Depending on specific conditions and the lay of the land, particular varietals with thrive in certain conditions. Sonoma is also a perfect locale to grow olives that produce excellent olive oil. Sonoma Valley is famous for both olive groves and vineyards which are seen in every direction!

In 2020, Sonoma’s popularity is booming because of the interest in wine and fast growing tourism industry. Yet, the quaint town of Sonoma remains a place where the pace is slow and each day is marked by the sunrise over the Mayacamas, the glorious weather and very special sunset. Nestled between the two mountain ranges; the Sonoma mountains to the west and the Mayacamas to the east, a rich and pastoral valley exists. It was called the “Valley of the Moon” long before grapes were cultivated there. Early natives gave the valley this name because when you are there, it seems that our view of the moon rises and sets a few times each night as its light is interrupted by the mountain peaks.

There is something special about being in Sonoma Valley, it nourishes the soul. Jack London, the prolific writer of the early 1900’s chose to pioneer in the same area. He wrote these appreciative words to his partner : “A sweet land, Mate Woman, an almighty sweet land you and I have chosen …our Valley of the Moon”.

When Pat and I decided to choose a place to have a second home, we knew that a rural property surrounded by vineyards in Sonoma California would be a wonderful fit. A “country” rather than a “small-town” setting would give us the freedom to explore some new interests and ground us in a new adventure. We like being close to the action but also want some quietude and space. When we found our favorite spot, it was just beyond the east edge of the town of Sonoma. It is a rural setting and an ideal property bordered between some historic lots. The original land parcel was subdivided during the 1800’s by the famous General Vallejo.

The land we purchased came with some built-in perks for us. There was an old chicken coop and the western property line was graced with 32 olive trees. The remainder of the ten acres was basically a long field beyond the area closest to the central house which was more developed in a lawn and some pretty plants. There was a charming guest cottage at the far end of the lot, which had some good shade trees and a separate entrance. The main house had such charm; we adored its high ceilings and bright sunny disposition. It needed some changes to make it suitable for our family and we soon began a renovation to make it fit our needs. Luckily the guest cottage was there to make us feel at home during the transition. This two-bedroom cottage is really well equipped with a kitchen and laundry too. The front porch faces a lovely flower garden across the lawn. It is so cute, comfortable and ideal. I think we found paradise!

Pat joined the Sonoma Golf Club even before we bought the place. A misty morning walk of the course sold him in an instant! The picturesque rolling course is spectacular. His excitement in joining the club meant that he had found his place.

Sonoma is a place where you find time to do the things you love. Pat began “working” at golf. My love of art and ceramics helped me discover the local Community Center which has all the creative facilities you could imagine. The Center provides a link to the local community in its friendly studios. Getting to know local artisans while I work is such a pleasure.


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