Tag Archives: Sonoma

Napa Valley (the most popular post ever)

My most viewed post of all time is this one: Napa Valley – A New Adventure

I find this extremely interesting, yet not too surprising. Interesting because my blog name is Sonoma Cork Dork. Not surprising because of many reasons including the most sought after wine valley to visit is still Napa Valley.

I can’t tell you how many visitors and tourists mix up Napa and Sonoma and never really know where they are. The often say things like, “This is my first time to Napa Valley” or “I love tasting wines in Napa”. I don’t take offense to it because I believe that they really don’t know where they are. I also don’t look at this as a bad thing. After all, the more visitors to the area the better, right?

It’s just clear to me that when people are looking for wine related information on the web they often type in Napa before any other wine region. And this is where I think Sonoma may be behind the times. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sonoma is often talked about as more laid back, country, and a place you are likely to meet and talk with the winemakers. By contrast, Napa is often described as an adult-Disneyland. Both regions offer great wine, beautiful vineyards and big and small wineries.

Napa really started marketing itself as a wine destination in the 60’s when Mondavi opened up his winery. He realized the potential of direct to consumer sales and used to drive his car slow on highway 29 then turn left even slower into his driveway to bring people to the winery. Maybe not the most effective marketing, but it was a start. Before long Napa was really booming and visitors started to flock to the area.

Sleepier Sonoma has been playing catch-up ever since. We hear a lot of visitors say they really enjoy Sonoma for it’s quieter tasting rooms, smaller tasting fees and friendly staff. So, why then, do we see less visitors every year? It’s a mystery.

Sonoma also makes about three times as much wine as Napa. That has everything to do with geography. Sonoma County is a much larger area (about 60 miles north / south and 25 miles east / west), compared to Napa (about 20 miles long by 1-5 miles wide) – a huge difference. You would think at some point that Sonoma would overtake Napa with visitors, just from the amount of wine that is distributed from the area, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. And I’m okay with that.

As I said before, the more visitors to the area the better. I truly believe that. Visitors will see our marketing efforts and discover this great region I call home. After all, I’m still discovering it. There are over 350 wineries in Sonoma and I’m not sure I’ll ever get to all of them, but I’m going to try and I’m going to write about it every step of the way.


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Commuting through wine country, so much better!

Today I drove to San Francisco from Sonoma. Normally, I drive the other way to Santa Rosa. Let me tell you, what an experience.

I left the house early planning for some traffic and as soon as I got in the car I turned the radio on to hear that there was a three car accident halfway to SF. Oh well, I thought as I settled in for a long drive. Sure enough, it was super slow for a good 20 miles. Fun.

But it was all for good as I was going to the Direct to Consumer Wine Symposium. It was sure to be a great day of wine talk and inspirational ideas of how to run all operations of The Wineyard better. And the conference did not disappoint. Great information was shared.

Then after the day was over, I climbed in the car and did the reverse of the morning only it was worse because it was raining. Californians do not know how to drive in the rain, so it was an even slower commute than the morning. And the whole time I couldn’t think of anything but how great my ‘regular’ commute is.

Of course, I knew this already. Mostly because my commute takes me past some of the most beautiful vineyards in Sonoma County. All while driving on a meandering two-lane road at the slow pace of about 50 MPH. But that 50 MPH is way faster than I was able to drive today. An interesting observation since I always thought everything was faster in the city. I guess that’s everything except the traffic.

I actually feel bad for the people that have to do commutes like that. My wife was one of them for about 5 years before landing a job close to home. We all make choices and we chose the slower life here in Sonoma and never looked back. I’m so happy we did. Life is great!

This is really just a reminder that life is short and we should all do everything we can to live it to the fullest. More tomorrow on the awesome wine we had last night.


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New Year’s Eve, just an excuse to party?

To me New Year’s Eve ranks right up there with Valentine’s Day.

The latter is a ‘created’ holiday to make sure every year you tell your sweetie how much you love them – shouldn’t you be doing that every day? If you don’t already, start. I don’t need a holiday to remind me to do such things. Sure, like anyone else, we could have a few more romantic nights throughout the year, but busy life and kids get in the way sometimes. I’m okay with that though. It’s a stage in life we’ll never get back.

New Year’s Eve is just an excuse to party. It’s a ‘holiday’ that brings out the craziest people and leads to thousands of DUI arrests and even deaths. Maybe that’s a little extreme, but it is true. I have no desire to leave my small town of Sonoma and drive to San Francisco (or anywhere else) where there are countless parties happening and have to drive back at two in the morning when I’m fighting sleep.

And it’s not just that I’m getting older and no longer in my 20’s (or early 30’s for that matter). I’ve always been this way. I remember the first year my parents said I could stay up until midnight – I fell asleep in front of the TV and missed it. Most years that is still the case.

A couple of years ago, we decided to start celebrating the Irish New Year at Sonoma’s local pub, Murphy’s….










Ireland is 8 hours ahead of us, so that New Year happens at 4:00 in the afternoon here. Perfect. Walk to the pub, have a pint and a shot (maybe some food) and walk home before most people are even getting ready to go out. I highly recommend it.

The holiday we’re celebrating tonight is a new year. Of course, that new year will bring all the good things you have been expecting for the past __ (fill in the blank) new years’, right? Next year is the year you’ll lose that extra 10 lbs. It’s the year you’ll quit your job and start doing what you love. The year where all your dreams will come true. Really? Is it true? Will those things happen to you? I hope so. But in reality they only happen if you make them happen and why didn’t they happen this past year?

I’m not being cynical, I’m a dreamer like many of you out there. I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions though. It’s setting yourself up for failure. How many people want to start losing weight when they are fighting a nasty hangover? Seriously. I’m realistic about the goals I set for myself. I need to lose those extra 10 lbs too…and I hope that tomorrow morning I get up and workout or maybe go for a bike ride since it’s going to be a nice day. But I realize that it will take time and sometimes I have very little of that. So at some point can’t we just be happy? Can’t we enjoy the life we have? And next year look back and think, “that was one of the happiest years of my life”.




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