Sonoma County

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Stephen Gold
Sonoma County, located in California's North Coast in the San Francisco Bay Area, is about 45 minutes north of San Francisco. As such, it suffers from what could be dubbed the "Middle Child Syndrome:" Its main cities of Petaluma and Santa Rosa are small and provincial when compared to San Francisco; yet the area is not the untamed wilderness of California's North Coast. Sonoma County is not as well-known or touristy as the neighboring Napa Valley, which takes most of the credit for driving California's wine industry, nor as cosmopolitan as nearby San Francisco.
It would be a mistake, however, to pass up an opportunity to visit Sonoma County. The area has the same post-60s flavor of Marin County, and the same sophisticated oenophilia as Napa to the East. Its coastal region is beautiful and rugged, and the agricultural pastureland is some of the most quintessentially beautiful to be found in California. As the crowds of tourists clog the roads of Napa Valley, Sonoma' County's appeal grows.

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