A Day in Sonoma & Beyond
My journer to wine country lead me to the beautiful town of Sonoma today. You can truly feel a difference from it's sister Napa. I had no idea until speaking to the local townsfolk that their is a little bit of a sibling rivalry between the two towns. Who makes the best wine, Napa referring to Sonoma as "Slownoma," etc. Sonoma is much more laid back. We had breakfast on the square or "plaza," and then I was determined to find the location of the first Williams-Sonoma.
I read Chuck Williams' autobiography this summer and knew it was somewhere just off the square. Thanks to Google - we found it. It's a little rundown but is home to a couple of shops. One of which is a matte and frame store. The only mention of Williams Sonoma is a small 8x10 plaque, below the front window. I literally had to squat to take a photo of it.
We met the owner of the frame shop, John Brians. A wonderful, friendly man in his late 60s or early 70s who greeted as (after seeing me getting a picture of the plaque), and asked if I knew much about Williams-Sonoma. After exclaiming "Yes, plenty!" He asked us to follow him, where he proceeded to show as various clippings of Chuck Williams when owned the store and what it looked like. He had a recent issue of House Beautiful that included piece on Chuck and his legacy. John was clearly proud of his clippings that all lead up to a picture of him and Chuck, standing together in the frame shop. Williams-Sonoma, Inc just purchased the property when it came up for sale a year ago. Apparently this didn't go over so well with the locals, who "didn't want a chain store coming in." Per John, WS-Inc calmed everyone's nerves after reveling they planned to build a museum at the location, honoring Chuck and the company's heritage. It was so great meeting and talking with him and I'll never forget it.
After exploring downtown Sonoma, and visiting the Sebastiani Winery, I decided I wanted to drive up to the Bella Winery in Healdsburg. I saw a photo of this beautiful hillside all lined with grapevines with a cave entrance below. After doing some research, I found the address and we made the hour drive. We were not disappointed. We enjoyed an inexpensive tasting (around $10) and enjoyed the grounds before driving back to Yountville and what a beautiful drive it was!