Contacts for Local Government:
Rachel Hundley - Mayor of Sonoma

City Manager, Carol Giovanatto

Administrative Assistant, Debra Rogers

City Council representatives of Cittaslow Sonoma Valley:

Laurie Gallian

Steve Barbose

Geographical Area
The City of Sonoma is located 45 miles north from San Francisco in Sonoma Valley and provides a blend of the friendly small-town atmosphere with the benefits of all that the greater Bay Area has to offer, including its entrepreneurial culture, talented labor pool, and international trade markets.

Also known as the Valley of the Moon, Sonoma is located in the scenic North Bay.  Highway 12 links the Valley to the major transportation corridors. The population of Sonoma Valley is 40,000, and the population of the City of Sonoma is 10,000.

Sonoma Valley's basin and rich soils mark the birthplace of California's wine industry. Cradled between the Mayacamas and the Sonoma Mountain ranges, Sonoma Valley encompasses a rolling patchwork of vineyards, farms and 13,000 acres of scenic parkland. The Mayacamas Mountains are part of the California Coast Ranges and their highest peak is Cobb Mountain at 4,724 feet above sea level. The Sonoma Mountain provides a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean on the West and the entire Sonoma Valley on the east from its moderate height of 2,287 feet above sea level. Oak woodland is a portion of the landscape in Sonoma Valley.

Indigenous peoples were attracted to the Sonoma Valley for at least 12,000 years before Spanish missionaries settled in the early 19th century. As many as 5,000 Native Americans lived in what is now Sonoma County at any one time. Local tribes included the Pomo-Kashaya, Wapo, and Patwin.

In 1823, Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma was established by Father Junipero Serra. It was the only California mission installed after Mexican independence from Spanish rule. Sonoma was first acknowledged by Mexico as a City in 1835. Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, a lieutenant later promoted to General, led the transformation of Sonoma into a Mexican pueblo. He oversaw construction of the eight-acre central Plaza (still the largest in California) and the street grid, including the 110-foot wide Broadway. When his nephew, Juan Bautista Alvarado, was named governor of the Mexican state of Alta California in 1838, Vallejo was named military governor of the state.

On June 14, 1846, Sonoma was declared the capital of the "Bear Flag Republic" in a revolt against Mexican control of California. The town's status as the nominal capital of California lasted 25 days, ending with California's annexation by the United States. Vallejo supported the Americans when Mexico ceded all of California and the rest of the Southwest to the United States in 1848.

Tourism and agriculture are the major economic drivers for the Sonoma Valley.  The Valley, home to more than 40 wineries, is a destination sought by visitors from around the world for its wine, food, culture, and vitality.  It is estimated that well over half a million visitors each year are attracted to Sonoma Valley's wineries, art galleries, historical sites, spa facilities, restaurants, and special events.

Few agricultural areas boast such diversity. Ancient olive groves, heirloom tomatoes, strawberries, citrus trees, a myriad of salad greens, squash of all shape and size, stone fruits, nuts, lavender and other herbs can be found in Sonoma Valley.  Farms that grow more than one crop - and specialize in creating a robust biodiversity of life - abound.  With the Valley's Mediterranean climate and fertile soil, most fruits and veggies at Sonoma restaurant tables are grown within miles. Combine the abundant local harvest with Sonoma's renowned wines, just-baked breads, acclaimed cheeses and olive oils and you can experience a perfect wine country experience.

Businesses in Sonoma enjoy an environment where outstanding natural resources and scenic countryside are complemented by experiences offered through more than forty tasting rooms, ten Zagat-rated restaurants, and a PGA golf course.  Opportunities to enjoy art, film, and music are shared by the Valley's residents and hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Events, Markets, Typical Products:
Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival (In 2010, the Cittaslow Pollinator Pals was the overall winner in the Vintage Festival Parade)

Sonoma International Film Festival

Sonoma Jazz+  

Sonoma Valley Olive Season

Farmer's Markets, Community Garden Market (Four markets weekly)
Arts Guild (Traditional Guild of local artists)
Art museums, galleries, public art

Typical products:
World class wines and premium wineries
Artisan, farmstead, and cave-aged cheeses
Olives and olive oil
Artisan breads

Cittaslow Sonoma Valley Projects
Sonoma was the first municipality in the USA to be named Cittaslow. It joined in November, 2009. It is now a member of the Cittaslow USA National Network. It will be launching new projects in 2011. Please revisit this site again for more information. Currently its projects include:

Cittaslow Pollinator Stewards Collaborative - Pollinator Pals:
The Pollinator Pals, or, Cittaslow Pollinator Stewards Collaborative, banded together to educate Sonoma Valley residents about the importance of pollinators to local agriculture and food production; to address the need to re-establish local bee colonies which have dropped dramatically over the last several years; and, to deal with implications of climate change at our local level. Cittaslow's new collaboration hopes to not only create awareness about the rapid decline of native bees, but also to develop a pollinator-friendly environment that invites participation of the entire Sonoma Valley community. The Pollinator Pals Collaborative involves Cittaslow Sonoma Valley, Cittaslow USA, Cittaslow International, Slow Food, Sonoma Ecology Center, a large number of local community and service organizations, local government, higher education, elementary and secondary schools, local farmers and food producers, and Slow Food. It is designed to meet overall philosophy and criteria, and to address Terra Madre projects of Slow Food International.

Waterboxx Project.
The "Waterboxx" Project involves the use of a new technology. The Waterboxx is a simple device used to reforest, arid areas using only condensation to develop deep tap roots in trees and pollinator plants. The Waterboxx reduces water consumption, addresses the need for reforestation, and positively impacts climate change. The Waterboxx was invented by Pieter Hoff, a Dutch scientist and former flower farmer, who is working with Cittaslow and our Pollinator Pals Collaborative to take the Waterboxx to Wukro, Ethiopia. In Ethiopia they will use it with families that harvest white honey. Pieter is also working on other projects with e is He the Sonoma Ecology Center and our Pollinator Pals, and working directly with the  Sonoma Ecology Center to reforest the Montini Open Space District.

Slow Food  
Slow Food Sonoma Valley, the local Slow Food convivium that partners with Cittaslow Sonoma Valley, was among the heroes at our January 27, 2010 "Slow Food Supper" at the Sonoma Community Center. The event was the first celebrating our official designation as a Cittaslow member. Andrews Hall, the kitchen, hallways, and front atrium were packed with well-wishers, students, grandparents, guests, "locals," and the Press. 

Wonderfully tasty vegetable soup featuring locally grown produce, was cooked slowly over two days under the watchful eye of John McReynolds, Stone Edge Farm, and a Slow Food volunteer team. Bread from Mario Reppeto's Grindstone Bakery, cheese from Gary Edwards' Carneros Caves Cheese, and coffee from Mark Inman's Taylor Maid Farms, filled out the hearty local menu-a bargain at $5 per person. 

Wines generously donated by the Sonoma Home Winemakers-a rare opportunity for the community to taste "private" wines-were available. Simka, the Valley's own Klezmer band, provided rousing music. Everyone roared their appreciation for the chef and Slow Food team members at Cittaslow's first Slow Soup Supper, which gifted funds toward Cittaslow's inaugural programs.

Slow Food Sonoma Valley
Contact Person: Kathy Leonard

City of Sonoma:

Sonoma Valley Videos
The Visitors Bureau has produced a series of video commercials promoting Sonoma Valley, click below to see them individually, or watch them all on our youtube channel!