June 30, 2020
The Sonoma Valley is one of the crowning jewels of California’s wine industry, with its vast golden hills lined with picturesque vineyards, thriving wineries, and beautiful luxury homes. It has become a popular choice for prospective homebuyers who crave the idyllic, California Wine Country lifestyle that so many dream of having.
The cities and towns dotted along the Sonoma Valley each have easy access to stunning natural vistas, top-tier wineries, and an unbeatable luxury lifestyle. Sonoma Valley real estate offers some great variety, including sprawling vineyard estates, modern luxury homes, and historic properties with their own unique charm. But with so many great options, how can you know which one of the Valley’s neighborhoods is the right choice for you?
In this list, you’ll find insight into a few of the best and most sought-after Sonoma Valley neighborhoods that you’ll want to consider in your search, and why each of them would make such a great place to buy your new luxury home.
Downtown Sonoma. Photo: Visit California
Sonoma is a relatively small city of about 10,000 residents. Its relaxed atmosphere and mild weather make it an incredible place to live or escape to as a home-away-from-home. It’s one of the Valley’s most highly sought-after communities, and it’s not hard to see why. Long-time residents have worked hard to protect the town from overdevelopment, so while it’s popular with visitors for most of the year, it maintains the friendly, small-town feel that Sonoma locals have loved for years. Once you experience Sonoma for yourself, you’ll realize there’s nothing quite like it—and might find it hard to leave.
The most bustling part of Sonoma is the city’s center, where you’ll find the famous and historic Sonoma Plaza, also known simply as The Square. The plaza harkens back to the town’s origins as a Mexican colony and is laid out in an eight-acre square surrounded by shops, restaurants, and historic buildings—like the Mission San Francisco Solano and the Blue Wing Inn—that bring a charming energy to the area. More than just a center of business, it’s also a thriving cultural and arts center for residents, hosting a variety of festivals and events to inspire and entertain the community year-round.
Many of those who live in Sonoma enjoy leisurely morning walks to their favorite bakeries and cafés in and around the plaza, like the beloved Basque Boulangerie. Naturally, as in the rest of Sonoma Valley, wineries are in no short supply here, and you can attend tastings at local favorites like WALT Wines and Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery. Overall, the city encourages you to slow down, sit back, and take in all of the delights it has to offer.
Sonoma real estate features many lovely historic homes that have a one-of-a-kind, early 20th-century charm. Though property here goes for top dollar, the idyllic living experience it provides is more than worth it. Sonoma is the right choice for you if you appreciate the small pleasures of life and want to live in a lively community full of history and tradition.
Jack London State Historic Park. Photo: SonomaValley.com
Glen Ellen is a small town with a population of just around 800, making it the perfect place for those who crave peace and privacy in their day-to-day lives. Nestled between Sonoma Mountain and the Mayacamas Mountain range, Glen Ellen is a quiet, cheerful community with an emphasis on natural beauty and rustic charm.
Those who live in Glen Ellen are surrounded by picturesque California woodlands and hillsides as well as popular wineries like the Benziger Family Winery and Laurel Glen Vineyard, many local boutiques, and plenty of excellent dining options.
Perhaps the most notable feature of Glen Ellen is the Jack London State Historic Park, named in honor of Call of the Wild author and famous adventurer Jack London, who resided on the property that is now the park for many years. At the park, which is a large ranch-like property visitors can freely explore, you’ll find 20 miles of hiking trails with gorgeous views, the remnants of the unfinished Wolf House mansion, exhibitions on the life and work of Jack London, and live performances held in the ruins of an old stone winery.
There are plenty of other outdoor activities here: explore the Sonoma Valley Regional Park, go horseback riding with Triple Creek Horse Outfit, or take a dip in the geothermal swimming pools at Morton’s Warm Springs Resort. Glen Ellen is the perfect community for those who love to connect with nature and want to make the best of the gorgeous Sonoma Valley landscape.
Healdsburg. Photo: SonomaCounty.com
Just twenty minutes north of Santa Rosa you’ll find the charming town of Healdsburg. This northern Wine Country destination is known for its luxury lodgings like Healdsburg Hotel and h2hotel and its consistent appeal to visitors from around the world. But this town of around 11,000 is also a great place to live thanks to its convenient location and thriving local businesses, as well as being the site of some incredible luxury properties.
Healdsburg lies on the famed Russian River and has been home to one of the river’s most important crossings since the mid 19th century. Thanks to its proximity to the Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valley regions, it’s one of the most important sites in California for wine production and is the location of many of the nation’s top wineries.
Healdsburg is a great place to live if you have top-of-the-line tastes with a small-town sensibility. There are tons of great opportunities to enjoy nature and the metropolitan bustle of Santa Rosa is just a quick trip away.
Originally one of the many towns in California bolstered by mining and the hunt for gold, Kenwood is now a quiet town beloved by residents for its easy access to an array of parks, wineries, and fascinating historic sites. It’s also only a short drive to Santa Rosa, giving you the best of a small-town experience with the convenience of driving into the city to shop and enjoy fine dining.
One of Kenwood’s most popular features is the award-winning Kenwood Inn & Spa, a luxury, European-style resort that draws many elite guests. Its grounds are meticulously maintained, featuring lush greenery, colorful blooms, and peaceful courtyards where visitors can relax. Enjoy a variety of face and body spa treatments from their excellent staff and even stay a few nights to unwind in style, take in the stunning, recently-renovated architecture, and dine on gourmet menu items.
On one of Kenwood’s many cool, breezy days, you can explore the nearby Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. This park has a soaring redwood forest and wide-open meadows to explore, making it a popular destination for families and nature lovers. You can hike alongside the serene sounds of Sonoma Creek and even discover a 25-foot waterfall tucked away in the inviting landscape.
Kenwood is a great choice for those who might need to commute to Santa Rosa for work or travel but want a more peaceful lifestyle in a luxury home surrounded by the Sonoma Valley’s untarnished beauty.
Santa Rosa is the largest city in the Sonoma Valley and all of California’s Wine Country. A gorgeous urban hub to explore on foot or by bike, this city features an unmatched array of activities, shops, and cultural experiences to satisfy anyone’s interests.
Residents get to spend their days exploring Downtown Santa Rosa, where you’ll discover cool boutiques and delicious restaurants. If you’re in the mood for a more casual, relaxed experience, head to one of its charming cafés, like Crooks Coffee, or sample the great craft beer selection at Third Street Aleworks. If you want to experience something more high-end, get a taste of the local wines and upscale European eats at La Gare.
Aside from downtown, you can find great shopping at Santa Rosa Plaza and Montgomery Village. The historic Railroad Square District is another favorite hotspot for shopping and sightseeing. The area has an early 20th century feel with antique shops that sell one-of-a-kind treasures, a selection of great restaurants, and charming lodgings.
With a more expansive city comes a greater variety of real estate options. You’ll find comfortable cottages within easy walking distance of downtown, a selection of condos and apartments, beautifully manicured neighborhoods with modern homes, and expansive ranches on the outskirts of the city. Whatever kind of home you’re looking for, it’s likely you’ll be able to find the right fit in Santa Rosa.
If you want to learn more about these communities and which one is right for you, Ginger Martin is an experienced Sonoma Valley real estate agent with all of the insight you need to make the absolute best choice on where to purchase your dream Wine Country home. Interested in hearing more about a property or want to take a virtual tour? Get in touch today.
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