Sonoma is a historically significant town in Sonoma Valley,
Sonoma County, California, USA.
Sonoma is centered around its historic town plaza, a remnant
of the town's Spanish colonial past. Sonoma today is a center of the wine
industry for the famed Sonoma Valley Appellation. The city population was 9,128
as of the year 2000 census/decennial.
The region of Sonoma was originally the home of Native American Coast Miwok
tribes as well as the Pomo people and Wintuns. Many of the Native Americans
still remain, even after seven changes in government since the Spanish first
explored and took over the region (see Sonoma County for governments.)
The town of Sonoma, El Pueblo de Sonoma, began
with the Mission San Francisco Solano founded in 1823 by Father Joseph Altimira
of Spain. This mission was the farthest north of all 21 California missions
connected by a "Royal Road" called El Camino Real. The Mission San Francisco
Solano was the sole California mission established under the rule of a
newly-independent Mexico, and the last. Soon after it was built, it was
secularized by the Mexican government, under the orders of Lieutenant, later
General, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. Under Vallejo's supervision, the El Presidio
de Sonoma, or Sonoma Barracks (part of Spain's Fourth Military District), was
built beside the mission for the his army, and he pursued control and order in
the region over the native tribes and kept a military eye on the Russians of
Fort Ross. Vallejo's relationship with the Native Americans of the region was
helped by another resident of Sonoma, his friend and ally the native called
Chief (Sem-Yeto) Solano of the Suisunes who had been baptized at the mission.
El Pueblo de Sonoma was laid out in the standard form of a Mexican town,
centered around the largest plaza in California. This plaza is surrounded by
many historical buildings, including the Mission San Francisco Solano, Captain
Salvador Vallejo's Casa Grande, the Presidio of Sonoma, the Blue Wing Inn, and
the Toscano Hotel. In the middle of the plaza, Sonoma's early 20th-century city
hall, at the plaza's center and still in use, was designed and built with four
identical sides in order not to offend the merchants on any one side of the
plaza. The plaza is a National Historic Landmark and still serves as the town's
focal point, hosting many community festivals and drawing tourists all year
Bear Flag of the California Republic, flown in the town of Sonoma, June-July,
1846.Sonoma is known as the birthplace of American California, for it was in
this town plaza that the Bear Flag Revolt took place and a Bear Flag was first
raised on June 14, 1846. The rebelling men claimed to act on the orders of Col.
John C. Fremont proclaiming independence from Mexican rule and a free country
called the California Republic here. Sonoma served as the capital of the
short-lived California Republic until the United States Stars and Stripes flag
was raised during the Mexican-American war.
General Vallejo was imprisoned during the Bear Flag Revolt of 1846, and he later
transferred his allegiance to the U.S. and endorsed California statehood (1850).
With his amassed land holdings, Vallejo guided the development of the town of
Sonoma. He was one of the most powerful residents in the town's history,
dividing up the lands into large ranches for friends and family.
Sonoma County has a history of seven distinct, governmental claims from 1579 to
the present. Sometimes referred to as "Seven Flags over Sonoma County",
Sonoma can boast three of the first ten California Historical Landmarks:
Mission San Francisco Solano (#3) - On July 4, 1823, Padre Josť Altamira founded
the northernmost of California's Franciscan missions here, the only one
established in California under independent Mexico.
The home of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo (#4) - known as Lachryma Montis
(Tears of the Mountain), was built in 1850.
Bear Flag Monument(#7) - On June 14, 1846, the Bear Flag Party raised the Bear
Flag in the Sonoma plaza and declared California free from Mexican rule.
 Items named after the town
Sonoma Jack Cheese: Cheese, moist to very dry light colored cheese covered in
chocolate powder and most credited to the Vella cheese making family. The Vella
Cheese factory, former Sonoma Brewing Co. building, continues to make a variety
of cheese products and is within walking distance of the Plaza.
The GMC Sonoma was a compact pickup truck.
Intel's "Sonoma" series processors. Several of Intel's processors were given
names from towns, cities or places in Sonoma County when Intel's CEO was Les
Vadasz. He is a resident of the Valley of the Moon area.
Points of interest
The Valley of the Moon