I discovered the Wine Country by playing tourist when my brother, Dru, came to visit with his family. We drove up to Sonoma from Marin for the Harvest Festival and were impressed by the firemen lined up on either side of the street, trying to get a barrel on a wire across the street by the sheer force of the water spraying from each team’s hose. Activities were centered in the Plaza, which felt like the heart and soul of the town. “You fit in here,” Dru said, like I didn’t anywhere else. But, he was right! Sonoma felt like the small agricultural town where we had been raised, except the crop was grapes instead of corn and soybeans. I had been looking around – spending time exploring the possibilities. Like Bolinas – too cold and gray. Petaluma – too big except for Brown Court. Sonoma, and its sense of community, felt just right for me.
I began telling everyone I was looking for a home in Sonoma (the town, not County) and I drove up every Tuesday and Friday to get a copy of the Sonoma Index Tribune. I’d sit in Murphy’s and read the real estate ads and see if anything spoke to me. My dear friend, Kay Maynard, invited me to the Red and White Ball, a picnic of sorts, where everyone wears red and white and celebrates the virtues of red and white wine. I was in love! Kay’s neighbors, Dean and Randy, were going to Paris and asked me to house/dog sit. They all lived at the end of Second Street East, one of the best addresses in Sonoma. Well, this stay really sealed the deal (even though I got locked out with two dogs as I was leaving for the Barbra Streisand concert in San Jose – but that’s another blog!).
It took a while, but one Thursday, the phone rang and my friends, Nancy and Hank Bruce, said they had found “my” house. They were also looking in Sonoma and saw a house that Nancy said looked just like me! I called their real-tor (not real-la-tor) Nicki Naylor (who happens to be with Alain Pinel Realtors) and she told me there were already two offers. She said, “It’s really cute.” And, I said, “I don’t like prissy.” And she said, “Bring your checkbook!”
Well, I saw the house, did my best, and lived the past 18-years happily ever after. Kay had said, “Make sure you buy on the east side and never go to Steiner’s (the local watering hole). Well, at least I did one right.
Over the years, I’ve often been asked, “Please find us a place in the Wine Country!” I say, “Where?” They say, “Sonoma.” I say, “City or County?” They say, “Well, maybe, Napa.” I say, “City or Up Valley?” I love this little game. Then, I say, “Are you looking for a particular place, or a life style?” At which point they are overwhelmed and ready for a glass of wine.
Today, Alain Pinel Realtors takes the stress out of searching for a place or a lifestyle. The travelling is easy and the journey worthwhile. It all begins at www.apr.com. On the home page you’ll see the “Your Lifestyle,” box. Click to find a community and home that fits your lifestyle. You may choose a County or an Area and Neighborhood. Rate what’s important to you – top-rated schools? The Arts? Entertainment and Dining? Pet friendly? Price range and more. You’ll find the places most closely matching your lifestyle criteria and the scores and active listings. What if you’re not familiar with the areas? Visit the communities section of apr.com – and start exploring!
I was lucky to find my place, my home, my lifestyle – let us help you find yours. Whether you prefer the clear stuff, red, white or sparkling – cheers!
See homes and condos for sale in Sonoma. Visit our Wine Country community page. Use APR’s Lifestyle Search.
Sara Hauter, a Certified Residential Broker, is Sales Manager of the Sonoma office of Alain Pinel Realtors and also serves as the Regional Director of Career Development for the North Bay. Licensed since 1986, Sara has lived and sold real estate in San Francisco, Marin and Wine Country.