For its first hundred years after California became a state in 1850 Sonoma Valley was a quiet rural area. The Gold Rush took the main flow of business and trade to San Francisco. Sonoma Valley developed a flourishing wine industry that survived two great blows, the phylloxera epidemic of the 1870s and Prohibition.
Resorts began springing up after a hot water source was found at Boyes Hot Springs in the 1890's. Trains brought visitors to the resorts. Author Jack London arrived in 1904 and wrote about Sonoma Valley in his novel The Valley of the Moon. London settled in Glen Ellen, where he undertook the construction of a huge mansion that burned down before it was ever lived in. Some 40 acres of the London estate, including the ruined mansion, are now maintained as a Sonoma historical park.
After World War II the long sleep ended. Outsiders discovered the valley's beauty, just as the Mexicans and Spanish before them. But Sonoma Valley has remained isolated enough to keep its original beauty. Today it is the vigorous center of the expanding California wine industry as well as a growing tourist destination. For a more complete history visit the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce site's Sonoma Valley history and the Sonoma Vistor's Bureau about Sonoma Valley page. Then tour the online Sonoma Visitor's Guide to wineries, lodging, restaurants and events in ALL of Sonoma County: Russian River, Sonoma Coast, Healdsburg, Sonoma Valley and more!