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Sonoma County’s gateway to wine country and the Pacific Ocean

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If you’re wine tasting in central Sonoma County, you’ll likely hear the phrase “Petaluma Gap” at some point. It’s a curious term, since there are only a few wineries in Petaluma—like Keller Estate and Kastania Vineyards—but the unique geographic region here gives many surrounding vineyards a famous, distinctive character. The 15-mile-wide "gap" flows from the ocean between Tomales Bay and Bodega Bay, through the coastal range mountains, then blows into San Francisco Bay—delivering wind, fog, and soil enrichment to the local grapevines.

As a town, Petaluma was built on its own river, which made it easy to deliver goods, like its world-famous eggs and chickens, to Oakland and San Francisco. Today, it’s still known for world-class food, sought out all over the country, like Cowgirl Creamery cheese, McEvoy Ranch olive oil, and both ROCKY the Free Range Chicken and ROSIE the Original Organic Chicken (both from Petaluma Poultry, founded in 1969 and still immensely popular).

By the same token, it’s no wonder downtown Petaluma restaurants are held in such high esteem (see: Central MarketCucina Paradiso, and the Michelin-starred Risibisi). Locally produced ingredients star on plenty of restaurant plates around town, like the roasted chicken, avocado, mozzarella, and mixed greens on hearth-baked pain de campagne at the beloved Della Fattoria’s artisan bakery.

Nightlife is another hallmark in this stretch of normally sleepy wine country; check out top-rated craft brewpub Lagunitas Brewing CompanyThe Block Petaluma, a food-truck market with 30 taps and onsite wood-fired pizza, or the historic McNear's Mystic Theatre, famous for its live music. But first, spend a day shopping at the top-notch antiques stores lining Petaluma Boulevard. Check Visit Petaluma for upcoming events.

There’s no shortage of places to stay when visiting the area. If you’re looking to commune with nature, there are several campgrounds in the vicinity, including both KOA sites and ones that offer a more cushy glamping experience.

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