Posted by: Ginny Prior | January 22, 2015

Sonoma: Past and Present

By Litzia Martin

I stood there. Silently inhaling the aged scent of what I could imagine once smelled like incense and burning candles. Now all that remained was the faint aroma like that of a childhood toy found in the attic after many years: a bit old and musty but comforting at the same time.

The room was dark and cool with the exception of the sunrays that exploded through the singular window and left a warm sensation on my skin. I could hear the faint sound of an angelic choir singing. I was standing in the chapel on the site of Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma, CA.

Sonoma is a town full of history with many accomplishments to be proud of. One very important aspect of the town is the existence of this Mission, which was established on July 4, 1823. It is located in Downtown Sonoma along with many other historical sites. As I walk from site to site I realize how well the town has been preserved to maintain a sense of remembrance for all of the town’s achievements throughout history. Almost each building that I pass by has some kind of gold placard attached to it that tells that building’s story.

I was pleasantly surprised when out of the corner of my eye I could see the silhouettes of cowboys and women in large dresses along the side of a building. It was as if time had been turned back if only for a moment and I myself was able to feel as if I was in the presence of the legendary Western cowboys as they would have roamed the town many years ago.

Walking around I not only experienced the town’s rich past, but also the friendly hellos of the present. I passed by several little shops and restaurants and found the employees to be very welcoming and more than willing to offer any kind of assistance.

The Sonoma Cheese Factory is one of the shops that I came across. The moment I entered I was greeted by a large array of cheeses with several options for sampling. There was a lingering smell of freshly cut meats ready to be served in the deli along with any of the delectable cheeses. Jayme is an employee at the shop and I got the chance to chat with her for a bit about the shop.

“Surprisingly, we do not make the cheese here,” Jayme said, “at least we don’t anymore.”

Jayme went on to explain that the cheese used to be made at the shop but the owners decided to move the equipment in order to make room and expand the shop. The cheese is now made in Lodai, CA and is then transported to Sonoma. Jayme has been working for a quarter of the 16 years that the shop has been open so based on her experience she was very quick to answer any questions I may have about the shop.

I met this kind of friendliness once again after my arrival to Cline Cellars. Charlie was the name of the man who took my group on a tour of the winery. He seemed to be very knowledgeable about the place and to have a passion for what he does which transcended through his eagerness to teach us about the winery and answer any and all questions we might have.

As I toured Cline’s, I couldn’t help but notice that I was surround by gorgeous greenery all around me. The winery is family-owned and it seems as though they try their best for the winery to maintain as family-oriented as possible. Children have the option of feeding fish in the pond or to feed and pet burros. There is also a California Mission Museum on site with mini replicas of the real Missions for children to learn about while on fieldtrips.

Cline Cellar was actually going to be the location of the Mission San Francisco Solano, but instead it was built in Downtown Solano. However, the Cline family still commemorates what could have been and uses it as an opportunity to teach visitors about the history of the location.

Standing in the chapel of the Mission San Francisco Solano meant standing in a place that was once meant for community gathering and worshipping. It is place where I imagine everyone to have been friendly and welcoming. It is what I feel Sonoma has become. A place full of friendly community, welcoming environment, and rich history.


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