Susan Sheehy is the fourth generation to grow up on property in Alexander Valley, where her family established Robert Young Estate Winery.
She still attends the church her great grandfather helped found, 150 years ago. Needless to say, her ties run deep.
"I feel very rooted, I guess you'd say, to the land," she said. "I love the family history and try to keep it together with the photographs and all of that as best I can. I feel like I want to carry that on, pass that on to my kids."
There are generations of people who share the same sentiment.
Sutter Health seeks to offer a tribute to that heritage by collecting stories of those, like Sheehy, who were Sonoma County born, said Shaun Ralston, marketing and communications director for Sutter Health.
Hospital officials have launched the Sonoma County Baby Project to gather those stories and compile them into a book. Every family who has a baby at Sutter Medical Center in Santa Rosa will receive a copy of the book as a gift, he said.
Sutter Health launched the project in late December.
It is using a web page to gather names, email addresses and other information about families and their histories. Sheehy is one who signed up to tell her story.
Her’s began when her great-grandfather and his family settled in Alexander Valley during the gold rush and began raising cattle and growing grain and prunes.
Fifty years ago, her father transitioned the land to grapes, and her brothers still run the business.
She is among 1,500 people who have responded with various other stories of those whose families have launched well-known restaurants or started the first bank, Ralston said.
"People really seem to have an affinity and a love of the place that they’re from,” he said.
The county recorder told him that Sonoma County has the highest incidence in California of people who were born there moving back later in life.
"There really seems to be something about Sonoma County that people love," he said.
Sheehy is one who explored other places before settling back at home. She was a foreign exchange student in Mexico and Japan. She met her husband, at native of Costa Rica, while attending University of Pacific.
The couple moved to Costa Rica, where Sheehy thought they would stay. But a year and a half later, they moved back.
Her own children have experienced the same pull. She has a son who has recently moved back and another who wants to. Her daughter is in the process of moving back from Virginia.
"Over the years, you travel to other places, and as beautiful as they are, there's no place like Sonoma County," she said.
Sonoma County Baby has a Facebook page, where many other Sonoma County natives have posted comments and pictures.
"Sonoma County has changed a lot over the years, but it is still a great place to live. I was born here in 1948, at the old General Hospital: my 5 older sisters were born in South Dakota, so I am the only 'native' of the six of us," said a commenter listed as Mary Zie.
"Born at Sonoma Valley Hospital in 1964. Graduated from Sonoma Valley High School and Sonoma State University. Just finishing requirements to become an employee of (where else) the County of Sonoma," said commenter Thomas Fonseca.
"I was born in the parking lot of my mom's apartments on Dutton Ave. Straight onto this blessed ground," said a commenter listed as Cody Codeine.
Sonoma County Baby began with plans to move the old Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa, which has operated since 1936, to a new building, Ralston said.
Hospital officials wanted a way to commemorate the many generations who were born there as they transition to the new space.
"The old hospital has such character and such history," Ralston said.
"People don’t really care about the history of a hospital, but history that pertains to families of generations really resonates with people as they're starting their new family.”
The hospital will likely have an editorial board sift through the hundreds and hundreds of stories they will collect and figure out best to present the information they have. He expects that process to begin in February or March of next year.
Sutter plans to publish the book in June 2014.
In the meantime, Ralston is starting a quarterly newsletter to keep people updated and informed on the project.
“I’m anticipating more content than we know what to do with," Ralston said.
So many have a deep love for their native county.
"I feel really blessed to be here," Sheehy said. "I didn't choose to be born here. I didn't choose the time I would be born. But this is where God's planted me."