Just in case you fell asleep during an Elementary School history lecture, Sonoma's Mission San Francisco de Solano is the last of the 21 Franciscan missions to be established along the California Coast. It offers one one of the most intriguing glimpses of pre-Gold Rush life.
Long before our city was built, this beautiful mission stood lone and proud during a time when the Sonoma Valley was largely unsettled. Father Jose Altimira laid the foundation to La Misión San Francisco de Solano de Sonoma on July 4th, 1823, as it was then called.
Later, with the arrival of General Mariano Vallejo and an influx of pioneers and soldiers, the mission would soon see a whole town pop up around its adobe walls.
The mission is also prominent in local viniculture lore. By 1825, Franciscan fathers had begun cultivating grapes to create wine from Sonoma Valley’s first vineyard -- a tradition that no one could have imagined would have a such an extraordinary impact.
When the Mexican government cut mission projects in 1834, the church became a parish church until it was sold in 1881 to Solomon Schoken for $3,000. Construction had already begun on a much larger church not far away, and the building was then used as a barn and winery, among other things.
In 1903 Solomon Schoken sold the mission to the California Historic Landmarks League for the exact sum he paid for it in 1881. And with the help of the state, restoration on the ailing site was completed in 1913 in the wake of the 1906 earthquake.
Today the mission can still be seen daily from 10am until 5pm, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.
For more information and reservations call 707-939-6188.