Helvetic.LA

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Swiss Hotel Sonoma

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Swiss Hotel Plaque

One of my favorite spots in Northern California is the Square in Sonoma. It is right in the heart of Sonoma wine county, is a great place for a picnic with the family and is rich with history. The square was the Pomo and Miwok Indians’ sacred meeting ground, the site 1846 Bear Flag Revolt and home of California’s Northern-most mission.

On the North side of the square sits the Swiss Hotel. The structure was first built by Don Salvador Vallejo, brother of Mexican General Mariano Vallejo. It was later occupied by various pioneers and in 1861 became the house of Dr. Victor J. Fauré, French-born vintner of prize-winning wines made from the grapes of the Vallejo family vineyards.

Swiss Hotel

Its life as a hotel started as a stagecoach stop in the 1870’s. In 1882, it was purchased by the Toroni family and was initially called the Ticino Hotel, serving railroad passengers and employees who stopped in Sonoma for the night. It would later become the Swiss Hotel in 1909 when an establishment of the same name on the West side of the plaza burned to the ground and the Toroni’s took the name for themselves. Hank Marioni is the fourth generation of his family operating the Swiss Hotel as a hotel and restaurant.

The interior lobby is adorned with family photos, deeds, tax bills, and even a birth certificate from Ticino. It has a wonderful back patio and has a great old California feel. It is a wonderful piece of California and Ticinesi history.

Memorabilia Adorns the Walls

An interesting wine anecdote for those that like Zinfandel. Vallejo’s wine-maker, Victor Fauré is considered the father of California Zinfandel. Early on many different vareitals were planted in Sonoma, but one winter the frost was cruel and the only varietal to survive was Zinfandel. General wisdom was that the grapes were to acidic and would not make a good wine, Fauré disagreed. “Later, after they tasted the young wine Fauré made from the grapes, Sonoma vineyardists quickly developed a solid respect for this strangely spelled variety.” (1)

(1) Zinfandel: a history of a grape and its wine, Charles Lewis Sullivan

Written by jdeburen

September 17, 2010 at 8:42 pm

One Response

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  1. Great piece. I’ll book a night there next time I am in Sonoma!

    Luciana Chapman

    September 26, 2010 at 10:59 pm


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