Sonoma Plaza in Sonoma County
Sonoma Plaza

Great Gifts for the Holidays in Wine Country

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Blink, and before we know it, the holidays are here again. With that comes the joy of giving and receiving gifts, but first - the fun of shopping for them. Shopping is particularly joyous in Sonoma County, because rather than giant copycat malls, most of our destinations are quaint town squares, villages, and unique, independently-owned collections. Stock up on artist and artisan-made gifts found in many craft fairs around the area.

Marisa's Fantasia/Christmas Fantasia, Petaluma 

There are two stores in one at the historic Lan Mart Building in downtown Petaluma. The Christmas Fantasia section brims floor-to-ceiling with antique and modern heirlooms, and glorious displays of trees, ornaments, home accessories, flocking, lights, and stockings to hang from the chimney with care. Even if you're bah-humbug, all the beauty will tempt you to make holiday memories of your own.

Sonoma Plaza, Sonoma 

Trees and buildings wrapped in lights
Sonoma Plaza

As the largest plaza of its kind in California, this eight-acre park and town center is ringed with charming shops, tasting rooms, and popular restaurants. The mix of small stores is beguiling, from handcrafted bedding at Broadway Quilts, to fair trade kid's wear, coffee, home decor, and jewelry at Global Heart.

You can stock up on gorgeous kitchen tools at Williams-Sonoma, and spices at the Savory Spice Shop. The list goes on and on, but be sure not to miss The Church Mouse, a treasure chest of gently loved clothing, furniture, books, and jewelry with proceeds benefiting the St. Francis Solano School.

Healdsburg Plaza, Healdsburg 

Two people look into a store decorated for the holidays in the evening
Healdsburg Plaza

Healdsburg Plaza was named one of "America's Most Beautiful Town Squares" by Travel & Leisure in 2013. Spanning just an acre, it is ringed with boutique shops, art galleries, restaurants, and wine stores, expanding into the edges of the residential neighborhoods surrounding it. It's easy to spend an entire day wandering from place to place, stopping at Clutch for pricey purses by Francesco Biasia, Coach, and Monsac to fancy goodies for Fido at Fideaux pet boutique. Yes, most of the stores here are upscale, but great bargains can be had at the many antique stores lining the blocks.

Cornerstone Sonoma, Sonoma 

Strings of lights hang from the celiing in Meadowcroft in Cornerstone
Meadowcroft Wines at Cornerstone Sonoma

The eclectic nine-acre property on the Highway 121 winery corridor of the Carneros region mixes lavish gardens with sculptures, landscape architect installations, art, flower and home design shops, a restaurant, Sunset magazine's Outdoor Kitchen and Test Gardens, and three wine tasting rooms. There's so much to covet that you may find yourself buying as much for your own wishes as others, but we won't tell. You've never appreciated how beautiful garden pots can be, either, until you've seen the collection at Potter Green & Co. This is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon with your dog, too, strolling the gardens, and sipping some wine on a tasting room patio.

Montgomery Village, Santa Rosa 

Montgomery Village in Sonoma County
Montgomery Village

One of the grandest shopping centers in Sonoma County, this open-air mall covers all the bases, with more than 70 shops offering fine clothing, shoes, home accessories, jewelry, and beauty products. Some highlights include J. Jill, Sur La Table, White House/Black Market, and Copperfield's Books. Amid the anchor tenants, some special finds include Birds Nest Antiques, and Village Art Supply. Part of the fun is walking from store to store on a path of gardens, frequent live music performances, and alfresco relaxation, as you refresh and refuel at Acre Coffee, or enjoy a meal at Monti's.

The Barlow, Sebastopol

This 12.5-acre wonderland houses a 220,000-square-foot, $23.8 million culinary and arts center. Most of the products sold here come directly from the people who make them, and many are made on site. That means you can watch an array of more than two dozen food producers, winemakers, brewers, distillers, and artists create their crafts. 

Stock up on organic coffees and teas from Taylor Lane Organic Coffee. Then, when all the shopping has you feeling weary, stop for a beer and small bite at Woodfour Brewing Company, or taste a flight with select local charcuterie at Pax Wines

Railroad Square, Santa Rosa 

The thriving Railroad Square Historic District dates back nearly 50 years when Western Farm Center opened as a feed and pet supply store in 1967. The neighborhood is older than that, of course, as the old Northwestern Pacific Railroad Train Depot welcomed its first trains in 1870 and the Hotel La Rose across the street was built in 1907. Today, the locally quarried stone depot and hotel are beautifully restored and surrounded by dozens of stores ranging from Green Fish Trading (hand-curated items from Asia) to Cast Away Yarn Shop (Malabrigo yarn and lace, hand-spun and hand-dyed in Uruguay), to Whistlestop Antiques (delicate china teacups).

Duncans Mills 

Duncans Mills in Sonoma County
Duncans Mills

It's actually an entire, tiny town in west Sonoma County, and it couldn't be more quaint and perfect for unique gifts. All the stores are independently owned, often with one-of-a-kind merchandise. They are clustered together and joined by gardens, fountains, and benches. Boost your energy with breakfast or lunch at Cape Fear, serving delightful California cuisine with a Southern flair.

Then hit the stores – there are nearly two dozen, such as the lovely liquid jewelry by Studio Nouveau, and American-made clothing and crafts from Pig Alley.

Fort Ross State Historic Park, Jenner

Make a day of shopping along the coast. Pack a picnic, bundle up, explore the beautiful coastal grounds of Fort Ross State Historic Park. On your way out swing through the gift shop to find the perfect gift for friends and family, including note cards featuring designs from talented local artists and photographers; stuffed animals for stocking stuffers; cozy socks; and a wide variety of locally made ornaments, from wooden snowflakes to glass blown jellyfish. 

Petaluma Village Premium Outlets, Petaluma 

People drive from all across the North Bay for this collection of about 40 high-end stores offering bargain prices on their name brand goods. In an open-air setting, you'll find popular names like Adidas, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5TH, Tommy Hilfiger, and Wilsons Leather.

Coddingtown, Santa Rosa

Recently renovated and updated with many brand new tenants, this is a more traditional mall set-up, with rows of under-roof shops. Opened in 1962, it's long been the go-to for Sonoma County shoppers, and for good reason. The selection is comprehensive, such as the legendary Coddingtown Jewelers, Nordstrom Rack, and The Humidor with 150 cigar selections. Anchors are the classic J.C. Penney and Macy's.

Santa Rosa Plaza Mall, Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa's downtown mall, where you can find more than 120 specialty and name-brand stores: Macy's, Sears, Forever 21, Abercrombie & Fitch, The Disneystore, The Apple Store, Brookstone, Eddie Bauer, Victoria's Secret, and many more.