Located between Petaluma and Napa, and only about 40 miles north of San Francisco, Sonoma real estate is perfectly situated to maximize residents' quality of life. Although world-renowned as a wine mecca, Sonoma maintains the tight-knit feel of a small community, with a charming downtown. In the mid-1800s, the town was just a collection of ranchos, governed by Mexico. Even though the U.S. government and the State of California took over the territory not too long after that, you can still sense its heritage. The centerpiece of town, Sonoma Plaza , is still anchored by the northernmost Franciscan mission in California—and it’s even the birthplace of the California State Bear Flag. Today, however, history walks in tandem with current times. Shops, tasting rooms, restaurants, bakeries, and a historic theater line the streets around the Sonoma Plaza – an eight-acre town square, the largest in California.