Sonoma County Wine Library

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  • Red wine closeup in glass photo

Radioactive levels in California wine

CNN published a fascinating article today on a recent study into the radioactive levels of cesium-137 in California wines.  While there’s nothing to worry about, it is a thought-provoking reminder into how historical events can impact our environment and therefore our wine industry.  Click here to read the article.

If you are interested in reading more into these sorts of topics, the Wine Library has subscriptions to several major journals, such as Journal of Wine Research, Australian Journal of Grape & Wine Research, and HortScience, that explore similar issues and studies.


Using Newspapers for Research

A number of Sonoma County newspapers have been digitized and are great resources for research.  Some of the newspapers are available to access anywhere, for others you must be inside one of the library branches to access the databases.  Newspapers are invaluable for accounts that we don’t necessarily have records of in our library collections.  Here’s an example, a search in of “Haraszthy” (last name of the founder of Buena Vista Winery, of course) brings up this interesting clipping about the early wine industry in Sonoma Valley.  From The Sonoma County Journal, published Friday, February 3rd, 1860:

“Vine Planting in Sonoma.—A resident of Sonoma has furnished the Alta with the following list of the number of acres of vineyards planted in the Sonoma Valley this season: Colonel A. Haraszthy, 100; C. H. S. Williams, 100; E. Dresel, 40; Mr. Swett, 40; Steward & Davis, 30; Mr. Craig, 30; Attila Haraszthy and Gaza Haraszthy, 30; N. Carriger, 25; Mr. Csormitanyi, 20; M. G. Vallejo, 20; Krohn & Williams, 15; George Watrons, 15; Col. Hay, 10; Dr. Hill, 10; Mr. Neib, 10; Mr. Spence, 5; Mr. Brockman, Sr., 5; L. Ader, 5; Total, 510.  To this list may be added about a hundred acres more planted in small lots of two or three acres each, so that the total extent of vineyard planted in Sonoma Valley this year, if the above be correct, will be about 600 acres.”

  • Peter Sichel tasting wine

Peter Sichel – The Secrets of My Life

I came across a review of Peter Sichel’s memoir “The Secrets of My Life: Vintner, Prisoner, Soldier, Spy” in the Journal of Wine Economics last fall (Volume 12, No. 3).   Just the review of the book is fascinating, so I had to order a copy for our Wine Library collection.  The book is available at the library now, you can place a hold on it here.  We also have a photo of Peter Sichel in the Wine Library's collection of photographs.  The photo (the image at right) is of Sichel tasting wine circa 1980; you can find the record in our catalog here

Read the review in the Journal of Wine Economics!

If you are interested in browsing through more of the photographs in the Wine Library collection, many of our photos have been digitized and are available to view through Sonoma County Library's Heritage Collections database.  Here is the link to Heritage Collections, and here is the link directly to the Wine Photography Collection.

  • Champagne

Peter Liem’s Champagne

We have a copy of Peter Liem’s recent book on Champagne, subtitled “The Essential Guide to the Wines, Producers, and Terroirs of the Iconic Region.”  It is a beautiful book, with gorgeous photography.  But what I find most interesting are the seven maps that are included--reproductions of maps drawn of the Champagne region in the 1940s.  Below is a review of the book from PUNCH:

“The world of Champagne as we know it has radically transformed in the past 20 years. Today, the growers making small-production wines are stars, and they have redefined the way we talk about Champagne. Peter Liem, founder of, captures all this: real people in real places. Yet with all the beautifully candid photography and meticulously reported detail, gathered during Liem’s years of living in the region, Champagne never falls into geekery. It’s lucid and humane, that sort of once-in-a-generation book that transforms how we think of a wine region. Also, wait, there’s more: Liem secured rights to the most detailed maps ever drawn of Champagne, in the 1940s, and reprints are included in a separate drawer.”

Place a hold on the book in our catalog here.

  • 2017 Wine Handbook cover

2017 Wine Handbook

The 2017 Wine Handbook, produced by the Beverage Information Group, is on the shelf now!  From their website “the Wine Handbook is considered the most comprehensive source for detailed information on wine sales and consumption trends.”  It is a wealth of information on subjects ranging from advertising expenditures to consumer characteristics, imports/exports, grape data, and projections.  Our copy is reference only, so it cannot be checked out, but it will always be on the shelf to view here in Healdsburg.

We would like to thank our generous support group the Friends of the Sonoma County Wine Library for making this acquisition possible.