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Sonoma Valley gets starring role on 'The Bachelor'

There are some advertising opportunities that money just can't buy. And when it comes to "Brand Sonoma," a season-long guest appearance on ABC's hit reality show "The Bachelor" is is one of them.

It can be summed up in a "date card" that this season's Bachelor, Ben Flajnik, wrote to one or more of the lucky ladies Monday night: "Sonoma where the heart is."

This Monday night at 8 p.m., Sonoma will play a starring role on "The Bachelor," as Flajnik takes the ladies on dates around his hometown.

'The Bachelor' Season Premiere

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And what can be a more romantic setting than Wine Country? The reality TV show recently changed the backdrop of its logo to a rolling vineyard at sunset, replacing the seashore of seasons past.

"We're excited to see how it comes off. I think it will be a good opportunity for us," said Tim Zahner, director of public relations and marketing for the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau. "Are we going to promote this? We definitely are."

To film the episode, Flajnik and his bevy of 18 remaining women traveled to Sonoma County during the grape harvest. The ladies stayed in "Vineyard Knoll," a private villa in Glen Ellen owned by BeautifulPlaces. The villa sits atop vineyards with a dramatic pool, and a cluster of oak trees with enough room to host the rose ceremony, where Flajnik presents a rose to the women he wants to continue on the show.

"Eighteen girls in one house was kind of crazy. It was quite a production," said Lorna Taylor, director of operations at BeautifulPlaces. "We couldn't tell anyone because they were afraid of paparazzi, and I was thinking, &‘paparazzi in Glen Ellen?'"

The drama will unravel in scenes at Sonoma Town Square, the Girl & the Fig restaurant, and at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, where a select few of the ladies went on a group date with Flajnik.

"It just escalates our positioning ... This is about as big a communications channel as you can ask for," said Michelle Heston, regional director of public relations for the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa.

Apparently, ABC already knew that. Zahner said the network tried to negotiate for its crew to stay and film at various locations for free, but the Tourism Bureau negotiated for a better deal for the hotels.


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