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Travel website ranks Sonoma County as premier wine destination

  • A group of friends who formerly lived in New Orleans, but are now scattered across the country met up for a week in the wine country and tasting at Matanzas Creek Winery on Thursday, October, 18, 2012. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Quaff that, Napa Valley snobs.

The influential online travel site TripAdvisor has ranked Sonoma County as the nation's premier wine destination, and among the top five in the known universe.

Napa Valley was ranked number two in the nation and — cue the sound of shattering glass — did not make the list of top five destinations across the globe.

"It's been a long time that we've been a little sister to that valley," crowed Debra Mathy, proprietor of Dutcher Crossing Winery in Healdsburg. "The country and the world are seeing us for what we have to offer."

TripAdvisor, relying on ratings from its site users, ranked Sonoma County second behind Tuscany in Italy as the world's best wine region, ahead of Australia's Hunter Valley, Stellenbosch in South Africa and Argentina's Province of Mendoza.

In North America, Sonoma County beat out Oregon's Willamette Valley, the Finger Lakes region in New York and several other wine-producing locations in California, including Paso Robles and Temecula Valley.

The fact that Mendocino County did not earn a mention raises questions about the TripAdvisor survey — or the wine knowledge of those who use the site.

TripAdvisor did not provide data on how many votes were tallied — other than to say rankings were "based on millions of valuable traveler reviews and opinions" — or how the subjective nature of the reviews were factored into the system, raising more suspicion about the methodology used for the contest.

To which fans of Sonoma County's Wine Country say, "details, details."

A TripAdvisor press release stated that the site's users love Sonoma County's "laid-back, unpretentious vibe" and ability to unwind at a spa after a "strenuous day of wine-tasting."

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