Samantha Brown’s PBS show ‘Places to Love’ highlights Sonoma County

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Longtime travel show host Samantha Brown recently brought her Emmy Award-winning show “Places to Love” to Sonoma County for an episode exploring ciders, sustainability and carnivorous plants.

She’s taken her program to places ranging from Budapest to New Zealand’s South Island to the Florida Keys, but Sonoma County seemed a natural fit.

“With ‘Places to Love,’ I just really called upon everything I learned about travel and what I thought was fascinating about it, which was really understanding ... the people and what they do to create the experiences that we, just as travelers, get to show up and have,” Brown said. “Sonoma County is a perfect example of that.”

The Sonoma County episode of “Places to Love” airs at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2 on KQED, the San Francisco Public Broadcasting System station.

After weeks of scouting the area, Brown and her crew spent several days in Sonoma County last spring getting to know a place most recognized for its viticulture and food. She made it a point to dig deeper and find out more about what else makes Sonoma County such a desirable location.

Among other things, she discovered cheese.

“I wanted to show the real integrity behind the county, which is through the farmers,” she said. “We went to all small family farms, multi-generational places, and these were places that a typical traveler will interact with, but they just don’t understand all the work that goes behind making a farmed cheese.”

Beyond the artisanal foods, Brown touted the county’s dramatic coastline and rich agricultural history, paying a visit to Devoto Gardens and Orchards, the birthplace of Golden State Cider, where she sampled their drinks with co-founder Jolie Devoto.

She highlighted several landmark places on her trip, including the Safari West wildlife preserve and the Charles M. Schulz Museum.

“I’m a huge ‘Peanuts’ fan. I had all of the books, even the hardcover books, and I feel like I learned my sense of sarcasm from Snoopy,” she said. “I always thought Charles Schulz was so amazing. … I loved being there.”

The series, which is produced by PBS and airs once a week, received two Daytime Emmy Awards last year, including one for Outstanding Host for a Lifestyle, Children’s or Special Class Program.

She attributes the show’s positive reception to its dynamic variety of subjects, something not so common in today’s food-centric media.

“We show things like plants and we show fun museums and we make sure we get to know the people and the stories,” Brown said. “We tell people stories and just how important it is when you travel to meet people and connect with them, and that’s a huge message for the times that we’re living in, where we are all kind of in our own bubbles.”

If there’s one thing Brown thinks people get from her show — and a big reason Sonoma County is featured this season — it’s the variety of experiences you can have when you visit a place and “go off the beaten path.

“Every place has a fascinating story to it, and almost any destination is travel-worthy,” Brown said. “These smaller places … just provide such a wealth of experience and interest.”

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