Living in and around the wine country of Sonoma

Homeowners looking at homes for sale in the Bay Area should consider Sonoma County. Away from the hustle and bustle of congested urban life, this area of California features sturdy oak trees, sophisticated little towns and world-famous vineyards.

Living in Sonoma places you right in the middle of wine country. Grow a few of your own vines in the backyard and learn the delicate craft of winemaking or simply visit one of the countless local vineyards. This area is also a wonderful place to enjoy the great outdoors. Locals love hiking, kayaking, golf or dining out on the patio at local restaurants.

Over the last couple of years, Sonoma County has seen steady job growth, according to the Sonoma County Administrator's Office. For this reason and others, the population has grown over the last 10 years by 7.6 percent and is now home to approximately 493,285 residents.

There are nine incorporated cities within Sonoma County's borders, along with a sizable number of unincorporated communities. Some of these are located near the majestic Russian River, others under sky-high redwoods. All of them offer a unique and charming lifestyle for anyone hoping to relocate to the area.

Located in the northern section of Alexander Valley, the Sonoma County city of Cloverdale is part of the Alexander Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA), one of the county's most prominent wine producing regions. Walk outside your door and you could well enjoy the aroma of nearby grapes, and wherever you are, you can sit on the porch and sip a glass of local Merlot while living here. The median home cost here is an affordable $340,300.

Water lovers may want to consider the City of Petaluma, just west of Sonoma wine country. The Petaluma Marina is arguably the most beautiful in the country and the Parks and Recreation Department recently announced the building of a new boating facility for your enjoyment. It's perfect for families who love boating, fishing and other water sports. The median home cost in Petaluma is approximately $451,200.

Santa Rosa is another popular city to live in. Like Petaluma, Santa Rosa is within Sonoma but situated west of the vineyards. The median home price in this metropolis is $395,800. There's no wonder it's been called the best city for foodies by CNBC, because the eateries are to die for. You can easily find many different cafes and restaurants, sample the local cuisine and meet new friends.