Located 45 minutes north of San Francisco, Sonoma County’s basic industries are its wineries and specialty food producers, travel and tourism, and technology production.
The county's comparative advantages are its workforce, its natural resources, and its capital. 32% of the adult population has a college degree, higher than the U.S. rate of 28% and California’s 30% rate. The county has richer than average soil, a mild climate, and extensive shoreline, forests and parklands. It has built up local capital through entrepreneurship over the past several decades. Per capita income in Sonoma County exceeds the national and statewide averages.
The long-term outlook for winemaking remains favorable given the industry’s roots in the county and favorable growing climate for high-quality vintages.
The long-term outlook for Sonoma County tourism is favorable. The region is growing in recognition, and its proximity to Bay Area attractions will continue to support tourist traffic.
Travel and tourism also have the potential to expand internationally as the region— including its wine-producing areas—becomes better known overseas and as accommodations and attractions improve.
It is expected that retirees in the coming decade will generate strong demand for travel to the wine country.
Specialty food products have the long-term potential to complement the wine industry within the region. These include olive oils, cheeses, and a range of organic vegetables and meat products.
A sharp improvement in the cost of doing business in Sonoma County is a significant shift in the comparative advantage of its economy that will support the recovery in the near term. The index of the cost of doing business is at a record low for the county going back to 1990. The energy component of the index has come down substantially from its peak in 2003. The office rent component of the index has fallen considerably over the past four years, a sign of the distressed nature of the commercial property market but also an indicator of the much improved affordability for new and expanding businesses.