Sonoma Valley’s wine country is one of the most beautiful places on earth, which is why everybody, including your sundry friends and relations, want to visit all the time. Many of these folks, in fact, consider our homes their personal Bed and Breakfasts and will find cause to stay with us on the slimmest of pretenses. “The Wingo Regatta? Why not? Let’s go to Sonoma and stay with our friends for free!” They don’t want to visit us, they want to visit Sonoma – on the cheap.
Consider Rhonda S. whose college girlfriend suddenly materialized from the late 80s upon learning of her former dormie’s 95476 zip code. The tipster in this case was Facebook where Rhonda absent-mindedly listed her actual city of residence not having considered that a cyber-stalker with whom communication had lapsed 20 years prior was looking for a place to crash after wine tasting. This is why all Sonomans using social media are encouraged to list their cities as “Guantánamo Bay.” If some weirdo on your “friends” list still wants to visit you, encourage them to book a reservation with the Department of Homeland Security. You will never hear from them again. Here’s the number (202) 282-8000.
Despite the fact that eluding the “transitory occupancy tax” culled by our local hoteliers contributes directly to the degradation of our city, many of our guests still insist on slumming in our spare bedrooms. Worse, however, are those who offer to “housesit.” These are people you should charge for the privilege of doing so. Fact: Several neighborhoods surrounding the Historic Sonoma Plaza are zoned for use as B&Bs. People who live in these areas are encouraged to hustle down to City Hall and file the appropriate paperwork ASAP because your relatives “have never seen wine country during harvest and thought it would be a wonderful time to visit.” Splendid. Now, you can legally charge them. When they furrow their brows upon receiving your bill just remind them “It’s the law.” Call the City’s Planning Division. Here’s the number (707) 938-3681
If a visitor manages to manipulate your affections such that they are now sleeping on your couch, be assured it doesn’t take much to turn one’s de facto hostel hostile. When encouraging an offender to leave your home an effective tactic is to bait them with their own misguided illusions of “wine country living.” Tantalize them with visions of “Wine Cave Spelunking,” which is similar to rappelling through a cavern but completely bogus. Your guests will look like complete idiots when they show up at the tasting room wearing a “seat harness” and inquiring which cabernet to pair with their carabiners. If the shame doesn’t drive them away, then your evident cruelty surely will. Mission accomplished.
Of course, you can always make your guests history with “historical tourism.” Send them to local history scholar George Webber, who, in the guise of General Vallejo, hosts an “Historic Sonoma Walking Tour,” which he will lengthen, by $pecial request, to include such points of local interest as Petaluma. Here’s the number (707) 694-5097.
If the above notions should fail, one’s final course of action is to simply move away. Imagine the chagrin you’ll inspire when some forgotten acquaintance passive-aggressively asserts their ignorance about local lodgings and you gleefully explain that you no longer live in Sonoma, but the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau could surely help. Here’s the number (707) 996-1090. If you choose this rather radical solution, however, please consider that you must never return without a hotel reservation, lest you become one of them.