Just up U.S. 101 from San Francisco the Sonoma Wine Country has steadily grown in popularity with gays and lesbians not only as a place to visit, but to live year-round or on weekends. The town of Guerneville, in the redwood-shaded Russian River, is the heart of the region's GLBT community, and it's here in early June that the popular Sonoma County Gay Pride Festival takes place (the date is Sunday, June 2 in 2013), but there are events throughout the week, including Sonoma Pride Comedy Night, held the night before the festival, on Saturday. The elegant Guerneville Lodge, in the heart of the Russian River, hosts this exciting celebration.
Sonoma Gay Pride begins the Sonoma County Pride Parade on Sunday at 11 am along Guerneville's small but engaging Main Street.
From noon until 6 pm following the parade, the Sonoma County Pride Celebration takes place at the Guerneville Lodge (formerly the Inn at the Willows), at 15905 River Road. At this vibrant event that draws a mix of locals, weekenders, and tourists, there's live music, kids' entertainment, beer and wine, a Radical Faerie Freedom Village, a Lilith's Lounge, a vendor space where local businesses and organizations talk about what they do, and a group commitment ceremony. Pride is now being run by the Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and they've put together a terrific lineup of entertainment.
Other events take place throughout the week - be sure to save the date for Sonoma Pride Comedy Night, a concert that last year featured comic legend Margaret Cho. It takes place at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa (at 50 Mark West Springs Road).
Also, later in the month, local gay tour and tasting company Out in the Vineyard presents Sonoma Gay Wine Weekend 2013, taking place June 14 through June 16, 2013, and comprising dozens of great events: tastings at top vineyards, meals at some incredible restaurants, and a number of fun parties. This is becoming the must-do gay event for Sonoma County wine lovers each year.
Bars as well as gay-popular restaurants, hotels, and shops have special events and parties throughout Pride Weekend. Check local gay websites, such as GaySonoma.com, GayRussianRiver.com, and a blog on the GLBT scene in Sonoma County, at InsideSonoma.com for details. Also take a look at the excellent GLBT site produced by the region's official tourism organization, the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau.