Tourism Board on Odd Juxtaposition of Words 'County' and 'Country': We Meant to Do That!

Is Sonoma Country a constitutional monarchy? Or do its kings still rule by divine right?

You receive odd things when you work at a newspaper. A job candidate signifying he or she was ready to "hit the ground running" sent us some baby shoes (we gave them to a baby). An even more deranged candidate once sent one of our colleagues' papers a murky jar of undisclosed liquids meant to represent the "blood, sweat and tears" he or she would put into the job (he or she -- or it -- didn't get it).

And, God knows you get enough copies of Dianetics to start your own roadside stress test stand.

You also get holiday and new year's cards from every publicity-seeking organization in the land, including the one pictured above. It's nice to know the official PR and marketing team of Sonoma County is wishing us a happy new year -- happy new year to them, too. But it was even more notable to notice that their card seemed to repeatedly use the term "Sonoma Country." Was this going to be a very cruel start of the year for Sonoma County/Country's proofreader?   

Apparently not. When we called up the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau, they told us that this confusing use of two highly similar words that, for all the world, looks like a cringe-worthy mistake -- is no mistake.

"It's because there's so much to do here in Sonoma it's like an entire country," explains Craig Haskell, the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau's information specialist. Yes, their official name and Web address use "County." And, yes, all of their literature uses "Country." And, yes again, confirms Haskell, they do get calls about this "from time to time" -- especially from Sacramento, where they have several large -- and, apparently, confusing -- poster displays.

"It's just a marketing idea," concedes Haskell. And that's a good thing for him, because if Sonoma Country really was an independent nation, you and I would be forbidden by law from bringing more than one liter of wine back into the United States -- which would put something of a damper on Sonoma Country's wine-based economy. 

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