You’d be hard-pressed to find a Sydneysider who hasn’t tried a loaf of Sonoma bread. The Sydney business started out small, but is now an ever- evolving empire, fuelled by an incredible passion for creating the highest quality baked artisan goods.
The Sonoma story begins with nostalgia, created in the late 1940s by a little boy’s adventures in a country bakery. Kerry Connole would visit his grandparents in the country town of Bellata, spending his days watching the local baker kneading, stretching and shaping dough before baking bread to golden perfection.
Years later, with his two sons, Andrew and Christian, Kerry leased the very same bakery on a whim. Without any training or experience, the trio restored the bakery and began experimenting and refining the art of baking beautiful wood-fired bread. A year after baking their first loaf, Andrew travelled to California to learn the craft of naturally leavened sourdough.
While in San Francisco, Andrew’s base was in Sonoma County, where he stayed with Alan Scott – an Australian expat who pioneered wood-fired oven construction. This experience turned out to be pivotal; drawing inspiration from the northern Californian sourdough movement Andrew returned to Australia with exciting ideas, as well as a precious jar of starter from world-renowned baker, Chad Robertson.
Back in Bellata, Andrew and Christian spent the next two years mixing, shaping and baking loaf after loaf of sourdough, before driving it to Sydney to sell at the Paddington markets. Eventually, demand for their authentic, northern Californian style of sourdough grew so much that the boys decided to relocate to Sydney.
Using a custom-built Alan Scott wood-fired oven, Sonoma sold its first wholesale loaf in March 2001. Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength, with demand for the delicious sourdough continuing to rise. Today, Sonoma is synonymous with excellence and its journey is one of success.
Sonoma remains a family business to this day, with passion and dedication at its core. While Andrew oversees the company, his brother-in-law and Head Baker, Jordan Miller, ensures each loaf retains the same Sonoma quality. Carefully milled sustainable flour (from Wholegrain Milling) is combined with filtered water, sourdough starter and sea salt, along with a pinch of love, to create each loaf. The mixture is created the day before and left to rest in a tempered room where the natural yeasts can thrive overnight before the bread is baked on the stone hearth of the oven.
The bakery’s signature loaves, including the infamous ‘Sonoma Miche’ with its distinct smoky flavour, are available for purchase at all of Sonoma’s seven retail stores. In addition to the range of artisan sourdoughs, each store also offers a selection of sandwiches, tartines, muesli and pastries, like morning buns and kouign amanns. It means customers can enjoy Sonoma creations both at home or dine in with a cup of Sonoma’s in-house batch-roasted coffee.
Sonoma has retained a philosophy of passion, dedication and hard work for nearly 20 years, and continues to offer everyday luxury to those with discerning taste.