Gov. Jerry Brown made an unannounced visit to Sonora over the weekend for a wedding and dropped by a local watering hole for a beer.

Brown and his wife, Anne, stayed at the historic Gunn House Hotel in downtown Sonora on Saturday night and shared a beer at The Sportsman, one of the only bars in California that doubles as a gun store.

“It was a surprise,” said Debbe Pallante, who co-owns the bar. “He was looking in the windows and then came in.”

Evan Westrup, press secretary for Brown, said the state’s top elected official was in town to attend a cousin’s wedding at Zuni Vineyards in Sonora, which produces grapes used by award-winning Jamestown winemaker Inner Sanctum Cellars.

Westrup confirmed that Brown grabbed a beer at The Sportsman and also said he knocked on the doors of The Union Democrat on Sunday, but “regrettably, no one was there.”

Pallante said she and her boyfriend Chet White, who co-owns the bar with her, chatted with Brown for about a half hour on Saturday night.

“He just sat down and chatted, there was no politics, and all of our guests were respectful,” Pallante said. “He asked all sorts of questions about Tuolumne County, our visitors, and how we were impacted by the fire.”

This wasn’t the first time Brown has visited The Sportsman.

Brown stopped by the bar in the afternoon on July 10, 2014, and chatted with patrons while on his way home from Twain Harte, where he formerly owned a cabin. He also visited the Mother Lode Fair that same day.

Gary Singh Dhanoa, owner of the Gunn House Hotel, said that Brown and his wife stayed in room No. 7 on Saturday night and left the next morning after having breakfast that included waffles, muffins and egg casserole.

“We had a chat about everything,” Dhanoa said. “I told him I appreciate your dedication to our state … He gave me his cell number and said to call ,anytime you need to talk to me.’”

Dhanoa said that Brown was flanked by three or four security guards when he arrived to check in. Several other members of Brown’s entourage stayed at the Palm Hotel in Jamestown, which Dhanoa also owns.

Brown was the most high-profile guest that Dhanoa said he’s hosted at the Gunn House since he and his wife, Baljeet, bought the business a little over two years ago.

“He liked the hotel and said he loved the charm and the antique rooms,” Dhanoa said.

Brown, a Democrat, will leave office at the end of this year after serving two consecutive terms in the state’s highest elected office.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Republican businessman John Cox are vying to become his successor in the Nov. 6 general election.

Contact Alex MacLean at or (209) 588-4530.