Your Guide to Sustainable Travel in Sonoma County

  • Guides
  • by A.E. COOK
  • on FEBRUARY 28, 2023
  • 371
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Courtesy of Food and Farm Tours

With a heritage deeply rooted in agriculture and the natural world, Sonoma County has long demonstrated a commitment to sustainability. Through environmentally friendly initiatives that create real impactful change in the local community and beyond, local business owners from Petaluma to Sebastopol are exploring what “sustainability” really means—and inviting visitors to come along on the journey through ecotourism.

If you’re curious about what conscious, sustainable tourism might look like, check out a few of our favorite Wine Country businesses working for a greener world.

Drink

Benziger Family Winery

view of vineyard overlooking hills
Courtesy of Benziger

Since the 1970s, the Benziger family has farmed an 85-acre plot of vines in Glen Ellen, just north of the town of Sonoma. While originally, they used conventional farming methods—including pesticides—they soon realized that these methods were harming their vineyards. Guided by intuition and a demonstrated love of the land, the Benzigers began integrating more holistic farming practices, soon emerging as a local leader in winery sustainability. By the year 2000, all of their vineyards were certified biodynamic; later, they earned certifications in sustainability and organics and were named a “Green Revolutionary” by Wine Spectator. Don’t miss their “Biodynamic Tram Tour” vineyard excursion, which has been sharing the merits of sustainability with visitors for more than two decades.

1883 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, (707) 935-3000

Anaba Wines

couple strolling through vineyard drinking wine
Courtesy of Anaba Wines

The name “Anaba” is taken from powerful anabatic (upward-moving) winds that flow through the winery’s sustainably farmed vineyards in Carneros, the wine region tucked in the southern end of Sonoma County. With a towering 45-foot Skystream 3.7 wind turbine that’s become the winery logo, plus solar panels, Anaba Wines is powered 100% by renewable energy. Winemaker Katy Wilson produces outstanding Burgundian and Rhône varietal wines, and the winery’s lively, casual setting beckons you for a game of bocce or pickleball while you taste.

62 Bonneau Road, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 996-4188

SUTRO Wine Co.

couple seated at table enjoying wine
Courtesy of SUTRO | Tara Sahifi

Operated by artist, winemaker, and fifth-generation land steward Alice Warnecke Sutro, this micro winery is based on an 80-acre family ranch in Alexander Valley. Book a private tour and vineyard hike to taste Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Rosé, or (our personal favorite) Cabernet Sauvignon made in small lots and sourced from vineyards that have been deemed both LODI Certified Sustainable and Fish-Friendly Farming (FFF) Certified. A truly special destination with acres of discovery, Sutro Wine is proudly listed in the prestigious Slow Wine Guide , a discerning international directory that highlights wineries with eco-friendly practices.

13301 Chalk Hill Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 509-9695

Stone Edge Farm

table setting, wine filled glasses and wine from Stone Edge Farm
Courtesy of Facebook: Stone Edge Farm

A venture of environmentalist and self-described anarchist Mac McQuown, Stone Edge Farm was founded as an experimental venture on a 16-acre parcel on the outskirts of Sonoma. With energy supplied by solar panels and other alternative energy sources, Stone Edge Farm dramatically minimized its carbon footprint and was awarded the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award in 2018 for sustainability. Organic gardens, housemade olive oil, an innovative culinary program, and wines crafted by Jeff Baker gives Stone Edge Farm a range of offerings that have grown over the years. For an excursion that weds oenology with ecotourism, reserve a wine tasting at Silver Cloud, its scenic vineyard on Moon Mountain; or savor a meal at Edge, its fine dining room in downtown Sonoma, featuring ingredients from local farmers.

P.O. Box 487, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 935-6520

Tilted Shed Ciderworks

four bottles of wine from Tilted Shed
Courtesy of Facebook: Tilted Shed Ciderworks

Founded by Ellen Cavalli and her husband Scott Heath, Tilted Shed offers lovingly crafted ciders (including a non-alcoholic version) sourced from more than 100 varieties of apples growing on their five-acre farm. Harnessing organic and biodynamic farming principles, Cavalli and Heath promote biodiversity on their property, providing habitats for beneficial animals and insects. In the production cellar, they use minimal water, washing apples with a closed recirculating system, so the water is filtered and reused. Visit the Tilted Shed tasting room in Windsor, and check out their edgy cider zine, Malus.

7761 Bell Road, Windsor, CA 95492, (707) 657-7796

Eat

Diavola

sitting area at Diavola, benches and lamp posts
Courtesy of Diavola Pizzeria

Did you know Sonoma County has a rich Italian-American history? In the mid-19th century, Italian immigrants began flocking to the region, lured by the Mediterranean climate and burgeoning opportunity. Today, Italian-American culture is tightly woven into Wine Country life, including our cuisine. At bustling Diavola (which translates as “she-devil”) chef and owner Dino Bugica, who trained in Italy, offers house-cured salumi, antipasti, local cheeses, spicy meatballs, and mind-blowing Neapolitan-style pizzas that have earned the Slow Food USA stamp of approval. Housed in a rustic brick building next to an Italian deli and lively bar, Diavola unites the community around a shared love of food, wine, and fellowship.

21021 Geyserville Avenue, Geyserville, CA, (707) 814-0111

Food and Farm Tours

persons examining a leafy vegetable
Courtesy of Food and Farm Tours

Offering five-hour eco conscious itineraries that highlight agricultural destinations in Sonoma County (and Marin, too), Food and Farm Tours invites curious culinary explorers to connect with the local North Bay foodshed. Accommodating small groups of less than eight guests, as well as specially arranged private tours, founder Alexandra Fox welcomes travelers to meet farmers, restaurateurs, and purveyors that utilize regenerative agriculture practices and low-impact farming. Discover sustainable aquaculture by touring an oyster farm, try a cooking class that begins with gathering your ingredients from the garden, or snuggle a goat along the North Bay cheese trail. Return home with a greater appreciation of small farmers—not to mention priceless memories!

(415) 599-9222

SingleThread Farms

someone cutting stems of flowers
Courtesy of SingleThread Farms

Widely regarded as the pinnacle of ecotourism in Sonoma County, SingleThread Farms is home to the county’s only three-Michelin-star restaurant. Striving to reflect the Japanese philosophy of omotenashi, or anticipating a guest’s every need, the restaurant—along with its surrounding farm and inn—was created by husband and wife Kyle and Katina Connaughton. Using produce from their five-acre farm, the team creates an impressive seasonal 11-course tasting menu, served in a LEED-certified dining room. If you can arrange it, follow your meal with an overnight stay at the inn.

131 North Street, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 723-4646

Sonoma Farmers Market

fresh tomatoes on display
Courtesy of Facebook: Sonoma Farmers Market

If you’re lucky enough to be in Sonoma County on a Tuesday night between May and October, you simply cannot miss the farmer’s market. More than just a place to buy flowers or vegetables, this spirited community gathering is a veritable tradition. As the day draws to a close, head to the central Sonoma Plaza, and you’ll find friends and strangers huddling around picnic tables, spreading blankets to share, popping open bottles from favorite local vintners, and noshing on treats from local businesses like oysters, tacos, poke bowls, and pizza. Live music helps set the scene. Afterward, walk to one of the many nearby wine bars or restaurants and enjoy a nightcap.

City Hall on Sonoma Plaza

Explore

Sonoma Botanical Garden

green trees, road, stone wall and sunset view in background
Courtesy of Facebook: Sonoma Botanical Garden

One of Sonoma County’s best-kept secrets, this horticultural haven lies amid 67 acres in the idyllic Valley of the Moon. Home to one of the largest collections of wild-source Asian plants in North America or Europe, the garden features 1,300+ varieties of trees, shrubs, and flowers. As well, the garden showcases California native plants highlighting the undeniable beauty of the state. Pack a picnic, enjoy a hike, and take in the stunning biodiversity of Wine Country and the world beyond.

12841 Highway 12, Glen Ellen, CA 95442

Concert Series at Gundlach Bundschu

outside of the barn at Gundlach Bundschu
Courtesy of Gundlach Bundschu

Grab a glass of cool-climate, family-farmed Gundlach Bundschu wine, relax, and take in a show at one of the winery’s two historic event venues: An inviting Redwood Barn perched atop scenic vineyards offers a cozy setting for small shows; while the Outdoor Amphitheater accommodates more of a crowd and, as night falls, envelops you in a dreamy blanket of stars. Past shows have featured bluegrass pickers like Gillian Welch, rockers like Chris Robinson, edgy favorites like Cat Power, and even legends like Metallica. The winery also hosts the rollicking Huichica Music Festival every summer.

2000 Denmark Street, Sonoma, CA 95476, (707) 938-5277

Osmosis Day Spa

tranquil view at Osmosis Spa, water garden outside of spa
Courtesy of Osmosis Day Spa

If hardcore rest and relaxation is a priority, then be sure to add Osmosis to your travel itinerary. A six-acre haven located a short drive from the Pacific Ocean, Osmosis is renowned for its cedar enzyme baths and Zen gardens. A member of the Green Spa Network that’s been recognized by the Business Environmental Alliance of Sonoma County, Osmosis has been a leader in responsible tourism by initiating a range of programs, from water conservation to energy reduction.

209 Bohemian Highway, Freestone, CA 95472, (707) 823-8231

Sonoma Valley Trail Rides

a group on a horseback ride tour
Courtesy of Sonoma Valley Trail Rides

Wending through miles of trails and vineyards at historic Bartholomew Estate, these popular horseback excursions offer more than just idyllic scenery, but a dose of environmental and ag education, too. A native of Sonoma, tour leader Michelle Rogers provides insight about sustainable farming, horse-led viticultural practices, local wildlife and history, and more. “We love sharing our horses with visitors from all over the country,” says Rogers, “We educate them on horse care, humane practices of treatment of horses and how we focus on the enrichment, nutrition, safety and most importantly, their welfare.” Importantly, the outfitter supports horses long after they “retire” from trail life with involvement in senior horse rescue.

(707) 343-5511

Stay

Farmhouse Inn

couple under large shaded tree overlooking vineyard
Courtesy of Farmhouse Inn | Rachel Kuali’i

Operated by next-generation Sonoma County natives with a keen interest in the well-being of the environment and community, Farmhouse Inn integrates earth-friendly practices at every turn. Instead of plastic water bottles, you’ll find reusable glass bottles in guest rooms. Organically sourced toiletries grace the inn’s exquisite hotel bathrooms. Kitchen waste from the restaurant is either composted in the gardens or used to feed the on-site farm animals. With incomparable Four-Diamond accommodations that range from stand-alone cottages to farmhouse rooms to barn suites, every room features fresh-cut flowers, feather bed with European linens, and oversized fireplace. Once you arrive at this bucolic retreat, you may never want to leave.

7871 River Road, Forestville, CA 95436, (707) 887-3300

Astro Hotel

couple under large shaded tree overlooking vineyard
Courtesy of Astro Hotel

Originally built in 1963, this midcentury motor lodge was recently revamped with stylish new furnishings and a thriving edible garden. With cycling champion Andy Hampsten as a key investor, the hotel has evolved into a true haven for bike enthusiasts, named by Outside Magazine as one of “7 Great Hotels for Cyclists”. Minimize your carbon footprint by taking advantage of the hotel’s Shinola brand bike rentals, on site bike repairs, and access to nearby trails. With an eye to responsible tourism, Astro Hotel is Green Business-Certified by the State of California.

323 Santa Rosa Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95404, (707) 200-4655

New Tree Ranch

couple under large shaded tree overlooking vineyard
Courtesy of New Tree Ranch | Rachel Weill

Set amid 120 self-sustaining acres of sprawling hills and majestic redwoods, New Tree Ranch is a unique nonprofit eco-luxury property offering a range of rejuvenating experiences: forest bathing, sound therapy, Wim Hof ice immersion, yoga, or simply relaxing. The founders are fully committed to sustainability, from bee repopulation and seed saving, to renewable power and community service. Guests can enjoy harvesting vegetables from the biodynamic garden, then engage in a cooking lesson to prepare their own meals. Accommodations are limited and high in demand: choose between a stay at either a four-bedroom or two-bedroom house on the beautiful grounds.

3780 Wallace Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 433-9643

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Author

A.E. Cook

A.E. Cook is a writer and entrepreneur committed to sharing unsung perspectives and uncommon beauty. In 2018, after 10 years of working in the wine industry, she founded Woman-Owned Wineries to shine a light on underrepresented female vintners, resulting in recognition from major media including The New York Times. Her essays and articles have appeared in literary, trade, and lifestyle publications.