Everyone seems to have an eco-friendly angle these days, but the wineries of Sonoma (and the area itself) have long been committed leaders within the movement. Many Sonoma wineries use a combination of green techniques like solar power and organic farming, while others have taken it to the next level using biodynamics. Here are our favorite eco-friendly wineries and the tour companies who will take you there:
Quivira Vineyards and Winery in Healdsburg stands by statements like “live in balance with your surroundings” and “experience a true vineyard farm." They embrace all biodynamic farming practices from the spiritual to scientific, which means they obsessively monitor healthy microbiotic life, and use only materials from their self-sustaining vineyards, compost piles, farm animals, and vegetable gardens. Their tasty wines are carefully made to respect the natural flavors of the soils and the specific elements found in each vineyard.
Benziger Family Winery remains a leader in the eco-friendly movement with biodynamic gardens and wines and countless accolades for their green practices and farming over the years. The estate is earthy and beautiful, tours informative and nature-filled, and entire portfolio of wines are certified sustainable, organic, or biodynamic. Tribute, a robust Cabernet blend, was the first Demeter-certified Biodynamic wine from Sonoma Country and one of the first in Northern America.
Gundlach Bundschu eliminated all regular use of pesticides, uses only the most necessary forms of herbicides, and introduced and closely monitors beneficial predators like owls and beetles into the vineyards. They plant cover crops that are specifically chosen to contribute diversity and nutrition to the soils, regularly use registered organic compounds and practices, recycle 70% of winery water, use biodiesel fuel for their tractors, and 60% of the energy used by the winery comes from solar power. They also constructed the first “floatovoltaic” system (floating solar panels) and are a certified Bay Area Green Business.
Imagery Estate, another leader in eco-vineyards, was certified biodynamic in 2001 and is in the process of having the adjacent 40-acre Sunny Slope Vineyard certified as well. Imagery is also known for their fun attitude about wine, hip and artistic packaging, and unusual and diverse lineup of flavorful wines like Wow Oui and Muscato di Canelli.
Silvertap isn’t known for their organic farming or winery tours, but rather as leaders in the extremely green wine-kegging business. Their motto is “saving the planet one glass at a time” and they practice what they preach by kegging their and other high-end brands like Pushback from all over the wine country. Why is kegging so healthy for the environment? Think of all the environmental (and economic) expenses that go into a bottle of wine: bottling, corking, glass, labels, adhesive, shipping, shelving and all the natural materials and eco-expensive practices that go into those processes. Kegs can be cleaned and refilled and glasses easily washed; so it’s the essence of re-using.
There are lots of other eco-friendly wineries and even specific tours led by organizations like California Wine Tours, who use Hybrid Vehicles; or Pure Luxury Wine Tours, who offer Organic and Biodynamic wine tours of the above wineries and others like Deerfield Ranch Winery, Kaz, Montemaggiore, and Porter Creek. Contact Getaway Adventures if you’d like to be extra green by renting a bike and riding to nearby green wineries.
We’ve shared our favorite eco-friendly wineries, please leave a comment with your favorites!