Sonoma County recently announced their commitment to become the first 100% sustainable wine region in America by 2019. Already 60% of the Sonoma vineyard acres have been certified sustainable as well as 40 wineries themselves.
The Winery Chateau is fitted with an energy efficient cool roof and they use solar power. Saving tremendous amounts of gas every year and even becoming completely carbon neutral in 2014. Generators capture ambient air that is later reused in the winemaking process. A large portion of the winery has also been dedicated to natural habitat with two lakes that provide habitat for many birds and wildlife.
The owners have made it a mission to work with artisans, chefs, foragers and farmers. The farm supplies almost everything that the restaurant needs from fruit, herbs, flowers, honey, eggs, olive oil and vegetables. The head farmers are brother and sister and along with a great team of hands they raise chickens and cattle as well as grow heirloom fruits, olives and other vegetables as well as maintain several bee hives. Surrounding the farm are the vineyards where Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Chardonnay are grown.
Gundlach Bundschu is just five minutes from the Sonoma Plaza and at the foot of the Mayacamas mountains. This vineyard is convenient for visitors from both Napa and Sonoma. It’s the oldest family owned vineyard in California and has been in operation since 1858. They are all about giving visitors the most fun around with an underground Cave area for dinners and tastings. A house bar that is raved about by all visitors and even fish friendly farming. You can explore the steep hills and more than 320 acres aboard their army vehicle, while tasting wines and enjoying nature. They also recycle more than 70% of their winery waters, use biodiesel in their tractors and get 60% of their electricity needs from solar.
You can choose to take an environmentally wine tour with companies like California Wine Tours who use hybrid vehicles or Pure Luxury Wine Tours who offer organic and biodynamic wine tours. Contact Getaway Adventures if you’d rather ride a bike through the various vineyards .
When your stomach starts to moan you can pick from dozens of farm to table restaurants. A few of my favorites…..
Stop in the town of Guerneville for a dinner at Pinoli. Part of the eco boutique Applewood Inn, this complex is run off solar power and gets many of its ingredients from its own gardens and orchard. The menu changes seasonally depending on what they can source. Stay for a night at this great Inn and you will be treated to a breakfast that changes daily. Indulge in fresh fruit bellinis and relax in your oversized room with soaking tub & fire pit.
Located in Petaluma, much like its brother location it has all the fine goodies; pizza, piadine, antipasti & insalati all made with locally purveyed ingredients from the McEvoy Ranch. It also has a Latteria” or cheese bar and assortments are made fresh every hour. Try the roasted octpus tossed with parsons homegrown tomatoes, smoked paprika oil and chiles. For cheese try the homemade burratta with proscuitto di parma.
Classic French destination on the Sonoma Plaza has delicious seasonal plates with a menu that changes every Thursday. With options like smoked pork chops with roasted sweet potatoes and bacon jam or wild flounder meunieure. The backyard garden patio offers the best seats in the house. Asl for the extra special plates of the day.
Restaurant and hotel. White tablecloths drape the tables at this Michelin Star restaurant owned by siblings Catherine and Joe Bartolomei.
Though the food and drink is serious, there’s a warm, friendly mood, and playful dishes like the signature Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, bringing a petite roasted rack, loin cut into thick coins then wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon, and leg confit draped in velvety whole-grain mustard sauce alongside Yukon potato. Chef Steve Litke’s shops daily for his frequently-changing, luxurious, Cal-Mediterranean menu showcasing mostly local ingredients.
If you want the freshest meat possible then you will love dining at the Zazu Farm. Chef-Owner Duskie Estes and her husband & butcher John Stewart raise pigs for their Black Pig Meat co. Try some of the mouthwatering bacon, salami or pork chops crafted in the Zazu kitchen. Produce is also grown on raised garden beds around the restaurant from artichokes to zucchinis. Their other chef makes her own pastas, gelatin and pizza. What they can’t get at their own farm comes from local purveyors to hep make their eclectic Italian inspired kitchen. Try the fussili with crispy edged Pork belly.
6770 McKinley St. (at The Barlow), Sebastopol, 707-523-4814
Glen Ellen Star – Cal-Mediterranean inspired bistro with just 24 seats. The head chef Ari Weiswasser spent stints at French Laundry and Picholine in New York. They are known for their wood burning oven which serves up wonderfully roasted vegetables, pizzas as well as meats, poultry and fish.
Peter Lowell’s– Described as a purveyor of hyper local food this Sebastapool Cal- Italian restaurant gets almost all of their ingredients from purveyors right in the neighborhood.
Sonoma County has miles of hiking and adventure too. For a break from the vineyards you can walk among giant Redwood Trees at Armstrong Redwood State Park, rent a canoe and paddle down the Russian River or just take an afternoon nap at the beach. Sonoma County’s dedication to sustainability is a great step forward for tourism and farming. A trip through Sonoma will show you a new connection between nature, wine and cuisine.
Whatever you decide; a trip to Sonoma county will be an unforgettable experience for nature and wine lovers alike.
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