Eco-Friendly California Wineries

How many times have you swirled the remains of a California red in your wine glass, looked at it, and thought, “I should be doing more for sustainable travel?”  No? Just me? I love Napa Valley, Sonoma and California Wine Country in general, but keeping up to date about various environmental crises around the world leaves me with an uneasy feeling that there’s more to life than my favorite wine travel-style romantic escapes and girlfriend getaways. Well, cognitive dissonance begone, for I’ve learned about all the eco-friendly California wineries which routinely engage in sustainable practices! In case you also struggle with balancing a love for Napa Valley travel and the pull to leave a lighter carbon footprint while traveling, this is great news for you, too.

California winery's process water pond for water efficiency

California winery’s process water pond for water efficiency

Sustainable wine growing is a growing movement in California. Since vines can have 25+ years of grape production, healthy vineyard ecosystems are paramount for smart winemakers. Sustainability practices in Napa Valley and all other California wine growing regions include 1. soil conservation (soil health, surrounding habitat restoration and biodiversity), 2. pest management (use of animals and beneficial insects, and visual pest monitoring) 3. water conservation (fun fact: wine grapes use less water than most crops) and 4. energy efficiency (night harvesting, use of alternate energy). Eco-friendly California wineries have found that it’s gratifying, and not terribly difficult, to switch to more sustainable viticulture practices.

Vineyard sheep eating weeds at one of the eco-friendly California wineries

Vineyard sheep eating weeds at one of the eco-friendly California wineries

Nearly 80 wineries and around 310 vineyards throughout California have earned the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing certification launched by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, making them officially eco-friendly California wineries. Best practices in terms of conservation of California’s natural resources and environmental stewardship are important; this awareness is growing, as over 1,800 winemakers and vineyard owners have assessed their own operations at around 200 workshops as the first part of the process of helping their vineyards deserve the certification. That represents approximately 70% of California’s vineyard acreage and wine producers!

Cooper-Garrod Trailride at Cooper Garrod Vineyards, one of the eco-friendly California vineyards in the Santa Cruz region

Cooper-Garrod Trailride at Cooper Garrod Vineyards, in the Santa Cruz region

It’s not just the eco-friendly California wineries that are making this move towards blending sustainable “green” practices into winemaking: Downtown Napa is the perfect place for eco-tourism and the city’s walkability is a huge draw for eco-oriented travelers. For example, you can start at Angele for a meal – a delicious eco-conscious café featuring an ever-changing farm-to-table menu and sourcing ingredients daily from local vendors – and walk along the riverfront popping into the charming store fronts and you work your way down to Oxbow Public Market, an extremely popular marketplace for local restaurants, specialty shops and artisans. Most of the lodging properties in town have pedal bikes that you can grab to tour the vineyards or take in the scenery of the country roads. Visitors can also enjoy a day of kayaking or paddle boarding down the Napa River, mixing a little exercise into their eco-centric itinerary. In addition, there is a Walking Tour of Napa for visitors to enjoy that takes participants on a journey through the City of Napa’s history led by local tour guides.

Eco-friendly California wineries may use chickens in their vineyards for natural pest management

Chickens in vineyards for natural pest management; no insecticide here!

So, listen, if you’re planning to travel to California soon (or if you’re lucky enough to already live here), consider coming to a winery region in April. The Wine Institute has put together an activity-filled “Down to Earth Month” in April to celebrate California’s global leadership in sustainable winegrowing and winemaking.  This will be the fifth year of what is assuredly already an annual event, timed to coincide with Earth Day. Here are just some of the many events throughout California, in and near eco-friendly California wineries.

Green Trail of Dry Creek Valley
April 1 – 30, 2016
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Cost: Tasting fees at participating wineries apply
Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County
Enjoy a special, customized experience in Dry Creek Valley to experience the area’s certified organic and certified biodynamic wineries.
Rodney Strong Vineyards Earth Day Walk
April 11, 2016
Time: 3:00 pm
Cost: Free
Rodney Strong Vineyards, Sonoma County
Get down to Earth with wine-grower Ryan Decker and learn about Rodney Strong’s sustainable farming practices.
Mendocino’s Party for the Planet
April 17 – 26, 2016
Time: Varies
Cost: Varies
Various locations throughout Mendocino County
Celebrate the “green-ness” of Mendocino County at the 4th Annual Party for the Planet.
Barra of Mendocino Organic Wine and Olive Oil Tasting
April 18, 2016
Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Cost: Free
Barra of Mendocino, Redwood Valley
Join the family at BARRA of Mendocino in a celebration to honor Mother Earth and the rich bounty of Mendocino County.
Benziger sheep in vineyard at Benziger Family Wines, one of the eco-friendly California wineries

Sheep in vineyard at Benziger Family Wines, Sonoma

Earth Day Celebration

April 18, 2016
Time: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Cost: $25
Benziger Family Winery, Sonoma County
Enjoy an afternoon of wine
tasting and small bites.
Celebrate Earth Day in Green Valley
April 19, 2016
Time: 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Cost: $55-$250
Iron Horse Vineyards, Sonoma County
Eat, drink and be green at this outdoor food and wine festival, showcasing the delicious Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs of Green Valley.
Prelude to Passport Dry Creek Valley
April 24, 2016
Time: Varies
Cost: $75
Venues throughout Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County
Enjoy carefully selected wine and food pairings from Dry Creek Valley, featuring a number of sustainable, organic, or biodynamic producers.
Celebrate Earth Day in Downtown Napa
April 25, 2016
Time: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Cost: Free
Downtown Napa, Napa Valley
Celebrate Earth Day, the Napa Valley Vintner’s commitment to having all their eligible members certified Napa Green by 2020.
Earth Day at Sequoia Grove Winery
April 25, 2016
Time: 10:30 am – 4:00 pm.
Cost: $30 in advance, $35 at the door
Sequoia Grove Winery, Napa Valley
Sequoia Grove Winery’s Earth Day event will feature food and special artisan wine, as well as a performance by Lee Stetson, who is best known for his portrayals of America’s foremost naturalist and conservationist John Muir.
Eco-friendly California Wineries - Solar energy at Parducci Winery in Mendocino

Solar energy at Parducci Winery in Mendocino

Eco Ride in the Santa Cruz Mountains
April 4 – 25, 2016
Time: Saturdays at 10am – 11 am
Cost: $219 for two ($244 value)
Cooper Garrod Estate Vineyards & Silver Mountain Vineyards
Winery Eco-Ride package includes horseback rides, wine tastings, lunch with wine and vineyard tour. Call to confirm availability.
Vine To Wine Class at Captain Vineyards
April 12, 2016
Time: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Cost: $43
Captain Vineyards, Contra Costa County
Captain Vineyards, the first green winery in Contra Costa County, wants to help you enhance your dinner party enjoyment and impress your friends!
Celebrate Earth Day on the Organic Wine Trail of the Santa Cruz Mountains
April 18, 2016
Time: Varies
Cost:$5 – $10
Learn about growing organic winegrapes with self-guided or guided tours, enjoy the vineyards and views, picnic and taste wine.
Wineries: Silver Mountain Vineyard, Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards and Alfaro Family Vineyards.
Down To Earth In Livermore Valley
April 18 – 19, 2016
Time: Varies
Cost: Varies
Various locations throughout Livermore Valley
On April 18th and 19th, wineries across the region will highlight sustainable winegrowing and winemaking practices used to craft Livermore Valley’s award-winning wines.
Sustainable Vineyard Tour at McGrail Vineyards for Down to Earth
April 19, 2016
Time: 2:00 pm
Cost: $10
McGrail Vineyards and Winery, Livermore
Sip on a glass of Sauvignon Blanc during a tour of the vineyard and learn about McGrail’s sustainable vineyard practices.
Earth Day Food and Wine in Paso Robles - (Earth Day Food and Wine Festival)

Earth Day Food and Wine Festival in Paso Robles

Roll Out the Barrels 25th Anniversary
April – May 3, 2016
Time: Varies
Cost: Varies
Various locations throughout San Luis Obispo
Meet the people behind the wines and discover the history, diversity, and farm-to-fork lifestyle of the region.
Central Coast Earth Day Food & Wine Weekend
April 17 – 19, 2016
Time: Varies
Cost: Varies
Various locations throughout Paso Robles
The Earth Day Food & Wine Weekend celebrates the Paso Robles region’s sustainable food and wine culture.
Friday Wine & Cheese Pairing at Ancient Peaks
April 17, 2016
Time: 11:00 am – 5:30 pm
Cost: Free with Earth Day ticket
Ancient Peaks Winery, Paso Robles
Show your Earth Day ticket for a free wine and cheese pairing.
Central Coast Earth Day Food & Wine Main Event
April 18, 2016
Time: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Cost: $50-$115
Castoro Cellars,
San Luis Obispo County
The Earth Day Food and Wine Main event delivers a top quality food and wine experience paired with a casual, low-key atmosphere, all while celebrating the passionate people behind a sustainable food movement.
Wine 4 Paws
April 25 – 26, 2016
Time: Varies
Cost: Tasting fees apply
Various wineries throughout San Luis Obispo County
On this special weekend, Wine 4 Paws raises funds for the animals at Woods. Supporting the community is one of the principles of sustainable winegrowing, so enjoy the beautiful wine region while supporting a great cause.
Vineyard Walk and Sustainable Scavenger Hunt
April 26, 2016
Time: 10:30 am
Cost: $35
Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, Santa Barbara County
Join winemaker Karen Steinwachs on a stroll through their sustainably farmed, heritage vineyard all the while on the lookout for items on her “sustainable scavengers” list. Wine tasting and lunch.
Down to Earth, Vineyard tours and Sustainable Wine Carafe Day
April 25, 2016
Time: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Cost:$5 tasting fee
Andis Wines, Amador County
Enjoy vineyard tours throughout and learn about the sustainable viticulture practices used at Andis Wines.
 Whew! With all these fun activities and events to help celebrate the green side of Napa Valley and California Wine Country as a whole, it’s no wonder that it’s one of the more popular travel destinations in one of the most popular states for United States travel. There’s always something happening at a winery somewhere in this best state for wine growers, and if it’s eco-friendly California wineries that’s got you jonesing for a wine vacation, the state has got you covered.
 Eco-Friendly California Wineries in Napa Valley and Sonoma, Paso Robles, and other winegrowing regions of California Wine Country

8 Comments on "Eco-Friendly California Wineries"

  1. What a great list – Napa Valley sure is an awesome place!

  2. Fantastic list – I had never really thought about sustainable practices when it comes to wine making, though there is such a huge movement right now behind responsible travel, and voting with our wallets to promote green business practices, that this is great. Thanks for making me realize this can apply to a winery experience too!

  3. I’ve never been to Napa, but the idea of sustainability PLUS an adult scavenger hunt? I’d book the next flight!

  4. Great list. Thanks Jen. I’ve got some new places to check out!

  5. Love this, Jen! The only thing I miss about living in SF is the proximity to Napa/Sonoma 😉

  6. Twisted Roots Winery in Lodi is also an awesome eco-sustainable winery. The hubby and I like their Petite Syrah, but we LOVE their chardonnay!!! Plus, they donate a portion of their profits each year to the ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) Association. Theyre a pretty small, family-owned winery, and they’re really nice people with really tasty wine!!

  7. This is on my To Do List! Thanks for creating an awesome list.

  8. A nice (and responsible!) alternate view of touring wine country!

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