Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Eco Travel Guide to Napa Valley: Get Lost in Wine Country

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From eco-friendly resorts to delectable plant-based cuisine, head to California’s Wine Country for an unforgettable getaway.

You don’t have to travel to the likes of Champagne, France to experience a luxurious vacation. From Sonoma to Napa Valley, northern California’s wine country has everything you need for an unforgettable getaway — an array of Michelin-star restaurants, countless boutique hotels, and, of course, acres upon acres of luscious vineyards.

California’s wine country

Arguably as iconic as California’s innate surf culture or colossal redwood trees, the bucolic region boasts more than 4,000 wineries. In total, the state is responsible for producing about 85 percent of all U.S. wines, according to The National Association of American Wineries. 

napa valley grapes
Courtesy Eva Fan | Unsplash

But beyond its sweeping vineyards and decadent cuisine, Wine Country is rich with culture, historical architecture, and breathtaking views of mountain ranges. 

And since viticulture isn’t without an environmental footprint—from its production to packaging and transportation—the area has made sustainability a major priority. In 1968, Napa Valley became the nation’s first Agricultural Preserve to preserve the land and prevent over-development.

Got a bad case of wanderlust? For the eco traveler, we’ve rounded up some of the best sustainable hotels, plant-based restaurants, and eco-friendly excursions for a relaxing trip to the countryside that won’t come at the expense of the planet.

Where to stay

Carneros Resort and Spa pool view.

Carneros Resort and Spa

Nestled in Napa, this idyllic resort offers views of the rolling countryside and vineyards. It has three restaurants on-site, a luxury spa, and private cottages fitted with their own gardens. To reduce the impact that guests have on the environment, the resort offers complimentary bicycles. The restaurants also feature locally-grown produce for a true farm-to-table dining experience.

Bardessono tub.

Bardessono Hotel and Spa

For a quintessential Napa experience, book a stay at the Bardessono — which carries extensive green initiatives, from its guest garden to its water conservation fixtures, and recycling and composting program. Rest easy in the private haven of a villa or luxurious suite. Indulge in a dinner prepared by produce and herbs from the on-site organic culinary garden. Soak in a botanical hot bath or get a salt stone massage courtesy of the spa. 

Deluxe room with view at Auberge du Soleil.

Auberge du Soleil

Inspired by the south of France, immerse yourself in nature at this iconic property. From private maisons to deluxe suites, the accommodations are a perfect blend of luxury and comfort. Best of all, the establishment is true to its commitment of “living in harmony with the environment.” The resort opts for renewed sources of energy and partnered with the nonprofit Napa Valley Vine Trail to develop a 47-mile stretch of scenic biking and walking trail.

Where to eat

Salad and wine at La Toque.

La Toque 

Book your table in advance at this Michelin-starred restaurant that features a vegetable tasting and wine pairing menu. You’ll enjoy seasonal, fresh eats from local farms and wineries as well as foraged morel mushrooms.

Cozy Plum spread of meals in bowls.

Cozy Plum Bistro

Located in Santa Rosa, this plant-based eatery has all the best comfort food fixings to please any grumbling belly. Veggie-filled bowls, juicy, meat-free burgers, salads, tacos, and more. Trust us, you’ll want to go back for seconds.

Array of meals at Little Saint.

Little Saint

Nestled in Healdsburg in the heart of Sonoma Wine Country, this restaurant features an entirely plant-based menu that puts local farms first. The eatery’s menus change seasonally depending on what product can be sourced locally, but you can expect to dine on the likes of fresh, raw veggies, dips like hummus and cashew spread, and stuffed chard greens.

What to do

vineyard
Photo courtesy Sven Wilhelm

Visit a sustainable winery

The obvious can’t be overstated. You can’t truly experience Wine Country without partaking in a wine tour. For a sustainable, vegan option, check out La Belle Vie Tours. The locally owned and operated wine company takes guests on tours of a number of Green-Certified wineries in Napa and Sonoma Valley.

For a special outing featuring wine and adorable animals, opt for the Charlie’s Acres Farm Sanctuary & Vegan Wine Tour, a six-hour tour of historic downtown Sonoma Valley and a local farm sanctuary that’s home to more than 140 rescued farm animals.

Photo curtesy Ryan DeWerff

Explore Sonoma and Napa Valley

Featuring mountains, forest landscapes, and a warm Mediterranean climate, Sonoma and Napa Valley have more to offer than just vineyards. The former’s regional park system includes more than 50 parks, which include nearly 60,000 acres of open spaces and hiking trails.

You can also visit Sonoma Botanical Garden for a relaxing day spent in nature. Rent a boat or kayak for a day spent on the waters of Lake Berryessa, the largest lake in Napa Valley. 

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