Sonoma County, Calif.
El Dorado Kitchen, one of the most impressive dining establishments in Wine Country, teamed with Benziger Winery to bring fresh produce straight to your plate with veggies that grew alongside the grapes.
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Nearby Napa is all about indulgence, but laid-back Sonoma has embraced an ecological ethos that will help you leave a lighter footprint. The best part? You can still indulge in everything that wine country has to offer, from elegant resorts to bucolic wineries to relaxing spas, all with a commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices.
As you kick back in your plush room at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa (fairmont.com/sonoma; rooms starting at $269), you might not believe you're on an eco adventure. Hotels like this are all about the details, and here that applies as much to the environment as it does to guest services, with everything from low-flow plumbing to 99 percent pesticide-free landscaping and, more romantically, green wedding packages.
Plus, its unique location gives it an extra advantage in eco luxury: it sits above a hot spring, which provides naturally heated water for the thermal pools and jetted tubs, making its Bathing Ritual treatment as relaxing in theory as in practice.
The on-site restaurant, Santé, wins awards for its cuisine, as well as high marks for sustainable practices. Using locally grown, organic foods, Chef Andrew Cain creates sophisticated seasonal menus that feature fresh local meat and seafood, herbs from his own garden, and produce plucked from the earth that very same day.
Another good lodging option -- if you want to conserve your money along with the earth's natural resources -- is Melitta Station Inn (melittastationinn.com; rooms starting at $135). This homey B&B is awash in English charm and hospitality, but it's also been modernized with forty solar panels, from which it gets an impressive 75 to 95 percent of its operating energy.
Visiting wine country without going to any wineries is like visiting Disney World and not riding any rides. But where to start? The family-owned Benziger Winery (benziger.com) takes organic to a whole new level, proving that reds and whites can also be green. They practice biodynamic farming, which means not just eliminating chemicals, but actively working to restore the land as they go. (It's also one of the few wineries where you'll see solar panels intermingling with the vines.)
To continue your biodynamic buzz, head to the elegant El Dorado Kitchen (eldoradosonoma.com) for lunch or dinner. The restaurant has partnered with Benziger to bring fresh produce straight to your plate, with veggies that grew up right alongside the grapes. Here's another eco twist: El Dorado recycles its used oil into biodiesel fuel.
Finally, if you really want to do your part for the world while spoiling yourself, head to the Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary (osmosis.com). A leader in the Green Spa Network, Osmosis has created a Zen-like atmosphere using reclaimed materials and sustainable practices. Osmosis is best known for its cedar enzyme bath, in which you're buried in a soft bed of milled cedar (sustainably harvested, of course) that's warm, steamy, and soothing.
There, now don't you feel better?
Save the World
To make your trip the eco-friendliest, consult EcoRing.org, where you'll find green businesses and eco adventures all over Sonoma County.