SAN FRANCISCO – With the world's largest sustainable winegrowing program, California wine country is the perfect place to celebrate Earth Day on April 22 this year and throughout the month.
Whether you're passionate about protecting the environment, dealing with a bout of spring fever after a long winter or a wine lover eager to experience a new wine region, California's wineries and hotels are making it easy to escape for an eco-friendly getaway. Wineries throughout the state are offering special events and programs to help visitors learn more about eco-responsible winegrowing and winemaking while enjoying California's beautiful wine country. Various hotels and travel companies are also offering travel deals to make attending these events even more enticing.
"Earth Day is a great time to think about how California's wine industry has raised the bar for producing wines that are responsible to the earth and communities," said Allison Jordan, executive director of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), an organization established by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers to help the state's growers and wineries become the world leader in sustainable winegrowing practices. "Consumers are interested in knowing where and how their wines are grown and made, often wanting to experience that knowledge first-hand. These Earth Day events and travel deals are a great incentive to getaway this April to California wine country, one of the most progressive advocates of environmentally conscious practices in the world."
To date, 1,566 vintners and growers – representing about 68 percent of the California's vineyard acreage and 63 percent of wine production – have assessed the sustainability of their operations. Many of these vintners and growers are hosting fun events this April, such as Wente Vineyards in the Livermore Valley wine region, a participant in CSWA's third-party certification program. Wente is offering a special wine and food tasting event, a tour of their organically farmed Chef Gardens and Audubon Sanctuary, as well as live music. Kunde Family Estate in Sonoma Valley is offering a special "Hike and Taste in the Vineyards" tour of their sustainably certified estate with docent Bill Myer. Grgich Hills Estate in Napa Valley is offering two-for-one biodynamic estate tours and tastings, while four wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains Organic Wine Trail will celebrate Earth Day 2011 by showcasing their CCOF certified organic vineyards with a tour and tasting of wines at Cooper Garrod, Silver Mountain, Vine Hill and Alfaro Family Vineyard. Check out these events and travel deals below. To learn more about California wines and regions, visit www.discovercaliforniawine.com.
Events and Programs
Artesa Vineyards & Winery (Napa Valley): To celebrate Earth Day, Artesa is offering a discounted tour and tasting on April 22. The tour, offered at $30 (33 percent off the regular price), includes a tour of the winery followed by an educational tour of the Pinot Noir Vineyard. Guide talks about their green practices and water conservation efforts and includes a tasting. Tour date is subject to change. For more details or to book call 707-254-2126. Use promotion code GREEN when booking.
Big House Winery (Livermore Valley): Big House Winery will be pouring its eco-friendly Octavin wines on Earth Day (April 22) at the Underdog Wine Bar in Livermore, CA.) Octavin packaging holds the equivalent of four bottles of wine and its patent pending design eliminates oxidation so every glass tastes fresh and flavorful for up to 6 weeks. By choosing Octavin packaging rather than four traditional glass bottles, consumers can reduce packaging waste by at least 85 percent and carbon emissions by 55 percent. http://underdogwinemerchants.com/underdog-wine-bar
Bota Box (Napa): In celebration of Earth Day, Bota Box brand, the leading eco-friendly 3L box wine, is partnering with The Arbor Day Foundation for Earth Day for the third consecutive year, donating a percentage of sales to help plant approximately 45,000 new trees by the end of 2011 (over the 3-year period). In addition, Bota Box will also donate an additional $1.00 to the Arbor Day Foundation for every new fan who joins its Facebook page during April. www.facebook.com/botabox
Concannon Vineyards (Livermore Valley): In honor of Earth Day, the winery is offering free daily tours of the beautiful Concannon grounds to learn about sustainable winegrowing and earth-friendly practices in their winery and vineyards plus other efforts to preserve energy through innovative technology. The historic Concannon Tasting Room will celebrate Mother Earth with a $5 tasting flight of Concannon Conservancy wines, sourced 100% from vineyards that have been placed in a conservation trust that will protect them forever from urban development. www.concannonvineyard.com.
Grgich Hills Estate (Napa Valley): This renowned biodynamic winery, owned by Mike Grgich, winning winemaker from the 1976 Judgment of Paris, is offering two-for-one biodynamic estate tours and tastings throughout April to celebrate Earth Day. Mention "Earth Month Two-For-One Tour" and two will tour and taste for the price of one (savings of $35!). Guests will follow the path of our grapes from our certified biodynamic vineyard to the bottle. The tour concludes with a guided tasting of our five current releases. Tours are available by appointment only at 11 am and 2 pm, daily. Space is limited on the tour and reservations are required. Please call 800-532-3057, or email email@example.com to check for availability. Tasting room is open daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. www.grgich.com
Handley Cellars (Anderson Valley): The winery will be celebrating with special complimentary tours on Earth Day (April 22) which will include walking through the organic vineyard and enjoying a cellar tasting of the 2010 wines. Reservations necessary as space is limited. The winery is also offering wine and food pairings April 22-24 at no charge and 25 percent off selected wines. Call 800-733-3151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Kunde Family Estate (Sonoma Valley): Enjoy a "Hike and Taste in the Vineyards: tour with Sonoma Valley Docent Bill Myer is on April 23 for Earth month at Kunde Family Estate. Join this fun, casual and up-close hike through the 1,850-acre volcanic and vertical estate is a great opportunity to see sustainable winegrowing practices at work while taking in some of wine country's most spectacular scenery. Bill's tours wind through the estate's distinct eco-systems, each one uniquely contributing to the process of sustainable winegrowing. Taste wines along the way in the very vineyards where the grapes are grown. This moderately strenuous hike lasts approximately four hours. Reservations required. Cost is $30. For more information, contact the Hospitality Department at 707-282-1534. www.kunde.com
Parducci Wine Cellars (Ukiah): In honor of Earth Day, Parducci is partnering with Real Goods, The Solar Living Institute to present a behind the scenes look April 23 at what it takes to practice a sustainable lifestyle. Parducci will conduct free in-depth tours exploring what it takes to be carbon neutral, utilize 100 percent green power, recycle 100 percent of the winery waste water and farm sustainably. Guests will be encouraged to sample various local food and wine pairings in the Parducci tasting room and visit their onsite wetlands. Just down the road, Real Goods and the Solar Living Institute will provide hands on alternative energy education along with tips on how to reduce your environmental footprint. For more information please visit. http://www.parducci.com/Visit-Us
Quivira Vineyards and Winery (Healdsburg): The biodynamic estate is celebrating Earth Day 2011 with complimentary walking estate tours and tastings on April 22 at 11 am and 1 pm. Venture into the garden to learn about their organic produce and contributions to the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Sonoma County. Meet their resident pigs, cows and chickens, and learn about their compost program. Stroll through the vineyards and cellar to learn about our unique winemaking and how their commitment to biodynamics helps them make outstanding wines. Tour winds down in the tasting room with delicious wine tasting. Each tour is limited to 20 guests so be sure to reserve your spot today! Contact Meghan Smith at 707-431-8354 x212 or email@example.com.
Rodney Strong Vineyards (Sonoma County): The estate's RSV Green Light celebrates Earth Day and Rodney Strong's green practices by encouraging people everywhere to replace one ordinary light bulb with an energy efficient CFL bulb in their home or office to help conserve energy and protect the environment. To generate excitement for the pledge drive, Rodney Strong will be providing complimentary CFL bulbs to anyone who takes the pledge between March 1 and April 30, 2011, while supplies last. Visit http://greenlight.rodneystrong.com/ for more information.
Saracina Vineyards (Mendocino County): Saracina Vineyards' Earth Day Dog Hike takes place Saturday, April 23. Join the hiking squad for a spring morning trek through the scenic 600-acre estate, a four-mile, moderately strenuous hike on gently rolling terrain. Part of the proceeds from this dog-friendly hike benefits the Humane Society. Saracina will provide a water bar and dog treats for four-legged companions. The hike will culminate at the Saracina Tasting Bar with a wine country box lunch and a wine tasting with Owner John Fetzer. The three-hour tour starts at 10 a.m. and costs $40 per person, $75 per couple. For more information contact Elliot Karpman, firstname.lastname@example.org 707.744.1671, ext. 280.
Sonoma Vineyard Adventures (Sonoma County): Celebrate Earth Day all month with free self-guided tours at Francis Ford Coppola Winery (707-857-1400) and Schug Carneros Estate Winery (707-939-9363), both participants in California's Sustainable Winegrowing Program. Call the wineries directly to ask about hours and the tour brochure. www.sonomavineyardadventures.com.
Tres Sabores Ranch Winery (Napa Valley): The winery is celebrating 25 years of integrated, organic farming with a special picnic in the vineyard where you can meet Julie Johnson the winemaker and organic grower. Wine and dine between the vines on the scenic western Rutherford benchland on April 30th from 11 am to 3 pm (Rain date May 14th). Cost is $35 per person and includes a tasting of three wines, charcuterie from a local vendor, breads, a Tres Sabores salad of garden and foraged cover crop greens and more. Reservations requested. To book, email Ashley@tressabores.com or call 707-967-8027.
Wente Vineyards (Livermore Valley): Earth Day at Wente Vineyards Event Center is celebrating Earth Day in April with a special tasting event on Sunday, April 17 from 1-5 pm. Walk the beautiful grounds of this eco-friendly winery and experience sample wines from Wente Vineyards, Tamas Estates and Murrieta's Well, as well as food tastings from the Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, The Grill, and Wente Vineyards Catering. Event costs $25 per person and also includes a tour at 1 pm and 3 pm of their organically farmed Chef Gardens, a tour of their award winning Audubon Sanctuary at The Course at Wente Vineyards at 2 pm and 4 pm, as well as live music. Tickets can be purchased at tasting rooms in advance or day of at Wente Vineyards tasting room. Contact Kelly Hansen at 925-456-2467 for more information. Also for the month of April bring in a bag of corks and receive a Re-Cork coupon for $25 off when you spend a minimum of $50 dollars on selected wines Vineyard Selection & Heritage Bloc). Offer valid at the Estate Winery Tasting Room and the Vineyard Tasting Room. www.wentevineyards.com.
Westbrook Wine Farm (Sierra Nevada Foothills): This charming winery, which practices sustainable farming and minimalist winemaking near the southern entrance of Yosemite, offers ongoing tours of their 35-acre wildlife habitat – a great tour for celebrating Earth Day. Tours are offered most days in April for free by appointment. Call 559-868-3499 or email@example.com.
Yorkville Cellars (Anderson Valley): Yorkville Cellars is celebrating 25 years of certified organic farming in Mendocino County on Earth Day Weekend (April 22-24) with an "Earth Day Celebration Organic Vineyards Tour & Tasting." Take a tour with proprietors Edward and Deborah through their organic vineyards and be a farmer for a day by helping release ladybugs and lacewings which naturally control pests. Also enjoy special wines from our inaugural vintage to be matched with tempting appetizers made from local, organic ingredients. $10 per person; our Hi-Roller Wine Club members complimentary. Please call for a reservation 707-894-9177.
CENTRAL COAST AND SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Ancient Peaks Winery (Paso Robles): Take a free tour of Ancient Peak Winery's sustainably farmed Margarita Vineyard and historic Rancho Santa Margarita on Earth Day. By appointment only. Call 805-365-7045. www.ancientpeaks.com
Claiborne & Churchill Vintners (San Luis Obispo's Edna Valley): Claiborne & Churchill Vintners are offering a Green Building Tour and Wine Tasting on April 17 to celebrate Earth Month. Tour six San Luis Obispo Green Buildings and learn how people on the Central Coast are incorporating green building into their homes and businesses – including Claiborne & Churchill's straw bale winery. Enjoy a different C&C wine at each stop paired with small tasty bites. The three-hour tour will begin at Claiborne & Churchill Winery at 1 pm. Tickets are $25 per person. Seating is limited. Please call 805-544-406 to purchase your tickets. www.claibornechurchill.com
Earth Day Eco-Ride through Organic Vineyards (Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Region): Tour the CCOF-certified organic vineyards of Cooper-Garrod and Silver Mountain on horseback every weekend in April plus Earth Day (April 22). The Eco-Ride tour starts from the Garrod Farms Riding Stables (Saratoga, CA) with a docent-led horseback ride through Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards and the oak chaparral forest of Fremont-Older Open Space, with spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay and the Santa Clara Valley. Following the ride, enjoy wine tasting and an al fresco lunch at Cooper-Garrod. Next, drive to Silver Mountain for wine tasting with a tour of the organic vineyard and Silver Mountain's "Triple Green" installation, which includes the largest solar array in the Santa Cruz Mountains. At 46kw, it meets all the winery energy requirements, shades the winery operations, and collects rainwater for reuse. Normally $99, the combined tours are $89 in April. The tour is available by reservation and limited to 15 each day. Reservations 408-867-8430 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Cooper-Garrod and Silver Mountain are part of the Organic Wine Trail, along with Vine Hill Winery and Alfaro Family Vineyards, which showcases the CCOF-certified organic vineyards of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery (Paso Robles): The winery is hosting an "Earth Day Food & Wine Festival" April 15-17, featuring unlimited samples of seasonally based dishes, tasting opportunities from over 150 Central Coast wines, live music, and access to farmers who nurture a healthy environment. Tickets for the grand tasting and weekend activities range from free to $100. Barrel tastings, cooking demonstrations, concerts, and farm tours complement the main festival and take place throughout weekend. Event proceeds support research, demonstration, and farm worker outreach programs of the Central Coast Vineyard Team, a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable winegrowing since 1994. For more information, visit www.earthdayfoodandwine.com or call 805-369-2288.
Santa Cruz Mountains Organic Wine Trail: To celebrate Earth Day 2011, four Santa Cruz Mountains wineries are showcasing their CCOF-certified organic vineyards on Saturday, April 23, 12 to 5 pm. Learn more about growing organic winegrapes and taste wines at: Cooper Garrod in Saratoga; Silver Mountain, along Summit Road between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz; Vine Hill in Santa Cruz; and Alfaro Family Vineyard in Corralitos. The cost for the self-guided tour is only the tasting fee/policy set by each winery, which totals $35 for all four wineries. Guided tours with local transportation providers are also available. Check tasting room hours to visit at other times. www.organicwinetrail.org.
Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association: In honor of Earth Day on April 22, the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association and its 34 member wineries will launch a partnership with ReCORK, a cork recycling program whose goal is to recycle natural corks and to highlight the crucial role cork forests play in curbing climate change. To kick off the program, the association is holding a "wine cork recycling" contest, in which the wineries will compete to create art, jewelry, and other playful items from used wine corks. The public can vote for their favorite submission during Temecula's upcoming World of Wine Barrel Tasting Weekend, on March 5 and 6; online voting will also take place at Facebook.com/TemeculaValleyWinegrowers.
Mount View Hotel & Spa (Napa Valley): Enjoy an eco-friendly weekend getaway at this long-time member of the Green Hotels Association. The "Relax, Renew & Cycle Package" starts at $399 per couple (Sunday through Thursday) and $429 per couple (Friday & Saturday) and includes: one night stay in a guestroom, breakfast in bed, self-guided Calistoga Bike Shop's Cool Wine Tour for Two (includes a stop at Dutch Henry organic winery and roadside assistance if needed) and 25-minute Couple's Hydrotherapy Mud Bath. To reserve call: 800-816-6877. Subject to availability and 48-hour advance notice. Must be 21 years of age. Rate based on Queen or Twin Guestroom, with upgraded room package rates available. Available through April 30, 2011.
Getaway Adventures (Napa & Sonoma County): This tour company, ranked #1 on Trip Advisor, is offering discounted eco-friendly biking tours of wine country throughout Earth Day/Month. The "Farm Fresh Bike Tour" tour includes visits to organic and sustainable wineries, local produce suppliers and a wine country picnic lunch. Guided by local experts this is suitable for all abilities. Cost is $134 and includes a free eco-friendly water bottle (normally $149). www.getawayadventures.com.
Best Western Fireside Inn (Cambria): This seaside hotel in the charming village of Cambria is offering rates starting at $129 throughout April 2011. The hotel is offering guests a "Kayaking Eco-Tour Package" which includes: kayaking in Morrow Bay, lunch and a bottle of local central coast sustainably farmed wine for just $89 per person (plus tax). Tour includes visits to an oyster farm, harbor seals, and a heron rookery as well as viewing many otters. After viewing the wildlife, beach your kayak on a secluded part of the outer sandpit for a fun dunes walk to a hidden Chumash shell midden. A short walk past the midden, you'll come to the Pacific Ocean with unparalleled views up and down miles of isolated beach. Call the hotel directly to book this package at 805-927-8661. Subject to restrictions and availability. wwwbestwesternfiresideinn.com
Portola Hotel & Spa (Monterey): This silver LEED® certified is the perfect spot to celebrate Earth Day all April, with rates starting as low as $179. For more information on this waterfront retreat, in the middle of Fisherman's Wharf fine dining and shopping, go to www.portolahotel.com. Pair your stay with an eco-friendly self-guided wine country tour by taking the Grapevine Express, an inexpensive and safe way to tour Carmel Valley wineries. Reduce fossil fuel use while visiting local wineries via this public transportation line that stops at 11 tasting rooms including Heller Estates, which uses organic grapes. Day pass costs $6. Call 831-899-2555 or visit www.mst.org. Sustainable foodies can also dine at Bernardus Lodge, where acclaimed chef Cal Stamenov uses local produce and seafood from Monterey County, including fresh herbs and vegetables his garden.
Sandcastle Inn (Pismo Beach): The "Half Day Bike Edna Valley Wine Region" package starts at $419 (plus tax) and includes a one night stay at the inn for two, plus a biking tour and gourmet picnic lunch and wine tasting in the Edna Valley Region with Central Coast Outdoors tour company. Rather than tour in cars, take the green route, pedaling through the compact and scenic Edna Valley just south of San Luis Obispo, a region known for excellent Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. Bicycles and pickup included. Subject to availability and restrictions. Call 805-772-2422 or visit www.sandcastleinn.com.
Santa Barbara Pedicab (Santa Barbara County): This company, as part of the Santa Barbara Car Free Project, is offering a discounted green transportation alternative to exploring wine country this April. For just $35 for two per hour (normally $40) and $8 per hour extra for one additional person, explore the Urban Wine Trail in a pedicab. Two-hour minimum for wine tours. Subject to availability and restrictions. Call 805- 910-PEDI or email email@example.com and mention Santa Barbara Car Free Project discount.
Santa Ynez Valley Marriott (Santa Barbara County): The first certified green hotel in Santa Barbara County, is celebrating Earth Day all month by pairing up with Sustainable Vine Wine Tours on a "Sustainable Wine Tour Escape Package." Starting at $420 (Sunday-Thursday) and $470 (Weekend), the package includes: one night of accommodations in a luxurious King or Double Queen Valley View Suite, breakfast for two in Starting Gate Restaurant, two monogrammed stem less wine glasses; a monogrammed wine opener, a stylish gift bag with the Marriott Logo, three complimentary wine passes and a map of the valley. One bottle of red or white local eco-friendly wine, a platter of cheese and crackers delivered to your suite. Package also includes the Sustainable Vine Wine Tour, which features several tastings, a gourmet organic picnic lunch and door-to-door service in a biodiesel vehicle. To book the package, mention the "Sustainable Wine Tour Escape Package" when calling 805-688-1000. www.marriott.com
Sustainable Vine Wine Tours (Santa Barbara County): This renowned tour company is celebrating Earth Day all month with discounts on tours of featured Santa Ynez Valley wineries producing award-winning wines while engaging in sustainable agriculture, such as Ampelos Cellars and Vineyard. The tour costs $105 midweek and $115 weekends per person (normally $125) and includes tastings at three locations, a gourmet organic picnic lunch in a scenic setting, door-to-door transportation from Santa Barbara or Santa Ynez Valley in a biodiesel vehicle and a knowledgeable tour guide to show you the inside scoop on the region. Mention "Earth Month" when booking. www.sustainablevine.com
About California's Sustainable Winegrowing Program
The Sustainable Winegrowing Program (SWP) Vintners and growers of the Sustainable Winegrowing Program envision sustaining the California wine community by promoting growing and winemaking practices that are environmentally sound, socially equitable and economically feasible. Some sustainable practices include using solar energy in vineyards and wineries, as well as green building design, recycling and composting. To control pests naturally and maintain soil fertility, growers use cover crops to attract beneficial insects, build soil and reduce erosion, while their sheep graze on weeds. They erect nesting boxes and perches to attract owls and hawks that prey on crop destroying rodents. They purchase eco-friendly products, build relations with neighbors, and provide a healthy and satisfying working environment. The SWP is unique in that, instead of promoting one standard, it aims to create a continuous cycle of improvement throughout the California wine community and beyond. It asks growers and vintners to begin by evaluating their sustainability performance and goals, develop an action plan and implement changes.
To take the Sustainable Winegrowing Program to the next level of leadership, transparency and credibility, the CSWA launched the first third-party certification program for vintners and growers in early 2010. Certification not only serves as a tool to speed up communication and adoption of sustainable practices, but it serves as a tool to communicate a winery or vineyard's certification status to an increasingly environmentally conscious consumer. Because performance differs depending on region, product, business size, and other issues, measuring continual improvement to one's own baseline performance is a highly efficient and effective way to advance the entire industry towards sustainability.
For additional information about the Sustainable Winegrowing Program, including videos and other educational tools, visit www.sustainablewinegrowing.org. The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance is a San Francisco-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization incorporated in 2003 created by Wine Institute (www.wineinstitute.org) and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (www.cawg.org) to promote the benefits of sustainable winegrowing practices, enlist industry commitment and assist in implementation of the Sustainable Winegrowing Program.
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