6 Sustainable Craft Drink Makers in Sonoma County
Sonoma County is already renowned for its wines, but it’s lately become a craft drink destination, as well. Many of the region’s 30 breweries, 15 distilleries, and 8 cideries take Sonoma County’s ethos of sustainability to heart, working to create a healthier planet, workforce, and community.
Creating small-batch beverages in a “farm-to-glass” spirit, Sonoma County craft drink producers practice sustainability by using ingredients grown on small, local farms; conserving energy and resources; supporting causes that matter deeply to them; or all of this and more.
Bring your thirst to these local craft drink makers, and let their mindfully made products sustain your love for Sonoma County.
Seismic Brewing Company, Sebastopol
Established in 2015 by three close friends—including Christopher Kendall of the Kendall-Jackson wine family—Seismic is committed to sustainable brewing on several fronts. In addition to actively seeking LEED Platinum Certification for their eco-friendly, energy efficient tap room at The Barlow in Sebastopol, where they pour earthquake-themed beers like Tremor California Light Lager and Megathrust IPA, the company supports organizations that share its own mission of preserving the environment.
In Sebastopol, Seismic’s 13,000-square-foot brewery was designed to maximize energy efficiency and resources, including a water treatment and reuse system that recovers up to 95 percent of the water they use onsite to use as cleaning and boiler feed. They’ve also successfully tried brewing beer with recycled water, and are now lobbying California officials to allow this innovative practice in production.
Fogbelt Brewing Company, Santa Rosa
Owned by friends Paul Hawley and Remy Martin, both from Sonoma County winemaking families, this combination craft brewery and gastropub in Santa Rosa is locally renowned for its barrel aging and sour beer program. Fogbelt is also distinguished by its efforts to bring hops—once the area’s crop of choice—back to Sonoma County agriculture.
Paul experiments with growing hops on a quarter-acre in Healdsburg, and has found success with several varieties, including a local heritage hop called California; in 2016, he also helped to launch the NorCal Hop Growers Alliance to support and promote small-scale hop farming in the North Bay.
Fogbelt often uses a blend of different locally grown hops for its beers, including its flagship IPAs—Stardusk, Del Norte, and Screaming Giant—each of which is named for a prominent coastal redwood tree only found in the North Coast’s “fog belt.”
Spirit Works Distillery, Sebastopol
Named 2020 Distillery of the Year by the American Distilling Institute, Sebastopol-based Spirit Works is the love-labor of husband-and-wife team Timo and Ashby Marshall, who share two key passions—working with their hands and taking good care of the environment. With a grain-to-glass philosophy, they source and process their own organic grains (rather than buying already distilled spirits), using hard red winter wheat from the Sacramento Valley for their vodka, gin, sloe gin, and wheat whiskey, and locally grown organic corn and rye for their bourbon and rye whiskey.
Building community and creating opportunity is also central to their business. When they were just starting out, they created a community bottling project that allowed fans of their spirits to learn how to bottle, while simultaneously bottling the distillery’s actual production. And though they’ve since expanded, their staff remains small, and is mostly female—which is still unusual in this industry.
Griffo Distillery, Petaluma
Petaluma-based husband and wife Michael and Jenny Griffo source ingredients within 15 miles of their distillery, using organically grown grains for their small-batch gin, whiskey and vodka, and as little water as possible during fermentation and distillation. Once these grains are spent, the Griffos send them to local pig farmers to be used as feed, and are rewarded with fresh bacon—a true agricultural circle of life.
In addition to their popular spirits, Griffo produces several liqueurs, syrups, and cocktail kits, as well as zingy canned cocktails like the gin-based Tomales Collins (named for the nearby Tomales Bay). 10 percent of these cans’ sales goes to The Sonoma Land Trust, which preserves Sonoma County open space for wildlife and humans, both present and future.
Golden State Cider, Sebastopol
Devoto Orchards in Sebastopol had long been selling its dry-farmed heirloom apples at area farmers markets when in 2012, Julie Devoto and Hunter Wade began using them to make minimal-intervention hard ciders from 100 percent fresh-pressed juice. With a busy tap room at The Barlow and demand for their ciders ever on the rise, they now source additional apples from small orchards outside the county, and aim to be California’s largest heirloom apple purchaser.
In production, Golden State uses a centrifuge that enables them to collect apple by-products that they then donate to the city of Sebastopol to use as power-generating material. They also package their ciders—including the popular Brut, Ginger Grass, and Mighty Dry—in aluminum cans rather than glass bottles in order to provide a smaller carbon footprint and require less cardboard during storing and shipping. Even their can holders are 100% recyclable, made from recycled milk jugs.
Based in a Windsor industrial park, Tilted Shed is a true mom-and-pop operation, founded by the husband-and-wife team of Scott Heath and Ellen Cavalli. Making cider from Sonoma County-grown organic heirloom and cider apples, they source from a handful of local orchards, including their own Sebastopol farm, where they use only organic inputs to grow more than 100 varieties of apples and pears.
Tilted Shed's production is focused on protecting and conserving water. These ciders are made with fresh-pressed juice rathe than apple juice concentrate, so no water is used during the fermentation process. All their apples are washed with a closed recirculating system, so the water gets filtered and reused for cleaning tanks and other equipment without the use of toxic or caustic chemicals. The cidery’s water is then reclaimed and recycled by the Town of Windsor to irrigate local parks and recreation fields.
Heath and Cavalli also support social justice and area farmers, supporting causes like that of Kiley Clark, a Black, queer, and female Sonoma County farmer working to improve access and equity for BIPOC farmers by building a Black-led regenerative farm, and the North Bay Organizing Project, which is dedicated to racial, environmental, and social justice in Sonoma County. Donations come from sales proceeds of Tilted Shed’s low-intervention, wild-fermented ciders, such as the lightly sparkling Graviva and the savory, herbal Lost Orchard.
To discover more craft drink makers in Sonoma County, see the Sonoma County Craft Beverage Map and our Breweries, Distilleries, and Cider House Trip Ideas. Cheers!