6 Easy Ways to Travel Kindly in Sonoma County
This article comes from Jessica Blotter, CEO & Co-Founder of Kind Traveler, the first Give + Get hotel booking and media platform that empowers travelers to positively impact the communities they visit.
It’s easy to be a sustainable traveler when you visit Sonoma County and make positive choices that fill your own heart up with joy – while also advancing the wellbeing of others and the planet, too.
Merely by consciously choosing to visit Sonoma County, your travel dollars support a destination that deeply cares about its community and invests in protecting its environmental wellbeing. This commitment was most proudly reflected when Sonoma County Tourism announced its positioning from a DMO (destination marketing organization) to a DSO (destination stewardship organization) to affirm its commitment to protect Sonoma County's rich agricultural and natural landscape for generations to come.
As the nation’s first 100% sustainable wine region, Sonoma County has been a long leader in the way of eco-consciousness, environmental protection, and sustainability. You needn't look any further than people like world-famous author Jack London, a pioneer of organic farming, who made his home in Sonoma Valley, and Luther Burbank, a famed horticulturist and Sonoma County resident.
With Earth Day approaching, we’ve rounded up six ways you can make a positive impact and help restore the earth on your next visit to Sonoma County.
It's never been easier to have an eco-friendly getaway to Sonoma County, from supporting winemakers invested deeply in wildlife conservation, to hotels empowering you to support land and river conservation, to nature-driven experiences that will reawaken your heart to the beauty of the natural world.
Nurture yourself, and the environment, while paddling down the Russian River
In order to be thoughtful stewards of the environment, we must continually fill up our hearts with the serenity, peace, and magic that can only be found by immersing oneself in the natural world. A relaxing canoe trip down the Russian River with locally owned Getaway Adventures will wind you through the calm waters that make Sonoma County a place like no other. Pass by tranquil beaches to the sound of trickling soft water and the occasional heron, and to the sights of California redwoods abundantly casting their bold reflection onto the water.
Elsewhere, WaterTreks is a Jenner-based outdoor outfitter that offers immersive kayaking experiences that'll deliver sights like harbor seals, whales, and waterfalls. What's more, their experiences help support and fund education, research, and conservation.
Support Sonoma County wildlife conservation efforts while wine tasting at Medlock Ames
Did you know that beyond organic farming, protecting wildlife habitats is critical to creating a healthy vineyard? Medlock Ames has committed 80 percent of its 338-acre property in the Northern California wildlands to prioritize maximum ecological health of the native oak woodlands, grasslands or chapparal communities. By doing so, they’ve created habitat for wildlife so there is less pressure on the areas they wish to farm. The remaining 20 percent is in organic agricultural productions of grapes, olives, and vegetables.
Join Medlock Ames in its Alexander Valley Tasting Room in Healdsburg to taste its sustainably farmed and handcrafted wines. Tasting room hours are 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m Friday through Monday; reservations required.
Positively impact the Sonoma County community when you book your stay with Kind Traveler
It’s possible to support land conservation efforts with Sonoma Land Trust, invest in the health of the Russian River with Russian Riverkeeper, and help families facing hunger with Redwood Empire Food Bank when you book Sonoma County Kind Hotels on Kind Traveler. As the first socially conscious Give + Get hotel booking and media platform, travelers unlock exclusive rates and perks from curated Sonoma County hotels when they give a $10 nightly donation to a vetted charity, or a charity of choice. 100% of donations go to charity.A $10 donation can go a long way. For example, when you give to the Russian Riverkeeper, it will help clean 250 lbs. of trash out of the Russian River, helping to preserve the river for future generations; provide 40 nutritious meals to family in need with Redwood Empire Food Bank; or help maintain one mile of hiking trail with Sonoma Land Trust in supporting land conservation efforts.
Enjoy a sustainable picnic inspired by local makers and artisans at Oliver's Market
With approximately 20,000 acres of protected land along the Sonoma Coast, the Sonoma Coast State Park makes for a heavenly place to picnic and absorb the very best of the natural world. Grab a blanket and stop by Oliver’s Market (4 locations in Sonoma County in Cotati, Montecito, Windsor, and Stony Point), the only grocery market where "local" means “Sonoma County.” As the first grocer in Sonoma County to become certified as a green business, Oliver's Market lowers its carbon footprint by supporting local farmers and artisans.
Sonoma County picnic must-haves include Farm Chocolate made by a Sonoma County-based chef and artist, a bottle of Flowers’ Chardonnay organically grown on the Sonoma Coast, a Miyoko’s Organic Cashew Milk Artisan Cheese Wheel, and a French Baguette from Full Circle Bakery made from third-generation bread makers.
Help plant trees while treating yourself to Redwood Empire Whiskey
As it turns out, you don’t have to go to Scotland to experience world-class whiskey. Beyond the best of farm-to-table dining and sustainable wineries and vineyards, Sonoma County's cool climate makes for ideal whiskey making. As one of the only places in the world that’s also home to the world’s tallest redwood trees, it’s no marvel this unique environment inspires the wonder of whiskey and whiskey making.
Inspired by the great redwoods, Redwood Empire Whiskey offers a range of whiskeys that can be found at local grocers such as Oliver’s Market. For every bottle sold, a tree is planted thanks to a partnership with Trees For The Future (225,415 trees planted to date). Grab a bottle of Emerald Giant Rye Whiskey and prepare for a cozy night snuggled up alongside your in-room fireplace.
Discover Sonoma County's innovative vegan wine and food scene
Sonoma County is home to so many great wineries, restaurants and activities for vegan travelers, as evidenced in this Sonoma Valley itinerary. What's more, many Sonoma County makers are helping advance climate activism and meet the demands that have been put on the environment. Northern California knows all too well the impacts of a changing climate.
That's where Wine Country 2.0 comes in, founded by Sonoma-based Miyoko’s (world changing cheese and butter made from plant milk). Wine Country 2.0 was launched as a resource to discover vegan wine, culinary indulgences, and experiences. The mission is to unleash the ‘New World’ spirit of California’s pioneering wine region to ‘meet the demands of the changing climate and the changing tastes and expectations of today’s conscious visitors and guests.’
Charter members include Sonoma-based the girl & the fig (vegan menu is upon request when dining here), Three Sticks (ask about its partnership with Miyoko’s for a vegan wine & cheese pairing), Cline Family Cellars (100% vegan-friendly wine), La Belle Vie Tours (vegan wine tours), Anaba Wines, Charlie’s Acres (a farm animal sanctuary you can visit) and more, all offering vegan wine, vegan food, and/or animal-loving experiences.
Sonoma County Tourism tip: Consider one or more of the volunteer tourism opportunities at Sonoma County organizations such as Farm to Pantry (gleaning excess produce from farms and orchards and redistributing it to people in need); Russian Riverkeeper (picking up trash and removing invasive species from the Russian River watershed); Sonoma County Regional Parks (park cleanup, landscaping, and trail-tending); Petaluma Bounty (learning how to farm sustainably by helping out on a sustainably-run farm); and Redwood Empire Food Bank (processing and distributing food donations at various locations around the county).
The experiences and opportunities shared here will lessen travelers' impact on the environment, all while giving back to the people, land, and businesses of Sonoma County!
Jessica Blotter is CEO & Co-Founder of Kind Traveler, a speaker and journalist on sustainable tourism, a frequent guest lecturer at UCLAx, and serves on the Board of Directors for CREST (Center for Responsible Travel) in Washington, D.C. After witnessing extreme poverty on a vacation to Belize, Blotter co-founded Kind Traveler as the first Give + Get hotel booking and media platform that empowers travelers to positively impact the communities they visit. Blotter’s efforts on behalf of Kind Traveler have been cited in 500+ news articles and also earned a Travel + Leisure 2020 Global Vision Award.