Napa and Sonoma wineries are exploring myriad ways to go green -- some by adapting organic farming and productions standards, some by going biodynamic and others by employing sustainable methods that combine the first two along with conventional farming in whatever mix they believe best balances their interests as business people and land owners who want to see their vineyards endure. More than 100 wineries and 800 vineyards have taken a sustainability self-survey provided by the California Sustainable Winegrowers Alliance. These include well-known winemakers such as Beringer Vineyards, Robert Mondavi Winery ( STZ), Wente Family Estates and the Gallo wineries. For a behind-the-scenes look at how sustainable grape-growing and winemaking work -- with some beautiful Sonoma scenery thrown in for good measure -- head to the Kunde Estate Winery in Kenwood (Sonoma). Several times a year, chairman Jeff Kunde dons hiking boots and leads eco-tours that cover more than 1,800 hilly acres of vines, cows and lessons in grape growing that will help you to newly appreciate what you sip in the region's tasting rooms.
Hertz ( HTZ) received some of the 10 hydrogen-powered Toyota ( TM) Priuses that Quantum Technologies shipped to Iceland as part of that nation's ongoing experimentation with alternative fuels for transportation. You can rent one of these gasoline-free autos and cruise around Reykjavik as part of a vacation that would be almost entirely fossil-fuel-free. Check out this Reuters video for a sneak preview. To experience the best of Iceland's love affair with alternative energies, head to the Blue Lagoon, an other-worldly outdoor spa heated with water from geothermal wells. Experience Sustainable Tourism Done Right
A growing number of developing countries have areas -- such as Peru's Inca Trail, Ecuador's Galapagos region, Vietnam's Halong Bay and Kenya's safari parks -- that rely on tourism for jobs and foreign currency. And they rely on sustainability to keep the tourists coming. Sometimes whole countries, including Dominica in the Caribbean and Bhutan and Laos in Asia, rely on this eco-friendly brand of tourism. But protecting these places is sometimes easier said than done. Well-intentioned governments have a hard time keeping a cap on the number of visitors they allow when faced with pressure from citizens who want their shot at tourist-related money and jobs. Sometimes the governments don't commit the way they should. Sometimes there are issues, such as illegal fishing off of Ecuador, that are hard to control. Costa Rica is one place that is recognized over and over again for getting the balance right. The government has implemented its own multilevel Certificate in Sustainable Tourism program that rates hotels, travel agents and other service providers on a scale of 1 to 5 for their commitment to sustainability. The CST's Web site has a database of certified hotels.
The not-for-profit offers everything from wholesome family weekend hiking and camping in the lower 48 to Alaska rafting and African safaris for the more adventurous to service-based trips (spend a few days repairing trails while you enjoy the views they proffer) in various places. They're affordable, and the club claims that all of its trips invoke the spirit of its founder, John Muir, who said: "If people in general could be got into the woods, even for once, to hear the trees speak for themselves, all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish." Happy eco-trails to you.