Busy with emails, texts, online meetings and social media, you might spend more time indoors in front of the glow of a screen than out in fresh air and warm sunlight, so it’s easy to feel disconnected from the natural world. Enter “forest bathing,” a practice that has gained popularity as a way to refocus, recharge and feel more peaceful by spending time in nature. What does forest bathing have to do with wine? More than you might imagine.
The Art of Forest Bathing
First, a bit of background. Forest bathing, known as “shinrin-yoku” in Japan, involves immersing yourself in the atmosphere of the forest. It’s not about racking up the miles or intense physical activity – rather, it’s an intentional engagement of the senses and allowing yourself to feel awe in the outdoors. Rooted in Shinto and Buddhist practices, forest bathing as a medical practice was introduced in Japan in the early 1980s as a way of counteracting tension and increasing well-being. There’s scientific evidence to support the concept, too. Forest bathing offers benefits for both mental and physical health. Spending time outdoors has been linked to reduced stress, lower blood pressure, and a positive impact on mood.
The soft rustle of leaves. The smell damp rocks. Shifting beams of light. Rough bark. These are the companions of your forest bathing journey. The practice encourages you to slow down and truly absorb the sights, sounds, textures and scents of the nature, permitting you to detach from the daily routine and feel connected to the earth.
Respecting that connection to nature is core to our philosophy at Raeburn Winery. From an early age, our founder, Derek Benham, was raised to appreciate and value the natural world. His mother, Phyllis, was an enthusiastic naturalist and avid birdwatcher, and she instilled in her son a strong sense of responsibility for protecting natural habitats. Wine is also an agricultural product, so the quality of our grapes – and each glass of wine – is inherently linked to the health of the soil, air and water in a thriving ecosystem. Caring for the land for the long-term has benefits for all living things.
Our winemaking practices reflect Raeburn’s commitment to conservation. We are thoughtful about how we use our natural resources and are always seeking new ways to maximize water and energy efficiency. For example, we have a canopy over the winery that diverts rainwater into the nearby Atascadero Creek. Our Tesla Powerpack batteries allow us to lower our draw on the power grid during peak hours. And, of course, we partner with farmers who use low-impact methods in their vineyards. We are very mindful of our impact on world around us.
Mindfulness as Your Guide
Forest bathing is an exercise in mindfulness. Go slowly. Breathe in. Notice the temperature, the quality of the light and any calls of birds. Try to be fully present in the moment using all five senses. This thoughtful connection to the environment fosters a sense of grounding and appreciation for the world around us.
Just as the forest provides a serene backdrop for deep reflection, enjoying wine can also be a fully sensory experience. Enhance your tasting experience by bringing your attention to each detail of the wine. What does it look like in the glass? Take note of the color of the wine. Swirl the wine and inhale the aroma – are you reminded of particular fruits, flowers or spices? Then enjoy a sip. Think about not only the flavor of the wine, but also the sensation. With each sip, let your senses merge with the environment, cultivating a deeper sense of connection to both the nature around you and the wine in your glass.
Are you ready to try forest bathing yourself? Luckily, it doesn’t require special equipment, trips to far-flung destinations, or even, really, a forest. While it’s ideal to seek out a serene area with a variety of greenery, trees and plants, any natural space will work, from a city park to creek-side trail. Or, if you’re in wine country, a vineyard.
As you wander, take moments to pause, listen and observe. Forest bathing is a powerful practice that allows us to escape the demands of modern life and reconnect with the energy of nature. Introducing wine’s pleasures into this experience can elevate our sensory journey, creating a profound connection to the environment and ourselves. So, the next time you feel the need to unwind and rejuvenate, consider embarking on a forest bathing adventure, accompanied by the perfect glass of wine. Your mind, body, and palate will thank you for it.
- “Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature by M. Amos Clifford” (“What Is Forest Bathing? A Guide to the Peaceful Practice”)
- “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams” (“The Nature Fix — Florence Williams”)
- Forest Bathing, by Dr. Qing Li