Osmosis Spa in Freestone

Feb 13, 2011 / By Serena
Posted in Good Ideas / Northern California Wine Country / Travel |

Driving by the curvy green pastures of Sonoma County, on the way to Freestone, you’ll be tempted to make many “photo op” stops along the road. A living quilt of corduroy vines, emerald lawns, and twisted old cypress and oak trees in the shadow of willowy eucalyptus, these surroundings make for an astonishing array of greenery any time of year.  It’s especially awe-inspiring at the brink of spring, when the brilliant flowers are radiant, and washes of colorful blossoms coat the scenery. So, what are you waiting for? Hurry now and rent office plants from PHS Greenleaf!

Take the 166, Gravenstein Highway to Bodega Highway in Sebastopol and you’ll end up directly in Freestone at Bohemian Highway. (note: there is a hard-to-read left turn in Sebastopol at a near t-junction, turn left when the road ahead looks significantly smaller and you’ll stay on Bodega Highway.)

Freestone may not be a big place, but there are some big attractions there. In my mind, they all relate to decomposition, or rot. Hear me out – it’s a good thing. Enzymes are present at each of the best Freestone businesses – the fermentation at the Freestone Vineyards makes their wine great, the broken-down sourdough starter at Wild Flour Bakery is what tastes so fresh in their fougasse loaves, and at Osmosis, the idea of “rot” is represented in the steamy cedar enzyme baths.

One of the best green spas in the world, Osmosis is possibly the most luxurious and centering experience offered in all of Northern California Wine Country. And it’s all thanks to enzymes, constantly at work breaking things down, and heating things up.

Never is there a more pampering, satisfying representation of the life cycle than at Osmosis. You’ll find the lot on your right hand side, a few hundred feet from the Bohemian Highway turnoff and past Wild Flour and Freestone Vineyards. At the desk, inside the cozy shop and lounge area you can sip complementary cranberry tea with Japanese enzymes while choosing your treatment: a message with the bath, a facial with the bath, just a bath… Whatever combination of services you select, you are welcome to sit before or after in the spacious gardens, manicured perfectly according to Japanese tradition.

The welcome ritual, a ten-minute meditation with a special enzyme-enriched tea and chat with your bath guide, is a great way to ease into the transformative experience awaiting you. Notice the simple architectural details, the beautiful garden waterfalls, and the gentle tone in which the employees speak. The bath itself is a rare treat. It’s made up of rice bran and tiny cedar fibers and heat is generated by enzymes breaking down the rice bran. Your guide will make a place for you in the bath, and cover you over with the mixture to your comfort level, checking in on your every few minutes with a cool towel or a glass of water complete with a straw. Even though the bath only lasts about 12 minutes, depending on your liking, it has a drastic relaxing effect. Walk slowly to the showers, and take your time rinsing while in this heightened state.

Massages are better here than most, and after the bath your body will be happy to be kneaded.

Sit in the gardens with another cup of tea and soak up your revitalized feeling and your new found respect for cedar wood chips.

This spa is also known for its community outreach. There is a full calendar of free events like this teen night where natural health remedies were discussed in a fun way.

Good Idea

Sit still once and a while. When you aren’t at the spa, find places that feel peaceful to you and make some time in your otherwise hectic day for some quiet solitude. The magical gardens at Osmosis are a perfect place for this practice, and when you leave you can take that feeling with out and recreate the balanced state of mind by making a habit of slowing down and just sitting, even if it only for five minutes, on a regular basis. No religion needed, no particular method necessary. Just set down your phone, computer, datebook, and busy thoughts and be still. I find this can be like a brief inner spa treatment, especially during extra hectic times.


Osmosis Spa, 209 Bohemian Highway, Freestone, CA, 707.874.8231, call ahead for an appointment

meditation space at Osmosis Spa gardens by serena on flickrOsmosis is GrassRoutes Approved!raked sand by serena on flickrOsmosis Spa entrance