California’s Napa Valley isn’t just a place to fixate on the wine – although that is usually the fertile region’s main draw – for the area is also packed with quaint, atmospheric towns as well. Many of the buildings in Downtown Napa date back to the 19th century. There’s also a pleasant riverfront promenade, as well as the famed Napa Valley Vine Trail, which runs alongside a Wine Train that connects some of the region’s best wineries. This experience is often a must on most people’s lists, as is one of the many wine tour packages available.
There’s a wide variety of wine country tours that either begin in Napa Valley itself or depart from San Francisco to the south. There’s a decent range of wine experiences too, including cheap tours that are great for a broad overview of the area, trips that include other regional sights like the impressive redwoods, and private wine tours that take in some of the more exclusive estates. Here are five of the best, taking into account factors like the duration, value for money, and previous guest reviews.
From $119/ per person
For anybody who’s new to the Napa Valley and its wines, this full-day tour from San Francisco is a favourite. Throwing a little local history, lunch at a pleasant local institution and three winery visits into the mix, it’s quite a comprehensive introduction. Wine tours include the chance to learn all about the wine-making process from the vine to the bottle, and of course, the fee includes wine tastings as well. That’s the whole point, after all. As with all the tours on this list, under-21s will not be allowed to partake of the wine.
From $105/ per person
If you were to roll up at Castello di Amorosa after one-too-many wine tastings (or should we say indulgencies?), you might find yourself a little confused. That’s because the vine-flanked medieval-style castle looks as though it has been plucked right out of Tuscany. It’s probably for the best then that this is included earlier in the tour, which lasts approximately eight hours. Another trip to Robert Mondavi winery, one of the leading, and indeed founding names in Napa Valley wines, is also included in this three-winery tour.
FROM $36/per person
One of the more economical, and much healthier, ways to experience the Napa Valley and Sonoma region is by bicycle. With the bikes, all necessary equipment and maps provided, you’ll be set to explore at your own pace on two wheels. Suggestions are also provided for routes to suit the preferences of each person or group, with General Vallejo’s home and Mission San Francisco Solan just a couple of easily accessible sights in addition to the wineries. Bike pick-up is in Sonoma and winery tasting fees are not included in this tour’s cost.
From $134/ per person
The land north of San Francisco Bay is teeming with natural and human-made wonders. The natural come in all shapes and sizes, including the lofty thousand-year-old redwood trees, which are some of the tallest in the world. After connecting with nature in the morning, turn your attention to the wonders concocted by human hands, still using the bounty of nature, at a series of Napa Valley wineries. Finally, take a tipsy photo by the Golden Gate Bridge as you return to San Francisco. Tasting fees are included.
From $460/ per person
Starting out in San Francisco, this unique winery experience involves transportation to Napa Valley by helicopter, from which you’ll likely get an aerial view of all the highlights of San Francisco Bay. Touch down at a revered winery, where an expert sommelier will guide you through a paired wine and food tasting session, as well as taking a tour of the winery. The return journey is also by chopper. Group size on this tour is capped at six people. All fees are included in the price and ground transportation is provided from the city to the helipad and back.