The film ‘Sideways’ may have propelled pinot noir wines to film-fan stardom, but the wine region of Napa Valley has so much more to offer than that. Learn to distinguish your Rieslings from your Chardonnays; your Syrah from your Cabernet Sauvignon. And if you are already well aware of those delineations, then simply tour California’s premier wine region and taste the local wines at their source.
When you go on a wine tour, it is probably wise to sort out a designated driver first. Better yet, have a tour guide lead you from one winery to the next, picking out some of the best in the process. Here are 5 of the best tours to Napa Valley from San Francisco, including tours of a number of wineries and those all-important tastings at the end.
FROM: $114/per person
Taking guests away from the more beaten track wineries, this day-long tour starting with a pick-up from most downtown San Francisco hotels takes in three boutique wineries in Sonoma. There is a wine tasting at each, with around an hour allotted to each location. Groups are limited to no more than 12 people and there is live commentary about the region on board the air-conditioned van. As an additional bonus, a stop is made for a photo opportunity at Golden Gate Bridge on the journey. Lunch is not included in this tour.
From $88/ per person
For a slightly lower priced tour, this trip stops at between three and four separate wineries in Napa, Sonoma and Yountville. Information about the region’s wine history, including the first arrival of grapes with Spanish settlers is blended into the tour. See how the grapes are grown, picked and processed into a final product that you can later sample in tastings that are included in the tour price. Lunch is not included but a stop is made with time allotted at either Vintage 1870 or Historical Sonoma Square.
From $119/ per person
Four wineries are included on this fantastic, comprehensive Napa Valley wine country tour. Whereas many of the other tours provide wine tastings but no food, this tour provides food but no wine tastings as part of the tour price. However, a mimosa is available with breakfast, which is served on the transport from San Francisco, and the tour takes you to the tasting spots so you can pick and choose whether you’d like to spend a little extra to try the wines when you get there. A picnic lunch is also provided on this tour.
From $125/ per person
Climb aboard a luxury air-conditioned van and be whisked around four separate boutique Napa Valley wineries on this all-day tour, which starts from the San Francisco Ferry Building. As with all tours on this list, the minimum accepted age is 21 years old. Winery tasting fees are not included but a gourmet lunch and a morning champagne toast are, as are bottled water and soft drinks. Vegetarian options are available on advanced request. Tour numbers are limited to 10 people, so that the wineries visited can be selected by the guide to cater to everyone’s preferences.
From $115/ per person
Combine two elements of nature on one tour, by sauntering under giant, majestic trees aged over a thousand years, before tasting the produce of grapes at three separate wineries. Locations are selected to give a good overall view of the types of wines produced in the region, and help to illustrate the Napa Valley wine region’s history. There is also the option to have a gourmet cheese tasting, which might be the ideal complement to a fruity or full-bodied red, depending on the cheese.