Napa and Sonoma Valley are world famous wine producers. During a stay in San Francisco, make sure you set aside time to visit the Valleys. Mark and I took advantage of the wine tour from our San Francisco Go Card (more on that later). The tour was provided by San Francisco Sightseeing Wine Country Tour and Tastings.
When taking a bus tour, it is recommended to arrive early to purchase tickets (if necessary) and avoid any lines – which can potentially stall departure time. Another reason to arrive early: you get the pick of the litter for seats (unless they are assigned). Mark and I sat at the front of the bus for the best views.
For this tour, we were very lucky to have a friendly and knowledgeable bus driver and tour guide. He was pleasant and funny, gave us a history of the Valleys, and recommended a variety of restaurants for the lunch break in Sonoma Plaza.
This was my first wine tour and this is the knowledge I am passing on:
Sample all the wine
Most wineries will showcase about 3 to 4 wines. Try each one even if you normally don’t drink it (whether it be red or white). You might be surprised to find that you actually do enjoy the flavour. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to finish it. If you give it an honest try no one can fault you.
Tour the grounds
Most winery estates are very green and lush with more than just grape vines. A lot of time and energy is spent landscaping so take some time to wander and enjoy the flowers.
To buy or not to buy
This one is really up to you. Realize, if you are not planning on drinking the bottle before your flight home, that you will have to carry that bottle in your luggage. You’re taking your chances of having the bottle break in your suitcase or paying extra weight fees. Most wineries offer a shipping option. So if you really want to bring home a bottle, ask if they are willing to ship it to you.
Research your tour company
After a long day in the sun drinking wine, a tour company that will drop you off at your hotel is luxury. Research what is included in your fare and ask if you are unsure. Can you keep your purchased wine in the bus/train/van? Is lunch included or does it cost extra?
What was your favourite wine tour? Do you have any tips to share?