Aside from France, the northern California region near San Francisco is considered to be amongst the world’s finest wine making regions. About 5 million people a year make the pilgrimage to Napa and Sonoma counties to take part in one of the many wine tours that are offered. Going on a wine tour is a fun idea in general, but when you have the opportunity to visit world renowned wineries that you’ve only read about in magazine articles, it’s enough to make any wine lover’s heart skip a few beats in excitement.
San Francisco wine tours offer you the opportunity to explore both wine growing regions, and visit both large and small, boutique wineries up close and personal. Napa Valley alone has more than 300 wineries, but you’ll only be visiting a few choice ones due to time.
One of the highlights of taking this wine tour is learning the history of California wine making. When it comes to San Francisco, a lot of the history books focus on the great gold rush of the mid-1800s. But, during this time there was also another type of gold being developed that has nothing to do with mining. The area was discovered to be a rich source of soil for growing fruit plants, and particularly grapes that made fine tasting wine. Grapes growing and harvesting for wine was started near the town of Sonoma by early missionaries. Later on, the first commercial winery “Buena Vista” was started just after the gold rush period was over. You can still visit this historic winery today.
Depending on the tour package you choose, your tour can take you to wineries in either the Sonoma Valley region, the Napa Valley region, or through both areas on the same trip. If you have a specific area or winery that you’d like to visit, make sure you ask the tour operator upfront if they service that area. The best San Francisco wine tours include visiting famous wineries such as: Gallo, Mondavi, Glen-Ellen, Sterling, Kendall and Sutter Home.
All tours include site seeing, wine tasting and a stop for a bite to eat. In order to fully participate in the tasting of fine wines at each winery, you’ll need to pay an additional fee for the pleasure. These additional costs should be clearly stated on the tour operator’s website, however, some people get annoyed because they missed seeing this information.
Getting to and From a Wine Tour
Most wine tours will pick you up at a hotel and will either drop you back off there, or you’ll return by ferry, boat or arrange private transportation if you spend the night. The size of the typical wine tour group ranges from 10 – 30 people. Therefore, the tour operator may show you around on a van or bus that accommodates many people. Of course, for more intimate tours, you can ride in a limousine.
If you’re up for a little adventure while visiting the Napa Valley area, you can opt to take a wine country balloon ride that soars high above the beautiful grape country. You can ride along with a small group or have a romantic sunrise view for two that includes breakfast and champagne.
Enjoy the Best Wines
Of course, the main reason you are going on a San Francisco wine tour is to sample some of the world’s best wines of all types. The grape growers in California wine country truly love what they do, and take a lot of pride in presenting their visitors with a wine tasting experience they’ll remember forever.