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San Francisco, wine touring

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Crescita posted 6/2/2014 15:42 PM

Some friend's and I are talking about a trip to San Francisco to include a day of wine touring in Sonoma and Napa Valley.

As it is a group (currently 7 people), opinions are split on the best way to go about this.

Group tour? Private driver-guide? Rent a car and drive?

Any suggestions?

wifehad5 posted 6/2/2014 16:25 PM

A few years ago we took a Jeep Tour of Napa that was a lot of fun. We went to 4-5 wineries, and saw some spectacular views.

I've become a fan of driver/guides when I'm in an area for a short time. They usually know all of the coolest stuff and the best routes

Lionne posted 6/2/2014 17:07 PM

We went on a bus tour. As someone else said, when you only have a limited time, it's nice that someone else knows the way to maximize your time.

I have two suggestions; research ahead of time. Don't just jump on the tour that runs out of Fisherman's wharf. We did, it was fine, but we went to two small wineries and a mega winery. I'd have liked to do small only.

Choose your time. Ours started at 9am. I'm small and a cheap date. Tasting wine at 10 am meant I was asleep by noon. You may not have that problem, lol.

Also, it is almost always warmer in Napa and Sonoma. It was 60 in SF, and 95 in the valley.

Have fun!

Jrazz posted 6/2/2014 17:32 PM

Get a driver. Pay for well reviewed services.

I'm a big Sonoma County fan myself. High quality wine without all the airs and commercialism of Napa.

Highway 12 has some of the best places I have ever been, and I've toured a lot. Here are my favorite wineries in that alley:

Valley of the Moon
Imagery
Benziger
Wellington Vineyards (just off hwy 12 - well worth the detour)
Loxton Cellars (A MUST if you are a Syrah person)
Chateau St. Jean
St Francis

Do NOT NOT NOT go to Ledson. Yes, the castle is pretty, but the wine is overpriced and crap. I actually just tasted there for the first (and last) time. At least the company was good.


If you want to know the trade secret of the locals to wine country, you have to go up through Healdsburg to Dry Creek and Alexander Valley. Healdsburg wineries are spread out, but so very worth the visit. Dry Creek Road is home to some amazing Cabs, Zinfandels, and Pinot Noirs. A lot of the grapes are locally sourced, and these valleys are ideal for high quality fruit.

Did I mention I'm in wine?

Please PM me if you would like more specific advice.

[This message edited by Jrazz at 5:33 PM, June 2nd (Monday)]

GabyBaby posted 6/2/2014 17:39 PM

I don't know the San Francisco area well enough to recommend specific areas, but I completely agree with Jrazz:

Get a driver. Pay for well reviewed services.
I'm a big Sonoma County fan myself. High quality wine without all the airs and commercialism of Napa.

Napa is insanely snobbish (in my view) and we tend to avoid it like the plague. Sonoma has a lot to offer (and folks that will actually talk with you about the wine without turning up their noses).

A driver is a must. That also allows you to relax and not worry about intake vs. driving.

[This message edited by GabyBaby at 5:39 PM, June 2nd (Monday)]

Crescita posted 6/2/2014 17:41 PM

Thanks guys!

Jrazz, this won't be until September, but expect a PM

GabyBaby posted 6/2/2014 17:45 PM

In our area, there's an annual big wine event that involves 30+ wineries.

A couple of years ago, a bunch of us (5 couples and a few singles) shared the expense of a rented mini bus and had a BLAST!!!

Jrazz posted 6/2/2014 18:52 PM

At your service.

Amazonia posted 6/2/2014 19:10 PM

Did Jrazz just offer to be the DD?

Jrazz posted 6/2/2014 19:44 PM

That is NOT going to be cheap.

asurvivor posted 6/2/2014 20:47 PM

I live in Sonoma so I may be just a tad bias. A cool area is the Dry Creek area which is near the Russian River (in Sonoma) but both Napa and the Sonoma Valley area's are great for wine tasting. I have fav winery's in all areas. I would suggest having a driver but meet up with him near the area you are going to wine taste as the trip to and from SF would be expensive. I also suggest getting a SUV with lots of window view instead of a limo.

asurvivor posted 6/2/2014 20:47 PM

whoops, double post

[This message edited by asurvivor at 9:01 PM, June 2nd (Monday)]

Rebreather posted 6/3/2014 12:55 PM

I just want to tell you to listen to Jrazz. lol Although there are some Napa places I really, really like, Sonoma wines and the Alexander Valley are my favorites. Some of the Napa tastings are crazy expensive.

Get a driver. Do your own thing. Worth the money.

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