While planning my San Fran trip I happened upon a website that offered the wine train tour and thought it would be something a little different. I booked it, sight unseen, and hoped it wasn't an expensive rip off.
Well, it was expensive, but it was not a rip off.
Here's how it works: A motorized street car picks you up at your hotel. Then it goes around and picks up other guests at all the big hotels.
The shuttle then drops you off at Fisherman's Wharf, where there is a large motor-coach waiting for all the wine train participants. You are then whisked out of town towards the city of Napa. The bus driver, "Spike", was a definite highlight of the tour.
Once at the train station (a small, well appointed building with gift shops and free wine tasting), you wait to board the train with the others in the building. Once on board, the train moves out of Napa (not the nicest views here) and into the surrounding area. We got to see dozens of large wine estates, but were not given any commentary or explanation of what we were seeing. Some people tasted a lot of wine, but most of us just sat back and enjoyed the view.
Half-way through the tour we were fed one of the best meals I have ever had. I can't say enough about the meal. It was spectacular! The ambiance, service, and quality of the train are second to none. You really feel like you're on a 1930s era train with all the luxury and glitz.
I'm fourty, and was one of the younger people on the bus. It's not just for old people, but the cost and lack of need for physical excersion seems to attract an older set. It's also not for wine-experts. The only people that I would NOT recommend for this tour are children under the age of 18. It will bore them to tears.
My only negative feedback is that I wish we could have visited one of the estates, and been given interpretation of the scenery we were passing through. But otherwise, it was a great way to spend the day!
Rent a car and drive to Napa. Takes only 1-1.5 hours. So beautiful. Wine tasting is a lot of fun. There are a lot of great restaurant. Just avoid to go summet time because there are jstu too many people.
Featuring a stone castle winery fronting a lake and Chinese gardens. Home to one of Napa Valley's finest wineries. Wine tasting and tour available for a fee. Reservations are required. Stroll the grounds around Jade Lake and the Chinese Garden.
Napa Valley is beautiful and a must visit. It's about 45 minutes away from the city. Wine tasting is one of my favorite day activities. But prepare to do a lot of driving, there are very many wineries, but most of them are very spread out.
The day we spent in the Wine Country was the best day of our holiday. The weather was perfect and scenery was stunning.
The tour costs around $106 per couple (with Grayline) and includes tastings at 4 wineries in Sonoma and Napa Valleys. Our driver was really knowledgeable and very friendly.
You should allow a full day - we were dropped back at our hotel at around 19.00.
Kirkland Ranch Winery is situated in the rolling hills of southern Napa Valley, where the vines benefit from the cooling influences of San Francisco Bay.
My favorite Kirkland Ranch wine is a 1999 Estate Merlot aged for 18 months in a combination of 80% new American and 20% used French oak barrels. Aromas of ripe briary blackberry, raspberry fruit, vanilla, and a light toast entice the senses
Its taste and its bouquet is just unforgetable!!
The grounds and winery are open for wine tasting tours. This winery was established in 1868 and is the oldest operating winery in Napa Valley. The old wine cellar caves were hand dug by Chinese laborers in the 1800's. There is a fee for the tour and winetasting.
A great day trip out from San Francisco, best done in your own car but with a designated driver as you may end up having a few too many tastings to be legal for the drive back.
I must admit I preferred to visit Sonoma Valley rather than Napa when visiting wine country. It seemed more intimate and had much better scenery. However the wines from both areas were well tried and tested.
One of my favourite vineyards is Benzinger, the setting against the old Sonoma Mountain is great and the wine is pretty good too.
I live 25 miles from Napa. So, I can decide on a whim to go to napa anytime. It is beautiful all round the year(Rains in Feb), but it is best to go to napa during the sping(apr-may). Wild flowers are in full bloom and there are about 400 vineyards in Napa & Sonoma combined. If you are into wine & nature. Then, this is a must trip if you are in San Francisco.
Wine Tasting in Nappa Valley was my first experience of the sort. Be sure to rent a car and leave early! Try the St. Supéry vineyard. The Moscato is delicious! It's a sweet white dessert wine. I'm not much of a wine drinker but I love this particular wine.
What was great about Nappa Valley (and the Bay area as a whole) was that is probably the only place in the US where you can see mountains, ocean, skyscrapers, AND vinyards so close to each other.
I was very impressed to see a geyser for the first time. The one I saw was the Old Faithful Geyser of California located in the town of Calistoga. Every 40 minutes more or less a geyser of about 18m comes out from the earth.
The Wine Country is located in the north of California. Napa and Sonoma are the two most famous wine producers areas. Both of them are very nice. I recommend visiting the Codorniu Napa Valley winery. Codorniu is a very famous cava (sparkling wine) brand producer in Catalonia and they have their own winery in California. It is a very impressive winery and the cava is very good.
If you love wine, this takes up a very enjoyable day. My husband and I left at about 9am and spent our entire morning and afternoon dirving from winery to winery tasting and touring. The winery with the nicest staff - Cakebread.
I went on an organised wine tasting trip. My opinion is dont do it. Travel on your own if at all posible.
San Fancisco is a marvellous city, but! If you prefer country walk, go Napa Valley or Sonoma County (2 hours away) for vineyards and wineries.