One of the trips that I have been wanting to take for some time is a trip to Napa and Sonoma in California to explore wine country. I’m totally a wine person and I have my favorites but I love trying new varieties. Since I was heading out to San Francisco earlier this month I thought that it would be really fun to take a day trip up to wine country and I hooked up with Green Dream Tours to show me the way! I decided to spend my Saturday with them on their Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Tour and had an amazing time.
If you’re thinking of taking a trip to wine country I would recommend hooking up with a tour group, especially if you’re heading up from San Francisco. One of benefits of this option is that you will be connected with a guide that is knowledgable of the area and various wineries and you can really maximize your time in Napa or Sonoma. Especially if you’re only going for an afternoon. One of the other benefits of joining a Green Dream Tour is that they picked us up at our hotel and also dropped us off at the end of the day. The double bonus here is that you won’t have to worry about driving and you can just enjoy wine tasting all day. I also think that going to a winery with a guide that knows the staff means that you end up with a very personal experience.
Our day started when our guide, Mark, picked us up at our hotel. We hopped on the bus, picked up a few more people and headed out of town. On the way to the Golden Gate Bridge, Mark talked about the city of San Francisco, how he got into the wine tour business and a little bit about Napa and Sonoma. We made a quick stop in Sausalito on the other side of the bridge and took a few pictures before continuing up to wine country. Mark talked most of the way, which wasn’t a bad thing. He talked more about wine country, made some funny jokes and made the trip up there an overall fun time. I should also note that our group was only 12 people which made it easy to get to know the people you would be spending the day with. We all laughed at Mark’s jokes together and chit chatted on the ride up.
I chose to join the Napa and Sonoma tour to get a better glimpse of everything wine country has to offer. Our first stop was the Larson Family Winery in Sonoma, which was offered a cozy, country feel with their tasting room inside of an old barn. Three labradors greeted us upon our arrival as we headed out back to view the vineyard. Mark talked to the group about the vineyards and the history of the winery as we looked over 400 acres of vines. We walked back into the tasting room to try their Chardonnay, Pinto Noir, Rose and their Signature ‘Three Lab Cab’. I picked up a cute magnet for my refrigerator, snapped a few more pictures and we jumped back on the bus.
Our next stop in Sonoma was Nicholson Ranch, a much smaller winery that only uses grapes grown on their 40 acre property. They also only sell their wine at the winery, making it an Estate Vineyard. In 2000 they dug a large cave under the vineyard to house their oak barrels of fermenting wine and it also features a large tasting room for groups. We did a tasting of their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and I made sure to ‘revisit’ the Pinot Noir before purchasing a bottle to bring home. ‘Revisit’ is the polite way to ask for another pour of a wine.
We headed over to Napa after our time at the Nicholson Ranch and stopped at the Oxbow Public Market for lunch. The was a great chance to take a little break from the wine and get some carbohydrates and water in my system!
The final winery on our tour was the beautiful Jamieson Ranch Vineyards. We were greeted in their foyer by a glass of Chardonnay and our guide for the winery tour. Jameson Ranch brings in their grapes from all over the area to make a variety of red and white wines. They also make wines for other labels too. We walked through the grape processing facility and the cellar where all of the wine barrels were held and enjoyed tasting after tasting along the way. Our final stop on the tour was in front of a rather colorful wall painted by local artists as part of their Light Horse Foundation which helps autistic children. They also have 3 miniature horses on the ranch that serve as therapy horses during the week and moonlight at the winery on the weekend. I think that was my favorite part of the day!
Our group jumped back onto the bus and made our way back to San Francisco. After a few more words and some trivia from Mark, he cranked up the tunes as we drop back to the city. As we reached the Bay Bridge and crossed over into San Francisco, the song Lights by Journey played and the entire group sang at the top of their lungs. It felt like a scene from a movie and it was at that point that I felt like I could check a wish off of my list. I finally made it to wine country and Green Dream Tours and Mark really made it an amazing experience.
If you’re planning a trip to wine country and plan to stay in San Francisco, check out Green Dream Tours as an option for your trip. I have nothing but good things to say about my experience and the fun we had with our guide. Until next time wine country….