San Francisco is a tourist destination on its own, but it's also the gateway to Northern California's wine country. If you want to combine a wine tour with your travels in San Francisco, consider one of these cool options.
Beau Wine Tours
Beau Wine Tours offers personalized wine tours to both Napa and Sonoma that include transportation from San Francisco. They pride themselves on offering tours that are more intimate and only take place with a wine country local as your guide, giving you real insight and insider knowledge. Beau Wine Tours will tailor your experience, no matter whether you're a novice or high-end collector, so you won't just get a generic tour that everyone else receives.
In addition to Napa, they offer tours to Sonoma Valley, Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley. If you want to combine a wine tour with a visit to John Muir Woods or Sausalito, those are also options.
Russian River Valley Tour
One of Beau Wine Tours' popular tours is the Russian River Valley Tour, where you'll explore one of the best Pinot Noir regions in California. You'll spend about 10 hours, with pickup typically by 9 a.m. at your hotel. This tour is offered year-round, but if you go in the fall, you might get to harvest your own raspberries or pick your own pumpkins. You'll also take a drive down Westside Road, which has been likened to the gorgeous roads of Tuscany, where you'll get expansive views of the Russian River, redwood forest, and rolling hills.
Because these tours are all customized, you need to submit your reservation details online and they will prepare a price quote for you.
Reviews and Tips
USA Today and WineCountry.com both recommend Beau Wine Tours as one of the best Napa Valley wine tours. Wine Country shares an insider tip for high-end collectors: check out the collector series of wine tours. These are very exclusive tours for serious collectors who are looking for ultra-premium, limited production Cabernet Sauvignon wines.
Of the negative reviews on TripAdvisor, some people noted that Beau Wine Tours didn't follow the requested itinerary they picked ahead of time.
Viator is one of the biggest tour aggregator sites, and they are now owned by TripAdvisor, so their tours are highlighted when you're searching through TripAdvisor itself. Viator has several wine country tours available from San Francisco.
Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Tour
Viator's most popular and most highly-rated tour with over 2,200 reviews, the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Tour takes approximately eight hours and prices start at $99 per person. The tour includes three stops and tastings (fees included) along with free time for lunch in Yountville.
You'll be picked up from your hotel in San Francisco in a luxury coach, equipped with onboard amenities like reclining air seats and Wi-Fi.
Stops include Sonoma's Nicholson Ranch Winery, then you'll head over to Napa Valley for a tasting at the family-run Madonna Estate. Next, you'll have lunch at your own expense in Yountville. After lunch, you'll finish off your tour at Sutter Home, where you'll learn how this small-family run winery turned into one of the biggest winery operations in California.
Viator VIP: Napa by Helicopter
For a truly unique and one-of-a-kind tour, consider one of Viator VIP Tours, like Napa by helicopter with food and wine pairing. You'll fly on a helicopter from San Francisco for this three-hour tour of Napa. The tour is limited to six people and starts at $435 per person. You'll visit a winery along the Silverado Trail for private wine tastings and tapas with a wine expert. Guests on this tour typically visit Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, a short drive from where the helicopter lands. They are known for exceptional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Note: unlike most other wine country tours, this tour is only available seasonally from April to October.
Wine Tour Reviews
Reviewers give the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Tour high marks for wonderful drivers and tour guides. The VIP tour is recommended for its exclusivity and ability to enjoy Napa Valley without having to shuttle between wineries-you'll land right in the heart of wine country and get tasting almost immediately. WineCountry.com also recommends the Viator VIP tour by helicopter, but notes that there is a weight limit on the helicopter so you may be limited on how much wine you're bringing back if you choose this tour option.
Green Dream Tours
Green Dream Tours offers wine tours from San Francisco to both Napa and Sonoma, or a combo tour to both. Tours are a maximum of 14 people, which helps keep the group more intimate. The luxury tour buses are brand new, and tours are available daily. Pickup is typically between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., with drop-off somewhere between 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
If you prefer a private tour, Green Dream Tours offer private tours in a stretch limo for special events like birthday parties, bachelorette or wedding groups, or just a nice day out with friends. Private tours range from $700 to $1,600 for a full-day group tour, depending on itinerary, while half-day tours are available for around $400.
Napa Valley Wine Tour
One of Green Dream's most popular tours is their Napa Wine Tasting Tour that includes visits at three boutique wineries in the region (tasting fees included). Wineries typically include Spelletich Family Winery, Andretti Winery, and Madonna Estate. Lunch is at your own expense at the popular Oxbow Public Market. Complimentary water, gum, mints, and suntan lotion are included. Those celebrating anniversaries or birthdays receive a special gift while honeymooners receive an extra special gift. Book directly online; prices are $139 per person. They offer discounts for seniors and military personnel.
Green Dream Reviews
One of the things people like about Green Dream Tours is that it's a carbon-neutral company, buying carbon offsets to balance fuel usage. Green Dream Tours is pretty much the top-rated wine tour on TripAdvisor. Because of this, it's recommended you purchase tours as far in advance as possible as they tend to sell out.
Churchill Manor, home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and wine tasting rooms in downtown Napa, recommends Green Dream Tours. Wanderlust Chloe has a great blog post on a day in Sonoma with Green Dream Tours and what you can expect on these wine country tours.
Choosing a San Francisco Wine Tour
When picking a wine tour to book, you need to decide on what's most important to you and what region you want to visit. Napa tends to be more crowded and expensive, especially during the fall harvest, while Sonoma is home to some great wineries that are still relatively undiscovered. If you're a novice who just wants to explore Northern California wine country, any of the tours are probably great, whereas wine experts looking for a unique experience will want to choose a private and customizable tour.