Napa Valley Wine Tours
This is the best Napa Wine Tour out there…
Phone: (415) 310-9598
Currently, we are only offering private tours. All shared tours have been suspended, following California COVID-19 regulations.
MaxNapaTours is now able to ship your wine home to you! At the end of the day, leave your wine with us and have it delivered to your door. Wine shipping varies by state, and ranges from $45 to $70 per case.
Napa Valley is a wine region, but is further broken up into 16 sub-regions, called American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) and we can visit any of them on the tour. They all look different and grow different grapes, which makes for a fun day. You may have heard of some of the more famous areas.
Rutherford is located in the center of the Valley and noted for its Cabernet Sauvignon. It is said to contain Rutherford Dust, giving Cabernets a dusty finish. It also produces excellent Sauvignon Blanc.
Stags Leap is located on rocky cliffs in the east part of the valley, and is another Cabernet Sauvignon area. Vines here take advantage of the late afternoon sun to produce round plush wines.
Oakville is the third major area for Cabernet Sauvignon and many of the most recognized wineries are located here. Cabernet from Oakville is fruitier than anywhere else in the valley.
Calistoga is located in the northern end of the Valley and also has the hottest climate. The high cliffs of the Palisades and Mount St. Helena really make you feel that you are deep in a valley. The area is most known for producing Zinfandel and Petite Syrah.
Spring Mountain is located in the Mayacamas Mountain range, separating Napa from Sonoma Valley. Soils are more clay with nice morning sun. The area is most famous for Merlot, but produces many other varietals. Thick pine tree forests cover most of the area, but there are several beautiful views into the valley as well.
80% of the wine produced in Napa is red and almost all is dry. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted, followed by Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir. (Let’s say more about the red wines of Napa Valley here)
Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are the most seen white wines. Napa also has several old vineyards planted to less known varietals, such as Charbono, Sangiovese, Colombard or Chenin Blanc. Many of the vineyards are co-planted with up to 10 varietals growing next to one another.
Grapes are all picked and fermented together in what are commonly called Field Blends. These types of wines are interesting, delicious to try and are rarely seen on grocery store shelves.
Most wineries in Napa are only open by appointment, and more are becoming that way. They offer seated guided tastings of their wines. This is great because you really get a chance to enjoy the wine without being interrupted, and gives the opportunity to ask all the questions you would like.
Private tours also afford extra education; you can ask to see the vines or the barrel room. These exclusive tastings are more costly but the pace is relaxed. Expect to pay $20-30 per person in tasting fees, although many will refund if some wine is purchased. You are also more than welcome to share tastings as a couple.
If a winery offers more than one tasting option, two different tastings can be done by a couple and you get to try twice the wines!
Then there are the restaurants! People who like good wine also like good food, and there is no shortage of Michelin Star and other highly rated places to eat. Many restaurants have their own vegetable gardens right outside the window and you can see the chef picking things you are about to taste. We will take care of reservations and everyone on the tour eats at one big table. You are welcome to request a restaurant and we will do our best to accommodate.
Now what to do with all this wine that I bought? There are many options available:
If you were to buy six or more bottles per winery, have them ship it.
Sometimes you can get free shipping or at least reduced pricing. Many people pick up a bottle or three at each winery and build a case in the car. At the end of the tour, we can stop at a shipper and you have it shipped home. Another option is to purchase a shipping box to take with you on your trip back. As it is over 3oz. of liquid, wine must be checked luggage which may or may not be included in your airfare.
If you have only have one or two bottles, they can be packed in your suitcase.
Another way to enjoy your wine is to bring it along with you to a restaurant, a great perk about dining in California. Most will charge a corkage fee, usually between $10 and $30 to have them open it for you. Typically, the more expensive the restaurant, the more expensive their fee will be.
If you book this tour at the beginning of your trip, you will have wine to drink for the rest of your vacation!
As far as weather is concerned, all four seasons are beautiful. Winter rains turn the Valley green between November and May, while the summer is the dry season and the grass is a golden color. Going wine tasting is a great activity on a rainy day, so don’t let this deter you. It is much better than trying to walk around San Francisco in the rain! It very rarely snows in Napa, and if it does, it usually melts by 10am.
Winter temperatures average 60 degrees Fahrenheit for the high, perfect for drinking red wines. Summer temperatures are typically in the high 80’s. Often the warmest time of the year is September and October, ensuring that the grapes will come in ripe. Expect temperatures up to 100 degrees if there is a heat wave, although there is low humidity. Daytime summer temperatures in Napa are usually 30 degrees warmer than San Francisco, so remember to dress in layers.
Our personal record is 106 degrees in Calistoga to 52 degrees on the Golden Gate Bridge an hour and a half later!
No worries! In the back of all of our SUVs are large coolers. These are stocked with chilled water for you to drink. Hydration is key while drinking alcohol, and you should drink at least as much water as wine. If it is a hot day, you should drink even more water. Just reach back and grab a bottle of water, you don’t even need to ask. The restaurant in the middle of the day is often a good break to hydrate. Or have another glass of wine! These coolers will also keep your wine and food purchases refrigerated on the tour.
Many people snooze or “rest their eyes” on the way home after a day of tasting. We call this the Napa Nap, or the Sonoma Coma!
When I first moved to San Francisco more than a dozen years ago, I had two experiences with wine tours. I had only lived here for a week when some friends invited me to share a limousine to wine country. It was only $350 for a five hour tour which sounded very reasonable. Little did I know that three hours would be spent on the drive there and back. We stayed longer, of course. At the end of the day, the longer hours and extra fees, tolls, taxes etc. made the tour almost $800, which I had to cough up before my first paycheck!
My second experience was with my neighbor who belonged to a couple of wine clubs. I went up with him and instantly enjoyed the off the beaten path wineries where we were treated like friends. This is the kind of experience we would like to share with you.
A unique itinerary will be built for your unique Napa Valley wine tour day, based on group preferences.
We typically visit small family-owned wineries where you can taste handcrafted wines sold only at the cellar door.
Winemakers will greet you as friends. You are also able to make specific winery requests. All drivers are Certified Sommeliers and teach you about wine as the day progresses. We pride ourselves in attention to detail and great customer service, and look forward to giving you the perfect balance of knowledge and fun!