How long is a tour?
Tours are typically 9 hours for someone staying in San Francisco. Pick-ups are (more or less);
8:45 to 9:00 for someone staying south of Market Street or downtown.
9:00 to 9:15 for someone staying in the Union Square area
9:15 to 9:30 for those staying in the Fisherman’s Wharf area
9:45 to 10:15 for Wine Country Hotels
Your day will end at about 5:45 pm for wine country hotels
and approximately 6:30 pm for San Francisco hotels.
Please note that return times vary, based on how far away the last winery and traffic. If you are planning on making dinner reservations, it is best to have them at 8:00pm or later, just in case…
How many wineries will we see in a day?
Let me start by saying that Napa is changing. In the past 15 years of leading tours, the Valley has seen an explosion of new wineries and visitors. The tasting fees have also risen.
But another way to see it is that the experience has greatly improved. Most tastings are seated and they often include a tour of either the vineyard of winery. Tastings used to be done in under an hour, but most places keep folks for an hour-fifteen to an hour and a half. You want to have time to relax and take in the views, and the last thing we want to do is to tell you to leave when you are enjoying yourself!
The Napa tour will now visit 3 wineries with a tasting fee up to $50 per person, although many will not be this much. This ensures that we can visit the wineries with the best wines and experience, as well as include more requests to your favorite places. Plus, three wineries seem to be the perfect amount for the majority of people. We can always add a 4th winery at the end if there is time.
For the Sonoma Valley or Northern Sonoma tours, we should still get to four wineries. However, the group can dictate the speed to a certain point. How involved the tastings are, driving times, traffic and distances between wineries are also a factor.
Can I choose the wineries?
Of course! Because we aren’t in a tour bus or van, and always in groups of 6 or less, we can visit all 900+ wineries up here! Please let us know well in advance which wineries you are interested in visiting, and we will do our best to get you there. If you do not have any specific winery requests, that is ok! We are happy to take you to some of our favorites.
Which wineries do we visit?
The same tour has never been done twice so there is no schedule or list to give, but if you leave it up to us, you will be more than happy. Wineries are chosen because they make great wine, are non-touristy, have beautiful grounds and/or historic value, have knowledgeable and fun people, and are very well respected within the winery community. You can feel assured that you had the best possible day in wine country.
How much are the winery tasting fees?
Some tours include winery tastings, but it is not necessarily a good thing. They will visit the cheapest wineries, or at least the wineries that give them the best deal. Winery tasting fees are not included with our tour, so there is no bias apart from finding you the best wineries and wine. We realize that an extra cost, but we also know that this is an experience that you will remember for the rest of your life.
Winery tasting fees in Napa and Sonoma range from $20 to $50 per person. We try to average the tasting fees to about $35 per winery, although this is not always possible. Some wineries will waive the tasting fee if wine is purchased, so it is possible to not pay any tasting fees all day. Often, parties of 2 are welcome to share tastings, although a few place don’t allow it. You are also allowed to bring wine to restaurants in California.
Which Valley is better?
Tough question, I get asked this all the time. My answer is that there are truly great wineries in both. Napa is a little fancier – wineries tend to be more private and many tastings are seated. This, or course translates to higher tasting fees. Sonoma is more laid-back and rustic, although most now require reservations post Covid. Sonoma is greener as it is closer to the coast, while Napa has more impressive and historic wineries.
Which hotels do you pick up from?
One of the great aspects of this tour is that it will pick you up directly from most hotels!
We pick up from all towns in Napa and Sonoma counties. In addition, we pick up from San Francisco, cities near highway 580 north of the Bay Bridge (Emeryville, Berkeley, American Canyon, etc…), as well as cities near highway 101 north of the Golden Gate Bridge (Sausalito, Larkspur, San Rafael, Novato, etc…). Please inquire if you are unsure, and we will be happy to help.
What do we do for lunch?
One of the best parts of spending a day in wine country is the fabulous food! We usually visit one of the nearby restaurants for lunch. It might be the best meal on your entire trip! Sometimes if the weather is agreeable, we can have a picnic in the vineyard.
How do I book a tour?
Just click “Request a Tour” at the top of any page and fill out the form. We will get back to you within 24 hours. You are also welcome to call the office at 415-310-9598. We hope you decide to do it!
What is your cancellation policy?
In the unfortunate event that you need to cancel this great tour, let us know as soon as possible. Tours cancelled outside 48 hours are fully refunded. Tours cancelled within 48 hours of departure will be charged the full amount of the tour.