After seafood, the San Francisco Bay Area is most famous for their wines. The two main areas just to the north of the city are Napa and Sonoma with many wineries in both. If you don’t know where to start, taking a tour is your best bet, it’s also great if you don’t have a designated driver. After much research we decided to take the Green Dreams Tour, as it looked the most fun and fit nicely within our budget. They offer tours to Napa, Sonoma, and a Napa and Sonoma combined tour. Due to the Wednesday being the only free day we had, we settled on the Sonoma tour which costs $154 per person. If you are staying in the city you can be picked up from your hotel, however as we were staying with friends slightly outside the city we were picked up from the San Francisco Downtown Caltrain station by our lovely driver Aaron. After collecting the other guests we were on our way, while getting an informative running commentary on the history of San Francisco as we made our way through the city.
Our first stop on the tour was the Golden Gate Bridge, the iconic San Francisco landmark. This thrilled us as we are lazy people and weren’t thrilled at the prospect of going all the way out there just to get a picture. We stopped at the perfect vantage point, and after ten minutes of taking selfies we were on our way to the first winery.
The first winery stop was Robledo Family Winery. As part of the tour we did a five wine tasting. Before we started drinking, our tasting host introduced us the five S’s of wine tasting See, Swirl, Smell, Sip, and Savour. It was the perfect opportunity to learn a little bit about how to drink, as I’m usually just downing it as quickly as possible. We kicked off with my favourite Sauvignon Blanc, before trying a Riesling, Pinot Noir, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and finished with a Moscato. My red drinking hubby loved the Pinot Noir. There was a lot of history in this place, the Mexican owner started off working on the grape farms and over the years worked his way up to opening his own winery. His wines have even been served at a dinner at the white house. It was a true American dream story.
Winery number two was Larson Family Winery. Again we had their tasting menu, and since the sun had come out, we were able to enjoy this tasting outside. The garden was absolutely beautiful with loads of outdoor seating, they also have a very cute wine shop, and a small deli counter with meats and cheese for those who get peckish. We did the tasting again, but I felt this would be a great spot to enjoy a bottle, if you had someone to share it with. We kicked off with Gewurztaminer, one I had never had before, but it was absolutely fabulous, a very light and fruity white. We moved on to a Chardonnay which is very popular in the area, before having a Rose, Pinot Noir again my hubbies favourite, and actually best of the day according to him. Then ending on their best selling Cabernet. This winery was more low key, much less explanation of the wines so we just drank and chilled out and enjoyed the winery.
At this spot we got to enjoy our picnic lunch, which is included in the tour. Our driver Aaron went to fetch an incredible selection of sandwiches for us, which included turkey, roast beef, tuna, and chicken salad. They were so big and exactly what we needed to fill us up for a day of drinking ahead. Also included were potato and pasta salads and a cookie for dessert. After our lovely lunch we headed to the picture perfect town of Sonoma, where we had a free hour to explore the local area. The town is basically a square and we found a cute cafe called Sunflower cafe for a coffee, and an adorable home goods shop next door. The whole town was so charming and filled with rose covered cottages, it is well worth stopping by to see.
Our last stop on the tour was the Nicholson Ranch. Owned by a Greek family that came and made the winery into its very own estate, meaning everything from growing to bottling is done on the site itself. They take their wines very seriously here, and owner is very much involved, he even popped in to say hi. After we finished our tasting of two chardonnays, and two pinot noirs, both sets being very different despite being grown upon the same lands, we enjoyed the glorious surroundings. Visually this winery was the best of those we visited, we sat on the patio and enjoyed the rolling hills and birds chirping. It was heavenly.
After leaving our third and final winery we headed back to the city to be dropped off. Aaron still sharing fun facts about the city and surrounding area as we went. I couldn’t have had a better time, it was absolutely fantastic. Being non drivers, it was the ideal for us to get around, and also learn a little history about San Francisco as we went. It was enjoyable being in a group as we all got more jolly as the day went on. If you want to see the beautiful area of Sonoma, drink, and learn a little bit about wine then this tour is not to be missed. Green Dreams Wine Tour offer three wine tours. We took part in the Sonoma tour which costs $154 per person. For more information or to book a wine tour please check out their website.