On a recent getaway to San Francisco, I booked a one day wine tour to Napa and Sonoma on Viator. Viator is my go-to tour company in every country in the world. Why? I know I can trust them. There are so many tour companies all over and you don’t really know who you can trust. I certainly don’t want to pay money and then have no tour operator arrive. At least with Viator, I know I can easily get my money back if a problem arises.
Yes, you usually do pay a little more than the individual company’s website pricing, but think of it as a type of insurance. Viator does not release the name of the tour operator until you purchase. Otherwise, you could easily go to TripAdvisor and check out reviews of individual tour companies. I do that sometimes when I want to take more time. But if I’m looking for a quick option, I find Viator easy to use.
I like tours because I don’t have to think about anything. Just hop on and go. I find most bus Tours know the secret spots for best photos you didn’t even know about. Plus if I’m tired I can close my eyes without having to be worried about being mugged on a public train or bus.
I usually prefer small group tours v the big bus tours. Why? You have a better chance to meet people. They are also usually faster. Meaning that a big group bus tour takes longer to unload and load passengers. More people to be late to return to the bus. More stupid questions. Small groups are more interactive. Plus built-in photographers.
I recently booked a wine tour to Napa and Sonoma called the Vintage Wine Tour.
After I purchased the tour, I received confirmation and the name of the tour operator. It turned out to be run by a company called A Taste of SanFrancisco. Turns out the price was the same on both websites.
So how was the tour? Great. I selected this because it was a small group as well as a tour of Napa and Sonoma which were on my must see list.
The driver picked me up about twenty minutes late. But I did receive a call from the office letting me know. We then spent roughly another hour picking up guests in San Francisco traffic. Our delightful driver gave us great city tidbits and history the entire time so it didn’t feel like it took any time and it was great learning about San Francisco. The vehicle was a mini bus that probably could have sat 15 but we were 9 on our group.
After everyone was picked up we made our way out to Napa Valley to Our first winery. I would estimate maybe 40 minutes away. Along the way, our driver continued to tell us about our surroundings.
Our first stop was a winery called Jacuzzi. It was started in 2007 by a grandson who’s family had immigrated from Italy back in 1907. They have several vineyards across California where a variety of grapes are grown.
The building is set in a gorgeous Tuscan style building with a courtyard and lush landscaping including one of the vineyards. Very beautiful. They even have weddings here.
We got to taste 5 wines here with our guide and take photos. Then we had free time to check out the stores. They had gourmet olive oil tastings and vinegars. There were also some great samples of nuts and jams. We also got to taste a few more wines at the bar if we chose.
Our second stop was to Yountville. Yountville is a small town in Napa full of great restaurants and cute boutique stores and small hotels. It’s so quaint and beautiful. Perfect place to stop for a gourmet meal during wine tastings.
I chose Bistro Jeanty. A fabulous French restaurant with gourmet food. I tried the famous tomato soup with puff pastry and scallops. It was a delicious lunch. The only problem was that I should have chosen more bready type foods like Italian food or a burger. The heavy butters and creams didn’t exactly go well with so much wine. But it was still an excellent restaurant which I recommend and will post a review later.
Next we headed to V. Sattui winery. Another Tuscan inspired winery with a gourmet market attached and outdoor picnic tables. Vincent Sattui immigrated from Genoa in 1885 and started the winery. During Prohibition the winery closed. In 1976, the great grandson reopened the winery.
Upon entry we were given tickets to do our wine tastings. We all separated and headed to any empty spots at the bar. It was packed. I got to choose 5 tastings from a list of about 30 different wines including dessert wines. I chose a couple of whites which weren’t my favorites. I then opted to sample the most expensive wines which included a $90 Cabernet and $60 Madeira. Delicious. But too expensive to purchase.
Our last stop was Bouchaine Winery. Bouchaine is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Carneros district. In 1981, the land was bought by the Copeland’s who have updated and modernized the winery. Listed on Fodor’s 10 Under the Radar Winery list.
They took us outside to a beautiful patio where we sat under umbrellas. We tried five fabulous wines here. They were all great. I picked up the Rose wine which was rated with 92 points.
We then headed back to San Francisco and were dropped off at our respective hotels. Overall it was a fabulous tour. The guide was knowledgeable and a good driver. The bus was comfortable. The wineries selected were top notch. I heard on some bus tours you can get stuck at crappy wineries. Our three wineries were all great. I would highly recommend this tour or any of the wineries I visited.