The 9 Best San Francisco Wine Tours
Taste some of America's finest wines on one of these daytrips.
Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley are world-famous for their vineyards and wineries. As such, many travelers visiting San Francisco might want to take a wine tour to one of these hot spots while on vacation. (Getty Images)
Sitting about an hour south of both Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, San Francisco is an ideal starting point for tours of these wine-producing regions. Using expert input and traveler opinion, U.S. News identified the top nine wine tours that leave from San Francisco. Whether you arrive to the region via bus or helicopter, you'll enjoy delectable wine and sweeping views of the countryside.
Green Dream Tours – Combo Tour of Napa and Sonoma
Explore both Napa and Sonoma on this seven-hour tour that features three different wineries and a lunchtime stop at Napa's Oxbow Public Market. Each tour is limited to 14 participants, creating an intimate experience, according to reviewers. Guides earn high marks for their knowledge about winemaking and the regions' histories. Wine lovers also enjoy the wineries Green Dream selects. Pickups at area hotels start daily at 8 a.m. and tours officially begin at 9 a.m. Tickets cost about $150 with discounts for seniors, service members and tour-takers too young to imbibe. The price covers all wine tastings but not lunch. Green Dream also offers tours of either region separately as well as tours combining Sonoma Valley with a tour of Alcatraz.
Extranomical Tours – Redwoods and Wine Country Tour
This daylong excursion begins with a walk among the redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument and then continues with stops at three wineries in Napa and Sonoma. Between the first and second tasting spots, you'll visit Sonoma Plaza, where you can purchase lunch and explore the various shops. Following the third and final tasting, the tour heads to a scenic lookout point for views of San Francisco's skyline and its famous landmarks. Reviewers enjoy the guides' informed commentary and rave about Muir Woods' beauty. Tickets start at $140 for adults, though you can opt to upgrade your ticket to include lunch at Sonoma Plaza for an additional fee. Tickets also include pickup and drop-off at area hotels. The entrance fee to Muir Woods National Monument is not included in the ticket price. Pickup begins at 7:30 a.m. daily and tours last approximately 11 hours. Extranomical Tours also runs tours focusing solely on California's wine country and tours of San Francisco.
Max Napa Tours – Napa Valley Wine Tour
With sommelier-led, small group tours to family-owned wineries, Max Napa Tours offers an intimate wine-tasting experience. What's more, guides create unique itineraries based on group preferences and winery requests. You'll visit three wineries on this daylong affair with a certified sommelier as your guide. For many reviewers, the guide is the highlight of the experience, thanks to the helpful insight they provide. Tickets start at $190 and include transportation to and from area hotels, but not tasting fees or food. Trips starting in San Francisco usually last nine or 10 hours. Tours, which are limited to six participants, are offered daily by request. Max Napa also conducts wine tours in Sonoma Valley.
San Francisco Helicopters – Wine Country Tour
This 3 1/2-hour helicopter tour takes up to six adults to one area winery, offering views of the San Francisco Bay and city landmarks along the way. Along with the views, the trip includes a guided tour of the winery as well as tastings and food pairings. Pilots and other staff members earn high praise from travelers for their professionalism. Tours are offered seasonally Wednesday through Sunday, weather permitting, and shuttle service from designated pickup points begins at 10 a.m. Tickets cost about $460 per person. Sightseeing air tours of San Francisco and Sausalito are also available.
Add a vintage flair to your wine tour by exploring the region in a Volkswagen van with Painted Ladies Tour Company.(Courtesy of Chelsea Donoho/Painted Ladies Tour Company)
Painted Ladies Tour Company – Wine Country Tour
This daytrip takes wine lovers to three Sonoma wineries via vintage Volkswagen vans. In addition to sampling wines, you'll visit a wine cave (except during peak harvest time) for insights about the wine-making process. You'll also have the chance to eat an Italian lunch at one of the wineries (at your own expense). The outings also include photo stops at popular destinations like the Golden Gate Bridge. Drivers, who double as guides, provide commentary about the wine country as well as San Francisco history and are generally considered knowledgeable and friendly. Tourgoers also appreciate the variety of delicious vino sampled. Tickets start at $129 and include the wine tastings at each stop. Trips depart daily around 9 a.m. and pick up at either Union Square or Fisherman's Wharf; you'll be dropped back off at one of those locations around 4:30 p.m. Painted Ladies Tour Company also offers tours of San Francisco and Muir Woods National Monument.
Green Hills Tours – Sonoma-Napa Valley Wine Tours
You can help tailor this daytrip's itinerary by relaying your wine preferences to Green Hills Tours. As you leave San Francisco, you'll stop at one or two attractions, such as the Palace of Fine Arts or the Golden Gate Bridge. Once in wine country, you'll visit three or four wineries in Sonoma or Napa. Between the second and third wineries, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy lunch. Tour-takers frequently laud the guides for their insights and helpful suggestions regarding which wineries to sample, in case you can't decide on your own. Tickets start at $175, which does not include tasting fees or lunch. Tours begin around 9 a.m. and usually last until 7:30 or 8 p.m. Vehicles can accommodate up to seven people. Green Hills Tours also offers private wine tours as well as tours of San Francisco and Muir Woods.
Gray Line – Sonoma & Napa Valley Wine Country Tour
Buses transport riders to both large and boutique wineries and vineyards on this eight-hour tour. The journey also includes time for shopping and lunch in Yountville. As an added bonus, you'll ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy views of the Bay Area. Drivers, who reviewers describe as informative and entertaining, provide commentary along the way. Travelers enjoy the expert winery employees as well. Tours, which include pickup and drop-off at select San Francisco hotels, run daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets start at $115 for adults and $59 for children 5 to 11 and include tasting fees but not lunch. Gray Line also operates numerous other tours in the region, including a tour to Monterey and Carmel.
Platypus Wine Tours – San Francisco Napa Wine Tours via Vallejo Ferry
In an effort to maximize travelers' sightseeing time, this tour starts with a one-hour ferry ride to Vallejo from the Ferry Building Marketplace. After arriving in Vallejo, travelers are picked up by the company shuttle and taken to four Napa wineries. Reviewers rave about the guides' wine knowledge and professionalism. They also applaud the wineries selected for the tour. Weekday tours include ferry rides to and from Vallejo; weekend excursions depart from San Francisco by shuttle bus and return via ferry. Tours run Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday beginning at 8:15 a.m. Trips last approximately 10 hours. Tickets start at $110 and do not include ferry tickets or the wine-tasting fees. Shuttle bus tours departing directly from San Francisco are also available.
Beau Wine Tours – San Francisco to Russian River Valley Wine Tours
The Russian River Valley is known for its pinot noir, and this tour highlights the vineyards and wineries where the grapes are grown and the wine is produced. This luxury experience begins with pickup from your hotel and features scenic drives through the wine region. Travelers consistently praise guides as knowledgeable and personable. However, other reviewers express some frustration with staff's poor communication when trying to plan their excursions. Tours depart around 9 a.m. Prices vary depending on group size, trip length and type of vehicle you select for the trip. A tour by passenger car costs approximately $95 per hour with an eight-hour minimum; tasting fees are not included. You must contact the company to book. The company also conducts tours of other wine regions, including Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley.
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