“The best wines are the ones we drink with friends.”
So if you read my post on the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito you will know that I recently visited San Francisco with my husband to attend a friend’s wedding.
When the bride emailed us in advance of our trip to ask ‘do ye like wine?’ I actually laughed out loud! I thought to myself, is this a rhetorical question?!
As the bride herself is a resident of San Francisco, she is more than familiar with the renowned Californian wine country! She expertly organised a trip for 30 of us to go wine tasting…sheer bliss, right? Beware, this is not for the faint-hearted! I was shocked to hear we would be going on a party bus departing at 8.30a.m. sharp! It was prosecco for breakfast and that was before we even got to the first vineyard!
So off we headed towards the world-class Sonoma wine region, neighbour to Napa Valley, to take in three different vineyards.
The Party Bus
We booked the bus with a company called Pacific Land Yachts which specialise in luxury limousine buses.
Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards
We opted for a champagne vineyard for our first stop as it was a morning tasting. We visited Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards.
This picturesque vineyard is simply stunning. The weather helped…as you can see from the photos, no filter was necessary!
This private tour was educational to say the least. We were quickly brought up to speed on the history of the caves, the science behind sparkling wine, and how Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are ‘transformed into delicate bubbles and estate grown wines‘ (the tour guide’s description, not mine!). FYI It actually takes anywhere from three to ten years to make a great bottle of Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine!
We were able to walk throughout the winery – from production and bottling to an overlook of the main cave itself. A glass of bubbly was at hand at all times!
I bought a beautiful set of six hand painted wine glasses. I will treasure these forever. My husband thought I was crazy carrying them home in my luggage but I absolutely adore them! I will admit, however, that I am a sucker for gift shops!
For our second tasting, we visited Cline Cellars. This is a family-owned vineyard and winery in the beautiful Carneros region of Sonoma County.
For this tasting, our group was seated at a picnic table to taste the various wines. Very different to the formality of our first tour, I found this vineyard offered a much more laid-back, relaxed wine tasting atmosphere. The estate itself is very impressive with absolutely stunning views (I didn’t forget to gift shop here either, buying some fridge magnets to add to my collection!).
Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery
For our final tasting we visited Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery. Lunch was pre-booked at this venue and gladly welcomed as we were all a bit ravenous at this point and in need of a bit of soakage! On arrival we were seated outside and each given a bistro-style picnic lunch which included a sandwich, side salad, and dessert. Once we had had our fill, it was on for more vino – troopers I tell you!
This vineyard is located in the heart of Sonoma wine country. It offers a historic winery which even has a barrel room with antique redwood tanks…not too shabby!
That concluded our wine tasting for the day. The party bus was in flying form for the journey home with a Siege of Ennis even danced…I kid you not! There were more than a few sore heads the following day, myself included! A wonderful experience for anybody contemplating a SF visit! Just to give you a guide as to the cost of a day like this, the price was $115 per person. This included the party bus, three vineyards and lunch – well worth it!
I recently read that Sonoma County was named one of Wine Enthusiast’s 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations for 2014. I can see why!
I hope that you consider a day wine tasting if you decide to visit California. It is a must!