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Day Trip Wine Tours from SF

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My wife & I will be visiting SF the first week of May for a real visit (last visit was a 6 hour stop-off during a cruise). I'll seeking advice on dining options closer to the trip, but need some advice on a Christmas gift idea. Hopefully the wife isn't reading this now ... :blink:

So here's what I'm looking for:

  • Limo/town car service that will pick up in SF
  • Flexibility as to which wineries to visit
  • Reputable!

I guess the last one is the most important, as I figure tour groups can take you wherever they want. As this is HOPEFULLY for Christmas, time is of the essence! Thanks in advance


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Daddy-A, sorry you haven't had any responses yet. I'm afraid while I can provide an ample list of winery recommendations, I can't give any thoughts on limo companies as most are based out of wine country.

I might suggest that since you are basing yourself out of SF, you must be staying at a hotel here in the city and that you check with the concierge of that particular hotel. They are probably your best bet for such a referral and then from there, we can start putting together your tour package.

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California Wine Tours is the grandaddy of all the limo and tour services in Northern California wine country. Been in business for 25 years+. I've never used them, but see them all the time in Napa and Sonoma.

"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi Arne, (this is long)

We just came back from 5 days in San Fran, Dec. 23 - 27th. Believe it or not, I did more walking than eating there, as it was beautifully sunny and warm during the day. (People who live there disagreed, however.) Anyway, just to let you know, we took a winery day tour through the company, GuideYou.com, which is operated by the Bay City Guide. It was $125 for 2 of us. We didn't do any research on any companies, just booked it the day before. It's not that it was bad, it just wasn't good either. Huge motor coach, half empty, and the driver's character set a poor mood right from the start for me. Someone asked him, "How long have you been a tour guide?" and he replied with something like, "Found a rut, packed my bags, and moved right in." Funny to some, I guess. How I want to describe him is, "Las Vegas" style. Can't judge a tour by its driver alone, however.

The wineries we visited were Mont St. John/Madonna, Viansa, and Cline. Tour info here: http://www.guideyou.com/prod_view.php?prod_idx=11 Being the first one, Madonna, had an easy job as the audience was fresh, but, too much time spent in the parking lot. We aren't sure if this is standard or not? Is their a schedule to follow? Or was it because our driver fell asleep inside the bus? No joke, we had to wake him up by pounding on the bus door. For me, Cline was the best out of the three for its traditional atmosphere. Viansa could have been missed altogether as it came across as too commercialized. However, I could imagine it would be lovely to sit with lunch and a glass of wine on their terrace in the summer for the view. Did I buy any wines? No, none stood out for me, but, as you know, I'm more an eater than a drinker.

As this was the first guided wine tour by bus I have ever taken I can't really say if it's standard or not. (I biked one in New Zealand.) I'm glad I saw the area (would like to see it again in the summer), but would consider another mode of getting there. It's good you have time to research and find something less touristy and more intimate perhaps. If you haven't done so already, look at Trip Advisor's forum too.

Also, ate at the restaurant, Bushi-tei, in Japantown, twice while we were there. We stayed at the Hotel Kabuki across the street so it was very convenient. Absolutely beautiful interior! If I had to choose a last meal it would be their "Seared foie gras, pumpkin pot de creme and grilled Sonoma lamb chop with wasabi port sauce". I told the server that if I died on the plane ride back to Vancouver, he could rest assured I died happy.

"One chocolate truffle is more satisfying than a dozen artificially flavored dessert cakes." Darra Goldstein, Gastronomica Journal, Spring 2005 Edition

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sorry if this is too late. . .

before i moved out to s.f., me, my wife and some friends came for a visit and used reserve wine tours. ran into dan, the driver, recently at a winery and said that he does do pick-ups in s.f. he's also really good at planning and making itineraries with you. i know my wife had several email conversations with him about wineries and what types of wine we were interested in.

also, i would avoid doing bus tours, since alot of wineries do not allow buses, you tend to only go to large wineries.

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