Sonoma and Napa Valley Wine Tours from San Francisco $140/person

WHY TASTING FEES ARE NOT INCLUDED?

We select wineries based on the input you share with us regarding the kinds of wines you like and the kinds of experiences that you are looking for, customizing it as much as we can. Tasting fees vary based on the caliber of the winery and the experience. Often $15 to $35/person at each winery. The tasting fees are usually waived with wine purchase or when you are / become a wine club member.

Why us? Exceptional Wine Tour Service, Small Group: 2 - 8 Guests

From acclaimed wineries and romantic picnic spots to scenic hidden gems, we offer unforgettable experience with private or semi-private wine tours in a plush Lincoln Navigator SUV or Nissan Passenger Van. Our wine tours to Sonoma and Napa Valley are created based upon group wants and wine preferences. Our aim is to create a wine tour experience that is fully customized for you. We want you to feel like you planned the trip yourself but with none of the hassle. With a Private Wine Tour we let you choose entirely what wineries you would like to visit, or you can give us perimeters and we can create an itinerary that best meets your needs.

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We begin our day in San Francisco, stopping at one or two attractions, such as the Palace of Fine Arts and the Golden Gate Bridge, and then ride gleefully out of the city towards Sonoma and Napa Valley, all the while drinking champagne and learning of the landmarks and history about the areas driven through. It's approximately 1 hour and half away from the bustling streets of San Francisco to miles of peaceful rolling hills, valleys and mountains in world-renowned wine country. Widely known to produce most popular varietals in equally exquisite surroundings, the bountiful vineyards and off beaten path wineries of Sonoma and Napa Valley serve as unparalleled destinations for one-day getaways in a small group wine tour. We believe it's the best experience ever!

OUR TOP 35 MOST FAVORITE WINERIES:

Chappellet - Vine Cliff- Frog's Leap - Jarvis - Schweiger - Caymus - CADE - Joseph Phelps - The Terraces at Quarry - Stag's Leap Wine Cellars - Domaine Carneros - Silver Oak - Sullivan Vineyards - Duckhorn - Chateau Boswell - Mumm Napa - Robert Biale - Pride Mountain - Porter Family Vineyards - Antica Napa - Kuleto - Quintessa - Stony Hill - Saintsbury - Robert Keenan - Nickel & Nickel - Del Dotto - Fontanella - Rombauer - Cakebread Cellars - Spring Mountain Vineyards - Far Niente - Schramsberg Vineyards - The Caves at Soda Canyon- Materra Cunat Family

WINE MAKING PROCESS - SONOMA AND NAPA VALLEY WINE COUNTRY

January - March

Vineyard workers begin to prune the vines about two to three months after harvest. Pruning helps regulate crop size, dictates how many buds will open the next spring and how many flowers will develop, as each flower becomes a grape. Left to its own the vine will produce a surplus of fruit which can lead to lower quality. While pruning decreases the quantity, it increases the quality of fruit left on the vine. The grower determines what type of pruning method will be used to train the vine.

Budbreak & Growth: April - May

During the month of April, the life cycle begins for the new grapes. Buds remaining from the winter pruning open to produce leaves and new cane growth. Flowers begin to grow and form during the months of April (bud break), and by May and into June, take the shape of tiny grapes, clusters. During the growing period, the vineyard team tends to the vines, removing unwanted shoots (suckering) to focus the vines' energy into the selected buds. The vineyard team is also careful to protect new buds from late spring frosts.

Fruit Development: June - July

After the flower petals drop, berries are visible and grapes begin to look like tiny green balls. Grape growers continue to monitor new cane growth and adjust trellis systems to support the new shoots. By the end of July, the grapes hit a point of maturation in which sugar levels begin to increase and in red varietals, change color. This process is called "veraison". Growers begin to see the more familiar yellow-green of white wine grapes and the deep purple of red grapes.

Harvest : August - October: Best time to go on a wine tour with a small group

While the fruit is hanging on the vine, the winemaker tours the vineyard to decide on optimal harvest time based on taste, the grapes' varietal flavors, maturity, and a chemical analysis of the sugar (brix) and acid levels. Grapes from different parts of the vineyard are sampled to get an accurate representation of the entire vineyard.

Crushing - Peak Season for Wine Tours from San Francisco to Napa Valley

After grapes are harvested, they are transported from picking bins onto a sorting belt where the leaves and debris are removed. The next stage in winemaking is extracting the juice through crushing / destemming. Crushing gently splits open the grapes and destemming separates the stems from the grapes. Both grapes and juice are vulnerable to deterioration, so the winemaker is careful to avoid any delays. The juice must be extracted without breaking the bitter seeds (pips) and the stems must be removed to avoid adding bitterness to the wine.

Should you wish to see the crushing process, September - October is definitely the best time to schedule a wine tour from San Francisco to Sonoma and Napa Valley. We highly recommend booking 1 month in advance.

White Wine Fermentation:

Wine is a result of fermentation, a natural process in which the sugar in grapes is converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide through the action of yeast (primary fermentation). While there are potentially millions of natural yeast cells (bloom) coating the outside of the grapes at harvest time, selected pure yeast strains are added to the juice at fermentation. As soon as all available sugar has been consumed, the yeast stops working.

Secondary fermentation (malolactic fermentation) is a biochemical reaction different from the primary one in several ways. It is induced by bacteria and does not create alcohol. Instead, it involves a conversion of malic acid (acid found in green apples) into lactic acid (acid found in milk).

Red Wine Fermentation and Pressing:

Pressing in making a red wine is usually employed when fermentation is nearly complete. After the free-run wine has been removed by drawing off the top layer, some remaining wine is trapped with the mass of grape skins. To separate the usable wine from the skins, the entire remaining mass (pomace) is pumped or shoveled from the fermentation tanks into a press. This wine is known as a press wine and is usually heavier, darker in color and more tannic. The precise yeast strain used during fermentation and temperature are two of the best indicators of what kind of esters (some of the aromas that are created by the reaction of acids and alcohol) will emerge and helps explain partially why Carbernet Sauvigon grown in the same vineyard but made by two different winemakers could have different aromatics.

Barrel Selection:

The type of barrel used is one way a winemaker can influence the taste of a wine after fermentation. Wine aged in oak barrels extracts aromatic compounds that increase a wine's complexity. If there is too much of an oak influence, a wine will be overpowered by the oak flavors therefore masking the fruit and varietal characters. Barrels also allow a degree of oxidation that can soften a wine. The newer the barrel, the stronger the oak flavors. Flavor can also vary, depending on the style of cooperage (oak producer), and the degree of toasting. There are light, medium and heavy toasts. The length and temperature of toasting changes the amount and types of volatile compounds. Different wood species from different forests impart different flavors.

Aging:

Grape varietals from different vineyard blocks either in Napa Valley or Sonoma are fermented and aged separately. White wines can age in stainless steel tank or in barrel and need a much shorter time to mature than red wines. They can be aged in contact with yeast sediment or without. Red wines are aged mostly in barrels using various oak types and allows some positive interaction of oxidation to occur. The decision of how long to age a wine and what type of barrel to age it in depends on the style of wine the winemaker is trying to achieve.

Thank you for visiting our website, we look forward to offering you impeccable service and a wine tour to remember. Please feel free to book online if you would like to join our small group wine tours from San Francisco to Sonoma and Napa Valley.

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GREEN HILLS WINE TOURS

 

Contact us: +1 (510) 228-6151