San Francisco is not only a very exciting city, it is also the perfect place for those looking to indulge in the tasting of some of the best produced wines in the world. Personally for me, staying in San Fran and heading out for the day up to wine country offers the very best of both worlds. Not all nearby Californian vineyards are accessible in a day from San Fran, but many are and if you want to do it in a single day, you need to get your plans lined up ahead of time. I would recommend getting some private transport to maximize your time and with a private minibus or charter bus rental, no one in your party will have to sit out the fun by being designated driver. If you love wine, here are the places where I would recommend you visit on your day trip from San Francisco.
Donkey & Goat
This unforgettably named vineyard was first up on our tour, just 35 minutes outside of the city in the Bay Area. The vineyard is owned by Jared and Tracey Brandt, who source grapes locally from areas like Mendocino and El Dorado. What I love about the operation which they have here is that they use old-school techniques, shunning the modern technology which speeds things up, and instead focussing on the quality of their produce. This is open to the public on the weekend, where there is plenty of tasting going on.
In Napa Valley you will find a huge amount of wineries and my favorite of those which we did visit was this family-owned vineyard just off Highway 29. The tour here will set you back 50 bucks but I cam assure you that the tour, the wine and the food parings which you will enjoy makes it money well spent. The tasting takes place in a rustic barn and you can expect to taste some of the finest red wines, especially Cabernet’s, which are being made in this area.
Staying in Napa, next up is the Beaulieu vineyard, one of the oldest in the area which began production way back in 1885. Again you can expect to enjoy barrel aged Cabernet here which will set your sense alight, as well as a new Riesling which tastes absolutely beautiful, especially when drank in the original building from back in the 19th Century.
Unfortunately owing to time constraints we were’t able to see too much of Sonoma Valley, but we did make it to Banshee, a delightful and modern tasting room in downtown Healdsburg. This place has thrown out the idea of a bar and dedicated the place to tasting the fine produce of crisp Chardonnays and fresh Pinots, straight from the vineyard. I like the way that this place is dedicated to enjoying the wine, and the food options perfectly compliment the wines with dishes like brined trout and meze platters.
If you have some time in San Francisco, you definitely have time to take one of these short day trips and indulge in some beautiful wine choices.