we desperately wanted to go to Napa valley during our very short trip to san francisco and didn't see the point of driving ourselves there and back to have to spit the wine out so we opted for a day trip with tower tours and are very glad we did.
now, we don't usually like organized coach tours. i couldn't think of anything worse than following a tour guide with clip board held aloft and a hundred people round but we wanted to see napa and spitting wine out is against our religion so we fell on the sword and booked the trip with trepidation knowing we would love it or hate it, probably the latter.
however, we were pleasantly surprised at the value and enjoyment. the coach picked us up at 7.55am and took us to the main office where there was a little wait to get everyone checked in and onto the right coach. we then set off for napa over the bay bridge for our first winery. madonna winery was very nice and the only winery that gave any information about the actual wine making process. we got lots of very nice wines to taste with a lovely host. we bought a bottle of pinot noir, so far so good.
we then went to sutter home winery and sampled three wines which were ok.
we drove to sonoma for lunch which was just idillic. a gorgeous place around a central square park with lots of shops and restaurants. we were given an hour and a quarter which seemed a long time but actually went very quickly and we would have loved to have spent longer there but as the driver said timing was crucial to fit everything in. we actually left a few passengers there as they were late getting back to the coach, they still haven't been found! (only joking - the driver went back for them whilst we enjoyed the next winery rather than holding up the whole coach which i thought was great)
the last winery was the best - cline wines. this is in beautiful surroundings and has an incredible vast barrel room (they hold weddings here which looked spectacular!). the two hosts were very very funny and the wine flowed. those who wanted to (and we did) could follow to a marquee to sample more wines (as many as you wanted), it was a little like an informal cocktail party and i was having a great time. we bought two bottles of syrah.
reluctantly we boarded the coach for our journey home across the golden gate bridge. the driver would drop you off wherever you wanted, fisherman's wharf or back at your hotel.
overall a great day. good value, good hosts and great wines.
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