Summer is soon approaching and whether you are a local or a visitor, there is no better time to take a wine tour through the many different wine counties within and outside the Bay Area. Many favorites include Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Livermore Valley, Russian River Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains, and the South Bay wineries.
While Napa has been touted as the most famous for it’s wines and cuisines, you should certainly not miss out on the the smaller wine countries. Livermore Valley, while not as world-recognized as Napa and Sonoma, would you believe is the oldest wine valley in the region and where wine production originated in the Bay Area. There is so much to Livermore Valley’s history you will not want to miss out on an excursion through the various wineries there.
One of my favorite ways to travel to wine country with friends and family is by renting a limousine, small bus or SUV, which is typically accompanied with your very own designated driver. This allows for everyone traveling to sample different varieties of wines without restriction.
Many limo companies have wine tour specials over the summer that you can look into. If you are traveling from the Bay Area, you may want to look into a 6-8 hour trip, taking into account the 1-hour travel time each way, the time to visit 2-3 wineries and have lunch at one of the many popular restaurants and eateries in Napa Valley.
Besides wine tasting which is what most travel to Napa for, you may also want to head out early morning for one of their famous hot air balloon rides. Take off is usually about 7:00am-8:00am and the ride encompasses the entire valley, providing you with the most amazing overhead view of the rolling hills and vineyards.
If you are in town with a significant other for a special occasion, or with mom for Mother’s Day, with the girls for a “girls day out” or a bridal shower, don’t forget to try out Napa’s famous spas and resorts for pampering and relaxation. If you have the extra time, you may want to travel the extra hour up to Calistoga’s hot springs for their popular mud baths and immerse yourself in a nice warm bath filled with minerals that are great for your skin.
If you need recommendations of places to eat, a few that I enjoy are Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch which uses their own farm fresh ingredients and practices biodynamic and sustainable farming. The Fig and the Girl, La Bouchon, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, Brix, Bottega, and if you have the money, The French Laundry which you will want to save for a very special occasion and make reservations 6 months in advance.
So, if you have nothing planned for the summer, at least make a trip out to one of the Bay Area’s great wine countries.