Whether you’ve been to San Francisco a hundred times or you’ve never been at all, it’s always a good idea to visit the wine country and cruise around the bay.  I’ve only been to Napa Valley once and that was over a decade ago! Truth be told, we visited so many tasting rooms that the details of that trip are a bit fuzzy. So, I was chomping at the bit to get back there on my recent visit to San Francisco. With three days in the city, I decided to book a tour that I could do on two of those days so I booked the Wine Country Experience & Golden Gate Bridge Cruise.

THE TOUR

The morning of the tour, I was picked up one block from my hotel and taken to the main office. There, I exchanged my voucher for a ticket and boarded the bus in search of wine in Napa Valley and Sonoma County.

Tour Tip: Bring bottled water and a snack. You can stop at the 7-11 next door to the office. Don’t forget cash for the driver’s tip at the end of the tour.

The tour bus took off for wine country 9:00 a.m. and most people were still in sleep mode. At this point, the bus was pretty quiet except for the driver.  This man knew everything about San Francisco!  It was great to hear some of the history but it was very early, if ya know what I mean!

MADONNA ESTATE

The first stop on the tour took us to this organic wine tasting room. Yes, that’s right, Madonna Estate makes organic wine and trust me, you want some.  They are, by far, the smallest producing vineyard we visited but don’t let that fool you. The wine was outstanding and their enthusiasm for what they do was evident as they educated us on the process of organic wine making. Okay, so I don’t remember the exact details of how it’s made but I do remember the Pinot Noir Reserve!

SUTTER HOME

To be honest, I’m not really a fan of Sutter Home wine but there were people who really enjoyed it. I found most of the wine to be too sweet but I did fall in love with one item in their store. They have the most amazing Zinfandel Garlic mustard.  Yep, you heard me, I went wine tasting and bought mustard but at least there’s wine in it! While I didn’t love the wine, I did love seeing some of the vintage tools they used back in the day. I’d love to get my hands on one of those old bottle openers!

LUNCH

After visiting two tasting rooms, we stopped for lunch in Yountville where we were presented with several options for dining.  There was everything from a Michelin star restaurant to a gourmet marketplace so we had no problem finding a place to eat.

Tour Tip: Don’t take too long choosing a restaurant because an hour and a half goes by fast when you’re dining with a group.

If you stop in Yountville, do yourself a favor and eat at Hurley’s. The restaurant exterior was misleading but the inside was charming and elegant.  I’m so happy we stopped there because this was the best meal I’d had in ages!

SEBASTIANI

The last stop of the day was Sebastiani. Unfortunately, it was pouring outside so we didn’t get a tour of the exterior but the wine more than made up for it. We tried several bottles of red and a bottle of white and we learned why you should NEVER pour water into your wine glass.  Here’s a hint, the water never fully drains and it dilutes the wine.  Fun fact about the large wine barrel (above-right): If it were full of wine and you drank one bottle every night, it would take over 200 years to finish the barrel!  How do I get one of these in my house?!

BACK TO THE CITY

Tour Tip: Even though you arrive back in the city around 5 p.m., be prepared to stay for at least another hour or more. Each guest is dropped off at their hotel and it can take a long time in traffic. That’s where those snacks come in handy!

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE CRUISE: 

The next day, I woke up early to see the Golden Gate Bridge. This massive bridge stands 746 feet tall and 4,200-feet wide and approximately 39 million cars make their way across it each day. Once I arrived at the pier, I was led a line about 1/2 a mile long.  As I waited, I planned my strategy of finding the best spot for picture taking.  On board, I was given a headset and a small radio to listen to a narration of the tour.

Once I had my hardware, I made a beeline for the upper deck to get an unobstructed view. Of course, I wasn’t the only one with that idea so it was pretty crowded.  As we began to move, everyone stood along the railings to take pictures. At times, it was almost impossible to get a shot without an arm, strands of hair or an iPad.

Tour Tip: As you leave the marina, skip the far away pictures of Alcatraz and photograph the city instead. The ship will make its way around Alcatraz Island before heading back so there are countless opportunities to get a close up.

As we made our way towards the Golden Gate Bridge, we passed some pretty historic sights like Alcatraz Island, Crissy Field, Fort Mason, the Marina District, and Oakland Bay Bridge.  Since the ship moved so slowly, I had plenty of time to view the bridge from different angles.  There was no need to rush from one location to the other.  For a while, I stood there enjoying the scenery and listening to the history of the Golden Gate Bridge.

THOUGHTS

I had a great time on this tour and I’m so glad I did it. At first, I thought I would be the only solo woman but I was lucky to meet two other ladies traveling alone.  So, if you think you need a travel companion or partner in crime, think again. You just might make a new friend! If you’re looking for a creative gift for yourself or a loved one, consider buying a Tinggly Gift Experience.

Tinggly is a unique website where you can purchase “the world’s best experiences in one gift box!”  You can choose from over 350+ experiences in over 80 countries! If you can’t afford a vacation right now, don’t worry because you have two years to use your gift box!  With so many options to choose from, the possibilities are endless!  For a full list of experiences, click to see the Tinggly Collection!

Note: As a Tinggly Ambassador, this tour was provided to me by the company.  However, all opinions are my own.


Have you been to San Francisco? Did you take a tour or a cruise?  Tell me about it in the comments!