Enjoy delectable wines north of the bay area
The Bay Area’s winding streets, sprawling tech campuses and beautiful Redwood forests attract visitors from across the globe, but the region is internationally renowned for its most delicious export: wine.
Northeast of the San Francisco Bay is Napa Valley—America’s most iconic wine-growing area. Orient your group in the city of Napa, where European-style arcades line the shore of the serene Napa River, and pay a visit to the Culinary Institute of America at Copia. Here, you can watch cooking demonstrations, enjoy wine pairing meals and browse the adjacent Oxbow Public Market. Beyond downtown and tucked at the end of the Silverado Trail is Judd Hill Winery, where visitors can participate in the popular Bottle Blending Day Camp. After learning about the winery’s popular Bordeaux-style blends, visitors can select a blend and cuvée as they hand-bottle and label their own souvenir bottle to bring home. Afterwards, relax on the tasting patio for a California sunset.
No trip to Napa is complete without an excursion on the Napa Wine Train, which was established in 1864 and whisks passengers 18 miles from Napa to the village of St. Helena. A variety of experiences package meals in the train’s elegant dining cars with extensive tours of popular vineyards like Mondavi, Beringer and Castello di Amarosa—a reproduction of a 13th century Tuscan castle. Visitors can also view the valley from the skies with an aerial voyage with Balloons Above the Valley.
Boasting a dramatic Pacific coastline and more relaxed atmosphere, Sonoma County is equally welcoming to large groups interested in sampling the region’s famous Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Zinfandels. Head east from the county’s largest city—Santa Rosa—to Kunde Family Winery, which offers cave tours, vineyard hikes and tastings in a rustic cattle barn. Visitors can walk off their samples in the town of Glen Ellen and Jack London State Historic Park, which includes 19th century winery ruins, a 2,000-year-old redwood tree and the cottage where the Call of the Wild author wrote. Back in Glen Ellen is the innovate Benziger Family Winery, which produces eco-friendly wines along the slopes of Sonoma Mountain. Packages include a tram ride, garden tour and taste of the acclaimed Joaquin’s Inferno red blend.
More agritourism awaits in the charming city of Petaluma, whose streets are lined with elegant Victorian homes and Iron Front buildings. Be sure to reserve a tour McClelland’s Dairy, where you can pet baby cows, learn about sustainable farming and see how butter and crème fraiche is made. Local wineries to pair with these adventure include Kastania Vineyards (which specializes in rich reds like Bordeaux and Burgundy) and Sonoma Portworks (where visitors can learn the