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Old 08-11-2008, 11:57 AM   #1
wickesy
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow, you're always a day...closer to our next Disney trip
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Way Out West - Day 3 – Wine Country Tour

Today we were off across the Golden Gate Bridge again, only this time it wouldn’t be on the back of an open top fire engine but rather in a well enclosed tour bus run by Wine Country Tour Shuttle.

The tour was due to leave from the Ferry Building at 8:15 and we had to check-in by 7:55. As the Ferry Building was quite a way from the hotel we were up at 6:00 and out of the hotel by 7:00 to catch the old fashioned streetcar from just a block away from the hotel.

The streetcar arrived at 7:17 and by 7:30 we were looking around the Farmer’s Market set up outside the Ferry Building. We then sat and waited until a line began to form to check-in for the tour and soon after we had obtained our boarding passes and been told that our tour guide for the day would be Jerry.

We met up with Jerry at 8:10 and discovered that there were actually four buses going on the tour but they would run different itineraries so we weren’t all in the same places at the same time. There were 40 in our group and dead on 8:15 we set off for our first stop, which was to be the V. Sattui winery in Napa Valley.

We arrived at V. Sattui at 10:00 and Jerry handed us coupons giving us $10 off the cost of any food in the deli at the winery before showing us where everything was. We were then left to do our own thing but were told we had to be back on the bus ready to leave at 11:30.

Dad and I decided to start off in the tasting room, which is setup like a bar but with specific areas for people to stand and taste and ‘menus’ of wines available. The tasting fees were $5 for 6 of the standard wines or $10 for 6 of the premium wines. We both went for the standard wines and although I didn’t make a note of what Dad had I tried a Chardonnay, off-dry Riesling (my favourite of the 6), Gamay Rouge, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Muscat. Now neither of us are what you would call wine connoisseurs, in fact we normally buy our wine in bulk from Tesco in France on day trips, so don’t expect any in-depth tasting notes as to us they all tasted the same!

After the tasting we went to the deli and I ordered a Black Forest Ham and Swiss Cheese on focaccia bread while Dad had Chicken Pesto on focaccia and we had a medium portion of gnocchi to share, which taking into account our coupons cost a total of $6.97. The winery has several picnic areas and we found a nice shady spot to eat an early lunch.











We were all back on the bus bang on time at 11:30 and set off for our next destination, which was Domaine Chandon, run by the same company who produce Moet & Chandon. Here we were offered the choice of tour and tasting for $10 or tour only for $7. Dad and I both opted for the tour and tasting and, together with the rest of group, we were given a short tour of the winery by our guide, Meredith, who explained how the different sparkling wines are fermented and blended to produce the dry and sweet varieties of sparkling wine (for those who are unaware it cannot be called champagne if it is not made in the Champagne area of France). After the tour we were led out onto a grassy area outside the main building where we were given three different varieties to try, although I didn’t make a note of what they were but I remember one was a brut and one was an extra dry, which is actually sweeter than a brut.





We left Domaine Chandon at 1:00 and arrived at our next winery – Andretti winery at 1:15. This winery is owned by the famous ex-racing driver Mario Andretti and he has been running it since 1996. Here again we were led off to a shady grassed area next to the vines where paid another $10 for four tastings – Pinot Grigio, one I can’t remember, Pinot Noir and a Sirah (better known as a Shiraz).









We were back on the bus at 2:00 and off to our fourth and final destination, Rutherford Ranch, where we paid yet another $10 for a tasting of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Rhiannon.

We left Rutherford Ranch at 3:00 and set off for the town of Vallejo where we boarded the ferry for a return sailing to San Francisco, avoiding all the traffic. We boarded the ferry at 3:45 and found a seat in the small area at the back, which was quite hot as we were sitting at the dock but once we left it turned out to be a nice shady spot and sheltered from the wind so we had a nice crossing past the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, arriving back in San Francisco at around 5:00.



The tour cost a total of $95 each for a 9 hour tour which, all things considered, I would say is value for money as Jerry did provide us with a lot of information about San Francisco and the Napa Valley wineries in general, not just the ones we visited. Although the cost of lunch and the ferry crossing is included, the tasting fees are not because the tour company believe that not everybody will want to try wines at all four wineries. It has to be said that, other than the first, the wine tastings were a little ‘rushed’ leading to knocking back almost the equivalent of a glass of wine in around 15-20 minutes, although there was the option of pouring the remaining wine into buckets if you didn’t want to drink it all.

---cont---
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Old 08-11-2008, 11:58 AM   #2
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Once we got off the ferry we went across the street to pick up the streetcar although when it came along it was as packed as an underground train in rush hour and we had to squeeze on and stand all the way back to Pier 39 before getting a seat for the last couple of stops.



We bypassed the free wine in the lobby and got back to the room at 5:30 where, as I wasn’t feeling too great we had a ‘quiet evening in’ before going to bed at 9:00.

Tomorrow: Day 4 - Union Square, Cable Car Museum and more.
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Last edited by wickesy; 08-12-2008 at 03:16 AM.
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Old 08-11-2008, 12:48 PM   #3
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The tour sounds great, David, although I'm not a wine drinker so probably wouldn't necessarily enjoy it. Hardly surprising you weren't feeling well that night, though
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Old 08-11-2008, 12:56 PM   #4
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well, I am quite disappointed that you skipped the free wine in the hotel lobby!

wine tasting tour-sounds like the kind of trip I would love! the weather looked good as well.
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Old 08-11-2008, 01:00 PM   #5
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Great report David.

Love the sound of the Fire Truck Tour and the Napa Valley wine tasting tour - well done for sampling so many.

I will make a mental note to try the Fire Truck Tour next time we do San Francisco as it looks like a great way to see the city.

Some great photos too. Looking forward to reading more

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Old 08-11-2008, 01:50 PM   #6
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Oh wow! David, this sounds like my type of day...wine tasting all day, yum yum "hic"
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Old 08-11-2008, 01:57 PM   #7
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Sounds like a great day....I would like to the Napa Valley tour but my DH doesn't drink wine do you think a non wine drinker would be bored?
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Old 08-11-2008, 02:29 PM   #8
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Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow, you're always a day...closer to our next Disney trip
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinky166 View Post
Sounds like a great day....I would like to the Napa Valley tour but my DH doesn't drink wine do you think a non wine drinker would be bored?
I don't think he would be bored. There's plenty of scenery to see as you go between the wineries, people to talk to and we were only at each winery for 30-45 minutes. Plus because the tasting fees are paid separately you wouldn't have to worry that you were paying out for wine he wasn't going to taste.
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Old 08-11-2008, 11:53 PM   #9
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What a memorable day. You certainly covered a lot of ground and your photos are lovely, frame-worthy reminders of the good time you had. I'll bet by the third or fourth winery you were glad you hadn't chosen a bike tour!
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Old 08-12-2008, 05:47 AM   #10
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Wow, that's a lot of wine! No wonder you felt a little worse for wear
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Old 08-12-2008, 02:45 PM   #11
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Great day.Pics are great-lovely scenery.x.
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Old 08-13-2008, 02:05 AM   #12
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another great day
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Old 08-13-2008, 02:07 AM   #13
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Great day
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Old 08-13-2008, 02:44 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Oh wow! David, this sounds like my type of day...wine tasting all day, yum yum "hic"
just what i was thinking
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Old 08-13-2008, 12:49 PM   #15
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You had truly orgainised yourselves to have the perfect holiday. Your photos really bring it all to life for us as it is somewhere we have never been. Althogh we have been to California we never considered a visit to San Francisco and after reading your report this could have been a mistake



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