Chas­ing the Grape – Cal­i­for­nia Style

Let's Travel - - USA | CALIFORNIA -

Wine tourism in Cal­i­for­nia is as so­phis­ti­cated and ca­sual as the vine­yards them­selves. You can choose from self-drive with B&B stays, to the tour bus/larger group op­tion, to pri­vate he­li­copters mov­ing you around se­lected cen­tres and vine­yards. In fact you can say its planes, trains and au­to­mo­biles. Yes, there is even a lux­ury train or two that “com­mutes” north from San Francisco to the wine coun­try around Sonoma and the Napa Val­ley.

What­ever style you choose, and it re­ally de­pends on the depth of one’s wal­let, you will find the Wine Coun­try of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia a fas­ci­nat­ing mix of his­tory, styles and per­son­al­i­ties.

We chose a one day small group tour (max 13) from San Francisco that con­cen­trated on two bou­tique winer­ies in Sonoma and the larger more com­mer­cial Do­maine Chan­don in the neigh­bour­ing Napa Val­ley.

As luck would have it we picked Hal­loween AND the same day the San Francisco Gi­ants base­ball team held their vic­tory pa­rade through the streets of San Francisco – it was a good day to head for the hills and away from the mil­lion plus crowd. De­spite the rain that ev­ery lo­cal was cel­e­brat­ing, given it was the first in over four months, it cer­tainly didn’t dampen our day!

Recog­nised as the birth­place of Cal­i­for­nia’s wine in­dus­try, the Sonoma Val­ley is home to 183-year-old vines with 400 plus winer­ies, 100 plus or­ganic farms and miles of beau­ti­ful Pa­cific Coast. It is a mere 45 minute drive north of the city cen­tre via the Golden Gate Bridge. So from ho­tel to first tast­ing it is re­ally an hour, al­low­ing for one or two other pick­ups. Given it was 10am when we ar­rived one has to take the first sip with the mind-set of a con­nois­seur rather than a bunch of peo­ple hang­ing out for an early morn­ing tip­ple!

Napa Val­ley

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