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View Full Version : Way Out West - Day 3 – Wine Country Tour



wickesy
01-11-2008, 04:45 PM
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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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---

wickesy
01-11-2008, 04:46 PM
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.

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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.

foreverducky
01-11-2008, 06:25 PM
Sounds like an interesting tour. Love the photos.

PsychoAlice
04-11-2008, 01:20 AM
"or those who are unaware it cannot be called champagne if it is not made in the Champagne area of France"

Actually that is only partially right....

Quite a few years back Champagne, France was in a drought...frightened that it may loose its grapes the family sent out on a mission to find a place that had the same soil content and same type of weather. They found that place to be in Modesto, California. They sent some grape vines there and started to plant and make Champange there...so there are only 2 places in the world that can call it Champange...Champagne, France and Modesto California

Beccaberry
04-11-2008, 07:31 PM
Oh wow!!! Those photos are GORGEOUS! Thanks for sharing!

Beccaberry
04-11-2008, 07:35 PM
"or those who are unaware it cannot be called champagne if it is not made in the Champagne area of France"

Actually that is only partially right....

Quite a few years back Champagne, France was in a drought...frightened that it may loose its grapes the family sent out on a mission to find a place that had the same soil content and same type of weather. They found that place to be in Modesto, California. They sent some grape vines there and started to plant and make Champange there...so there are only 2 places in the world that can call it Champange...Champagne, France and Modesto California

Then someone *might* want to tell these folks! (http://www.modbee.com/local/v-print/story/176929.html)

mInNiE
07-11-2008, 07:41 PM
Amazing photo's, the winery's look so peaceful!! I would have felt quite dizzy knocking back as many as that I think :p015:lol, not surprised you didn't feel like another glass back at the Tuscan Inn ;)