In 1839, George Yount became the first man to plant grapes on the fertile soil of the Napa Valley. Now the town that bears his name, Yountville, is completely surrounded by vineyards that have contributed fruit to one of the most famous wine regions in the world. While Cabernet Sauvignon is considered the royal grape of the Napa Valley, Pinot Noir (better known for its solo in Sideways), Chardonnay and Merlot are all grown in the region.
There are at least 400 different wineries in the Napa Valley, located in the North Central region of California. In order to shop all the wineries, one would have to quit their job and work full time. However, a saner, more environmentally friendly option is to take a private winery tour. Wine tastings, cooking classes, and winery estate tours are common here, but it’s best to know which wineries to visit with the help of a local so you can spend more time tasting the wines. Here are three of the best private Napa Valley wine tours, chosen based on itinerary, length of time, great value for money, and of course, the pedigree of the winery.
Private Sonoma Napa Wine Tours & Custom Concierge Service
From $130/person: $130/person
This excellent, extensive private tour is designed to give you complete freedom as you roam the Napa Valley. Choose from 19 different wineries to create your own perfect day in North America’s premier wine destination. At each winery, you can take a guided tour, although generally there is an additional charge for the tastings. As with all the tours on this list, in addition to the friendly drivers, you can enjoy the experience in your own private space. Tours depart daily and are picked up from any hotel or home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Large groups will choose an SUV, while the Lincoln sedan is often the vehicle of choice for couples and small groups.
Private custom tour of Naples.
Do you have a favorite tipple? Perhaps a delicate pinot noir, or a citrusy Sauvignon Blanc? Either way, this private tour allows you to structure your itinerary to your liking and at your own pace so you can focus on, and more importantly, taste, your favorite wines. Some excellent choices include Castello di Amorosa (Cabernet Sauvignon) and Domaine Chandon (Chardonnay). Some tickets and tastings are available for an additional fee. If you are already staying in the Sonoma Valley or Napa Valley, then this tour offers free shuttle service throughout the region. From San Francisco, additional charges are available.
A Wine Country Discovery Tour from San Francisco
From $1,065 per group
On this excellent private tour, you can choose up to three wineries to visit and have someone else do all the driving for you while you taste the wine. In fact, your driver will also act as your private guide to some of the major attractions between San Francisco and Napa Valley, including a stop at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. On this itinerary, you can stop for one winery and tasting before lunch (entrance fee extra) and two more afterwards. The entire trip starts at 9 a.m. and lasts about 8 hours. Since the prices listed here are for the entire group and not per person, they are more suitable for large private groups of up to 12 people.