Napa Valley is a beautiful landscape of grapevines and wildflowers, sitting across miles of rolling hills in Napa County, north of San Francisco.
Over the years, the region has become one of the world’s top destinations, especially for wine enthusiasts and gastronomes; Opus One, Mondavi, Duckhorn, La Torque, French Laundry, you will find them all here.
The Valley first burst onto the international scene during the 1976 Judgment of Paris, when its Chateau Montelena Chardonnay trounced some of the most prestigious bottles from France in a blind tasting Top 10 contest. Since then, it remains a hot ticket destination.
Check out these 15 best Napa Valley wine tours that are a definite must-try.
1. Napa & Sonoma Valley Wine Tour from San Francisco
This trip takes you on a tour of three or four separate wineries in Napa, Sonoma, and Yountville.
Blended into the tour is a history of the region’s wine-making craft, including stories of the early missionaries who introduced vines from Europe, as well as the Forty-Niners and their famous wine saloons.
You will learn about the wine-making process – from how grapes are picked to how they are crushed, blended and bottled as wine.
Wine sampling is a key part of this eight-hour guided tour. While lunch is not included, there is a stopover to indulge at either Vintage 1870 or the Sonoma Square.
2. Redwoods and Wine Country: Napa and Sonoma Full-Day Tour
This tour blends two wonderful elements of nature: strolling under the shadows of the world’s tallest trees – the majestic Sequoia Redwoods – and tasting the produce of grapes straight from the source.
The nine-hour tour includes stops at three separate wineries in Napa and Sonoma Valleys, where you’ll also learn about the history, craft, and science of winemaking in the region.
This is a well-rounded trip that will take your taste buds on a wine tasting adventure of vinos from different grapes, specialties, and crafts employed by the various operations, ranging from family-sized wineries to big-name entities.
There is a stop for lunch at the historic Sonoma Plaza.
3. Small Group Boutique Wine Tour with Tastings
This day-long tour takes you to off-the-beaten-path wineries on an intimate group tour that will linger long in the memory.
It starts with a pickup from most downtown San Francisco hotels and takes you on an excursion of three of the finest boutique wineries in Sonoma.
Wine tasting is top of the agenda at each, with an hour scheduled for each location.
There will be photo opportunities at the Golden Gate Bridge and you will also make a scenic stop in the picturesque Sausalito.
Lunch break will be in the town of Sonoma, where you will have a range of restaurants to take your pick of (lunch is excluded).
If you are in the mood for some history, you can take a stroll to the Mission San Francisco Solano.
Each group is limited to a dozen people and travel is by air-conditioned van with live commentary on board.
4. Full-Day Muir Woods and Sonoma Wine Tour
This day-long tour takes you on a wine tasting and nature adventure, starting with a trip across the Golden Gate Bridge, where you’ll make a photo stop on your way back.
The destination is Muir Woods National Monument, home to the famed giant, coastal redwoods. The 10-hour tour is done by eco-friendly bus to ensure no danger is posed to the protected forest area.
From here, you will head on an exploration of the finer things, with visits scheduled at three or four wineries in Sonoma.
After lunch, you will stop at renowned producers like the Larson Family, Robledo Family, Cline Cellars and Homewood wineries to taste reds, whites, and dessert wines.
5. Vineyard, Cave and Winery Tour of Napa and Sonoma with Lunch
This is a day-long educational wine tour that takes you to Napa and Sonoma Valleys: two regions that have grown into some of the world’s premier wine tasting destinations.
A complimentary hotel pickup is made at most downtown or Fisherman’s Wharf hotels, from where you’ll head past the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Benzinger Winery, the first stop.
Along the way, you will enjoy picture-perfect views of the Marin Headlands, Alcatraz and the famous San Francisco skyline.
You will pick up a lot about wine growing and craft, including what goes into ensuring the wines retain their “sense of place”.
You will be treated to an exclusive tasting of five to seven wines after the tour (some of which are not available outside of the winery) before heading for a picnic lunch at a different winery.
Lunch is followed up by a tour of Yountville, Oakville or Napa itself for more wine adventures – a part of the itinerary unique to each tour group that allows you to submit your recommendations.
6. Redwood & Wine Country Escape with Gourmet Lunch & Wine
This tour takes you on a wine tasting and nature adventure, starting with an hour sauntering under the magnificence of the Sequoia redwoods.
From there, you will head over to a vineyard to learn about the history of winemaking in California, which began over 100 years ago. Depending on availability, you will tour a boutique winery before three more scheduled stops at different wineries.
The package includes a three-course gourmet lunch in which you are allowed to make your own selection per course, so there are no excuses for when you start wobbling.
7. Full-Day Wine Country Bike Tour
If the goal is to go on an exclusive wine sampling adventure with no distractions in between, this is the tour for you.
The nine-hour expedition begins at around 9 am with shuttle service transport to wine country and four boutique California wineries on the itinerary.
The first stop is at a winery; after the wine tasting here, you’ll embark on a guided bike tour that takes you to the next winery.
The wine estates are separated by a distance of between three and seven miles, but it should be an easy ride as the terrain is mild and mostly flat. Those who prefer not to cycle can ride in the shuttle which moves along with the group.
A picnic lunch awaits following the second wine tasting, before stops at two more scenic estates.
8. Minibus Tour of Napa and Sonoma Valleys
Depart San Francisco and head out on a full-day picturesque tour of California’s famous wine growing regions.
The small group tour passes through the Golden Gate Bridge, where a brief stop is made for photo opportunities, before journeying through the rolling hills of Napa and Sonoma Valleys for your first stop.
You will pass by three wineries to learn about the respective areas and their wine production history, with wine tasting very much on the cards.
Lunch is not included but you will be driven to Napa’s gourmet Oxbow Public Market, where mouthwatering dishes await you.
This is also a chance to try other wines for those who fancy it.
9. 2-Day Muir Woods & Wine Tasting Tour from San Francisco
If you want to get a true feel of California wine country and connect with its spirit, then a few days’ sojourn is not a bad idea at all.
This two-day getaway gives you the chance to experience Napa and Sonoma wine country at your own pace.
Day one begins between 8-9am and involves touring the attractions in the area, most notably the Muir Woods National Monument.
You will then head to Sonoma Valley which boasts 30+ grape varieties and more than 200 independent farmers, with 300 world-class wineries and tasting rooms.
After a night in a Tuscan-style hotel in Sonoma, day two starts whenever you want it to.
Spend the morning how you want – cheese tasting, checking out boutique shops, visiting the Mission San Francisco de Solano etc.
Then meet up with the group in the late morning for a wine tasting session in the Glen Allen area before heading to the famed Napa Valley for more wine tasting.
The tour ends with a hotel drop-off between 6-7pm.
10. Napa & Sonoma Full-Day Wine Tasting Experience
This day-long tour from San Francisco takes you to the heartland of California’s wine regions – Napa and Sonoma Valleys.
Depending on the day of the week, you will visit three of the most prestigious wineries in the United States. Options include Sutter Home Winery, Madonna Estate, Gloria Ferrer Winery, and Andretti Winery.
The winery tours and tastings aside, your professional guide will lead you on an exploration of other famous spots around these parts, including the history-laden Sonoma Square.
The tour involves hotel pick-up and drop-off, and there is an option to book the trip with lunch at a local restaurant in Downtown Sonoma.
11. Napa Valley Tour by Private Car from San Francisco
The beauty of this tour is it allows you to pick which wineries you would like to visit, and the tour operator can then create an itinerary especially for you.
The operator can offer some suggestions, but the final decision entirely rests with you.
This six-hour trip starts with a scenic drive from San Francisco which takes you to three or four wineries in Napa Valley.
Options include bestsellers like the Robert Mondavi Winery, Domaine Carneros by Taittinger, Staglin Family Vineyard and Domaine Chandon.
You have the choice of three lunch destinations – Sonoma, Yountville or Santa Helena.
Then get back to San Francisco in time to enjoy the red rays of the sun disappearing beneath the horizon.
12. San Francisco Super Saver: Muir Woods & Wine Country
The Super Saver is a combo tour designed to help visitors maximize their experience of California’s wine country while keeping costs down.
It brings together two popular tours at a single discount price, starting with a stroll through Muir Woods National Monument for some invigorating time in the nature of the towering redwoods.
A professional guide will then take you on a tour of three wineries, where you will get acquainted with the craft and partake in wine tasting at all three.
13. Hot-Air Balloon Ride in Napa Valley (with Sparkling Wine Brunch)
Enjoy pastries and coffee at the popular Domaine Chandon Winery pre-flight, then hop on a hot-air balloon to greet the sun as it peeks above the horizon of the valley.
This morning excursion is a true treat for anyone who appreciates the beauty this world has to offer.
The flight lasts an hour, during which you will delight in the panoramic views of Napa’s legendary rolling hills, grand estates, and extensive vineyards.
When you’re back on the ground, a hot breakfast buffet awaits you at Domaine Chandon, complete with sparkling wine that serves as a gentle reminder that you’re deep in the heartland of America’s best wine growing region.
14. Napa Valley Wine Train with Gourmet Lunch
There is nothing like a comfy train ride as you soak in the wonderful sights of an idyllic countryside.
This tour gives you the rare opportunity to experience the best of both worlds – journeying on a wine train as you enjoy the unique, quaint sight that characterizes Napa Valley.
The refurbished vintage train is fitted with large picture windows designed to get the best views of the beautiful outdoors, including charming towns like St. Helena and Rutherford.
The round-trip takes three hours, during which you’ll be treated to a sumptuous gourmet lunch or dinner freshly prepared by the train’s much celebrated onboard restaurant.
You can visit the chefs in the kitchen and are free to explore the train’s multiple cars.
15. Yountville Food and Wine Tour in Napa
Yountville is famous for its abundance of Michelin-starred restaurants that are keen to capitalize on the town’s reputation as a top culinary destination in California.
A line of famous chef restaurants is in close proximity, catering to all your whims.
The fare here is farm-to-table and since you are in wine country, it comes paired with amazing local wines that will leave you spoilt for choice.
This tour includes food and wine tastings, a three-course lunch and informative commentary, with groups limited to four to ensure a personalized experience.