How to Make the Most Out of Your Limo Wine Tour in Napa Valley
A Wine Tour of Napa Valley, Sonoma County, or other northern California wine regions is a special affair. An hour after you leave the San Francisco Airport you won’t even believe it’s the same state. As you exit the metro area and head for the valley, jam-packed neighborhoods and tourist traps crawling with both visitors and locals give way to farmlands fitting of another era. Folks here aren’t all about bright lights and big cities; they’re hardworking growers, used to getting up at dawn, working the lands all day, and retiring early enough to do it again tomorrow.
Upon these hills and hollers, they’ve built the most impressive wine region in North America — perhaps anywhere outside of Europe. They produce delectably dry Cab-Savs, crisp Chardonnays, fruity Merlots, and sparkling Rieslings, among others. The process begins with laborious maintenance of established vineyards and culminates with impeccable winemaking skills, often handed down for generations. This isn’t something you rush. Many of these vineyards and wineries have been working nonstop for over 100 years — it pays to spend more than a few minutes pecking around their wares.
Plan your limo wine tour carefully and methodically. It’s the only way to truly appreciate what you’re about to witness. Here’s what goes into the best of the best wine tours.
Schedule a Right-Sized Tour
Realistically, you can only tour about 3 to 5 wineries per day. On a map, Napa Valley or Sonoma County don’t look all that big. But in reality, these areas are quite large. The vineyards are enormous, and the wineries are quite spread out. This is particularly true of the larger vineyards that produce huge quantities of wines for supermarkets and wine stores across the country and around the globe. Some wineries offer only wine tastings, but others also give you a tour of their vineyards and even the production facilities. So, if you have 10 wineries to see, don’t expect to fly in on Friday and leave on Sunday. You’ll need two full days in the area to visit that many wineries.
Choose a Combination of Small and Large Wineries
When planning your tour, don’t limit yourself to the big guys like Beringer or Conn Creek. While these are definitely worth a visit, don’t exclude the small, mom and pop shops. The larger wineries are all about crowd-pleasing and sleek mass appeal. The little guys are all about the art and craftsmanship of growing grapes and creating wines. It’s the difference in visiting Las Vegas and taking a road trip across the country. Las Vegas is fun, but you’ll learn so much more and enrich your life deeply when you take those backroads and see these characters and their passion that goes into making these wines.
Know Your Wine Tasting Etiquette
If you’re new to the world of wine tours and tastings, it may benefit you to attend one or two locally before your limo wine tour to Napa or Sonoma. While these folks are a bit snobbish about their wines (inferior wine is just unacceptable!), they aren’t innately snobs. People discuss their experiences, take time to jot notes in their wine journals, ask lots of questions of the tasting room attendants, and crack a few jokes. Spitting and pouring out all or most of the wine is perfectly acceptable (in fact, encouraged, because drunk wine tasting companions are no fun). Do remember not to wear perfume, shaving lotion, or anything smelly to inhibit the enjoyment of the wine bouquets and tastes by you and your fellow wine tasting companions. You’ll feel much more at home if you spend a little time researching wine tasting etiquette before heading out on your limo wine tour.
Choose a Qualified Limo Wine Tour Service
There’s no question that you need a designated driver. After all, a wine tasting tour is no fun if you spit out all the wine, and driving in northern California is no joke. Napa Valley has quite heavy traffic, due to all of the tourists, plus over 140,000 locals. It takes a lot of hands to work those vineyards and make all that fabulous wine! Sonoma traffic isn’t as bad, but navigating those backroads can get challenging for a visitor (especially after a few glasses of that amazing Pinot Noir). But don’t go for the cheapest limo wine tour you can get. Partner with a service that knows the area and is able to help you both plan and execute a tour that’s most suitable to your time frame, budget, the types of wines you want to experience, the kinds of wineries and vineyards you want to see, as well as helping you find the right hotel, schedule your restaurant reservations, and make sure you get to experience other things you want to see and do in the area — like the Redwoods or a local festival. The best limo wine services also include little extras, like water and snacks, to keep you hydrated and comfortable during your tour.
Prepare Ahead if You’re Bringing the Kids
Many of the wineries are quite kid-friendly, providing play areas like basketball courts and toys like play dough and puzzles. But not all are. Some cater decidedly to adults, and if you’re touring with a group, your fellow travelers may have been planning on a kid-free getaway. Picture paying a babysitter a gazillion bucks to sit with your kids for the weekend, only to have to spend that time putting up with someone else’s. Bringing the kids is fine — just make sure that’s clear when you make your reservations, and bring snacks and activities to keep them occupied while the adults sample the good stuff. Try to be sensitive to others who are attempting to enjoy a quiet, relaxing vacation.
Dress for the Vineyard Tours
When planning your wardrobe for a wine tour, it’s easy to picture what you would wear to ride around in a limo and stand in an air-conditioned room sipping wines. Instead, picture what’s going to be comfortable while you walk an hour, most probably in the afternoon sun, touring a vineyard. Those rolling hills look gentle and inviting while you’re riding smoothly down the road in a limo with excellent suspension. It’s a bit different when you’re walking it in dress shoes, trying not to kick up dust on your suit. Dress for the outdoor tours, not an indoor tastings.
Work in Some Non-Wine-Related Fun
As we’ve mentioned, northern California has much more to offer than just wine! It’s close to the state capital, Sacramento, as well as some world-famous natural destinations, like Yosemite National Park, the Redwood Forest, Monterrey, Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and numerous beaches with unbelievable views of the rocky coastline and Pacific Ocean. There are many 4- and 5-star restaurants, farmer’s markets, Hearst Castle, and interesting attractions. Try to take in some of the other great things to see and do while you’re in gorgeous northern California.
Contact Allure Limo Wine Tours today to schedule your picture perfect wine tour of Napa Valley and Sonoma County.