Green Dream Tours


On our trip to California we wanted to go on a wine tour and it was highly recommended by a colleague who had previously visited San Francisco.

We obviously didn't want to drive ourselves as it prevents generous wine sampling ;). After a bit of research, the best deal for the most interesting itinerary came from Green Dream Tours. These guys were fantastic!

Carson was our guide. On the day, we were the first hotel pick up and he was waiting promptly after breakfast. We received a warm welcome into our tour bus - a super modern limo style bus - and we hit the road. Carson was super chatty and very personable. We headed around town and collected four more couples. This tour is a brilliant way to meet new people and to get about without a huge tour group!

Once fully loaded, we headed out of San Francisco and into the hills. If you're in San Francisco for a short amount of time this trip is great as it included a Golden Gate bridge stop for a photo opportunity. (A San Francisco post will be here soon!)

Larson Family Winery

Our first winery of the trip was the Larson Family Winery. This was the most relaxed & informal of the three wineries we visited. The location was beautiful and the wine tasting was highly entertaining. We were 'educated' by a man in a Hawaiian shirt with first class dad jokes. It really got everyone in the mood and helped as an icebreaker for our small party. A lovely venue, fair sized samples and an interesting array of wines. Different to any I've had before.

The last of the seasons grapes were clinging on...

Yes please, I'll have another - and there is that Hawaiian shirt I mentioned. Very fitting after travelling here from Maui!

Couldn't refuse a sample of the Cabernet Sauvignon with the chocolate sauce pairing - That sounds like I learned something. This is all make believe. I'm repeating exactly what the man told me. I still have the palette of a puppy. Does it taste good - Yes = Eat it, No = Eat it anyway!

The view from the tasting barn here really was quite special.

After finishing off the tasting, a wander about the estate and a quick mooch around the shop, we went on our merry way to winery number two in Sonoma.

Nicholson Ranch

The Nicholson Ranch was our favourite of the trip. If you are looking to do only one, let this be it! A place of passion, character, lovely people, the most delicious wine and a stunning setting.

We had an opportunity to meet the owner, Deepak Gulrajani. He served us his wine and told us his story and it was beyond fascinating. Everyone sipped away silently, totally engrossed in his history. I could have stayed here all day.

This wine was so delicious we had to purchase a bottle. I didn't feel obligated to buy here at all. It was all incredibly relaxed. So relaxed I struggled to leave! But lunch was calling!


Oxbow Public Market

We were carried away, rosy cheeked, further into wine country & now into Napa - once I'd gotten over the sadness of departing the previous ranch, my grumbling belly agreed that this was for the best as we pulled up to the Oxbow Public Market.

Oxbow is a beautifully arranged market filled to the brim with organic produce and artisan cafes. I was totally sucked into its luxury vibe (which probably resulted in me paying over the odds for lunch but I couldn't help myself). We wandered around three times over before selecting our lunch spot - Pizza!

Pizza so good I didn't even have a chance to photograph it in all of it's glory before I inhaled it. It felt wrong not to finish off with a small sweet treat.

The industrial decor and mood lighting made the experience all the better as we perched against our third bar of the morning.

After a fourth and final search around this beautifully bustling food heaven, we grabbed some gelato and hopped back on our bus. Our final stop of the day was on the horizon...

Jamieson Ranch

No relation to the whisky, this ranch was every bit the spectacle we imagined on the approach. Rolling hills....

Spectacular iron gates...

Immense driveway....

As we were ushered into the magnificent building with exposed oak beams, I found myself instantly overwhelmed by its scale. How do you know when you've crossed over from a Sonoma Winery to Napa - You just know!

It's scale, lavish interior, clientele, and general ambiance exposed that of an incredibly established and wealthy winery. I mean every winery in California is wealthy (you have to be rich to get rich here, the start up costs are crazy!) but this was a different league.

After even more tasting, we explored the Ranch and soaked up the california air.

The views here were by far the best of the day.

The walls were decorated with interesting and colourful street art.

If I am truely honest, whilst the physical attributes of this final location exceeded our expectations for it's beauty, I can't help but feel that this venue was a tad 'all frills, no knickers'. The wine was average, the staff borderline rude or simply not passionate enough - whichever you'd prefer, and overall, I'd say the experience lacked the character the previous two vineyards offered. 

It was worth the visit, and we enjoyed ourselves but I wouldn't rush back. Whereas I wanted to move into The Nicholson Ranch :P

Nonetheless, full to the brim with our tastings of the day, we finished up and boarded our chariot for a quiet and satisfied journey back to the big city.

Green Dream Tours are offering a brilliant itinerary here to help you get a feel for the variety across Napa & Sonoma. All in a day, you really couldn't get much better. We were in for a treat, right down to our final farewell gifts - a bottle of wine to celebrate our marriage, a printout of San Francisco must see's, a hand made CD of Californian bands and one last delicious touch as we waved goodbye...

... a token hershey kiss in the palm of our hand - a little love note to our day of adventure.

- MTWP xxx

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