For visitors to Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties, there’s no shortage of exceptional wine experiences. If you’re looking for someone to take the guesswork out of your trip planning-and handle the driving so you can taste a perfect cabernet or pinot noir-opt for a luxury tour. With the right guides, navigating the region can be easy, informative, and fun. What’s more, some outfitters offer different kinds of tours-still luxurious, but more geared toward active adventure. Here are some upscale options to consider as you start planning your next wine-focused trip to Northern California.
1. The Insider’s Tour
John and Kim Kelliher founded Grapeline Wine Tours in 2002 with the goal of building tours around insider knowledge and personal connections. This approach still defines the company today. Drivers create every tour from scratch, based largely on the traveler’s tastes and level of familiarity with the region. Napa Valley rides might include a stop at Gott’s Roadside or other iconic foodie options, while Sonoma Valley trips often incorporate time for shopping and a stroll on the plaza in downtown Sonoma. Grapeline’s fleet includes executive SUVs, limousines, and deluxe coaches for larger groups.
2. The Green Way
The electric and eco-friendly Tesla Model S is your chariot on wine tours from T3 Tesla Tours. On the Collective Tour, travelers stop at four family-owned boutique wineries: Tank, T-Vine, James Cole, and Regusci. The experience is intimate, as the owners and their winemakers often make themselves available to pour library vintages and share stories about grape-growing and viniculture. Selected tours are entirely customizable.
3. Sprinter Style
Spend a weekend traversing Northern California Wine Country in style in a spacious Sprinter limousine van or a chauffeur-driven luxury sedan. Pure Luxury Transportation brings travelers on private tours of different wine regions, including the Napa Valley, Alexander Valley, and Dry Creek Valley. Specific wineries differ with each trip, but can include Beringer, Freemark Abbey, La Crema, and many other estates.
4. Back Roads on Three Wheels
Transportation looks totally different at Laces and Limos, a tour company that can whisk up to four travelers around the Napa Valley in electric, three-wheel scooters. The vehicles don’t go more than 40 miles per hour, which means all itineraries stick to smaller country roads. The Custom tour gives guests the opportunity to pick and choose their own stops, based on a list of preferred wineries and tasting rooms, including JaM Cellars, Acumen Wine Gallery, John Anthony Vineyards, and others.
5. Tours from Above
No mention of luxury tours around Northern California Wine Country would be complete without a nod to hot-air ballooning. In Sonoma, Up & Away Ballooning is a good option; in Napa, consider a ride with Napa Valley Aloft. Travelers marvel as they quietly rise in the air and hover over vineyards and estates; from this vantage point, the region resembles swaths of corduroy. Trips with each company take off just after sunrise and include an indulgent champagne breakfast when you’re back on terra firma.