There's nothing quite like a bicycle ride over rolling hillsides for shaking up the doldrums of daily idling. The shuttle bus will pick up bikeseekers between 8 and 9 a.m. and head across the Golden Gate Bridge toward wine country. Upon arrival, the guided bike ride begins, and you'll hop from winery to winery like a king on a checkerboard. All the tour guides are trained sommeliers with craniums filled with wine knowledge—and possibly wine. Sample varietals aperitifs along the course of the journey and stop for a delightful picnic lunch among the vineyards. The shuttle bus will follow along to carry anything purchased at the wineries or to assist thoroughly tuckered trekkers. Daytrippers are returned to the city by 7 p.m., in time to share the sunset with a lucky loved one—a girlfriend, a husband, a bottle of wine wearing a wig, etc. Purchase up to four of today's deal and invite friends, family, or a group of beloved strangers to join the journey. If you want to bring a friend along who doesn't possess a Groupon, that person will get 20% off the tour.
In 1994, Christopher and Kristine Williams purchased 56 acres of verdant hillside property in Alexander Valley to begin cultivating their own wines. Since then, Wattle Creek Winery has expanded to include a vineyard in Yorkville Highlands as well as a tasting room in San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square, where visitors can sample their estate viognier, pinot noir, and cabernet sauvignon, among others. Their carefully crafted wines have earned plaudits from Wine Enthusiast, which praised the sauvignon blanc for its “palate-stimulating tang” and the Triple Play red wine blend for its ability to swiftly end an inning.
In 1955, Dominick Chirichillo’s grandfather began teaching him the family pastime: winemaking. They worked on a wine press in the basement of his New York home, transforming bunches of grapes into nuanced reds and whites. Quickly finding that the hobby of his ancestors was his passion, Dominick entered his creations in amateur competitions around the East Coast. When he felt confident enough to open up his own winery, he moved to northern California, lured by the prospect of living and working right next door to the vineyards that grew his grapes. His winery—named Domenico to honor his Italian heritage—now produces boutique wines that have won more than 300 awards for their rich, complex palates and excellent scores in the swimsuit competition. Some varieties are made in batches of only 100 or 200 cases, allowing his staff to innovate fearlessly. Locals often drop by the winery’s spacious tasting room to sample these limited-edition flavors. Outfitted with a 24-foot mahogany bar and sweeping drapes, the tasting room recalls an elegant Tuscan café, complete with impeccable hospitality. The staff eagerly shares the undertones and flavors of every pour, suggesting potential food pairings or the best glass of red to throw at an offensive suitor.
Within the Winery Collective's multi-winery tasting room, grape savants uncork the flavorful nuances of liquid harvests hailing from more than 2 dozen of California's boutique wineries from Santa Barbara to Napa Valley. Winemakers and enthusiasts guide palates through wine-flight menus, which are culled from the more than 100 vinos that line the tasting room's walls and, like the political views of a housecat, change daily. The Winery Collective also hosts private and semiprivate parties and corporate events, during which guests mingle and sip in a lofted earth-toned lounge outfitted with crisscrossing wooden shelves that display colorful wine bottles and shapely decanters.
SF Experiences guides take wine lovers on whirlwind tours of the urban winery scene by boat as well as by bus, opening up the local word of vinos to its visitors. It's not every day you get to take a boat to a winery. The SF Winery Cruise travels from the mainland to Treasure Island, San Francisco’s Wine Country. While on the water, passengers sip sparkling wine; on either shore, they sample vintages at urban wineries, all of which focus on California wines culled from areas such as Santa Barbara and Napa Valley.
For a tours that stay on dry land, the San Francisco Wine Adventure bus stops at a set of urban wineries, giving passengers tastes of the area's finest wares while relating the local history of winemaking. Historical tours of Treasure Island add to the knowledge fest, and stops for stunning photos include the famous "postcard view" of the city that makes everyone on the far shore appear to be a model.
Alameda Naval Air Base's Building 24 once housed the latest fighter craft, ready to leap over the stone tidal wall to the south and enter World War II's Pacific Theater. Now the facility's vast, climate controlled interior serves a gentler purpose. It hosts the father and daughter winemaking team, founders and industry veterans Kent and Shauna Rosenblum, who draw grapes from all of California's richest soils to mix and ferment them on San Francisco's doorstep. Taking inspiration from the harbor fortifications still visible in the surf, they call themselves Rock Wall Wine Company.
They put the full 40,000 square feet of the former hangar to use, fermenting grapes in the cellar, loading and draining barrels, and hosting events to show off their collection of more than 30 wines. When they roll up the doors, views extend to the San Francisco skyline, a sunny vision which pairs nicely with Cabernet Sauvignon grown in Napa Valley or Zinfandel harvested in Contra Costa County. The combinations of grapes from all over the state have won a steady stream of awards.