On bike tours with Gears and Grapes Getaways, groups cycle through the iconic Napa Valley, internationally recognized as one of the nine Great Wine Capitals in the world, and the slightly-more-indie Sonoma Valley, home to nearly every type of grape grown in California.
Groups typically stop at four boutique wineries during the tours, pausing at midday for a gourmet picnic lunch. Those who get tired of pedaling or who want to pretend they're on a stakeout can hop on the shuttle that follows close behind at any time. Guides also take visitors on tours of wineries and breweries in San Francisco proper.
Bluxome Street Winery is a celebration of California winemaking history. More than a century ago, SOMA—then called South of the Slot—was the center of new-world wineries. To pay homage to that legendary time, Bluxome draws upon rustic decor and old-school practices, such as sourcing high-quality fruit from small, meticulously farmed vineyards.
Bluxome also extends its reach to a Balinard vineyard in Russian River. There, three acres of pinot noir clones grow in an organic environment, producing the fruit that composes Bluxome’s aromatic, smooth, and electric wines that linger on the palate and pair perfectly with steak.
The last Saturday of every month sees the winery explode into a community-focused farmers market filled with artisan food vendors. Pinot in hand, visitors are free to roam among vendors such as Sinful Salt and Crescent Farm, tasting the honey of Gerard’Z Honeybees and the jam of Grandma’s Homemade. This eclectic gathering is perhaps a reason readers of the San Fransisco Bay Guardian named Bluxome one of the Best Wineries in 2013.
The large front windows of It's Wine Tyme are almost always open, allowing the sounds of conversation and clinking glasses to drift out while the cool breeze wafts in. Of course, wine lovers might be too enamored with the drink list to notice anything around them; five impressively curated pages list everything from Argentinian malbecs to Washington-sourced syrah and Napa Valley chardonnay. Guests can also enjoy small, shareable snacks while enjoying the stylings of musicians, readers, and traveling bards during the frequent live events.
After immigrating to America early in the 20th century, Emilio Guglielmo saved up for years before he was able buy a plot of land for his winery in 1925. In the years since, three generations of his family have run the vineyard and kept its Old World style alive. Large wooden beams, stone walls, and terracotta tiles surround guests in the tasting room, where they can sample carefully selected vintages. Each year, the winery produces nearly 40,000 cases, including the award-winning 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and Estate Petite Sirah, each of which took home gold medals in San Francisco’s International Wine Competition.
Generating 26.5 kilowatts, the solar panels atop Stefano's Solar Powered Pizza convert the sun’s rays into delicious pizza, earning the eatery recognition a Bay Area Green Business. Inside, ovens house pizzas such as the chicken garlic veggie pie or the Mill Valley favorite, known for its pepperoni, mushrooms, italian sausage, and firm handshakes. Calzones and hot sandwiches are sprinkled throughout the menu alongside fresh romaine salads, slices of pesto cheese garlic bread, and sips of wine or draft beer. Stefano's Solar Powered Pizza also helps with fundraising for schools, sports teams, and community organizations.
The Twisted Roots Wine company began producing its own label of wines and its signature wine, Petite Sirah in 2005. Winemaking joined grape-growing as an integral part of the family business, and in 2010 the family incorporated Twisted Roots as a separate family business. As production continued to increase, varietals expanded to include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and "1918" Old Vine Zinfandel made from the family's oldest vineyard planted in 1918.
Above all else, Twisted Roots Wine strives to create wines that capture the essence of California's Lodi appellation. The Twisted Roots family embraces sustainable farming practices throughout the entire process and they almost exclusively age their wines in neutral French oak barrels, which allow the grapes' natural fruit flavors and pronounced acidity to shine. This style is evident throughout the winery's lineup of current releases. A bright and crisp chardonnay features just a hint of rounded oak flavor for the sake of balance, and the signature zinfandel?made from the vines originally planted in 1918?coats palates with its bold, yet supple notes of dark fruits and spices.