Reviews of the Best Sonoma Wine Tours
This post compares and reviews wine tours around Sonoma. There are many companies leading both group and private wine tours of the area. The cost of each tour, the pick-up/drop-off locations, and the featured vineyards all vary immensely depending on which tour you select. We hope that this post encourages you to visit and helps you decide how best to get there!
Below is our list of the most highly rated companies offering group tours of Sonoma. Each visit 3-4 wineries, allowing guests to spend an average of 1 hour at each. Gray Line and Grapeline Tours are the only companies that include wine tasting fees, which typically cost an additional $15-$20 per winery, in the overall price of the tour. CitySightseeing includes 1 wine tasting fee in the price, but guests must pay to sample wines at the rest of the wineries. Lunch is included in the price of of all of the tours, except for Gray Line. We have listed each company in order of price, from cheapest to most expensive. However, remember to consider added costs (such as wine tasting fees and lunch) when calculating the final cost of the tour. NOTE: Some wineries will allow guests to split the costs and wine between two people, which may be why some companies don’t include tastings in the price.
CitySightseeing Tours are classic hop-off, hop-on bus tours that take visitors to several different tourist destinations. They offer half day and full-day tours of Napa Valley and Sonoma. The half day and combination tour options visit 2-3 wineries, while the full day tour visits 4. The first wine tasting fee is included in the price of the full and half day tours, but all additional tastings must be paid for separately. This outfit offers complimentary hotel pick-up from San Francisco.
- Half Day Wine Tour– $74.99 per person, including 1 wine tasting fee
- Full Day Wine Tour – $99.99 per person, including 1 wine tasting fee
Pick-up/Drop-off: Complimentary hotel pick-up from San Francisco.
Reviews: Tours to Sonoma and Napa with CitySightseeing receive generally positive reviews, with many guests praising the ease of transportation. The quality of the guided commentary varies depending on the driver, though most visitors find it informative and enjoyable. Some guests had trouble hearing the driver due to a poor PA system on the bus. Overall, visitors who traveled with CitySightseeing found the experience very enjoyable and straightforward. TripAdvisor Rating: 3.5 stars.
Gray Line Tours
In addition to their many other bus tours, Gray Line also offers a Deluxe Sonoma & Napa Valley Wine Country Tour. Guests visit 3 different wineries, and are given free time to explore and have lunch in Yountville. Unlike many of the other companies, the wine tasting fees are included in this tour. However, the ‘tour’ at each vineyard is limited to a presentation by a representative and wine tasting, rather than of the wine making process itself. Also, this group tour is much larger than most, with capacity for more than 40 guests. As Gray Line offers to collect guests directly from their hotel in San Francisco, this is a great option for those who aren’t staying in Sonoma and don’t feel comfortable traveling their on their own.
Cost: $75 per person, including wine tasting fees but excluding lunch.
Drop-off/Pick-up: Pick-up/drop-off from any San Francisco hotel.
Reviews: Reviews of Gray Line’s wine tour are generally very positive. Guests praise the knowledgable drive-guide and the ease by which they were able to visit several wineries from San Francisco. Some complain about the lack of intimacy, however that is inevitably the trade off for such an affordable tour that also includes wine tasting fees. TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars.
Tower Tours offer a Napa & Sonoma Wine Country which visits 3 different wineries and offers complimentary shuttle pick up from most San Francisco hotels. Similar to Gray Line Tours, this tour accommodates a large number of people and thus isn’t quite as intimate as some of the other companies. Wine tasting fees at each vineyard is included in the price of the tour, however lunch is not. After a brief presentation and wine tasting, guests are given 1 hour to explore the winery and complete any purchases of their choosing. Like Gray Line Tours, the presentation does not include any insight into how the wine is made.
Cost: $91 per person, excluding wine tasting fees
Drop-off/Pick-up: Complimentary shuttle pick up from most San Francisco hotels.
Reviews: Reviews of Tower Tours are relatively positive as guests praise the guides and the selection of wineries. Some comment that they wish there was more information regarding the wine making process, however this is more of an issue to be taken up with the wineries rather than the tour company. Overall, guests seem very pleased with this affordable wine tour! TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars.
Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley
Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley is a vintage, open air trolley that brings guests to 4 different wineries around Sonoma Valley. Though wine tasting fees are not included in the price of the tour, a catered picnic lunch by the Girl & the Fig Restaurant, as well as bottled water and soft drinks are part of the cost.
Cost: $99 per person, excluding wine tasting fees
Drop-off/Pick-up: Pick-up at Sonoma Plaza and nearby hotels
Reviews: Reviews of Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley are very positive, with many guests complimenting the informative and courteous driver guides. Girl & the Fig Restaurant also comes highly rated as several commenters compliment the lunch choice. Some felt that the cost of the tour was misleading as the wine tasting fees are written as costing $5-$10 on the Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley website, when in fact they run between $15-$20. However, though the cost might be inaccurately listed on their website, it is very typical for wine tasting fees to not be included. TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars.
Extranomical Tours offers full day tours to both Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. Many of them are combined with other popular tourist destinations such as Muir Woods and Alcatraz, though guests can also choose to take their exclusive San Francisco Wine Lover’s Tour. With daily departures, Extranomical Tours offers guests a lot of variety and availability. Trips include complimentary hotel pick-up, a guided tour of San Francisco’s wine country, and wine tasting fees at at least 2 different wineries.
San Francisco Wine Lover’s Tour
- From $138 per person
- 9 hours, departing daily
- More info and to book.
Muir Woods and Wine Country (Sonoma and Napa Valley)
- From $102 per person
- 9 hours, departing daily
- More info to book
Wine Lover’s Tour and Alcatraz Ticket
- From $147 per person
- 9 hours, departing daily
- More info to book
Reviews: Extranomical Tours comes highly rated, with an impressive 4 ½ star rating on TripAdvisor and a 4-star rating on Yelp. Negative reviews are few and far between, and usually due to unforeseeable traffic or road closures that reduced the length of the tour. However, these comments are uncommon, as most guests offer high praise for the company’s efficiency and value. The guides also receive many compliments for being extremely informative and personable. Almost every other similar service has received complaints about the bus either being late or broken, so it’s worth noting that Extranomical does not appear to have these problems. TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars.
Platypus Wine Tours
Platypus Wine Tours is the top rated wine tour company in both Sonoma and Napa Valley on TripAdvisor. Their most popular tour visits 4 different wineries in Sonoma and Napa Valley, dedicating roughly an hour at each one. In addition to a knowledgable guide, the tour also features a picnic lunch, as well as a cheese platter served on the bus. Groups are limited to 10 guests, ensuring that the experience is always intimate. Expect to pay $10-$15 at each stop for the wine tasting, in addition to any bottles you wish to purchase.
Cost: $110 per person, not including wine tasting fees
Pick-up/Drop-off: Platypus Tours will pick up from almost any hotel or inn in Sonoma or Napa Valley. For those travelling from San Francisco, Platypus Tours dispatches a bus to collect guests a Vallejo Ferry Terminal. Guests simply must go to San Francisco Ferry Marketplace Building, take the ferry to Vallejo Ferry Terminal, and then wait to be collected by the Platypus Tours bus.
Reviews: Platypus Tours has an outstanding reputation, with a 5 star rating on TripAdvisor and several thousand reviews. Former guests comment that “there can’t be a better wine tour out there” and ask “is it possible to have too much fun??”. Though complaints are few and far between, some guests felt the tour was overpriced and that the wine tasting should have been included in the fee. However, it is very common for all wine tours to exclude the wine tasting fees in the cost of the tour. TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars.
Grapeline Wine Tours — Sonoma
Like most of the other group tours, this company visits 4 different wineries and offers a catered picnic lunch. Wine tasting fees are included in the price of the tour, making this one of the most affordable options in that sense. For those looking for an all-inclusive tour, Grapeline is one of the few companies to offer that. A behind-the-scenes tour of Vintner’s is also included in the price, as are exclusive wine country offers for Grapeline guests.
Cost: $125 / $89 non-drinker tickets
Pick-up/Drop-off: Departures from many area hotels and other Northern California locales
Reviews: This tour comes highly recommended, with reviews saying the it was the “best decision ever” and “seamless. In fact, as of February 2017, Grapeline Sonoma had only ever received 4 and 5 star reviews. Like Sonoma Valley Trolley Tour, this company also visits Girl and the Fig, which comes highly rated. TripAdvisor: 5 stars.
Though private tours may appear significantly more expensive than any of the group tour offers, they can be a reasonable alternative for those already travelling as a group. There are several different companies that offer private tours of Sonoma. Occasionally there are ‘hidden fees’ in the form of tax, wine tasting fees, the cost of the fuel, and any other number of things, so be sure to clarify what is included in the cost of the tour.
Beau Wine Tours
Though they specialize primarily in private luxury wine tours, Beau Wine Tours also offers a group tour to Sonoma. Guests are brought to 4 different vineyards, are accompanied by a qualified guide, and given champagne and a picnic lunch. The price of the tour does not include the wine tasting fees or any gratuity for the guide. Drivers typically call guests prior to the tour to inquire about their wine and vineyard preferences, so that the tour is as customized as possible (though there is no guarantee that the guide will be able to accommodate everyone’s wishes).
Cost: $125 per person, not including wine tasting fees.
Pick-up/Drop-off: Beau Wine Tours will pick up from almost any hotel or inn in Sonoma. For those travelling from San Francisco, Beau Wine Tours dispatches a bus to collect guests a Vallejo Ferry Terminal. Guests simply must go to San Francisco Ferry Marketplace Building, take the ferry to Vallejo Ferry Terminal, and then wait to be collected by the Beau Wine Tours bus.
Reviews: Beau Wine Tours also receive excellent reviews, with many guests praising the company’s outstanding customer service. Though their group tour is not as popular as their private tours, there are still several positive reviews from guests who have used their group tour service. TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars.
Valley Wine Tours
Valley Wine Tours is the oldest wine tour company in the country, having been established nearly 20 years ago. Each tour visits 4-5 unique wineries and includes a gourmet picnic lunch. Guests are encouraged to fully customize their tour according to their tasting preferences. Thanks to their history in the industry, Valley Wine Tours maintains an excellent relationship with many of the wineries.
Pick-up/Drop-off: From most places in Sonoma.
Reviews: This company maintains an outstanding reputation, with nearly all guests praising Valley Wine Tours for their wonderful service. Some wished that the wineries were farther apart so that there would be more down time in the car, but but this issue can be alleviated by selecting different wineries. Also, though the proximity of the wineries makes for little down time, this also means that guests can spend a majority of their day in the wineries rather than the car. TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars.
Sonoma Wine Tours
This small company offers private, highly customized wine tours of Napa and Sonoma. Sonoma Wine Tours promises “an inside look into winemaking, one-on-one time with winery sommelliers, access to fantastic wines and barrel tastings.” Groups of 4 or more are eligible for discounts. Additionally, there are off-season rates available in the winter, so be sure to inquire about any discounts!
Pick-up/Drop-off: From most places in Sonoma.
Reviews: Due to the small size of this company, all reviews are of Soussan, the owner of the company. Many comment that their tour was “amazing” and that Soussan is “the best”. A few reviewers were less impressed with Soussan’s guiding skills, however those are few and far between. TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars.
Valet of the Moon Wine Tours
Valet of the Moon Wine Tours exclusively leads private wine tours of Sonoma and Napa. The company requests that all guests complete an inquiry form so that they can best organize a tour that suits everyone’s individual needs. Furthermore, this company is unique in that they drive your own car rather than supply the car. As a result, their tours are often more affordable than those offered by their competitors.
Pick-up/Drop-off: Guests meet their private chauffeur at a determined location in Sonoma or Napa.
Reviews: This company has an outstanding reputation with5 star reviews nearly 100% of the time. Guests refer to the company as “the only way to wine taste” and the “perfect wine tour.” Additionally, many felt that the use of their own car made the tour all the more personalized. TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars.
Artisan Wine Tours
Artisan Wine Tours specializes in private, customized tours Sonoma and Napa Valley. They have connections with more than a dozen wineries around those areas, as well as several restaurants. Guests are encouraged to develop their own unique itineraries, selecting which wines suit them most.
Pick-up/Drop-off: From most places in Sonoma.
Reviews: Once again, the reviews are excellent with guests saying that Artisan Wine Tours are “a treasure” and “the best way to experience Sonoma wine country.” Though the company does have a handful of negative reviews, all of those are in regards to tours taken prior to 2012. TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars.
- Confirm what exactly is included in the cost and what is not. For example, the price of group tours often does not include wine tasting fees, and the price of private tours often does not include the cost of gas. It is important to know the approximate cost of the day so that guests can plan accordingly.
- Don’t forget ID! The last thing you want is to pay for a wine tour and then not be able to drink the wine!
- Do your research beforehand. Though some group tours have a set list of wineries that they visit, some group tours and all private tours will try to accommodate any requests made by the guests. If there is a particular winery you want to visit, read up on it beforehand and ask your guide if it could be done.
For the budget conscious traveller, there are several websites that regularly offer discounts on wine tours of Sonoma. Here are some of the best websites to browse through in search a deal:
Smart Destinations sells a Go San Francisco Card that is valid for 1 of either of the following tours: (1) Full Day Northern California Wine Country Tour or (2) Muir Woods and Wine Country Tour. The first costs $95 and allows guests to spend the entire day exploring Napa and Sonoma. The first wine tasting is included in the price of the ticket, but all tastings that follow must be purchased separately. Additionally, guests can choose to take the Muir Woods and Wine Country Tour, which gives visitors a brief chance to experience both sites.
Groupon, Living Social, GoldStar, and Viator
Additionally, there are several other discount websites such as GroupOn, LivingSocial, GoldStar, and Viator that periodically offer discounted tours on Sonoma. These companies update their deals on a regular basis, so be sure to check each website to learn more about what special discounts are on offer.
Most people visiting Sonoma also spend at least 1 day in San Francisco. We have written several guides and ‘how to’ posts about visiting San Francisco. Below we’ve included the articles that we believe are most helpful.
Tours of San Francisco:
Things to Do: