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U.S holidays: Explore California’s picture-perfect Napa Valley, where you’ll find over 400 wineries 

U.S holidays: Explore California's picture-perfect Napa Valley, where you'll find over 400 wineries  2

A top spot for a vine romance? Head to California’s picture-perfect Napa Valley where you’ll find over 400 wineries

  • It takes a little over an hour to drive north from San Francisco to Napa Valley 
  • Recognisable names such as Robert Mondavi and Beringer offer tastings
  • Take a tour on the Napa Valley Wine Trolley, with stops at three vineyards 

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: Vineyards near San Francisco.

Wine tours are the latest must-do day trips for visitors to San Francisco.

‘Searches for holidays in San Francisco are already up almost 30 per cent on 2019 levels and the city is set to be one of our top US holiday destinations this summer,’ says Claire Bentley, managing director of British Airways Holidays.

Dry wines: You can book a tour of the sun-drenched Napa Valley, pictured, one of the most famous wine regions in California

Dry wines: You can book a tour of the sun-drenched Napa Valley, pictured, one of the most famous wine regions in California

While the city’s ‘big four’ attractions of cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz garner the most attention, Bentley says vineyards are catching up fast.

Holidaymakers can book direct with travel companies – small group trips that include transport, vineyard tours and tastings start from about £125pp.

It takes a little over an hour to drive north from the city to Napa Valley or neighbouring Sonoma, California’s two main wine-making regions. Or take the ferry from San Francisco’s Ferry Building to Vallejo, then ride the Vine bus to Napa. Either way, you’ll feel temperatures rising as foggy San Francisco is left behind for some of the world’s most beautiful winelands.

Picture-perfect Napa has more than 400 wineries, with many recognisable names such as Robert Mondavi and Beringer offering tours and tastings. Or try a tasting room in Calistoga, St Helena or other pretty wine towns. Prices from £35pp (tours are for over-21s only).

Plenty of ‘wine maps’ are available online or in Napa’s Welcome Center, where you can book tours and lunches. But for a truly in-depth experience, take a five-hour tour on the Napa Valley Wine Trolley, a motorised replica of San Francisco’s cable cars. Tickets cost from £95pp, with stops at three vineyards, but this does not include wine-tasting fees.

Take a five-hour ride on the Napa Valley Wine Trolley, pictured, a motorised replica of San Francisco’s cable cars

Take a five-hour ride on the Napa Valley Wine Trolley, pictured, a motorised replica of San Francisco’s cable cars 

The Napa Valley Wine Train also meanders through the region, with restored Pullman carriages from the early 1900s hosting tastings, gourmet meals and vineyard visits (from £550pp for a full day).

Nearby Sonoma is bursting with wineries, including one owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola. Or consider Sonoma’s Tasting Pass, where you can experience up to four wineries a day.

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