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2016-02-25 11:26 AM

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Deep in the Heart of Texas
Subject: Napa/Sonoma Valley bike tours

My wife is itching to check bike riding around the California wine country off of her bucket list.  Our 20 year anniversary is in April and this is what is currently at the top of the list of places to go and things to do.

Anyone ever toured the CA wine country on bikes?  Looking for recommendations for lodging, outfitters, dining, vineyards, etc.



Edited by Hook'em 2016-02-25 11:27 AM


2016-02-27 8:58 AM
in reply to: Hook'em

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Master
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Minnetonka, Minnesota
Subject: RE: Napa/Sonoma Valley bike tours
Sorry, been to Napa/Sonoma MANY times, but never on a bike tour. The Silverado Trail looks like really nice riding in the morning before it gets too busy. Beautiful for sure. We have friends that rent out a 2 bedroom guest house right on the Silverado Trial if interested.
2016-02-27 6:48 PM
in reply to: Hook'em

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Master
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Just South of Boston
Subject: RE: Napa/Sonoma Valley bike tours
Check out a company called BackRoads. My wife & I did exactly what your wife wants to do a few years back and it was fantastic. well supported, well run, fun, and an overall great time. I'd recommend it!! We had a great time!
2016-02-28 8:26 PM
in reply to: #5169164

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Expert
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Subject: RE: Napa/Sonoma Valley bike tours
The wife and I are wanting to plan a tour of the wine country at some point. No Bikes though
2016-03-02 3:48 PM
in reply to: 0

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Atlanta, Georgia
Subject: RE: Napa/Sonoma Valley bike tours

I JUST got back from a Napa/Sonoma trip! 

For biking, I went with Napa Valley Bike Tours (they also do Sonoma). It is super casual, so don't go in expecting anything but a slow (but fun) ride with people of ALL abilities and lots of stops. I think in the email I got, it even discouraged bike shorts as it just wasn't "that kind" of ride. I was the only one not wearing jeans, just to give you an idea. It was exactly what I was looking for, but I know there are other, more "serious" rides I saw on my online searches. I originally signed up for the full day tour, but I was the only one, so they moved me to the half day tour and let me keep the bike the rest of the day for my own riding after the official tour ended. The half day tour was from 9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. (ish) with stops at two wineries. My group was 7 people and there were 2 guides. One gal got a flat tire, so the support van came out to change it - and it also carted back some wine someone purchased. Nice setup and nice people. You can also do a self-guided tour for much less of course. I definitely recommend it for a casual ride.

Photos from my tour:

A few other recommendations for you to take or leave!

  • If you want to wine taste but don't want to drive, consider a shared tour. I looked into a private driver but wasn't willing to spend that kind of cash for being solo - so the shared tour was a great option. I used Grapeline Tours (recommended by another BTer!) and I can't say enough great things. From 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., we visited four wineries and had a gorgeous catered lunch in the middle. 
  • For lodging, I tried my first AirBnB property. If it is just you and your wife (and you don't mind a non-hotel setting), let me know and I'll send you the specific property I stayed at. It was off of a private residence in a neighborhood in Sonoma - a "studio" standalone cottage with a full bathroom and kitchenette, private entrance, very cozy and quaint and just minutes from the Sonoma Plaza. It was only $100/night so I was ecstatic that the experience and the host were so great. 
  • Last, at the recommendation of some co-workers, I visited Castello di Amorosa. It's a huge castle on a vineyard, so quite different than most family vineyards you'll see in the area. I was a bit surprised at how touristy it was - I saw 3 bachelorette parties and a bridal photo shoot in the first 5 minutes I was there, just to give you an idea. Aside from the commercialism/touristy vibe, I really enjoyed the reserve wine and cheese pairing (and tour, which was just OK). It's definitely something different, but just depends on your preferences if you'd enjoy it. 
  • Edit: the only place I really sought out to eat was breakfast at the Fremont Diner. It was fabulous!


Edited by lisac957 2016-03-02 3:55 PM
2016-03-03 8:39 AM
in reply to: lisac957

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Master
6664
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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: Napa/Sonoma Valley bike tours

Originally posted by lisac957

I JUST got back from a Napa/Sonoma trip! 

For biking, I went with Napa Valley Bike Tours (they also do Sonoma). It is super casual, so don't go in expecting anything but a slow (but fun) ride with people of ALL abilities and lots of stops. I think in the email I got, it even discouraged bike shorts as it just wasn't "that kind" of ride. I was the only one not wearing jeans, just to give you an idea. It was exactly what I was looking for, but I know there are other, more "serious" rides I saw on my online searches. I originally signed up for the full day tour, but I was the only one, so they moved me to the half day tour and let me keep the bike the rest of the day for my own riding after the official tour ended. The half day tour was from 9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. (ish) with stops at two wineries. My group was 7 people and there were 2 guides. One gal got a flat tire, so the support van came out to change it - and it also carted back some wine someone purchased. Nice setup and nice people. You can also do a self-guided tour for much less of course. I definitely recommend it for a casual ride.

Photos from my tour:

A few other recommendations for you to take or leave!

  • If you want to wine taste but don't want to drive, consider a shared tour. I looked into a private driver but wasn't willing to spend that kind of cash for being solo - so the shared tour was a great option. I used Grapeline Tours (recommended by another BTer!) and I can't say enough great things. From 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., we visited four wineries and had a gorgeous catered lunch in the middle. 
  • For lodging, I tried my first AirBnB property. If it is just you and your wife (and you don't mind a non-hotel setting), let me know and I'll send you the specific property I stayed at. It was off of a private residence in a neighborhood in Sonoma - a "studio" standalone cottage with a full bathroom and kitchenette, private entrance, very cozy and quaint and just minutes from the Sonoma Plaza. It was only $100/night so I was ecstatic that the experience and the host were so great. 
  • Last, at the recommendation of some co-workers, I visited Castello di Amorosa. It's a huge castle on a vineyard, so quite different than most family vineyards you'll see in the area. I was a bit surprised at how touristy it was - I saw 3 bachelorette parties and a bridal photo shoot in the first 5 minutes I was there, just to give you an idea. Aside from the commercialism/touristy vibe, I really enjoyed the reserve wine and cheese pairing (and tour, which was just OK). It's definitely something different, but just depends on your preferences if you'd enjoy it. 
  • Edit: the only place I really sought out to eat was breakfast at the Fremont Diner. It was fabulous!

We'll be back from there in 3 weeks, so I have nothing concrete but I'll let you know. Lisa's pics and suggestons gave us a few ideas that we may hit up. However, our lodging is going to be different, as we are doing Yosemite as well as Napa/Sonoma. We're using a campervan that we got through Escape Campervans.  We also have a couple of B&B's thrown in for the week+ that we'll be out there. Outside of the standard winery tours in Sonoma/Napa, we are also ziplining, beach camping, and hitting up a safari thing that I have low expectations for, but will be fun none the less. And we may end up at the Fremont Diner or the Dry Creek General Store. We've been planning this trip off and on for a couple of months and the list could just go on and on.



2016-03-04 4:30 PM
in reply to: cdban66

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Deep in the Heart of Texas
Subject: RE: Napa/Sonoma Valley bike tours

Thanks for all the information (and looking forward to Chris' report). 

2016-03-09 11:27 AM
in reply to: Hook'em

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over a barrier
Subject: RE: Napa/Sonoma Valley bike tours
I was in Sonoma in November. If you're in the Healdsburg area a must is Truett-Hurst.

Amazing Zin's and I highly recommend a class of their Rose to take to the river to hang out, watch the Salmon, and have picnic.

2016-03-24 8:47 AM
in reply to: Hook'em

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Master
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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: Napa/Sonoma Valley bike tours

OK, here are my observations on Northern California/Wine Country and our just finished trip. Let's start with the van. If you are the adventurous type, this was a great way to go. The ability to have a full sleeping arrangement available at any time was pretty sweet. We slept one night on the Pacific Ocean, another under the redwoods in a state park, and also a few other places. And one night in a B&B in Bodega Bay. If you are hoping to bring your own bikes to ride around on, the rack add-on is nice. Then you are able to pull into an area, do your thing, then head out. We didn't do a wine tour at all, although the wine tasting at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield was a nice thing to stumble upon. The Safari in Sonoma was better than I thought it would be. The Zipline tour (also Sonoma) was pretty good, with info given on the redwoods/area. Armstrong Woods was another nice find, we spent a couple of hours there and could have spent more. I highly suggest Point Reyes, just for the workout that the 308 stairs provide. I guess the biggest part I would share is that there is a ton of stuff to do outside of the wine tours(especially for outdoorsy types), so plan carefully. If you need any details, feel free to PM me and I'll share what I learned.

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