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Q: Why do I want a private tour guide?
A: Napa alone has over 475 physical wineries (and over 1000 different wine brands) spread out over almost 800 square miles. Whether your first or your tenth visit, it can be hard to decide just where to go. I’ll take you to some of wine country’s hidden gems, and give you the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery while giving you the peace of mind to safely enjoy your day wine tasting without having to drive an unfamiliar car on unfamiliar roads.
A 160 lb person will likely be beyond the legal limit after 15-20 oz of a 14% ABV wine, easy to reach after just a couple friendly wineries (4 two oz tastes at two wineries will get you close). No matter what you think, only time can make you a safe and legal driver after reaching the legal limit. Don’t believe me-Adam and Jamie and from Mythbusters did the research for you…..
Napa is one of the most visited places in all of California-second only to Disneyland. This is great for Napa but also means traffic on the main roads many days. I can’t guarantee we’ll miss all the traffic, but after driving around Napa for over 15 years, I can certainly help plan an itinerary that will keep us rolling.
Q: Why choose Pemberley Tours?
A: I have over 15 years of experience living in Napa and working in the Northern California wine industry. Pemberley Tours focuses on wine education-my goal is to teach you how to learn about wine in the place it is made. I have studied viticulture (the science of grape growing) and have worked in vineyards. I have studied enology (the science of winemaking) and have worked in cellars and with winemakers during crush (harvest time) and throughout the year. I have become fascinated with grape growing and winemaking-a true combination of art, science, a humble respect for nature and sheer determination to always improve and I want to share that fascination with others.
Pemberley Tours is a one-man show. I will consult with you personally to craft an itinerary that will meet and hopefully exceed the goals and expectations of your wine country visit.
I love the history of the California wine industry and specifically how Napa Valley and Sonoma have become the world class wine producing regions they are today. The French have been making wine for thousands of years-how did Napa get so good at it in just 150 years? The people that made this happen present a fascinating history worth knowing.
Pemberley Tours is fully licensed by the California Public Utilities Commission (TPC # 36651) and adheres to all the stringent vehicle and driver regulations required for this.
Q: I’ve been to wine country before and know a bit about wine…what’s next?
A: Great! Take your learning to the next level with in depth meetings with local winemakers to learn about current trends in viticulture (like alternatives to sulfuring vines to prevent powdery mildew, cover crop strategy, integrated pest management, dealing with California’s drought, rattle snake eradication) and enology (like the use of bio-lees to effect mouth feel, or reverse osmosis to reduce alcohol content without stripping the good things out of wine).
Q: What does a typical day look like?
A: Your specific itinerary will be determined by the conversation we have prior to your visit to determine just what you are looking for from your wine country visit. I like to visit four wineries a day, with a break for lunch in the middle. All trips include a walk in a vineyard to discuss viticulture, how grapes are grown, and the geography, geology, and climate that make Napa the unique wine producing region it is. We’ll review tasting methodology so you can get the most out of each tasting room stop, and explore why you like the wines you like and how to find them. Between stops at tasting rooms, I’ll touch on the history of the area and the California wine industry, as well as topics such as collecting, storing and serving wine; ordering wine at a restaurant; how to continue your wine education and more.
Private sightseeing tours to the Marin or Sonoma coast, brewery tours, artisanal cheese tours are all custom made to your timetable and desires.
Q: Why would I want an in-house wine tasting before I go wine tasting?
A: If you are new to wine tasting, just a little bit of knowledge on how to taste wine will make every winery visit more enjoyable and informative. You will get more out of each winery experience and learn how to ask for the wines you really like. The informed and engaged wine taster will often be offered that special reserve or older vintage wine under the counter that is poured only for wine club members and special guests.
If you are an advanced wine taster, a refresher to tune up your pallet and become familiar with current trends, vintages, and happenings in California wine country will get you ready for your cellar collecting trip. What vintages to seek out; what new varietals are coming into the market; what new producers are getting attention; what growing areas are the pros focusing on-Rutherford bench west-side; Howell Mountain, Pritchard Hill, who is getting Beckstoffer’s To-Kalon grapes? Are alcohol levels for Napa wines really like hemlines that follow the stock market up and down?
Q: How about ride sharing (Uber & Lyft) in wine country? Other transportation options?
A: A popular way of getting around in wine country. Napa and Sonoma have been identified by the ride share companies as “hot spots” which draws in ride share drivers from all over the Bay area. You may get a driver who knows about wine, local wineries, and how to get around without being stuck in traffic, but then again you may not. Cell phone reception in some areas of wine country can be surprisingly spotty (I had ATT when I lived in Coombsville, just 10 minutes east of downtown Napa and could rarely get a signal). If you are buying wine, you will need to schlep it, along with your belongings, from winery to winery. There are few regulations imposed on ride share companies for their drivers. Pemberley Tours is licensed and regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission. TCP # 36651.
Designated driver services are popular as well, but again be sure that your driver is regulated by the California PUC (you can check here for the list of all licensed carriers and the status of their permits).
For a join-in group tour, the best group tour provider in wine country is Platypus Tours. You will join 4 or 5 couples on a small bus with a pre-determined itinerary.