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Fall Crush Creates Buzz in Wine Country

Fall is a magical time of year in Wine Country, which is why everyone who visits San Francisco should make sure to head north to Napa and Sonoma valleys.

Just when summer vacations come to an end and tourist season begins to slow, fall crush takes over Wine Country, adding an exciting burst of color and vibrancy to the region. You probably won’t witness women in long skirts stomping grapes, but you’ll likely see workers in vineyards handpicking fruit and bins of grapes waiting to be crushed by machines that can even remove the stems.

“Fall is not only an incredibly stunning time of year to plan a Wine Country trip, but it is potentially the best time of year for visitors to catch an in-person glance at the winemaking side of things,” says Marissa Napierski, who works in hospitality and sales for Hagafen Cellars in Napa. “It’s one thing to hear stories and explanations, but it’s even more engaging to be able to see the winemaking teams in action.”

Green Dream Tours - Wine making, David stirring grapesAt Homewood Winery in Sonoma, our guests got to see David Homewood stirring Pinot Noir grapes picked from the property that morning. He made the punch-down instrument himself. After the grapes were punched down by Dave, he lets the juice sit with the skins until it morphs into the exact right color and flavors before being put into barrels. Then from barrels to bottles!

When our small-group tour recently visited Peter Cellars in Sonoma, harvest was also in full swing. Newly picked grapes were being moved from bins to cylinders for crushing. Peter Cellars relies on Old World winemaking techniques, which Peter learned in France before settling in Sonoma Valley.

At Hagafen, the extra work that always accompanies harvest brings out the best in everyone who works at the boutique winery from top to bottom.

Green Dream Tours - Grapes“If there is one thing we pride ourselves on at Hagafen, it’s teamwork,” says Marissa.  “From the vineyard and cellar team to the front of house staff, we all seem to be in a happier state of mind. It must be something in the air.”

To learn more about the fall crush in Wine Country, book a tour today. Green Dream Tours is a TripAdvisor Hall of Fame member and has helped more than 40,000 guests experience Napa and Sonoma valleys over the past 10 years.

Cheers to Mom and Wine Country!

Cheers to Mom, Green Dream Tours, VineyardDear Mom,

Happy Mother’s Day!

It was so fun to be able to take you on a tour of Sonoma Valley with Green Dream Tours.

Thanks for sharing the experience with me 🙂

We got so lucky with the weather. The views were great, and our photo together at the Golden Gate Bridge turned out amazing. Can’t believe it wasn’t fogged in!

I loved seeing how much you enjoyed the wines at Robledo Family Winery. Those were some of my favorites, too. Not sure if that was because they were the first wines we tried at 10:15am. As they say, “You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning!” Hehe.

Mom and I, Larson Family WineryThe wines they poured at Larson Family Winery paired very well with the picnic lunch. Bubba, the resident chocolate lab at the winery, sure did take a liking to you. Bubba’s got great taste! I think we could have lingered on the patio all day.

Spring is such a lovely time in Wine Country: rolling green hills, new leaves on the vines and seeing the cute tiny clusters of what will become grapes! Hard to believe how close the flames came to burning Nicholson Ranch to the ground back in October. With all the new growth since the fires, you can hardly tell that the area was badly burned. It also feels great to support the winery by being there to taste and buy their wines.

Another highlight for me was our free time in the quaint downtown Sonoma Plaza. Perfect temperature for strolling through the square and watching the kids chase the ducks around the fountain…and those Russian tea cakes from Basque Cafe were so delicious!

The other people on our tour were fun to hang out with. I love it that everyone was so friendly and that we had such a good time socializing with people we had never met before.

Green Dream Tours, San Francisco, Golden Gate BridgeIt was just wonderful to be able to share such a fun and relaxing day in Wine Country with you. Thanks for being such an amazing mother and always reminding me to appreciate life!

Cheers to you, MOM!

Love, Erin

Erin Troy is a partner and the operations manager at Green Dream Tours. She and her mom went on our Sonoma Valley Tour, and here are Erin’s memories from the day.

Sonoma winemaker: the fires are behind us. Come visit!

After two weeks without power and water due to the wildfires that swept through wine country, Nicholson Ranch is once again welcoming guests. We chatted with founder/winemaker Deepak Gulrajani about how his winery fared, and what visitors to Sonoma can expect now.

Deepak Gulrajani, founder & winemaker, Nicholson Ranch Sonoma r

Deepak Gulrajani, Nicholson Ranch founder/winemaker and some of his award-winning wines

Deepak, how was Nicholson Ranch affected by the fires?

The flames came close, but fortunately we didn’t have damage to the building except for a little bit to one corner of the structure. Our biggest issue was loss of power, and our water well system had to be replaced and recertified for safety.

What about the vineyards?

About five acres were scorched. We won’t know how many will come back until next year, but our grapes were already harvested so there’s no smoke taint.

How has the wine community come together to support each other?

The winemaking community in Sonoma has always been about sharing knowledge, in regular and unusual situations. We don’t harbor a secret sauce, we discuss with other vineyard people.

How did you get started in wine making?

I started as a home winemaker 25 years ago. I did it with a group of friends for about 10 years. Once I got into making wine commercially I learned from the pros. We planted the vineyard in 1995 and I started making wine full time in 2008. I’m still the winemaker here, and I love doing it. For me it’s about learning, tasting, observing.

What has changed for you?

vista at Nicholson ranch in Sonoma wine country

The sweeping vista at Nicholson Ranch, Sonoma

We’ve gone to organic farming in the last five years with the goal of producing better fruit with better flavor for wine. My winemaking style is minimal intervention—natural yeast, no filtration, no chemicals. We use a little sulfite for aging.

What wines are you known for?

We do a great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Over the years they’ve won many awards. Nicholson Ranch is a small estate winery producing 5,000 to 6,000 cases a year. We make wine from the grapes we grow, from start to finish, and sell it right here. Our wines are only available at the winery.

How long have you been working with Green Dream Tours?

We’ve been welcoming their groups for about three years now. I like talking with guests in the tasting room, explaining our wines and answering questions.

What do you want people to know now?

Wine country is back—we’re up and running. The fires are behind us. Air quality is excellent. The fire may actually help the vines by adding nutrients produced by the ash.

The way to help wine country is to come back and visit!

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