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Green Dream Tours Excited About Moscone Center Expansion

With the recent grand reopening of Moscone Center in San Francisco, the entire Bay Area is gearing up for what promises to be an upsurge in convention business. This fact is not lost on Green Dream Tours, which specializes in wine tours from San Francisco to Napa and Sonoma

“It’s always a good idea to take a day off from a convention and enjoy yourself,” says Elie Sasson, owner of Green Dream Tours. “Every trip to San Francisco should include a trip to the Wine Country.”

Green Dream Tours, a member of the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame, has been helping convention attendees experience Wine Country for more than 10 years. Small-group tours feature pickups at most hotels near the convention center, and throughout San Francisco’s downtown and Fisherman’s Wharf areas. Public tours also include tasting fees, water, mints, planned stops for lunch, and knowlegable and fun guides.

Most convention attendees spend a few extra days in San Francisco before and after their events. Wine Country tours are a great way to explore beyond the city limits to take advantage of all the Bay Area has to offer. For those traveling with spouses, significant others or family members, wine tours from San Francisco provide those not attending conventions something to look forward to. (Convention attendees pressed for time may even be able to sneak away when sessions are light!)

Groups meeting in San Francisco often seek smaller venues to host private events during major conventions. A private group tour to Wine Country can fill this need, combining local immersion with ready-made entertainment.

Besides an anticipated increase in visitors coming to San Francisco for conventions, the Moscone expansion reflects a renewed commitment to sustainability. Moscone, which is seeking LEED Platinum certification, boasts the largest array of rooftop solor panels in San Francisco. The convention center also harvests water from fog and below the building, and has its own water treatment plant.

Green Dream Tours has been committed to sustainable tourism since its first tour to Sonoma Valley in 2008. Each year, Green Dream Tours purchases carbon offsets that go toward projects such as reforestation, which works to eliminate carbon from the environment. The company also visits many green wineries. In Sonoma, for example, Nicholson Ranch is committed to sustainable farming practices. Starmont Winery and Vineyard is a certified Napa Green Winery, generating electricity from solar panels.

Green Dream Tours is a partner of San Francisco Travel, the city’s convention and visitors bureau. As a locally-owned, small business, Green Dream Tours provides behind-the-scene experiences designed to showcase the vibrant wine regions beyond San Francisco. Among the new features at Moscone Center is a dedicated tourism center where conference attendees can learn about and book tours like those offered by Green Dream Tours.Green Dream Tours

Wine Country tours may be booked online or by calling 415-692-1644. An experienced tour consultant will provide advice on public or private tours, including winery selections, lunch, and visits to landmarks such as Napa’s Oxbow Market and Sonoma Plaza.

“You are guaranteed to have a great time on our wine tour, while escaping the convention routine for a day,” says Elie. “We are the best in the business.”

Private Wine Country Tours Make All Occasions More Special

What kind of Wine Country experience are you seeking? Green Dream Tours creates custom itineraries from San Francisco to Sonoma and Napa that are perfectly paired with your personal tastes and interests.

Whether you’re high on a specific winery or prefer reds over whites, Green Dream Tours will work with you to design a day you’ll never forget. You don’t have to be celebrating anything, but private wine tours are a sure-fire way to elevate all special occasions.

Teri and Daniel Hull took a private wine tour to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. They were visiting San Francisco from Illinois, while Teri’s mom watched their two sons back home.

“We decided to do a Wine Country tour because we had spent a week in Tuscany in the summer of 2016 and we wanted to see what the winery scene in the United States is like,” said Teri. “I had not been on a Wine Country tour in California before, just Italy.”

The Hulls visited two historic wineries in Sonoma: Buena Vista, the oldest commercial winery in California dating to 1857, and Gundlach Bundschu, the state’s second oldest winery. The Hulls also tasted wine at Nicholson Ranch, which is featured on Green Dream public tours.

“Our favorite winery was Nicholson Ranch,” said Hull. “It was a beautiful space both inside and outside. Loved the wines also!”

For lunch, the Hulls headed to Sonoma Plaza, which has more than a dozen eateries lining the historic square. They chose The Girl & the Fig, which is very popular with locals.

“It was delicious and just what we needed after tasting wines all morning,” said Hull. “We ended up buying some of their chutney to bring home.”

Barbara Valbuena is an experienced traveler who was visiting San Francisco from Delaware. She chose to do a private wine tour to the Dry Creek Valley area in northern Sonoma County. Joining her on the tour was her friend, Betty Sherburne.

“We have realized the importance of having a knowledgeable, friendly and courteous guide,” said Valbuena. “We wanted a private car with guide/driver for the two of us. As senior citizens, we prefer our privacy and the opportunity to make our own choices of two outstanding wineries.”

Barbara says she selected Michel-Schlumberger Winery Estate for its attractive garden, Hispanic-style estate and wines. They also tasted wine at family-owned Lambert Bridge, which has a woman winemaker, lavash gardens and a redwood tasting room.

“Delaware law does not allow wine/liquor to be shipped into private homes, which is unfortunate because I would have bought a case of that Chardonnay,” said Barbara. “It was superb when I tasted it again for Thanksgiving dinner. The Lambert Bridge Chardonnay was full of flavor and well bodied with a nice aftertaste.”

For lunch, Barbara and Betty stopped in quaint yet trendy Healdsburg Plaza. They enjoyed an informal lunch at the Costeaux French Bakery. “It was very good and was just the perfect type of place we wanted,” said Barbara.

Besides Wine Country, the tour also featured a drive past San Francisco homes with spectacular bay views, a drive along the Embarcadero, and photo ops at the Palace of Fine Arts and Golden Gate Bridge. 

“The staff at Green Dream Tours was extremely cooperative and helpful in organizing our visit according to our wishes, and they answered my emails promptly,” said Valbuena. “We carry happy memories of our day with our tour guide.”

Get to Know the “Wise Guides” from Green Dream Tours

Green Dream ToursMeet the Wise Guides.

Green Dream Tours is blessed to have great guides, who are crucial in helping our 10-year-old San Francisco-based company offer fun, small-group tours to Wine Country. Our guides are so popular that we get calls from total strangers asking if they can do a tour with Dylan, for example.

Based on TripAdvisor reviews, Robin’s knowledge of California history is quite impressive. Aaron is regularly applauded for his professionalism. And Heather, who also serves as our fleet manager, knows all the San Francisco hotspots since she was born here.

We thought you’d enjoy getting to know our guides better, so we asked them a few questions to find out what makes them tick. Here’s what we learned:

Heather has worn many hats at Green Dream Tours, but it’s her own travels that have helped shape her guiding style.

“I was born in San Francisco in the Summer of Love. Both my parents were hippies and I lived in Haight Ashbury for the first four years of my life. I started traveling at a very early age. I lived in Greece for a year before moving to Canada to start school. I have lived in many places and in doing so have been able to meet, and can relate to, a wide variety of people.”

Green Dream Tours - Passenger SelfieDylan has been guiding for four years. He’s a rock star, literally. His band is called Midnight Snackers.

“I just knew that I wanted to do anything but the corporate role I was trapped in. I tried some guiding on the weekends at the recommendation of a friend and quickly fell in love with it.  More than any other aspect of guiding, I love the idea of helping someone have a really great day.”


Robin takes pride in tours that are fun and informative.

Green Dream Tours Tour Guide“Being a tour guide, I get to perform before an audience. That may sound conceited, but telling stories is something I enjoy. I realize some people are more interested in the alcohol content than the historical content. I try not to talk too much, but when somebody I’ve only just met comes up to me and says, ‘I wanted to ask you about something you said’—as they say in the old MasterCard campaign, it’s priceless.”

Aaron is a real people-person.

“The thing I love most about guiding is the people I meet and having the opportunity to share their experiences as they visit San Francisco and Wine Country. Being able to listen to their stories and share their experiences here is almost always interesting and refreshing.” 

We asked our guides what they liked most about guiding. Their answers had one common denominator: The People.

Heather says: “I call tour guiding ‘traveling in place.’ I treat every day as a new opportunity to not only make new friends but also to learn about life in other places. I enjoy meeting people from all over the world and bringing them together. Enjoying great wine is a bonus!”

Heather

Green Dream Tours Celebrates 10 Years of Wine Country Tours

High-end Wine TastingHigh-end customer service and a focus on Wine Country have helped San Francisco-based Green Dream Tours carve out a niche in the competitive Northern California tourism space.

Since offering its first Wine Country tours 10 years ago, Green Dream Tours has guided more than 40,000 guests from around the world to Napa and Sonoma valleys. Using 14-passenger luxury buses, the small-group tours visit boutique and family-owned wineries, with a blend of education and fun.

“We are a small operation that focuses on quality over quantity,” says Elie Sasson, owner of Green Dream Tours. “Many companies offer a variety of tours: city tours, Muir Woods/Sausalito, Yosemite, etc. We’ve found that specializing in one area has allowed us to develop the best possible product. It’s easier, in my opinion, to do one thing and do it well than to try to keep too many plates spinning at once.”

Green Dream Tours is regularly recognized for its customer service, including recent qualification for the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame. Based solely on guest reviews, the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame is given for earning the Certificate of Excellence five consecutive years.

Erin Troy is a partner and operations manager at Green Dream Tours. Once a guide herself, Troy has helped shape Green Dream Tours by recruiting tour leaders with personality and passion.

Green Dream Tours, inside the bus“Our guides are awesome, not to mention experienced and knowledgeable,” says Troy.  “It’s incredibly gratifying to receive the continuous stream of amazing feedback and reviews from happy customers.”

Like a fine wine, Green Dream Tours doesn’t rush guides into handling tours solo.

“We want to ensure that they are fully prepared to lead great tours before we send them out on their own,” says Troy. “I don’t know what we would do without our ‘Green Dream Team’ of guides. They are the front and center or our company, and I couldn’t be more appreciative.”

Troy says Green Dream Tours scores high with guests thanks to the Sonoma and Napa wineries the tours visit. Because Green Dream Tours uses smaller, luxury buses, groups are able to visit quaint, off-the-beaten-path vineyards.

Green Dream Tours facilities“I feel so fortunate that we have developed such great relationships with the wineries over the years,” says Troy. “They take such good care of our customers on a daily basis. We’ve become regulars at wineries and it’s nice to receive special treatment for being reliable customers. You can’t offer a wine tour without the wine!”

While Green Dream Tours has made its mark with Wine Country tours, the company may be ready to expand in other areas to take into account changing desires and requests, according to Sasson. For example, Green Dream Tours is already committed to sustainable tourism and may add an experience that combines tourism and volunteering.

“I think the next 10 years will bring more learning and more growth to the company,” says Sasson. “We expect to broaden the scope of our offerings to include the emerging cannabis market. We also want to capitalize on the growing craft beer industry by offering beer tasting and brewery tours.”

Green Dream Tours Earns Prestigious Spot in TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame

Trip AdvisorGreen Dream Tours has qualified for the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame after earning the Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years.

Celebrating its 10-year anniversary in June 2018, San Francisco-based Green Dream Tours has guided more than 30,000 guests to Wine Country. The Certificate of Excellence is based on TripAdvisor’s guest reviews.

“We are very proud to have achieved Hall of Fame status with TripAdvisor,” said Elie Sasson, owner of Green Dream Tours. “We feel that we have worked very hard to achieve this, and that we deserve this recognition.  We also feel that prospective clients will recognize this achievement and want to book with us.”

Green Dream Tours specializes in small-group tours to Napa and Sonoma. All public tours are limited to 14 guests on new luxury buses. The company also offers private tours throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, ranging from one to 25 people. (Larger groups can be accommodated upon request.)Green Dream Tours Vineyard

“We got here because of all of the hard work put in by our team over our 10 years in service,” said Sasson. “We have listened to what our customers want and expect from a wine tour, and have made many improvements over the years.”

According to veteran guide Dylan Haas, the Green Dream Tours ownership allows each guide’s unique personality to flourish and enhance tours, rather than force guides to fit into a specific mold.

“We each have a unique passion for service, guiding and wine that is rooted in our unique personalities,” said Haas. “So each guide and each tour is different, but each has the common theme of passion for quality and service.

Tour group, Green Dream Tours, inside the bus“We love and strive to give our guests the best tour of their lives,” said Haas.

Green Dream Tours relies on close relationships with Napa and Sonoma wineries to deliver amazing tours. Wineries range from family-owned estates to organic vineyards to boutique tasting rooms.

 

Here are a few examples of recent guest reviews:

The day was beautiful. The tour guide Robin was knowledgeable and friendly. My husband and I learned a lot about wine. We visited small wineries not the bigger more commercial ones, which I really enjoyed because I felt you had more of a one-on-one service. I would highly recommend this tour!
It was a superb tour where we visit 3 different wineries with diverse perspectives. Skip (our guide) was always helpful, funny, and taught us a lot about Napa, its history, people, etc. We strongly recommend.
This tour exceeded our expectations! Dylan, our tour leader and driver not only made us laugh for 5 hours but he was kind, helpful, and made sure each of us had what we needed. We have been raving about the tour since we got back! Larson Family winery was our favorite spot and the weather was absolutely perfect! Thank you!!!!

 

Team Building Wine Tour Helps Keep #SonomaStrong

While all eyes were on the fires raging in wine country, Veronica Ahern and her team were looking forward to their Green Dream Wine Tour to Sonoma.

Veronica, Director of Strategic Accounts for Oracle Data Cloud, had been planning the event as a bonding experience for 12 of her staff. Local team members were joined by several from around the country, and one even came in from London to experience the special day.

Fire was not on their agenda.

Team building wine tour, photo op at Golden Gate Bridge

First stop on their Sonoma wine tour, a photo op on the Golden Gate Bridge,

“We had a Plan B and Plan C in case,” says Veronica, “but a wine tour was our first choice, and it worked out really well. We were the first tour to go after the fires. I wondered if it would be insensitive to go up there, but they were excited to have us.”

Why Green Dream?

When selecting a tour company Veronica started by asking friends for recommendations.  “Then I saw a Green Dream van on the road and I called for a quote. I really liked that I could have lunch, tasting fees, driver and bus, all included in one price. It made budgeting so much easier,” she says.

Veronica worked with Green Dream’s Erin and Heather to plan a day that would be both fun and informative. They chose to visit the Larsen Family Winery, Robledo Family Winery and Cline Cellars.

“The tour was very well organized,” Veronica says. “Because of the fires, there was a lot of proactive communication between Green Dream and the wineries to make sure it was a great day for us to go.  They weren’t going to put us or their driver in an uncomfortable situation if the air quality was bad. That eased my mind,” she says.

“Their focus was not on making money, but making sure we had a good experience.”

Highlight of the tour

Oracle team at Cline Cellars

Oracle team, wine tasting at Cline Cellars in Sonoma

The group enjoyed all three Sonoma wineries, but Larsen was a favorite where they had a box lunch, played cornhole and basked in the sunshine. About half the team had been to wine country before. Everyone loved it, several said they were going to join the wine clubs just so they had an excuse to go back.

“The best part of going on a wine tasting tour is you learn what you like and what you don’t,” Veronica explained. For example, she thought she didn’t like white wine, but she realized that “I don’t like sweet white wine, so now I know what to ask for.”

Kudos for their guide 

Veronica and her team were very pleased with Dylan, their Green Dream tour guide. “He has a lot of energy and was very entertaining. He even stopped to buy a replacement cord so we could listen to music. He could have just turned on the radio, but instead he went above and beyond.”

Highly recommended

Veronica would definitely recommend Green Dream Tours to anyone planning a corporate event. And, even for outings outside of work, “I will reach out to Green Dream first.”

Learn more:
Why Our Tours
Private Wine Tours

Custom San Francisco and Wine Country Tours – How to Celebrate a Milestone

We felt like we were rich and famous for five days and we’re not.

Valerie and Jim Matthews wanted to go all out for their upcoming big birthdays (60 for her and 65 for him). The Pittsburgh, PA couple decided on San Jim and Valerie on a Green Dream wine tasting tour in Napa.Francisco because they’d never been here, and Valerie spent seven months researching their trip. “I’m a detail person,” she admits.

They looked at several options – the wine train, tour companies and even renting a car to go on their own. They selected Green Dream because the tours seemed more personal. “When I learned they customize trips, that did it,” says Valerie.

Day one: the private San Francisco tour

Jim and Valerie chose Green Dream’s BMW convertible for their private tours. “We felt like we were outdoors the entire time. It was beautiful.”

Heather, a Green Dream tour guide, helped them plan their itinerary. “We had so much flexibility it was ridiculous,” says Valerie. “Although we had only Saturday to Thursday we accomplished everything and at our own pace.”

On the first day, Heather drove them to landmarks around San Francisco and down Highway 1 to Half Moon Bay where they enjoyed lunch at the famous Sam’s Chowder House.

Day two: the customized wine tour

On Tuesday, they headed to Napa and Sonoma for wine tasting with Carson as their guide. Green Dream arranged for them to have lunch at Mustards Grill, an iconic wine country restaurant, between winery visits. Valerie says, “We were told it was a must do and it was.”

A customized wine tour via convertible by Green Dream.

Jim and Valerie stop for a photo op on day two of their customized tour.

Driving through the countryside in the convertible was as much a pleasure for the couple as touring the wineries.

Top notch all the way

“We loved everything about the trip,” she says. They flew first class for the first time, stayed at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco and dined in fine restaurants. “The private tours were the icing on the cake. We didn’t have to rent a car, pay to park it and have the burden of figuring out where to go and how to get there. That didn’t seem like a vacation.”

“I just have to tell you it was the trip of the lifetime. There were no glitches. We felt like we were rich and famous for five days and we’re not.”

Learn more
Customized private tours
About Green Dream

 

Napa Valley Wine Tour – Meet the Winemaker at Spelletich Family Winery

Napa Valley winemaker and her dog greet guests on a Green Dream Tour.

Barb and Molly, the Spelletich mascot

At this boutique winery guests get a rare treat—a chance to taste wines in the company of the winemaker, Barb Spelletich. We spoke with her to learn about her long career in the business and her passion for winemaking.

What led you into winemaking?

My first job was as a retailer in Seattle. Then I started working for a distributor, then for Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery. That led me to open my own distributorship – Zephyr Imports.  I traveled to Europe frequently, purchasing from small family wineries.

Why did you and your husband Tim decide to strike out on your own?

We first produced wine by renting equipment and facilities from Hanns Kornell (a sparkling wine maker in the Napa Valley). But it became expensive and wasn’t sustainable. In 1994 we said let’s buy our own equipment and do it ourselves. Now, in addition to our own label, we offer custom crush services for other winemakers to help them get started.

What’s it like working with family?

I have a partner I can always count on, and I like that. But come on, I live with Tim and work with him. It’s a pain in the butt sometimes. I’m happy that it’s loud in the winery and I can say things and he can’t hear me.

Are there a lot of women winemakers?

Women are still in the minority compared to guys. But I’m seeing more and more women and I’m happy about that.

What makes Spelletich wines different?

The constants in my wine are that the grapes are ripe but not overripe. And I never overoak. I always want my wines to smell and taste like the fruit. My thing is to have balanced wine. I don’t like my chardonnay too soft. It’s more refreshing to have acidity and it goes better with food.

Lots of Napa wineries have their own vineyards and use only their own grapes. I want diversity in my grapes and I also like to have price variation in my wines. Sometimes people in the industry are very hoity-toity about wine, but not a lot of consumers are interested in really expensive wines. They want reasonably priced wines for every day. That’s part of my thinking.

How do you advise guests to approach winetasting?

I like to be adventurous and I want the public to be as well. I tell people, judge for yourself and trust your own palate. A wine writer or blogger is just one person’s opinion.

If you taste a wine you don’t like, it only means you didn’t like that bottle that time. Pepsi and Coke are always the same. But every single bottle of wine (even the same year and same varietal) will be different.

Learn more
Napa Valley wine tour
Private winetasting tours
Book your tour

Celebrating Our 1,000th Wine Tour Review on TripAdvisor!

We raise our glass to TripAdvisor for creating a great venue where travelers can share information and take the guesswork out of planning a fun and satisfying trip.

Thanks to travelers’ reviews, Green Dream Tours has become the top-rated Bay Area wine tour on TripAdvisor. And a special thank you to Kathleen F., our 1,000th reviewer, for helping us achieve this milestone.

We’re so glad she had an “Amazing Day Touring Sonoma!” with us. Here are her comments:

Kathleen F., a happy Green Dream Tours customer

Kathleen F.

My best friend and I had our vacation staying in downtown San Fran at USA Hostels. Green Dream was everything the reviews raved about and more. We had SUCH a great time — Jake was our tour guide — he was knowledgeable, lively and hilarious. We learned a ton and our group was amazing. HIGHLY recommend!
(Visited September 2015)

Kathleen, we invite you to have an amazing day touring Napa with us next time you’re in town. A gift certificate for two is on its way.

See more of our 5-star TripAdvisor reviews

Napa or Sonoma…How to Choose
Your Wine Country Tour

People often ask us, “What’s the difference between your Napa and Sonoma
winery tours?” Here are some quick insights on the flavor and charm of
each valley.

Similarities between the two wine regions

Visitors to Napa wine country

Napa Valley wine country

Napa and Sonoma valleys run adjacent and parallel to one another, separated by the Mayacamas, a small mountain range. They are similar in many ways, with beautiful rolling hills, expansive vistas, vineyards and wineries scattered throughout.

While similar in geography and climate, Napa tends to be warmer than Sonoma as it is further inland. Both valleys, named for the counties where they are located, are known worldwide for producing fine quality wines.

What makes each valley unique

Sonoma vineyard in the fall

Rolling hills of Sonoma Valley

Napa was the first established California wine region, and for this reason, may be more well known. More commercialized and developed than Sonoma, Napa has become a destination for visitors looking for luxury accommodations and dining.

Most of the wineries in Napa are centralized in the heart of the Valley, while in Sonoma they tend to be more scattered. Sonoma has a more rural feel and visitors enjoy an off-the-beaten-path experience with many hidden gems waiting to be found.

What a difference terroir makes

Terroir — the geology, soil types and climate — differs between the Napa and Sonoma valleys, making each especially suited for growing certain grapes. For example, “cab is king” in Napa, as cabernet grapes grow particularly well in many of its appellations, or defined regions of the Valley. Sonoma is ideal for grapes that like a slightly cooler climate, such as chardonnay and pinot noir.

For more in-depth information and to experience the flavors of California’s legendary wine country, join us for one of our tours, featuring three boutique family-owned wineries.

Learn about:
Napa Valley wine tour
Sonoma Valley wine tour
Combo Napa / Sonoma tour