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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.”

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.

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.”

5 Fabulous Things to Do When You Visit San Francisco

What’s on your San Francisco bucket list? There are so many things to do in the San Francisco Bay Area that it may be hard to cram in everything on your list.

Green Dream Tours, San Francisco Golden Gate BridgeGreen Dream Tours makes it easy to check off five key experiences simply by booking our Alcatraz and Wine Country Combo Tour:

1. Golden Gate Bridge
2. Sonoma Valley Wine Tasting
3. Fisherman’s Wharf
4. Boat Ride on San Francisco Bay
5. Tour of Alcatraz Prison and Village

“Our Alcatraz and Wine Country Combo Tour is one of our most popular tours for good reason,” said Green Dream Tours owner Elie Sasson. “It combines two of the Bay Area’s premier attractions into one day of fun.”

The first stop on the Alcatraz and Wine Country Combo Tour is the Golden Gate Bridge. One of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge is a must-see. The tour goes across the Golden Gate Bridge, with a photo op on the northeast side of the span. What makes this photo op so special is that you can get pictures of the bridge and the San Francisco city skyline.

San Francisco weather is so fickle that sometimes it’s foggy on the San Francisco side of the bridge and totally clear once you head north. (If you want to get out of the San Francisco fog, a Wine Country Tour often does the trick!)

Green Dream Tours, Cline Family CellarsAfter the Golden Gate Bridge, we head directly to Sonoma Valley, where your wine tasting experience begins around 10 a.m. at Cline Family Cellars. We love Cline for many reasons, but for starters, it’s committed to sustainable farming, just like Green Dream Tours is committed to sustainable tourism. The next stop in Sonoma Valley is Homewood Winery. Winemaker David Homewood sources his fruit from a variety of vineyards to produce distinctive wines.

“In Sonoma Valley, we visit and taste wines at two of the region’s premier wineries,” said Sasson. “Cline Cellars boasts Rhone-style varietals, specializing in Zinfandel. Homewood is a small, family-run micro-winery, producing only 1,000 cases per year.”

From Wine Country, the tour returns to San Francisco for lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf. There are many places to dine in this area of San Francisco, and your guide will help you select the restaurant that suits your tastes and pocketbook.

AlcatrazEvery trip to San Francisco should include a boat ride on the bay. Obviously, you boat over to Alcatraz Island, but don’t take this part of the tour for granted. The 1.25-mile boat ride to and from Alcatraz is exciting, offering spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands and the San Francisco city skyline.

The final stop on the Alcatraz and Wine Country Combo Tour is Alcatraz, once home to some of the most notorious outlaws in modern history, including Al Capone. “The Rock” as it’s often referred to, no longer houses prisoners, but the cells are still there for you to explore as well as the grounds, where prison guards lived. The official Alcatraz tour features an audio headset available in 11 languages.

While there are many things that should be on your San Francisco bucket list, Green Dream Tours can help you check off five experiences in one day if you join our Alcatraz and Wine Country Combo Tour.

Alcatraz tours must be booked five days in advance. For those short on time, we offer a half-day tour to Sonoma Valley.

Book online now or call us at 415-692-1644 for further information.

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
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On wine country tours, smaller is better

greendream-group

People who tour the wine country with us are looking for a more intimate experience. That’s why we visit family-owned wineries instead of impersonal corporate producers. And it’s the reason we have a 14-passenger bus, so you can have it to yourself or get to know a few interesting folks from around the world.

Here’s a sampling of what our fans are saying on TripAdvisor…

Carefully selected wineries

TB from San Francisco says, “Green Dream Tours provides a detail oriented and thoughtful trip through wineries in Sonoma County. His wineries appear to be as carefully selected as the various details they share with the group while on tour. It’s a fantastic way to experience wine country for the first, second or twentieth time.”

Small group, big fun

Natalia A of Hobart, Australia writes, “We all thoroughly enjoyed the tour, especially the small group size and the free time spent in Sonoma. We appreciated visiting some smaller wineries as opposed to the bigger commercial ones.”

Thumbs down on larger tour

Laura M of Louisville, Kentucky, “This was our first wine tour and by far the best! Elie is a wonderful guide and offers a lot of educational and historical information. Later in the week we did a larger tour to Napa Valley that lacked the quality of Green Dream. We loved visiting the smaller family-owned wineries. This was our favorite day of our trip to San Fran!”

See more of our wine tour reviews on TripAdvisor.

Check out 10 reasons to choose Green Dream Tours.