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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.”

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!!!!

 

Fall in the wine country — a special time to visit

Erin Troy, Green Dream tour guide, toasts fall in the vineyard.

Green Dream tour guide Erin Troy toasts fall in the vineyard.

Erin Troy has been leading wine country tours for Green Dream since May of 2012. We spoke to her about what’s going on in the vineyards now.

Can you give us a preview of fall in the wine country?

Harvest is my favorite time of year to be up there. They call it the crush and it’s when Napa and Sonoma are buzzing.

You get to see production going on – from workers hand-picking grapes to truckloads of fruit being delivered to the wineries. It’s one of the most beautiful times in California wine country. The leaves on the vines are turning gold, orange and rust. The angle of the sun produces that golden glow and the air smells like wine.

What questions do your groups ask about the crush?

People want to know when grapes are harvested. It’s an ongoing process starting in late summer and continuing into early fall. The wineries measure the sugar levels of the grapes to decide when they’re ready to pick. In warmer seasons they harvest earlier and when it’s been cooler, they harvest later.

Are there advantages to visiting at this time of year?

The vines turn beautiful oranges and rusts in the fall in California's wine country.

Wine country vineyard wears brilliant fall colors.

It’s a little past the peak summer tourist season, so tasting room visitors get more personal attention. And because it’s harvest time, you’ll see more of the winemaking process. There’s a sense of change in the air as the grapes come to the end of life on the vine and begin the transformation into wine.

What do you like most about leading wine country tours?

I love taking daily tours up to wine country because it’s beautiful and consistently better weather than San Francisco. And, it’s fun meeting visitors from all over the world who are on vacation and in a good mood.

When people have a special request, Green Dream arranges a private tour, so I often get to visit wineries that are not on our usual itinerary.

I’ve always been interested in wine, but being a tour guide has given me more appreciation of what goes into each bottle. I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with my tour groups.

Learn more
Private winery tours
About Green Dream Tours

Tour Sonoma’s Robledo Family Winery — a hidden gem

When you join our Sonoma Valley winery tour, you’ll get to taste the wines and hear the amazing story of Reynaldo Robledo and his family winery.

Lazaro Robledo, Sonoma winery tasting room manager

Lazaro Robledo,
tasting room manager

Reynaldo came to California’s wine country as a migrant worker from Mexico at the tender age of 16. We spoke to his son Lazaro, the winery’s tasting room manager, who filled us in on the fascinating details.

How many of your family members work in the business?

All of them! I’m the eighth of nine children and every one has stayed in the family business. For example, Everardo is the winemaker, Jenaro is the vineyard manager and my mom, who recently retired, was executive chef for all of our events.

What makes Robledo different than other wineries?

We’re proud that the winery is completely family run. From the soil to the bottle, we touch everything.

What recognition have your wines received?Award-winning Robledo Sonoma wines

In blind tastings, we’ve been awarded 22 gold medals and nine double golds. Some award winners are available on our website. My favorite now is the 2012 Seven Brothers Sauvignon Blanc, perfect in this hot weather.

How did you hook up with Green Dream Tours?

I met Elie four years ago when he was starting out and looking for boutique wineries to include in his tour. It’s been great seeing the growth and development of his company.

What do you like about his tour groups?

I like to meet people from all over and he’s getting tourists from Australia, Europe and China as well as from the US.

Last word . . .

My advice is to try a lot of different wines. You’ll learn what you like and become a more discerning taster.

Find out more
Green Dream’s Sonoma Valley winery tour
Robledo Family Winery

Discover Judd’s Hill on our
Napa Valley wine tour

We chatted with Todd Rickhoff, wine educator and tasting guru at Judd’s Hill winery in Napa. Here, he shares his insights from more Wine educator at Napa Valley's Judd's Hill Winerythan 30 years in the industry.

Tell us a little about your background in the wine biz . . .

I started in the late 1970s when my brother-in-law bought the Franciscan Winery. Later I went to Durango and Denver, Colorado, and operated retail wine stores there. In 2004, I moved back to the Napa Valley and worked at several prominent wineries.

And then you decided to join Judd’s Hill – why?

After spending time at corporate wineries, it’s fun to be part of a family-run boutique winery. We produce just 3,000 cases a year for our own label and custom-bottle for individuals and grape growers.

Give us a quick family history . . .

In the 1960s, architect Art Finkelstein started making wine at home in LA. He began winning awards and soon his hobby outgrew his garage. That’s when he came to Napa, bought some land and designed and built Whitehall Lane Winery.

But Art really wanted to be a small, custom winemaker, so he sold Whitehall in the mid-80s. A few years later, he started Judd’s Hill which he operates with his son Judd and the rest of his family.

Do you have special events at the winery?

For people who want to go deeper into winemaking, we host Bottle Blending Day Camps. We teach how to make French Bordeaux blends from four different varietals. At the end of the day, they get to cork and label their bottles and take them home.

What is Judd’s Hill known for?

We’re proud of all 18 wines but the mainstays are our Sauvignon Blanc, Petite Sirah, Napa Cabernet, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.

Learn about

 

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.