Touring California's Wine Country With Cruise West

    As the leader of small-ship voyages with 78-138 guests per ship, Cruise West, is ideal for those who have always wanted to enjoy a romantic cruise or a unique getaway.

    One of our favorite cruises offered by Cruise West is the California Wine Country Tour on which guests 21 and older learn about and enjoy the wines of Napa and Sonoma with a wine expert. This round-trip cruise sets off from San Francisco. Guests arriving at the San Francisco Airport are transferred to Cruise West’s hospitality area where they can enjoy the delights of Fisherman’s Wharf before boarding the Spirit of Yorktown.

    Did You Know? - In addition to some of the finest dining in the world, Fisherman's Wharf is great shopping to explore, and further down the wharf you'll find Pier 39. This festival marketplace is home to the San Francisco Carousel and the Aquarium of the Bay. For those who arrive early and have time, Fisherman's Wharf is also a departure point for tours of Alcatraz Island.

    Guests boarding the Spirit of Yorktown are welcomed onboard with a flute of Champagne or Champagne punch and a toast as you cruise by the San Francisco skyline and circle around Alcatraz island. Following a delicious dinner, relax in the lounge as you cruise up the bay to set the stage for a busy day in the Napa Valley.

    Highlights of day two include a cooking demonstration, “Cooking With Wine,” by the chefs at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) on Greystone campus, which is among the finest educational facilities in the world. There will be time for guests to pick up a few things in their amazing cooking store, The Spice Islands. Another highlight of the day is the engaging wine program taught by the professionals at Greystone.

    Lunch will be served at the world-renowned Auberge du Soleil restaurant perched on the slope of Rutherford Hill, affording an impressive view of the entire Napa Valley. This exclusive Cruise West lunch will feature food and wine pairings explained by the sommelier.

    Nestled along the historic Silverado Trail, Mumm Napa’s spectacular views can be seen while tasting from the glass-enclosed tasting salon or outside on the terrace. Mumm Napa's winemaker's philosophy is to create sparkling wines that show elegance, balance and artistry by combining the tradition Methode Champenoise style with outstanding fruit that can only be cultivated in the Napa Valley. During you visit don't forget to take a private tour and taste Mumm Napa's award-winning sparkling wines. When you return to the Spirit of Yorktown you'll enjoy a leisurely cocktail hour and a delicious dinner.

    Rise early and catch the beautiful sunrise as you sail into Sausalito. Brunch will be served onboard as the Spirit of Yorktown ties up near the charming seaside town of Sausalito, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. There will be regularly scheduled shuttles into town and time for you to walk and explore this artists’ town on your own. Additional optional activities include exploring the Bay Model, inflatable excursion craft tours of Richardson Bay, the Marin shipyard or shopping. The San Francisco Bay Model is a 3-dimensional hydraulic model of the San Francisco and Delta areas capable of simulating tides, currents and river inflows. The model is over 1.5 acres in size and represents an area from the Pacific Ocean to Sacramento and Stockton. Learn more about how fresh water from the rivers mingles with the salt water from ocean tides creating a rich and diverse aquatic ecosystem. The day will end with a twilight bay cruise and onboard wine tasting.

    On day four guests have several options to enjoy on their trip. There will be time for shopping and exploring at the 8-acre park-like Sonoma Plaza, the largest shopping area of its kind in California., with galleries, wine shops and boutiques. The Plaza is an eight-acre square at the heart of Sonoma’s unique historical district. Or... For those of you who would like the opportunity to personalize your cruise by exploring one of your individual passions there will be optional tours available:

    The Cabernet Lovers Limo Tour will visit three amazing wineries, which may vary, and are known for their high-end Cabernet Sauvignons. The wineries Quintessa, Silver Oak, and Joseph Phelps are among the favorites on this tour.

    You may also take flight for an early morning hot air balloon ride over the lovely Napa Valley or tour the olive grove at Round Pond during the harvest and / press season. You will have a chance to see olive oil pressed, and taste it, while enjoying the music that accompanies the harvest workers before returning to the Spirit of Yorktown for lunch.

    In the afternoon guests will visit two wineries in Sonoma. At St. Francis you will be treated to food and wine pairings, touring, and tasting. St. Francis Winery is known for its Cabernets, Meritages, and Chardonnays. The Chateau St. Jean visit will include tasting and time to appreciate its magnificent gardens. The courtyard features colorful shrubs and generous groundcovers, rare palm and citrus trees. This winery is the only one ever to have placed five wines in a singles "Wine Spectator" magazine Top 100 rating. They are known for its Cabernets and Chardonnays. After your memorable day you'll return to the ship where you will experience a leisurely cocktail hour with featured wines followed by a delicious dinner.

    On day five as your journey comes to a close, relax in the morning on deck and take in the view as the ship cruises into Redwood City for disembarkation. A transfer by motorcoach will take guests either to San Francisco’s airport or to our hospitality area at Fisherman's Wharf.

    By Melody Schubert

    Getting There:

    For details on attractions, current events, and lodging visit the California Travel & Tourism Commission site at

    Photo Credits: Cruise West