How to leave your heart (and much of your liver) in San Francisco!

Is there anywhere else on earth you can witness the grandeur of the sun, the surf, and the mountains like you can in California? Did I say witness? I meant becoming a card-carrying member of Club California, an organization devoted to amazing food, unbelievable wine culture, and a something-for-LITERALLY-everyone lifestyle. It’s no wonder the state is a bucket list destination for so many of us. And if you have a particular affection for the fruits of the vine, there’s no place to worship like Napa, Sonoma, and San Francisco. (Note, the locals definitely do NOT call it Frisco! If you must abbreviate, go with San Fran.)

California wine country is so much more than just wine. Sure the area produces some of the world’s most expensive and sought-after appellations, but visitors can also hike, cycle, horseback ride, and hot air balloon. And there’s no shortage of shopping, dining, music, zip lines, and spa treatments (it *is* California after all!). Oh, and a head’s up. Napa is bigger and gets most of the press, so you can be forgiven for thinking it’s “all that.” But the truth is, Sonoma County produces more grapes.

The dilemma for most of us is how to visit Sonoma (or Napa for that matter) and not also make the pilgrimage to the City by the Bay? Because, let’s face it, you cannot possibly do one and not the other. To me, the answer is clear. Do both! If you’re planning a wine touring adventure this year, make San Francisco your home base This will give you the very best of both worlds: A one-of-a-kind city escape and an over-the-top wine tasting extravaganza. Or, park yourself in Wine Country and make day trips into the city. Either way, you’re in for a win-win experience!

If you’re thinking of making the City your home base, and you’re travelling with a posse of friends, consider staying in this architectural masterpiece situated high in the Berkeley Hills. With room for 12, this home sits on a hidden oasis of private terraced gardens and all three levels offer stunning views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Contemporary design, unique artwork, and redwood decks will truly make you feel pampered. And, it’s less than an hour’s drive to Wine Country. So pack a picnic and head out to St. Helena, Sonoma, and Calistoga.

If you’re not travelling with such a large group but you still want over-the-top luxury, treat yourself to the extravagance of this beautiful home in the highly-desirable Telegraph Hill neighbourhood. A private elevator will whisk you from the parking garage into your penthouse suite where you will be greeted with panoramic views that stretch from the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the Ferry Building. You can stroll to most of the City’s tourist hubs including Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Chinatown, Coit Tower, and Lombard Street. And given the views and proximity to so many local attractions, you can be forgiven if your wine tastings are limited to whatever you purchase at Trader Joe’s to enjoy on your jaw-dropping terrace.

Just outside of the Bay Area (and by “just outside,” I mean just outside the fog belt that can blanket the city), you’ll discover this magnificent Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors in the kitchen/living/dining room open out onto a 50 ft wide natural atrium that leads to the pool and outdoor kitchen. If your occasion demands some serious WOW factor, this is it! And, because it’s just outside the city, you are ideally situated between the best of both worlds: 20 minutes from everything the city has to offer and just 45 minutes from wine country.

If your heart (and your liver!) are set on staying in wine country proper, we’ve got you covered. How about a 5 bedroom villa in Sonoma, the very heart of wine country? Imagine you and 8 of your closest friends luxuriating on a private estate with your own pool, spa, vineyards, and wildlife. Yet, you’re literally minutes from downtown Sonoma and its shopping, dining, wineries, and nightlife. And if you happen to visit in the fall, you just might be treated to the spectacle (shown in the photo) of the vines trooping their colours in an unforgettable rainbow display.

Perhaps you find Sonoma a little sleepy and Napa is more your thing…consider this historic “Painted Lady” situated in the heart of downtown Napa. Built in the 1880s, this home looks as if it was magically transported from “Postcard Row” along Alamo Square Park in San Francisco. But it’s not in the City, and that means there’s room to stretch out. In fact, the home is nestled in its own enchanted forest featuring a Japanese garden and gazebo. Did I mention that guests of the Purple Victorian enjoy free and discounted wine tastings? Could there be a more perfect place to sip and savour the fruits of the Valley?! If you find one, PLEASE let us know!

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