Call yourself a beer-baiter? Or an oenophile? Or pride yourself on your taste for chocolates? Now, it’s no longer enough to do the pub-crawl or sip reds and whites at top-line restaurants or hunt down single-source darks. You need to earn your spurs through factory tours and tasting trips. And while virtually every destination will offer you hands-on experiences with its local produce, in a 90-mile radius around San Francisco you’ll find all the regulars—and a few that’ll surprise you. Our top choices:
2360 Technology Parkway, Hollister, California 95023
Manufacturers of motorcycle saddles and accessories for nearly all motorcycle makes and models, including custom bikes, Corbin offers self-guided walking tours for small groups. For groups bigger than 20, it provides an escort. Click here for more information or contact 1800-5387035
1705 Mariposa St, San Francisco, California 94107
Set up in 1896, Anchor Brewing produces seven unique beers in a handcrafted, copper brewhouse. The tour guide gives a brief history of the brewery. To book a month in advance, click here or call 01-415-8638350
The tour and tasting last approximately 2 hours; the walking tour is 45 minutes.
Jelly Belly Candy Factory
1 Jelly Belly Lane, Fairfield, California 94533
Guests who step into Jelly Belly’s factory can smell the aroma of chocolate, apricot, cinnamon or pineapple, or whatever is being cooked up that day. During the 40-minute walking tour, Jelly Belly guides show the factory where around 150 different sweet treats are created—and explain why the legendary Jelly Belly bean takes more than a week to make. Click here or contact 1800-9535592
Benicia Nourot Glass Studio
675 East H St, Benicia, California 94510
A working glass factory with an old-world feel and techniques, the Benicia Glass Studio allows visitors to watch glass-blowing: The 2,000 degrees Celsius hot molten glass is drawn out of the blazing furnaces on 5ft-long blowpipes. The studio was founded in 1974 by the husband and wife team of Ann Corcoran and Michael Nourot; their son, Nicholas, now works alongside them. Open seven days a week. Click here for more information.
Federal Reserve Bank
101 Market St, San Francisco, California 94105
The central bank exhibit—a permanent installation at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank—is designed to teach people about the functions of the US central bank. Whimsical and thought-provoking elements in the exhibit include giant iconic representations of fin- ancial concepts, such as a free- floating sphere, a suspended safe, and a 14ft-high tilting chair. Tours last approximately 90 minutes. Per- sonal finance training lasts around 60 minutes. Click here or contact 01415-9743252
2601 Monarch St, Alameda, California 94501
Hangar One vodka is made at the former Alameda Air Station, which was in military use till 1997. In 2005, Hangar One added a tasting room, which provides a view of the distillery and the San Francisco skyline. Click here or contact 01-510-7691601.
Daily bread: Boudin Sourdough Bread Bakery, San Francisco.
Cost: Tours are complimentary but tastings cost $10 (around Rs500) per person.
Boudin Sourdough Bread Bakery
160 Jefferson St, San Francisco, California 94133
Witness “history in the baking” by strolling through a collection of historic and interactive exhibits while observing the bakery in action from the museum’s floor-to-ceiling window walls and glass-walled catwalk. Click here or contact 01-415-9281849.
Cost: $3 (around Rs145) per person over the age of 12.