I don’t usually associate airports with wine travel, but perhaps I should. In recent visits to Napa Valley and Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino Counties, we have flown into San Francisco. This time we changed things up a bit and flew into Sacramento. The experiences at each airport are vastly different.
San Francisco International Airport is crowded. Sacramento International Airport is not crowded. It took us a long time at SFO to retrieve our luggage, find the train to rental cars and then take the train to rental cars. At SMF our luggage was easily retrieved, just a short walk from the gate, then we walked outside and caught a bus to the rental car building about a five-minute drive. The process of exiting the aircraft to driving out of the rental car lot was less than a half hour at the Sacramental airport while over an hour at the San Francisco airport.
But to many people, this isn’t an issue. After all, there are many more flights from around the world that fly into San Francisco than Sacramento. How about the drive to wine country from the airport? From the San Francisco airport we generally take Rt 101 north eventually crossing the Golden Gate Bridge after getting lost in the city. There are ways around this, though by taking Interstates such as I 80 then heading north into the Napa Valley. The roads are crowded around San Francisco. In contrast, it is extremely simple to exit the rental car are in Sacramento and drive onto I-5. Around the airport the traffic was sparse in the mid-afternoon. If you do not like crowded airports and roads, then you should consider flying into Sacramento.
We had another reason to fly into Sacramento, though. On the day of our arrival we visited Matchbook winery in Zamora less than a half hour from the airport. There was little traffic on the way to and from the winery. On our second day, we visited wineries in Clarksburg.
We spent our first couple days within a half-hour drive of Sacramento International Airport, before driving for two hours to Lake County, then onto Napa Valley. For future visits to the area, I’ll be more likely to fly into Sacramento since I enjoyed the drive to the wine regions better than I do when flying into San Francisco.