Friendship grows on a limousine wine tour
Love isn’t only about romantic couplings. There is also the love we share for families and the special bond we share with friends. Nurturing these relationships is just as important. Why not plan an outing with your best friends, someone needs to take the lead and put the day together. Often the timing coincides with a special occasion – a birthday, a visit from an overseas friend, or as one group of ladies we have had the fun to share a wine tour with, it was there 20th annual weekend away. A different location and adventure every year.
Planning a wine tour
Where ever you are based in the southern half of Australia there is most likely a wine region nearby offering a range of paid tours by bus or limousine. if you are lucky enough to be living in or beside the wine region there may even be the temptation to organise a dedicated driver and your own transport. Our recommendation is that a third party charter service is best for a great friends’ day out. Everybody is free to participate in the revelry and there is no risk of the driver tasting more than is legally permissible to safely drive the group home later in the day.
Planning the wine tour can be best done in three steps
- Decide on your transport
- Where will the lunch stop-over be?
- Schedule the stops on the way to and back from the lunch venue
1 Choosing your style transport
Bus based wine tours tend to follow a predetermined set sequence of wineries and associated stops with little flexibility once the day is underway. Often they also include a lunch stop with a share platter or simple buffet style offering. Rarely is a la carte an option because the randomness of orders and preparation time can throw the tour schedule if the meals are not served in a timely manner. Bus tours often mean you are mixing with other groups on the tour (that make up the bus numbers) so there is less flexibility with choosing music during the day or setting the mood. Others in your group could be anyone from international tourists through to a outing from an old age village.
Limousine tours are generally a lot more flexible. In the majority of cases operators match a limousine to your group whether it be a group of 10 in a Chrysler limousine, 16 in a Hummer limo or just a couple or two travelling in a smaller classic car or limousine, the day is based around you and your group’s preferences. The biggest advantage for a limousine tour is the flexibility you get on the day. The time spent at venues moves along with your group’s interest. Stay a little longer, leave a little earlier, change the itinerary if necessary. Your music sets the mood, if you are in party mode no one will complain, if are a quieter group you will not be bombarded with the noise of a party group (who may be sharing a bus tour).
Self drive tours
Driving yourselves on a tour through a wine region can also be a lot of fun. The randomness of coming across a small winery with a fun atmosphere and welcoming staff is exciting. If you are planning a self drive tour be aware that researching and planning a sequence of locations to visit, whilst it may seem time consuming, can prevent you driving to wineries which are closed or simply not much joy. Professional tour operators know their wine region and in most cases will select and visit a range of venues that accommodate your wine tour in a friendly and interesting manner. Random tours frequently drive right by many of the most interesting wineries only choosing to visit businesses that are obvious from the roadside and often busy. These are usually the more commercial enterprises which may not be what you are most hoping to discover.
If you do decide to self drive a wine tour we suggest you download a map of the region and do some research into a lunch stop and several wineries to stop at on the way to and from lunch.
Lunch is the focus of the day
The lunch stop is usually the centre point and focus of the day. If you are cruising a wine region on a typically busy weekend many lunch venues will be heavily booked in advance. Professional wine tour operators will always organise and book the lunch stop before planning the schedule of stops.
If you use your map of the wine region to roughly plot a circuit around the area your lunch stop is best placed midway between your entry and exit points. If you haven’t already decided on a lunch stop look into the lunch venues near your midpoint. Most wineries that offer lunch and restaurants have there menu on-line so you can quickly check the offerings and pricing suits your needs.
Plan you tour stops
There are three good reasons to plan your tour stops on the way around the reason.
- Is the venue open?
- Is there a tasting fee involved?
- Is the venue available?
You would expect that most wineries and businesses in a tourist precinct will be open on weekends for tasting and lunch. Our experience is that the opening hours and days may vary between venues. Some do mornings, some do afternoons and many are closed one or more days in the week. Avoid losing time driving to wineries that are closed by checking the opening times on-line.
What might seem like an inexpensive day out self driving through a wine region may change if you arrive at venues with tasting fees. Many wineries offer free tastings, some are free for a small sampling and others can charge up to $10 per head for a full tasting of the range and that does not usually include the premium or reserve collection. Most wine tours conducted by professional operators include the tasting fees in the cost of the wine tour.
Even if a winery is open it is not a guarantee that it is available at the time you want to visit. Professional tour operators usuually book into a winery and set a schedule for the day that they adhere to. If a winery has two of more bus tours visiting they can often be short staffed for casual visitors who arrive unexpectedly. This can be frustrating and lead to a lot of waiting around during a self drive tour. Many venues also host special events, corporate functions and close for wedding receptions on various days so will not be available for casual visits or restaurant service. Phoning in advance is the only way to be sure you will be welcomed on arrival.
We recommend a rough schedule will help for the day. Allow approximately 30 – 45 minutes at each tasting venue tou plan to visit. The time will vary according to the size of your group and the number of wines available for tasting. Of-course professional wine tour organisers handle all this allowing you a much more relaxed day to enjoy time with your friends.
Featured in this post
Swan Valley near Perth in Western Australia
Contributing wine tour business
Belle Classic Limousines
Jane Brook Estate