Cheers darlings! I’m Sam, and I’m going to let you in on a couple of little secrets for booking a winery tour for your fabulous chick. In my mind there are four different options to consider when planning a day amongst the vines… ‘Cause numbers are boring (and a bad way to judge how many wines you’ve had), I want you to settle in with your fav tipple and read on… Sorry not sorry for any songs that get stuck in your head!
Working 9 to 5…
What a way to make a living!
If you’re the go-to organiser gal, this is the option for you. A day amongst the vines is fun to put together. The girls will be looking fabulous, and enjoying sipping in the sunshine… And you can organise it all yourself!
You can hire a bus (twelve seaters can be driven on a normal car licence) from a hire company, and you’ve got your wheels for the day! This does however require someone from your group to drive the bus, which of course means no drinking for them.
Once you know how many people are coming for the day, you need to book in with vineyards. Try and have a bit of a map in your head as to where you’d like to go. This will save yourself driving back and forth down the same road when you could just do a loop.
Calling or emailing vineyards is the best way to book yourselves in. You will often be asked what the occasion is. Hint: Some vineyards are hesitant to book hens parties (we’ve been burnt in the past by… you know… that hens party…) so be prepared to have a couple of back up vineyards on your route.
Vineyards also charge tasting fees which are usually $5-10 per person. You will make no friends if all twelve of you decide to come up to the bar and pay for your tasting individually. I highly recommend giving someone the responsibility of collecting the money prior and organising payment of the tastings. Usually the driver is the safest bet!
Don’t forget to book in lunch somewhere. You can do this at a vineyard or at a local restaurant or café depending on your budget. Vineyards will usually have a set menu for groups larger than six.
The easiest way to budget for this is to figure out how much bus hire is, divide it by the number of people coming, plus tasting fees (aim for $10 per person per vineyard) plus lunch per person… Which usually works out to about $100 per person.
Top tipple tip: Don’t try and squeeze in six vineyards in a day… You want to be able to relax and enjoy yourselves. The maximum I would aim for is four tasting stops (one to include lunch), and maybe another fun stop, like a roadside fruit stall, or a distillery to mix things up.
I need a hero!
Holding out for a hero ‘till the end of the night?
You want to have a small group of gals out on the road, but you don’t want to drive? Enter your hero: A driver for the day. You make all the bookings and plan the event, and just hire a driver for the day. This could be a limo (if you wanna get real fancy) or a bus, or who knows, a coach!?
Similar to above, figure out the hire of the vehicle and driver, and divide it by the number of people coming. Then add on their tasting fees and lunch costs. This option is usually a bit more expensive than a DIY (drive-it-yourself) winery tour for obvious reasons…
Top tipple tip: Make sure you pass on the reservation times and wineries you are booked in at to the driver. This will make the whole day run a lot smoother. And make sure you have a sweet playlist sorted for the day to be plugged in.
You got a friend in me
Yeah, you got a friend in me!
Or maybe a whole bunch of new friends! This option is for the smaller hens parties who want to join a ‘public’ winery tour. Many bus companies hold what they call a ‘public’ tour, where you can join the bus on a pre-selected route with other people.
Having hosted (as in, I conducted the tasting) a couple of these at cellar doors, I found they can sometimes be a little… Clique-y? Those that booked together, drink together. Other times? You’ve just made a bus-load full of new friends!
This option will be a set price per person (around the $110-$130 per person mark), and they will tell you where you’re going on the tour usually with no deviations from the route. These are a great way for a small group to head on out and make a day of it, without any of the pressures of organising anything really – just pay and show up!
Top tipple tip: Do. Your. Research. There are heaps of companies out there, and most will offer different routes. Make some enquiries and ask about itineraries: You can find some hidden gems! Oh, and support local… Try and book with the smaller tour operators, not just the big guys. For the sake of $10 per person, you’ll get a business that cares about every client, and you’re not just a number. And you’ll probably get better service in cellar doors with a smaller operator… just sayin’!
We are the champions, my friend
We’ll keep on fighting, till the end! If you want the penultimate winery tour experience, where you get to sit back and do nothing, get in contact with people who offer customised small winery tours.
This is where you, as the organiser, simply sends an email, and the person on the other end does all the leg work for you! How easy is that?! All the vineyards are booked for you, so is lunch, dietary requirements catered for, all your transfers, as well as bottles of water for your gals.
Easy as pie. Or should I say easy as that first glass of bubbles in the sunshine?
Depending on your locations, these can be a little more on the exclusive price point end. If you want to make it decadent and amazing for your best girl, you can pimp your lunch options and tasting options, or do more distilleries instead…
Top tipple tip: Similar to above, girl, do your research. There are plenty of winery tour companies out there… Do a socials stalk, do a reviews stalk, and get tapping those thumbs! Shoot out some emails and see where they’re at.
Finally, enjoy yourself! This is a day where you’re celebrating a girlfriend, and her moving on to the next stage of her life! Take lots of photos, have a giggle, buy that extra bottle of bubbles for the lunch table, and enjoy yourself. This is a celebration after all!
About the author
Sam De Silva (our resident on the DL alco) is The Big Boss Lady of De Silva Lining Events. Sam and her team work tirelessly to give you amazing experiences for your hens day, wedding planning, and special events.
Sam has worked in many cellar doors across the Yarra Valley, travelled extensively through the wine regions of Victoria and some in South Australia. Her business, De Silva Lining Events, offers fully customisable winery tours, for small groups of up to eleven, or more on request. All her drivers are well versed in the wine industry (read: fellow alco’s lol) and love to showcase their passion and devotion to their local regions.
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