We offer lunch as an add on option. Enjoy a sandwich or salad and a double chocolate brownie, made by a local Walla Walla restaurant, during your tour for $15 per person. An email with a copy of the menu will sent to you with the sandwich and salad options.
We can be as involved or not involved as you wish. Standard protocol consists of emailing our customers a questionnaire which gives us a better understanding of their palette, what kind of experience they are looking to have, preferred varietals, if there are any "must-sees", price point, etc. With this information, we can completely customize an itinerary that fulfills as many of your desires as possible for your tour day. We also employ drivers knowledgeable in the area, with the wineries, in the industry, etc. We do not have drivers that are unfamiliar with any of these aspects of the wine industry. You will experience much more than just having a designated driver.
If you already have done your research and you have your entire tour day planned out with reservations made, that is alright too!
Some guests have a couple of their must-see wineries scheduled already but need some suggestions to round out their tour. We are flexible and would love to be able to help you with recommendations.
This is somewhat of a loaded question. In short, it depends. We will plan on 4 to start, and if time allows, we will visit more. Why does it depend? It comes down to the group. Some people enjoy a leisurely experience where they are spending time at length at each winery we visit, hearing the stories, learning the history, walking the grounds, etc. Some people wish to visit wineries in all different areas of town resulting in spending additional time driving from location to location vs visiting more wineries within close proximity of one another. There are wineries that offer winery and production tours, which takes more time than a tasting alone. Enjoying a leisurely lunch at one of the stops, adds time spent at one particular spot. Other guests want to taste at and visit as many wineries as they can during their tour and so they will "speed taste" i.e. tasting quickly through the wines at each location. So yes, the number of wineries a group will visit during any given tour will vary. Letting us know ahead of time what kind of taster you are, will help us to better plan the timing for each place we visit during your tour.
There are a couple of things that are not included in the cost of your tour. Tasting fees are one of those things. The cost of tasting fees will vary from winery to winery. There are a few wineries that offer complimentary tastings, but most charge anywhere from $5-$20 per person.
NOTE: Most all wineries will waive the cost of your tasting fee IF you purchase wine. Some wineries will only waive one tasting fee with the purchase of one bottle of wine. Others will waive a couple fees with the purchase of one bottle. There are a few wineries that require you to meet a specific dollar amount before they will waive any tasting fees. Each winery has its own rules and as tasters, we are required to abide by their policies.
Driver gratuity is also NOT included in the cost of your tour. Our drivers are not equipped to accept debit or credit cards, so we ask to please tip your driver with cash at the end of your tour.
Gratuity can be a sensitive subject, however, we get a TON of questions related to this topic. This applies to our drivers, tasting room staff, and the owners of the business. Tipping for a service is customary, but the amount varies. Ultimately it is up to the customer, but should be based upon the service provided. When prompt and exceptional service has been provided, tipping is the means by which to acknowledge good service.
If an individual at a tasting room went above and beyond and gave you a fabulous experience, it is absolutely ok to tip them, even if a tip jar is not set out. Also, not all point of sale systems offer a gratuity line, if you are paying with a credit card, so do not expect to be able to tip via credit card.
Tour Guides traditionally receive 15% - 20% + depending on quality (knowledge, friendliness, etc), according to an article posted on TripAdvisor. Peggy Post, Head of the Emily Post Institute says, "Not tipping the owner is an old tradition that's dying out." She recommends 15% - 20% percent of the fee, whether or not you receive services from the owner of the business or an employee.
Unfortunately kids cannot come on a tour. For one, many wineries do not allow minors to visit the tasting rooms. There are a number of reasons why, but winery staff is generally most concerned with their guests having a wonderful experience. That includes ALL the guests. Most parents traveling to wine country without their own children are looking to enjoy some adult-time. It is important to be considerate of that. For many wineries, the experience has been that for every well-behaved child, there is at least one unruly one. Typically this isn't the result of simply a badly behaved child. More commonly, this is the result of a parent not taking control of the situation, resulting is disrupting other customers, which upsets everyone involved. Even if the wineries you would like to visit are kid-friendly, we are sorry, but we do not permit children on the tour.
General Rules of Thumb when wine tasting:
With a little help from Southwest Wine Guide, anyone can taste wine like a pro!