What is it and do you need it?
Have you been thinking about going on a wine tasting tour but still need to figure out the nitty-gritty details? Ever wonder what happens on a wine tour? Figuring out what wine tour transportation is best for you may be stopping you from booking your tour – but we’re here to help! Below is our quick and easy guide that takes all the work out of planning your wine tour transportation so you can focus on enjoying the incredible wine tours and tastings Paso Robles has to offer!
Keep reading to learn about:
- Wine tour transportations options
- Frequently asked transportation questions
- How Toast Tours takes care of your needs
One question we get asked a lot is can you just drive yourself from winery to winery?
Of course you can! But I always recommend having a designated sober driver, since wine tasting can add up quickly in Paso Robles. On average, Paso Robles wines have between 13% to 17% ABV, so even with just tastings at each winery, those tastings are going to add up quickly. Factor in the windy, mountainous roads, limited cell-phone coverage and significant distances between some wineries and it can be outright dangerous to drive yourself while tasting even a little bit. If you do decide to book transportation for your visit, it’s helpful to know the difference between the various options and ultimately which is going to be the best fit for you.
Do you want to do a Public Wine Tour, Private Wine Tour or just book Private Transportation?
On public wine tours and tasting, you will be enjoying the day with other guests who aren’t part of your group. Typically, these tours are a fixed number of hours, a set number of stops throughout the day and are a fixed cost per person.
Sometimes the cost includes tasting fees and sometimes it doesn’t. Each tour company handles this differently. The tour company will choose the wineries on the group’s behalf and arrange all the experiences in advance. Often, they have established relationships with the wineries they’re visiting and can sometimes arrange some extras – whether it be a small tour or just a more intimate experience.
On public tours, you’ll typically have a Tour Guide who can offer insight, history, and information about the area and will engage your group – so you’re sure to have fun and learn something along the way! Public group tours are great if you’re looking to enjoy a fun day out in wine country where you’ll get to meet some like-minded travelers, not have to stress about planning the day, picking the wineries, or driving and also save a little money, since they are often less expensive than a private tour.
For private wine tours and tasting, you will be hiring a private vehicle with a private driver to host your group during the day. Typically, these are charged at an hourly rate instead of a fixed per-person cost and each company will have different rates depending on the day of the week, the number of guests in the group, and the specific vehicle.
If you can book your tour on a weekday, you’re likely going to save money and have a better experience at the wineries! See our post on Weekday vs Weekend Wine Tours to learn the advantages & disadvantages, and determine which is the best fit for you.
Because each company does things differently, here are some things we always recommend asking when hiring private transportation for your group:
- Do I get just a driver or will the person driving also be a knowledgeable tour guide?
- Some companies just offer a professional driver to get your group safely from point A to B – which is great! However, if it’s your first time to the area or you’re interested in diving a bit deeper, it may be great to have someone who’s also knowledgeable about the local history, winemaking, and more to enhance your experience and make it even more memorable. Even if you just want a driver, isn’t it nice if the person driving can also answer questions and provide recommendations for the rest of your trip?
- Do they plan my itinerary for me or do I have to make my own reservations?
- Currently, most wineries in Paso Robles are requiring reservations. Also, depending on your group size, not all wineries will host larger groups – especially on a Saturday. So it’s useful to know if the tour/transportation provider will help you with making reservations at the wineries or will leave it up to you to arrange for yourself.
- Do I get to pick the wineries or do you pick them for me?
- If you have specific wineries you’re interested in visiting, it’s helpful to know if the company will take you to those wineries or if they have specific wineries that they work with. Sometimes, they’ll only assist in making reservations if it’s to the wineries they have partnerships with. Other places will make reservations at your selected wineries and can also make recommendations for additional stops that may be a great fit for your group.
- What vehicle will my group be in?
- There are numerous transportation options – ranging from SUVs, compact airport shuttle vans, party-buses, luxury vans and more – so it’s helpful to know if the vehicle you’ll be in meets the needs and criteria of your specific group. Try taking into consideration whether your group will be cramped in the vehicle or if you’ll have room to relax and socialize with the other members of your group.
- Does the vehicle have safe wine storage for your purchases?
- You’re going to be enjoying a special day wine tasting in wine country, and you’ll likely find some delicious wines to take home with you (especially since most wineries waive their tasting fees with wine purchase, so why not grab some bottles?!). However, it’s important that those wines are stored safely so they don’t break or get cooked while sitting in a hot vehicle while you’re at the next stop. A wine can become ‘cooked’ by being stored in a hot car for just a short amount of time! So, with summer temperatures frequently soaring here in Paso Robles (especially in an enclosed vehicle), don’t take the risk and be sure that the vehicle you’ll be in can safely accommodate your purchases throughout the day with cool storage space.
- Does the company have an active TCP license and commercial insurance?
- Anyone that transports passengers for a fee must have a TCP number issued by the CPUC. If they do not have a TCP number, they are operating illegally and are also not properly insured, putting you at great risk. You can check whether they have an active TCP & commercial insurance by visiting: https://tcportal.cpuc.ca.gov/TCP/s/
- Can I hire someone to drive my personal car?
- This is an option but is also a grey area and can be risky. Many private insurances will not cover an accident if the person driving your car was doing so commercially (ie if you’re paying them).
With Toast Tours you’re always getting a wine tour, a professional and knowledgeable guide/driver, and comfortable, safe transportation.
At Toast Tours, we’re excited to help plan your perfect wine country getaway and offer various options for public tours and private tours/transportation, so you’re sure to find the wine tours and accommodation that’s just right for you. Currently, all our public tours are suspended to protect the safety of our guests, guides, and partners – but we hope to bring these back later this year!
In the meantime, we’re offering all private tours, which are customized specifically for each group, large or small, so we’re sure to take you to the spots that are going to be the best fit for you. Whether you’re looking for a certain wine style, ambiance, specialty experience, or price point – we will work with you to recommend wineries and stops that are going to be memorable and make the most of your time in the area.
We also realize that planning your itinerary can be overwhelming when you’re unfamiliar with an area, which is why we always work with you to plan your wine tour and accommodation itinerary and help make your reservations on your behalf. If you have any specific places you want to visit – wineries, breweries, distilleries, or other fun experiences! – we work with every place in Paso Robles, so can help make reservations at the places of your choice (depending on availability).
On the day of your tour, you’ll enjoy the day in a spacious, comfortable vehicle that you can stand in, and will have ample bottled water, as well as safe wine storage for all your purchases.
Each tour is led by a professional and knowledgeable driver, who can also offer insight into winemaking, farming, the history of the area and so much more.
They can also just get you safely around wine country while you listen to your own music and enjoy the day out – it’s your day to enjoy to the fullest!
Reach out and let us start putting together your perfect Paso Robles wine country tour today!