If you’ve ever been wine tasting, then you probably noticed tasters arriving to the winery by small bus or car and with a dedicated guide in tow. They were most likely happily greeted by a winery team member, then whisked away to a private room for a special VIP tasting — leaving you behind to nudge your way through the huge crowd that had amassed at the tasting room bar. Sound familiar? Well, this lux-style of wine touring isn’t just for rock stars or media celebs. Hiring a wine tour guide is actually one of the best ways for novices and seasoned- aficionados alike to experience a wine region… and YOU can do it too.
We caught up with local wine tour guide, Evonne Karie from Platypus Wine Tours, and she gave us the insider scoop on how anyone coming to wine country can make the most of a one-day or multiple-day excursion. We asked Evonne to take us through each step of how she plans a memorable and fun wine tour.
Step One: Research the wineries
Before you’ve even boarded the bus or settled into your private car, Evonne has scouted the smaller, off-the-beaten path vintners to offer a varied perspective of how grapes ultimately wind up in the glass. She, and all the guides at Platypus, regularly visit potential wineries in person to get a sense of their offerings such as tastings menus, food & wine pairings, best picnic spots and the perfect hidden vistas for all your selfie-snaps. They generally negotiate a special tasting fee for the group as well, so using a guided service will definitely save you money when wine tasting.
Before you’ve even boarded the bus or settled into your private car, Evonne has scouted the smaller, off-the-beaten path vintners…
Evonne carefully plans the day’s route (typically four wineries in all) specifically looking for locations where you’ll receive an expert wine education on the history of the region, a viticultural stop to get out amongst the vines, a primer on how wine is made- from harvesting up to bottling- and finally, a barrel room tour to understand the aging process and take in the iconic smells of oak and wine.
Step Two: Get To Know Everyone
Part of guide’s job is to make sure their guests have an excellent (and safe) experience. Evonne starts with introductions of herself and the group, then shares the day’s itinerary. Chances are, your guide has worked in a winery and can spout all the techie stats you so desire, so ask questions, make conversation with fellow travelers and definitely pick the guide’s brains about all aspects of winemaking. Evonne has an extensive background in food too, having owned a catering company for 30 years. She’s cooked for many celebrities (even the Dalai Lama) and often helps her guests make wine purchases, based on their cuisine preferences.
Each location is allotted 45-60 minutes for tasting, with lunch included along the way to keep the group well-fed and ready for the next set of wines. There’s plenty of water onboard too, along with a local, artisan cheese plate for noshing. She admits that when people are having a great time at a winery and don’t want to leave, it can be challenging to manage the schedule. But her backroads driving savvy keeps the crew moving right on time.
Hearing my guest make dinner reservations with each other at the end of the day is one fo the greatest rewards of my job. – Evonne Karie
Step Three: Share the passion
If you don’t truly love where you are, what you’re doing and the product you’re showcasing, then what’s the point. This is Evonne’s
credo and she, like many wine guides in the valley will attest, specifically chose this line of work in order to share their passion for
the place where they live, play, dine and drink. A wine guide’s measure of a job well-done: when you leave wine country with the
same passion for wine as they have.
For more information on all the wine and culinary tours offered by Platypus Wine Tours, visit their website at:
Discover and plan your next wine tasting itinerary: