Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to Start a Wine Tour...

Some of you may remember me telling you that I was taking a group of people wine tasting this Fall, and last weekend was the big Saturday! 

This was one of my most challenging events to organize, but one that paid off big time.  I created a facebook event asking people in the subject line to read all of the details before responding.  No brainer, right?  Not so much.  So I had my 24 people committed, most paid in the timely manner that I asked, and then a few who I got so mad at (3 weeks delinquent with their money) so I sold away their spots. 
  • Step 1 - Determine pricing, and availability of the minibus.  I used Bus Bank, and would highly recommend them!  I found out it would be $775 for the bus, 8 hours, unlimited stops, and seat 24.  They are nationwide!
  • Step 2 - Find 23 people who will commit and pay upfront by a deadline
  • Step 3 - Book the bus, collect the money
  • Step 4 - Notify the wineries!  We went to 5, and I mapped out ahead of time how long it would take to drive between each locations, and got an idea of how long it would take to have 24 people taste and pay for their wares.  I then called each winery to let them know approximately when we would be there.
  • Step 5 - I traveled with my friend Michelle to Christmas Tree Shops to buy 24 white shirt boxes and a few bunches of tissue paper
  • Step 6 - Have amazing friends, and a boyfriend who is basically perfect...
So the night before wine tasting, I went out and bought 15 bottles of Andre, and my amazing friends Betsey and Chelsea made a ton of sandwiches. 
The next morning everyone met at our local high school at 9:45, and we boarded the bus to take off at 10am!  I was making pitchers of mimosas - 3 bottles of champagne, and a splash of oj.  Gimpy loaded the bus first with stuff, and then with people.  Seriously, I have an awesome boyfriend.  Later that day when I was beyond the point where I could any more, he took over my role of shephearding people onto the bus and keeping us on track. 
When everyone was on the bus, I explained how things would work.  Everyone had a box and some tissue paper, as every winery we went to would be providing them with a tasting glass that they would then take home with them.  They should write their names on the boxes, and keep track of their glasses so that everything made it home.  I then poured everyone their first mimosa of the day, and we did a toast!
We were on our way!  We finished up 18 bottles of andre (Michelle brought a few) before we hit the second vineyard, and began to instruct people to buy a few bottles to share with the bus.  It was an amazing day!  The CT Wine Trail does these neat passports where all 23 wineries have a page that they will stamp and date for you.  I collected all of them and passed them out at the end of the trip.  I had some reservations because of how much work it was, but it was totally worth it in the end!
See?  Wine to Share...

Lessons learned for next time:
1. There's tax on the bus.... Find out how much, and add that into the cost...
2. Don't stress so much about filling the seats, we had a waiting list for this trip, and it will definately fill
3. Add in $5 per person for the bus drivers' tip, and $10 for the beverages.  I lost a ton of money on the champagne and mimosa materials

Next Spring... we're going to hit the Eastern half!


mm said...

Such a fun event!! I love your creative party-planning ideas (and you of course)! :o)

*uncorked said...

Looks fun! I remember being sad when I got the FB invite. I did a vineyard tour on Saturday too. But only one vineyard. I did buy the best bottle of cabernet I've ever had in my life though.

betsey said...

Next time you plan on having me DJ let me know so I can update my iPod with more current party songs! Talk about pressure! <3

Little J said...

Sorry Bets! I didn't mean to put you under pressure, just forgot my own ipod! :)

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