If you’ve rented a limo for a day of tasting with your friends, you might be surprised to see a sign at some wineries that reads, “No Limos.”
It’s pretty simple. There are a few people who hire a limo for the day, so that they don’t have to be responsible… I mean responsible for everything, from tasting responsibly, to being polite to whomever is pouring and trying to educate the guests about the wine, to making a purchase at the end of the process, to having guests who bring beer and mixed drinks into a tasting room while only a few in the group are still actually wine tasting. This latter example happens more toward the end of the day, once everyone’s ramped up their behavior.
This is how people in limos have developed a bad reputation… So bad, in fact, that there are wineries that now have had signs made to tell a driver that those who might be the problem types, “Don’t even think of stopping here.”
What happens – some of the time, not all of the time – is that a limo has been hired by a group of friends for the day for a Saturday booze-fest. In their world, they’ve spent their money, and the rest is for the taking. There’s usually a bottle of bubbly in the car, so before they even hit a winery, they’ve had their first glass of wine. At each winery, they’ll pick up another glass of wine (four or five tastes can become a glass). This stereotypical group, by-the-way, doesn’t usually buy more than one bottle of wine – if the winery’s lucky. The winery, however, just poured for 10 people + four glasses per person = perhaps 40 glasses of wine. There are five six-ounce glasses in a bottle, so the wine company just poured about six bottles of wine for this group, if the pourer was generous… And, they return the favor by buying one bottle. (Doesn’t even pay for the labor of the person pouring.)
That said, most people pouring also know not to be generous with a group like this, because it’s not responsible hospitality. There always seems to be one person very drunk in a group like this, and it’s always at the end of the day that this happens.
I had one party that came into the winery with hard liquor and beer when they entered the tasting room. This group was 10 people behaving really badly, mostly drunk, and wanting one more round (end of the day). One guy kept sneaking back to the front to get another taste (belt), while each person was getting his and her pour. After about two wines – for the few who were sober – this guy had just be shut off…. But, he didn’t get it.
This scenario doesn’t make for a great “tasting” room experience, most especially when the person most inebriated gets really vociferous, while there are plenty of other people just out to enjoy a wine tasting experience. This limo group always seems to just take over the room, so others simply leave. The winery loses a lot when this limo of badly behaving people arrives, and so the signs have gone up here and there.
There are limousine and wine tour companies, however, that pride themselves on delivering a group of people genuinely interested in learning about wine, and totally open to being educated. These companies take great care to deliver quality people, and won’t tolerate people behaving badly in their vehicles. We work with Pure Luxury Limousine Company and Platypus Tours, for example, so I personally know how hard they work and their personal integrity. There are others, too, but I don’t have personally history to be recommending them. I tend to write from a personal, knowledge base.
With Pure Lux and Platypus Tours, both of these companies have working relationships with wineries. All details and times have been worked out before the guests arrive. Just as a large group throws off a restaurant, the same happens in tasting rooms. The professional tour companies make reservations for you ahead of time, so the tasting room staff knows there will be a VIP or a large party. In all likelihood, the winery sets up an area where the large group won’t interfere with individual couples or small parties, out for a day of wine tasting/education. They may even work with a company that has such a sign “No Limos,” but that doesn’t prevent the professional companies from being allowed on the property.
So… If you’re coming to wine country and you’re thinking about having a limo for the day – and they’re an absolutely wonderful way to tour wine country – just be advised of those who have come before you and set the stage for misunderstanding that you, unlike these others, are always on your best behavior. Most of us are so over the days of debauchery, but there will always be those who have just stepped upon the stage. They’re the ones that have made those signs necessary, along the way.
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