Ryan Chartrand

Well, wine enthusiasts, wine season is among us. But perhaps you have not yet taken advantage of the beautiful weather and the conveniently located Edna Valley. I am here to let you know that there are options for you.

Wine tours are held daily by certain wine tour providers, and tours can be individually planned and made up, if orchestrated correctly, for little or no money.

Everyone knows someone who has done a limo tour for a couple hours locally. Typically you pay about $30 to $60 per person depending on the duration of the tour and amount of people traveling along.

One disadvantage of a limo is that you are not traveling with a tour guide who can give you some interesting history and tidbits about the winery and local area.

One suggestion would be to take a wine tour given by either Break-away Tours (805-783-AWAY) or the Grapeline (888-8-WINERY). Planning in advance is necessary for tour guide businesses. For a weekend trip, call a month prior to your trip.

In the case of a midday excursion, one to two weeks advance notice is necessary. Be prepared to put down a deposit of up to half the price of the trip the date of booking. Also, in hospitality, tips are always involved. Be prepared to tip either your limo driver or your tour guide 10 to 20 percent depending on their service.

If you are in charge of collecting the tour money from your friends, it may be smart to include gratuity into the amount they pay from the beginning.

For planning on a budget, you may look to designate a friend with a minivan or SUV to drive your friends around and perhaps offer to purchase a bottle of wine for their efforts.

Other options include renting a larger passenger van at a local rental car company in town. Again, I stress the need to designate someone as a bona fide designated driver. Not only are there several risks legally, financially and potentially physically; but as the planner of the event, you accept risk and liability for the goings-on of everyone.

Back to the limo idea, it may not be so bad to hire one because it can hold a great deal of people and a designated driver is already at your service.

One idea on how to get a real legitimate tour is to call the winery in advance. If you ask to speak with their educational director or whoever handles tours, most likely, they will be more than willing to take your group on tour for a reasonable price or, in some cases, for free.

A lot of the time, the actual wine maker is there talking about the wines he or she made. If not, educated staff will be ready and willing to answer everything and anything you have questions about pertaining to wine making, viticulture, their particular winery and even how and where grapes are grown, etc.

For more information on Edna Valley wineries, you can check out the San Luis Obispo Vintners Association web page ( www.slowine.com). Another venue is Taste downtown, located at 1003 Osos St. This wine store is run by the Vintners Association and has local maps, contact info and directions to each one of the Edna Valley wineries.

The staff might even be able to give you suggestions that may help get your tour planned. Lastly, but most importantly, pace yourself. Again, the host’s job is to look out for everyone.

It is important to arrive on a full stomach and to regularly hydrate yourself throughout the day. Watch your consumption because you certainly don’t want to be “that guy.”

When planning an event, don’t try to cram eight wineries into one day because it won’t happen. In my experience, as the day progresses, people stay longer and longer at one winery.

Don’t be drill sergeant wine tour planner; relax and enjoy a day with wine and friends.

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