Private Wine Tours FAQ

PRIVATE TOUR PROCESS  |  PRICING  |  WINE REGIONS  |  WINERIES  |  NON-WINERY OPTIONS  |  TASTING FEES  |  LUNCH OPTIONS  |  TOUR VEHICLES  |  PLANNING PROCESS  |  PICKUP & DROPOFF  |  CELEBRATIONS  |  MISC  |  PLATYPUS TOUR DIFFERENCE

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FOR PRIVATE TOURS

Why tour privately?

We’ll host your private wine tour in a vehicle that is dedicated to just you and whoever is in your party. Included is a friendly and personable tour driver who also happens to be a well-informed wine tour guide. The wine tour vehicle may be a car, a van or a shuttle bus, depending on the number of passengers in your group. 

This differs from our Join-in tours in that your vehicle will not be shared with any passengers not in your party. 

Private tours are perfect for any of the following:

  • You want to have your tour day tailored to your preferences
  • You want to select any or all of the wineries you’ll be visiting, or at least you want to approve them 
  • Sharing the experience with folks you don’t know is not what you have in mind
What should we expect in wine country during COVID-19?

Nothing is more important to us than keeping safe our guests and our staff!  Please visit our COVID-19 page for more information.  CLICK HERE

Private wine tour process

You can book a Platypus private wine tour by selecting one of the *packages* we offer, or by completing our *quote* form to have a customized price quote emailed to you. If that quote works for you, let us know and we’ll get your wine tour booked. 

Once you’re booked in, we’ll furnish you with a questionnaire you can use to tell just what you’d like your wine tour day to look like. If you’d rather just leave it all to us, just let us know.  

Some of our wine tour clients have already set up their own winery appointments. If that’s the case, just let us know which locations and at what times you’ve reserved. 

Others are happy to visit only those wineries that do not require appointments in advance (there are a handful of such wineries). In this case, we’ll book you in and you and your tour guide can work out your wineries on the day of your tour. 

More commonly, we find a lot of folks need some experienced help. If you need your appointments made for you, or help figuring out which would be the best wineries for you to visit, we’re very happy to provide these services. Your quote will outline the price for this type of planning service provided by a tour curator.

We’ll assign a tour curator, who will work with you to customize your wine tour itinerary, including any specific wineries you may want to be sure to visit. The curator will then create a mock-up of your tour day and email it to you. Once you’ve looked it over and given us your approval, the curator will make any or all of your tour appointments. 

Once your appointments have been made, we’ll email your finalized itinerary.  

On your tour day, one of our (most-awesome) tour guides will pick you up and use that itinerary to conduct your tour.

We expect that you’ll find this process to be straightforward and easy. It’s the best way to navigate the complexities of the wine country!

Pricing

There are a great many variables involved with wine tour pricing, but we’ve done our best to simplify the process.

If your touring needs fit into one of our predefined pricing packages, just pick it out and book it.  Click here to see our tour packages

Many of our clients require a more customized price quote. If this is your need, please see our Quote Form

We are usually able to get customized quotes turned around the same day.

“Thanks again for arranging everything for our group! Everyone had a blast and it will be a happy memory for years to come.”

Faith L.

November 14, 2020

“As requested our group loved every bit of the tour, wineries and Gary. He was very knowledgeable of wines and the making process that he kept everyone’s attention and he also has a great sense of humor. He was totally attentive to our requests and couldn’t be more happy with the day. No doubt the Platypus team and process to plan this was easy efficient and thorough. Everyone was friendly and did a great job working with us. Platypus will always be our recommendation for Napa and Sonoma tours and looking forward to another tour in the near future.”

Len and Enza, Chicago, IL

October 7, 2020

“Army was fabulous! Such a smooth driver. He shared lots of good information with us throughout the tour, and gave us things to consider as we wrapped up our time in Wine Country. We would definitely hop on another tour with him in a second.”

Kathryn & Robert, Richmond, VA

October 15, 2020

“The tour was amazing our group was very pleased with the experience. Each location was perfect and everyone made us feel safe during Covid.
Sam was great he made sure we stayed on time for each location, the bus was cleaned in between stops, and he made sure we were comfortable during the whole day. He was very prompt and professional and we enjoyed his presence.
Thanks for making our day special especially during Covid restrictions. We will definitely use you guys again for future tours.”

Kolbe, Los Angeles, CA

July 25, 2020

“Our tour was great – we had a fabulous time. Rob was an excellent tour guide and took great care of us! I would highly recommend your tour and look forward to doing it again.”

Lisa, Evansville, IN

October 21, 2020

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FOR WINE REGIONS

What are the regions to choose from?

We serve three regions: the Napa Valley, the Sonoma Valley, and North Sonoma (comprised of Russian River/Dry Creek/Healdsburg area/Alexander Valley)

Which region should we select to tour?

The regions are similar to one another in many ways, so travel time is probably the biggest consideration. If you are staying in one of the regions, it makes a lot of sense to tour in that same region. If you’re driving in to meet the tour, pick the one closest. As a general rule, North Sonoma tends to be the best value for tasting fees and wine purchasing. There are some other differences, so ask us and we’ll help you figure out which is best for you. 

Can we visit Napa and Sonoma in the same day?

The short answer is yes. Some Napa Valley wineries are close enough to some Sonoma Valley wineries to include on the same tour without spending an excessive amount of travel time. Others are not. We can help you work it out. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FOR WINERIES

How many wineries altogether?

Are you hoping to get to all of them? We don’t know anyone who has managed that! Technically, there are probably over a thousand in Napa County and Sonoma County combined. However, many are not open to visitors. Our tours visit just over two hundred different wineries per year. 

How many wines are sampled at each winery?

It varies, but most pour four to eight tastes.

May we select the wineries we'll visit?

Yes. We are happy to our best to secure your appointments at whichever wineries you ask for. You may select any or all of the winery stops.

Which are the best wineries to visit?

There is no single winery that would be best for everyone. Once we’ve discussed what types of wines you like and what types of winery experiences you are interested in, we can begin suggesting wineries that we think would please you most. 

What do you mean by 'winery experiences'?

Yeah, I guess I should expand on that. Here are some examples: Wine and food pairings, wine cave visits, wine barrel sampling, meeting with winemakers or owners, vineyard visits, old vintage tastings, facility tours, cheese pairings, chocolate pairings, historic estates & chateaus. 

How long will we spend at each winery?

Typically, one hour, up to ninety minutes. 

When are the wineries open?

10:00am to 4:00pm, though many are open until 5, and a few don’t close before 6. 

How many wineries will we visit over the course of the tour?

It depends on how much time you’ve chosen for your tour. It’s hard to see more than four in one day, though. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FOR NON-WINERY OPTIONS

Can we add some shopping?

Sure. Locations like the Oxbow Market, the V. Marketplace and the Napa outlets are great for shopping. There’s also great shopping on the Sonoma Plaza, the Healdsburg Plaza, Downtown Napa, and the main drags in Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga.

How about breweries/distilleries?

Yup; we can help you there, too. 

What else?

Glad you asked! We can arrange olive oil tasting, cheese tasting, cooking demonstrations/ classes, art galleries, museums, zip-lining, hiking, horseback riding, team-building activities and more. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FOR LUNCH OPTIONS

Does Platypus Tours provide lunches?

Yes we do. We operate a commercial kitchen with a very talented kitchen staff. We can provide a picnic lunch that your guide will set up for you at a winery while you are inside tasting, or box lunches.

Are there other options?

Yes, several. There are restaurants and delicatessens and catering options. We’re very happy to help you select whichever option is best for your needs. 

What if we have allergies or dietary restrictions?

Almost any of these can be accommodated by pretty much any of the lunch providers.

If we lunch at a winery, can we have wine with our lunch?

Yes, but it must be wine from that winery. This is a California state alcohol regulation.

Do any wineries provide lunch?

Only a handful, and they are often mobbed around lunchtime. For large groups, you can work with a caterer. Wineries usually have a caterer or two that they work with, and those companies are allowed to set up meals at those wineries. We are happy to make suggestions along this line.

Can we bring our own lunch?

Yes. We can help you figure out a good location to eat it. 

Can we eat on the bus?

Yes. 

“Rob was extraordinarily wonderful. We had such a fun & enjoyable day. He took such good care of us. He made sure of every detail along the way. He was knowledgeable, personable, helpful & a joy to be around. I have already given your number to several others. We are looking forward to coming up to Napa again & booking another tour. Thank you so much for a fabulous experience for our family.”

Carolyn, Redlands, CA

July 13, 2020

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FOR TOUR PLANNING PROCESS

What are the considerations for choosing wineries for our tour?

If we’re putting together a tour plan for you, we’ll take all of the following into consideration: Your preferred wineries (if you have any), your favorite wines, the types of experiences you are interested in. Idyllic winery locations for your picnic lunch, if you need that. How many guests in your party (many wineries have limits). Driving logistics, such as the distance between wineries and how long it will likely take to get you from one place to another. Our impressions of the level of customer service and wine quality at each winery. Other stuff, too. 

What other stuff?

Well, for instance, how far in advance are you booking your tour? Many wineries will book up as we get closer to your tour date, particularly on Saturdays and particularly in the Summer and Fall. Wineries are more likely to book up in the later afternoon, so we need to be very proactive about locking those appointments down early, too. 

What if we're not sure how many people will actually come until much closer to the date?

That’s kind of a tough one, but we can help you through it. First, we’ll encourage you to reach out to your friends and let them know it’s kind of important that they commit sooner. That may motivate some of them. With the wineries, it’s easier to work with a tighter range than a really wide range of possible attendees. 

Can you coordinate with our dinner plans?

Sure, probably. We’d need to know what those plans were, to be sure. And we can perform your dinner transportation if you need that service. 

What is the best time to begin our tour?

Almost all the wineries are open from 10am to 4pm or 5pm, so use that as your guide. Also, wineries tend to get busier and busier later in the day. If you want to visit a popular winery, have us book it as early in the day as possible, that way you’ll avoid the crowds and probably have a better experience there. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FOR TASTING FEES

How much do wineries charge for tasting fees?

If only there was a simple answer to that question! Tasting fees seem to start at $40pp, but most are more like $45-$55pp. Some charge a bit more. Some charge a lot more. Many offer up-graded tasting experiences at higher prices. Many charge a higher rate for groups. We’ll help you navigate the offerings.

Can we set a limit for tasting fees on our tour?

No way, dude. Just kidding! You may absolutely set a limit, and we’ll do our very best to honor it

Do wineries waive the tasting fees if we're purchasing wine?

Mostly yes, but every winery has its own waiving policies. Many won’t waive for larger groups. 

Can we just have all tasting fees included in our tour cost so we won't have to worry about them at the wineries?

We do have an option for prepaying your winery tasting fees. Ask about this when you book your tour. 

Do all of the wineries accept credit cards?

Yes.

Do the wineries accept bitcoin?

Don’t be silly. 

“What a great tour! James picked us up right on time and took us to heretofore unknown wineries where the principals/owners spent their valuable time with teaching the fine points of their trade. This was,our first tour- we were knocked out by the regard our director had for the operators and,vice versa. We had top of the line tasting events and James was a great tour director. I recommend Platypus and would gladly go again,!”

Louanne, Sacramento, California

JANUARY 22, 2020

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FOR PLATYPUS TOUR VEHICLES

To what degree are your vehicles safe?

Great question! Like all California transportation companies, Platypus Tours is regulated by the Public Utilities Commission and the California Highway Patrol. We are subject to regular terminal inspections, during which our vehicles and our compliance documentation are thoroughly inspected. We are very serious about safety and compliance, so we have always passed these inspections with flying colors. Our vehicles are all safety-inspected by a certified mechanic every 45 days. Additionally, drivers are required to inspect his or her vehicle before every tour. Brakes and oil are serviced regularly. All servicing and inspections are documented. All of our commercial drivers undergo regular physical examinations, as well as random drug testing and disclosure of their driving history. There are restrictions in place for how many hours they may work in a day and how many days they may drive in a week. I could go on and on… I live & breathe this stuff. These regulations are strict, but very sensible, and we applaud our state for being so proactive in keeping the public safe.

Are there bathrooms on the bus?

No. Go before we leave. Seriously, there are restrooms at each of the wineries, so we are almost always close to our next set of facilities. 

Is there storage for luggage?

Yes, but not on all of our vehicles. Please let us know about this need when you book your tour so that we can be sure to assign the best vehicle for you.

What's with the salon seating?

This term means the seating has been configured along the perimeter, so it has the feel of a conversation pit. Most of our vehicles set up this way, and it has always been a big hit with our guests. This makes it very easy to interact with your fellow passengers. 

How about club-style seating?

These vehicles have a combination configuration, including side-facing seats, front-facing seats and a table with four seats facing it. Our guests tend to break up into smaller, more intimate sub-groups on these buses, and multiple conversations can be transpiring at the same time. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FOR CELEBRATIONS

Is this a good activity for a birthday party?

Heck yes. Your guest of honor gets to spend all day with her or his closest friends in festive, but intimate settings. 

How about bachelorette parties?

We love ’em. We’ll help you plan a day that is fun and light-hearted and truly memorable, particularly for the bride-to-be. 

Can we get the bus decorated for our celebration?

Um…sure. What did you have in mind?

Can we drink on the bus?

Alas, no (sorry!). We have found that too many guests are liable to get too drunk when they are consuming alcohol at all of the winery stops and in the bus, as well. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FOR MISC ITEMS

May we bring our pet on tour?

It’s possible, but let’s talk about it. Many of the smaller wineries have dogs that are territorial, and many larger wineries prohibit pets, so we’ll need to build an itinerary around those factors.

Can we play our own music?

Yes. 

Can we eat on the bus?

Yes. Not soup, though. 

What if we want to stay out on tour later than our return?

No problem. We’ll just charge for however long you remain out. 

At what point do you begin charge? When do you stop?

Your tour officially begins at your scheduled pick-up time. It ends at whatever time we drop off you and your guests. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FOR GETTING PICKED UP AND DROPPED OFF

Do you pick up from locations outside of the wine country? (San Francisco or the South Bay, for instance)

Yes, though the pricing for such tours is different. 

From SF, can we take the ferry to the wine country?

Absolutely. You can take the ferry in both directions, or you can have us come to San Francisco to pick you up in the morning, then drop you at the dock to take the ferry back to the City at the end of the day. These options will reduce your tour fees. 

How much does the ferry charge?

As of 2020, the one-way ferry rate between Vallejo and San Francisco is $15.10. 

Can you pick up our group from more than one location?

Yes. We’ll work that timing into your tour itinerary.

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