Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Grapevine Wine Tours explores local wine country
A great Valentine's Day present.
It's that time of year again -- the one day when there is an expectation to come up with an amazing date night idea that is sure to impress.
This Valentine's Day, whether you're part of a couple or a group of friends looking for a way to celebrate the day, Grapevine Wine Tours offers something for nearly everyone to enjoy.
"Most people don't even know about the wineries in Grapevine, we're a hidden gem that a lot of people don't know about. Our tours are a lot of fun for couples, groups of friends, birthday and anniversary celebrations," said Ladd Biro, co-owner of Grapevine Wine Tours. "This Valentine's Day, people who are thinking of doing dinner and a movie should give us a look. We offer a whole lot more for the value, and we pride ourselves on providing a lot of fun."
The Grapevine Wine Tours run daily lunch and dinner tours. Patrons may be picked up at one of several Grapevine hotels. They are then taken on the tour, which is led by a guide who gives a history of the wineries and Grapevine. Each tour also includes a stop at Farina's Winery for lunch or dinner, where patrons receive a full glass of wine.
"Farina's is an outstanding restaurant, and they work well with us," Biro said. "We also have a wonderful tour guide who entertains our guests while travelling in between wineries."
Biro said people may call ahead and request a certain winery to be included on the tour; otherwise the company rotates among several wineries in the area. Tasting at each winery runs between three and unlimited tastings.
"Homestead Winery gives as many tastings as you want," Biro said. "Each winery does tastings a little different, some even talk about how the wine is made."
At each stop, patrons may buy bottles at the wineries and store them on the bus. Biro said some of the wineries offer discounts to the wine tour guests. At the end of the tour, the bus drops guests off back to the pick up location.
All tours are scheduled to be about four hours. The lunch tours are held 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the dinner tour runs 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturdays. Each tour bus holds up to 25, but Biro said the company has had groups of 100.
"When we have bigger groups, we rent additional buses," Biro said. "Also with bigger groups, if it's within a reasonable distance, we can pick them up at a location of their choosing."
The lunch tour costs $69.50 per person and the dinner tour costs $89.50 per person.
"We'll provide all the transportation from start to finish and handle all the arrangements ahead of time," Biro said. "With us, there is one flat fee and no additional costs. You get to enjoy the tour and a great meal. You also get to hang out with a bunch of other people. It adds virility to the experience. The tours are a unique entertainment option. We do a lot of girls' night out events and a lot of corporate events. Usually, when people get on the tour bus they're all strangers, but when they get off they're friends."
The Grapevine Wine Tours has been in operation for about a year and a half -- since July 2010. Biro said his business partner, Matt Childs, came up with the idea.
"Matt and I went out to lunch one day, and he told me about the idea. Neither one of us could believe nobody had already had this idea because Grapevine has so many wineries close together," Biro said.
Biro and Childs also brought on Robbyn Wysocki, as the company's lawyer and Shelia Clevenger, as the company's graphic artist and web master.
"We were all very excited during that first tour in 2010," Biro said. "We have confidence with our tour guides, and we ran a pre-tour to try everything out. It all went pretty smooth, and we've never had any major problems."
Biro said the customers are about half locals and half out of town guests. He said local residents usually are on the weekend tours.
"At first there were more locals on the tours because it was easier to reach them, it took us a while to get into cycle for options to visiting groups," Biro said.
In the future, Biro said the company hopes to expand its operation. It now runs with four tour guides with an additional one in training. Biro said by spring the company hopes to have another tour bus in rotation.
"Right now when we're over booked we go out and rent additional buses on monthly occasion. We'd love to have a backup bus when we need it," Biro said.
Currently, the company has no plans to go to other markets because Grapevine is an ideal place to do what they're doing, Biro said.
"If you haven't experienced the Grapevine wineries, you're missing out. The wines are great, and there are some excellent Texas wines," Biro said. "We look at ourselves as an ideal excursion for corporations wanting something different. We're also great for couples looking for a different date night idea. If you're thinking about going out to nice dinner, do this instead because you will have better time and will be doing something different."
For information, visit www.grapevinewinetours.com.
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