What if I have other questions before I am ready to make my booking?
What is wine tasting?
In a typical wine tasting a winery will showcase between 4 and 7 wines, pouring you about one ounce of each for you to try, while talking about the wines, their flavor profiles, and how and from which grapes they are made. You can drink all of the wine poured, but containers are provided for you to dispose of any you don’t want to finish. Wine tasting allows you to sample a wide range of wines in a short time while educating you on their qualities. It is a great way to expand your knowledge, and to find wines you love to take home with you. If a winery presents you with a number of wines you like, joining their wine club gives you an opportunity to get great deals on purchases, invitations to exclusive events, and a way to stay connected to a source of wines that suit you – you become part of that wine family!
Do we have to buy wine on the tour?
You are not obliged to buy wine as part of your wine tour. However, one big reason to take a wine tour is the opportunity for you to discover wines you love…and having done so, to take some home to enjoy later. Taking home the wines you have fallen in love with gives you the opportunity to relive the happy memories of your tour, to introduce friends to your wines and to your appreciation of their qualities and origins. The owners of the wineries, and everyone from the winemakers to the servers, is passionate about what they are doing – buying their wine to take home is a great validation, and the best way to show your appreciation of their efforts.
What should I wear?
Dress in layers as it can be cool when we leave in the morning, warmer as we go in-land and some tasting rooms are chilly. Some of the wineries we visit have gravel pathways so it maybe a day to leave your best stilettoes at home! A sun hat and some sunscreen are great accessories to bring.
Can I give my driver a gratuity?
Driver gratuities are not included in most of our tour prices. For a job well done, a gratuity of between 10 to 18% of the cost of your tour is considered appropriate and will be very much appreciated. You may tip directly with cash or we can accept credit cards.
For charter transportation a gratuity of about $100 per eight hours per driver is appropriate.
Will there be time to buy wine?
Yes! Tasting room staff will be happy to assist you in your purchases. We think of wine tasting as speed dating for wine. Take a note of wines you enjoy, they are the ones to take home and get to know better! If there are several wines at a winery you like, ask about joining their wine club for access to discounts, special events and limited-edition wines. Many clubs represent an incredible value for wine lovers, and help you stay in touch with the area and our awesome winemakers.
Your driver will be happy to carefully load, stow and unload your wines.
Can we choose the wineries?
If you have booked a private wine tour we will work with you to give you the itinerary you want. While some restrictions apply (some smaller wineries won’t take larger groups, for example) you will have plenty of scope to choose your stops.
Group tours follow a defined schedule but while we can’t make any guarantees, if you let us know your preferred wineries we will do our best to include one or more of them.
Which wineries do you visit?
We carefully choose wineries based on the ambience, locale and of course the wine! With a private wine tour you can choose the wineries you would like to visit and we will do our best to accommodate you, or let us know your vision for the day and we can design the itinerary for you. No cookie cutter tours here!
For our group tours we visit a different selection of wineries daily. You can see some of the places we regularly visit in our The Wine Country page. We search diligently for the perfect combination of great atmosphere, beautiful scenery, and astounding wines!
For private groups of wine buyers and connoisseurs we can arrange private seated tastings, barrel room tastings, tastings in private vineyards and meet ups with winemakers. Please give us as much advance notice as possible to create these custom itineraries.
I have a larger group can you accommodate us?
We happily arrange wine tours and excursions for groups of 2 to 120 people. Our wide range of vehicles means that in most cases we can accommodate your group in one vehicle, rather than having to split you up. Our Sprinter-style vans seat up to 13 people comfortably, and our minibuses hold up to 25. For larger groups an executive shuttle bus seats up to 41 people in style.
What time does the tour start and end?
If you have booked a private tour you can choose the start time that suits you. We recommend that tours depart Santa Barbara sometime between 10am and 12pm if you want to taste at 3 or more wineries because wineries mostly open at 11am and close by 5pm.
Our group tours have departure times from between 10.15am to 10.45am in Santa Barbara, and between 11.30am and noon in Buellton/Solvang area.
What are your pick-up locations?
For our private wine tours pick-ups from Santa Barbara, Summerland, Montecito, Goleta, Lompoc, Buellton, Solvang and Santa Ynez are included in the cost. For pick-ups from locations further afield please contact us and we can give you a quote.
Santa Barbara Wine Shuttle has 3 convenient pickup locations in Santa Barbara (at the Hilton Beach Front Resort, The Sb Visitor Center, and at La Cumbre Plaza), or we can pick you up from your hotel/residence by prior arrangement.
We are having a great time, can we extend our day?
If you are on a private wine tour or have chartered a vehicle we can extend the day at your request. You will be charged an hourly rate depending upon the vehicle you are in. Ask your driver for details.
What’s for lunch?
Once you have booked on a wine tour we will send you a lunch menu. Each member of your party gets to choose from our extensive selection of freshly made sandwiches and salads of the highest quality. Let us know if you have dietary restrictions so we can make sure you are accommodated. Chips, snacks, soft drinks and water are also provided.
The SB Wine Shuttle service stops in Los Olivos where there are cafes, restaurants and delis for you to choose from. You are very welcome to bring your own picnic if you prefer.
Do you offer food options other than picnics?
We can organize culinary adventures to go along with your wine tasting experience. Food and wine, cheese and wine, cupcake and wine, and chocolate and wine, pairings are all available on request. We are also happy to recommend the best local eateries if you would like a sit-down restaurant meal during your tour. Call us…we’ll help make it happen just the way you want!
Can I bring my children?
You are welcome to bring your kids along on our private wine tours and private charters. We do not provide child seats or boosters, so please bring yours along. Please call us and we can design a day with family friendly wineries in mind.
Can we drink on the bus?
If you are 21 or older you may drink wine and beer on our buses. However, you must not take it out of the bus at a winery and you cannot sit on the bus at the wineries and drink your own alcohol as this would contravene the ABC licenses of the wineries. We will cancel a tour without refund at any time if we find the wineries licensing rules are being contravened.
What are the terms and conditions?
We want you to have a fun day exploring wine country, tasting and buying wine.
You must be 21 or over to drink alcohol and taste wines. Any one under 21 needs to be identified to your driver and have a designated ‘chaperone’ who will be responsible for ensuring they don’t drink. If our drivers believe someone under 21 has been drinking they will terminate the tour immediately. You will be charged the full amount for your tour.
Wineries cannot serve you if you are drunk, if anyone in your party becomes intoxicated we will terminate the tour. You will be charged the full amount for your tour.
What if my plans change?
We are happy to do our best to accommodate changes in group numbers, itineraries etc. For cancellations and reductions in group numbers the following policies apply:
There are no refunds for the Santa Barbara Wine Shuttle service but if you have to change the date please call us and we will do our best to accommodate you on a case by case basis.
Charters & Wine Tours: All cancellations must be submitted in writing. There is no charge over the deposit amount if the tour or charter is cancelled more than 14 days before tour date. 50% will be charged for all cancellations made within fourteen (14) days of tour/activity date. We charge 100% of total price for cancellations made within 48 hours of the trip/activity date and for “no-shows” on the day of the trip/activity.
What if someone in our group is a non-drinker?
We often have groups that include one or more non-drinkers and/or children. We will be happy to quote a discounted price for any non-tasters in your wine tour group.
What are clean up costs (Okay you didn’t ask but we want to let you know…)
There is a minimum $200 clean up fee per occurrence for vomit, soiling and food/drink spills on seats. You are financially responsible for any damage to our vehicles caused by you or your guests. If you feel unwell please let your driver know before it is too late!