Plan a Day Trip Wine Tour from NYC
Last week, my friend and I planned a day trip wine tour leaving from NYC and going to wineries out in the North Fork of Long Island. We had an amazing time and it was honestly pretty easy to arrange. To make it even easier for you, I am sharing all the details and some step by step checklists so you can plan your very own wine tour for your friends!
We selected to go to the North Fork instead of the Hamptons wineries because we figured there would be a little less traffic and more affordable tasting rooms. The wineries and drive were gorgeous and I would highly recommend also doing the North Fork!
STEPS TO PLAN A WINE TOUR TO NYC
Pick a date
Book a bus
Figure out final details (a.k.a. Fill the bus, Buy the snacks, etc.)
We made a GroupMe with our friends and set a poll for a few weekends. Based on which date people selected most, we started to make plans. I would say you still have time to go this fall through the end of October and then could also plan for early spring through next summer!
Collecting money upfront is important to ensure you don't end up fronting $2k. Bus rentals are expensive and most require at least a 40% deposit.
I had all of my friends venmo me $100 and informed them that the final price would be within $10 per person. Our all in price ended up being $111 per person (sorry about the $1 over budget!) for the bus, two tastings, and bagels.
First things first. You want to make sure a good and affordable bus is available for you date. We got quotes for about 15 different bus companies, so I can save you the leg work and make some recommendations!
US Bargain Limo: This is the service we ended up selecting. We were able to get a 26 person bus with a bathroom (HUGE BONUS/NECESSITY!) for a reasonable price. The bus was very clean, provided cups and water, and the driver, Terry, was wonderful! We had a great time and would highly recommend their service. You can select a variety of bus sizes, but I think the 26 person one is ideal because of the bathroom.
West Way Limo: West Way Limo also had reasonable prices for 22 person buses and seemed to have service when we were corresponding with them. While I cannot vouch for their day-of service, this seems like a good back up option if US Bargain Limo is full!
Best Limo NYC: Best Limo was a little bit pricer per person (about $12), but also seemed to be a good a reasonable option compared to some others we called!
When we were getting price quotes these were the key things we asked vendors to make an informed decision:
Deposit Type & Amount (amount, cash, credit, etc.)
Tip Inclusion (some buses look falsely cheaper/more expensive depending on if they include the 20% tip!)
Bathroom (NECESSITY! You will be on this bus for 2 hours each way.)
Photos of Exact Bus (Good to confirm your bus will be as good as the one in their ads)
With US Bargain Limo we got a 26 person limo with the 20% tip included and a bathroom. The bus was spotless with bluetooth speakers, and I could not recommend it enough! We had 22 people and the price was still reasonable, giving us some extra space to move around and sit comfortably!
Once you have your bus confirmed for your desired date, you can start reaching out to wineries to schedule tastings. (Side note: If you are dead set on a specific winery, make your date plan around their availability...to us having everyone available for a best date was more important!)
We found most wineries require a reservation for a tasting for all people on the bus when you have a large group. We included these tasting fees in the money we collected upfront to make it a more seamless day.
Some wineries had tastings over $20 a person, which we weren't interested in. We selected Duck Walk and Pindar as they have tastings under $15 that included either 4 to 5 tastings, a glass of wine, a pint of beer or some other beverage (sangria at Pindar). This was great for us because it was more affordable up front and gave our friends the options to pick and choose what they wanted at each winery in the moment.
Winery Tasting Options (All Under $15!)
Duck Walk North: $10,
Opsprey: $8 to $12 (Side note: doesn't take groups larger than 15 people)
We did Duck Walk and Pindar because they were able to accommodate large groups, had live outdoor music on their patios, and were available for our date. Both of them we booked on the phone and did not need to leave a deposit. When we arrived the day of, we simply paid upfront for all of our tastings and then gave tokens/tickets to our friends as they exited the bus.
I would recommend calling around and seeing which places have openings for your date and can accommodate your group. Some places have various events throughout the year, so it is good to have a few options to choose from. All of the ones above are absolutely beautiful so I am sure you will have a great time at any!
THE FINAL DETAILS
Getting together the final details the week before the trip is important so that the day goes seamlessly. Here is a quick checklist we used to make sure we were ready to go!
Fill the bus (confirm everyone can still come, invite more people as needed)
Call the wineries to confirm
Call the bus to confirm
Order bagels and cream cheese for the bus ride out
Take out cash for the remaining balance on the bus (if needed - our bus was cheaper to pay the last balance in cash)
Send everyone the itinerary for the day
Remind everyone to be on time
Select the perfect outfit ;)
9:00 AM: Leave NYC 11:00 AM: Tasting at Duck Walk North Vineyard 12:30 PM: Leave Duck Walk 1:00 PM: Tasting at Pindar Vineyard 2:15 PM: Start gathering everyone to Head Back to City!!
5:00 PM: Arrive in the City
THE DAY OF
The day of is pretty easy! Just wake up and get dressed and pack up the bus snacks. Meet everyone by the bus and get ready to go.
When you first get on the bus... confirm the itinerary and addresses with the bus driver to make sure he or she has the necessary details.
When you get to each winery... get off the bus first and buy the tickets/tokens for everyone on your bus and then pass they out as your friends exit the bus.
When you get leave each winery... count off to ensure no one is lost in the vineyard!
When you get back to the city... remind everyone of how much more to venmo you if there is a remaining balance. For us, it was $11 because we did not fill out bus to the maximum capacity.
HAVE FUN!Send or tag me in pictures (@alanarobina) if you end up using these tips to plan an affordable wine tour. I would love to see your adventures!