Q.  Do I need to make appointments at the wineries?

A.   Yes and no.  Many wineries do require appointments now but many more do not.  If you have an idea of where you would like to visit I can advise you about the particular requirements.  Many more require appointments if you have groups larger than 5 people.


Q.  Do you make appointments for us?

A.  Generally no, because some require credit cards to hold appointments and I don’t want to handle your credit info.  I can provide phone info and suggested times for visits.

Q.  Can we picnic at the wineries?

A.  Napa is very restrictive and Sonoma is not.  But I can find great places in each valley with some knowledge of your desires.


Q.  Can we visit Napa and Sonoma wineries on the same day?

A.  Not a good idea.  Some maps make everything look close together but looks can be deceiving, and I can advise you on driving distances.


Q.  What should we expect to pay for wine tasting fee’s?

A.  Tasting fee’s range wildly, Sonoma is generally less than Napa.  Napa can be $50 per person or $10-$15 per person.  Most in Sonoma are in the $10-$20 range.  But expect $10-$20 as the norm.  Keep in mind that many wineries allow shared tastings with couples and many wave tasting fee’s with wine purchases.


Q.  Can we ship wine home?

A.  Each state has different laws and all tasting room employees can advise you on this.


Q.  How about tours?

A.  Many wineries provide educational tours.  Usually this will cost more money than simple tastings. Keep in mind that many require some time but can be worth the time, especially on a first trip.


Q.  What if I don’t like my driver?

A.  Not possible if you hire me.


Q.  Should we tip our tasting room server?

A.  Everyone in the service profession appreciates a gratuity but it is not expected.   Most wineries pay commisions on wine sales also.


Q.  What time do most wineries open and close?

A.  Most open at 10:00 AM and close at 5:00 or 5:30 PM.


Q.  Should we eat before we tour?

A.  Unless you want to fall down before noon.


Q.  How do we pay our driver?

A.  I prefer cash at the end of the day but can process credit cards with a 3-4% service fee.


Q.  Should we tip our driver?

A.  Your first born will be fine.


Q.  How many wineries should we expect to visit in a normal day?

A.  I always suggest to not try to do too much.  In 6 hours maybe 4 wineries and a bite to eat.


Q.  What time of year is the best time to visit?

A.  That is a tough one.  In the Spring the weather is cool and the traffic is light.  The vines are not full yet but their are wild flowers and Mustard and it is very beautiful.  In the mid summer it can be very hot but usually in the 80’s.  The most popular time is during the “Crush”  or harvest, late August thru October.  The weather in September and October is the best, from mid 70’s to low 80’s.  In October there can be some great color changes going on in the vinyards.  But keep in mind because it is the most popular time to be here, everyone is here, and the traffic can be bad.  Rooms hard to come by and restaurants full everynight.


Q.  Do you come to San Francisco or Oakland?

A.  I do not.  I will come anywhere in Sonoma, Napa and Marin Counties.  If you are more than 25 miles away from the Napa or the Sonoma Valley I may ask for a one hour addition for fuel and time expenses.


Q.  How long can we hire you for?

A.  By law 12 hours a day.


Q.  What are your charges?

A.  I charge $40/hour for groups of 5 or fewer passengers and $45/hour for groups of 6 or more passengers.  If you are more than 25 miles from the towns of Napa or Sonoma there may be a small  travel charge.


Q.  What is the best way to confirm your services?

A.  Email or Phone is best.  Call at almost anytime at 707-921-9099 or email at tompay@comcast.net.


Q.  Do you ever provide the car for your tours?

A.  I do not, I am considered a “For Hire Driver, which means I drive my client’s vehicle.  I come to you and begin and end there.  On occasion I can drop you somewhere and return your car to our starting point if you desire.


Q.  What is the downside of us driving ourselves?

A.  Let me see…Jail, accidents, not knowing where you are going, looking over your shoulder all day, basically not having a good time.

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  • Get in touch

    It is usually best to make initial contact with me through the "Contact Me" form found on the navigation menu of my website. If you feel the need to contact me by phone or email you can do so using the following information:
    Tel: +1 (707) 921-9099
    Email: tompay@comcast.net
    Website: www.winedriver.com
  • Popular Post

    Thomas M. Paynter

    April 17, 2014
    I have spent the last 8 years working as a wine tour guide for two of the top rated touring company
  • About Me

    My name is Tom Paynter and I have been living in the wine producing region of the Napa and Sonoma county’s for over 30 years. I have spent the last 8 years working as a wine tour guide for two of the top rated touring company’s in Napa and Sonoma. My training and knowledge of the winery’s and history of the wine producing regions, I believe, will enhance your visit to our beautiful country.