Boarding Now! ...the Party Bus to Nowhere
View of a stripper pole in a bedazzled party limo

It's big. It's loud. It has a stripper pole. And it's coming to a winery.

It's probably not coming to the winery your friends told you about... the one that has the award-winning wines, spectacular ambiance, and engaging hospitality staff. Nope, it's not coming there, because it's banned.

Um, this is a capitalist society, and business owners want customers, right? What winery would say "no" to fun people - people with wallets - who want to sample their wares? Most of them, and more every day. Take a look at this example from one winery's website: "...we take a very aggressive position towards buses and limousines that show up sporting signs of being a party bus." This winery goes as far as letting potential guests know that if they arrive on a party bus, "this will void any authorized visit. No exceptions."

Wow. Harsh.

Some explanation is needed. From the outside, a party bus looks like any other shuttle or bus. But on the inside, it's Vegas, Baby! Typical decor includes color-changing LED lights, lounge seating, even big screen TV's. Common amenities include ear-splitting sound systems, stripper poles, and a bar fully stocked with several glass carafes of hard liquor. You may be told the tequila, vodka and rum are premium brands. You certainly won't be told they are watered-down generic brands being presented as premium.

When the party bus completes its hour trek from the big city to wine country, winery staffers wince. They've seen it too many times before. The floor-to-roof door swings open, releasing a bass-thumping cacophony, and disgorging a stumbling parade of over-intoxicated revelers who are just as likely to scare off desired customers as they are unlikely to care about the wine tasting experience beyond "jusss pour which'er one has the heist alcawl condent."

Compared to the couple who arrives as part of a hosted wine tour, who is fascinated by the wine making process, and who buys a bottle of Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, the group of 20 or 30 who arrive on a party bus are persona non grata. That's a Latin term, and you should look it up to be sure, but it probably translates as: "people who are rude and drunk and won't buy anything, not even the set of wine glasses that they knocked onto the floor, shattering spectacularly." To be fair, people on party buses aren't bad people, they just act that way.

So yeah. Most wineries ban party buses. But not every single. Just all the wineries who are desirable enough that they can afford to be choosy.

I've rented a party bus. I put on a bachelorette party for my cousin, and probably the best part of our bar-hopping evening was the time we spent together on the party bus. I highly recommend renting one yourself. Just know that if you intend to visit the best wineries, you should wear walking shoes. Because to get in, you'll need to park a good distance away, divide up into twos and fours, and then hike the rest of the way.


~ Kay Syrah

Wine Country Guru Gal

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