Cheers Check-in: Monticello Wine Tour & Coach Co.

Posted on July 7, 2014 by

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If you’ve ever taken a ride through the picturesque surrounding counties, you’ve probably enjoyed one (or more) of the many wineries, cideries, and breweries in our area. And you’ve probably pined for the day you could be chauffeured along the countryside as you taste and sip to your heart’s content.

Introducing Monticello Wine Tour & Coach Co., a new, local company focused on creating tailored wine tour and limousine experiences. Justin Stone, Operations Manager of Monticello Wine Tour & Coach Company (MWTCC) and local wine extraordinaire, recently shared an inside look at the company.

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway to win TWO seats to the MWTCC Reserve and Ride wine tour event on July 27th!

[The winner will be announced on Friday, July 25th.]

Photo Credit: Kristen Finn

Photo Credit: Kristen Finn

Photo Credit: Kristen Finn

Photo Credit: Kristen Finn

Q&A with Justin Stone

When and why did you decide to launch the company? Give us a brief history of the company. From conception to actuation, talk about the founding of the company.

The company began to come together early last fall when I met with its principle owners over a couple lunches. [Bizou and Rapture are great incubator locations; always order the specials.] I have been floating about our area’s wine and food industries since my years at UVA, always harboring ideas of how to make a living doing what I enjoy most.

When Travis Wilburn and Bill Chapman pitched launching a wine tour and transportation company as a natural extension of their existing ventures – Stay Charlottesville and Old Metropolitan Hall – I immediately began planning my departure from the large company I worked for at the time. Travis had long been holding onto the idea of a tour and transportation business, waiting for the moment to get it rolling. By March 2014, they had everything in order. We launched in April.

Describe Monticello Wine Tour & Coach Co. in 10 words or less.

Moving beyond standard limousine services; creating personal, tailored, localized experiences.

Photo Credit: Justin Stone

Photo Credit: Justin Stone

What about Cville and the surrounding area makes it ideal for the company?

There is more Virginia wine, farmhouse cider, and craft beer flowing here now than any other post-prohibition period. In addition, there is a strong collaborative community of producers and an ever-growing population of visitors and locals that appreciate what is coming out of our region. It is more than ideal to be here; it just makes sense, and is a lot of fun!

Let’s talk about this fleet. What can people expect from their countryside ride in style?

“Countryside” this region certainly is; there are some back-road wineries and event spaces out there! As a tour company we believe it is not just about the destination but also about the journey, especially around Charlottesville. When riding with us guests can look forward to a laid back sense of luxury, always with a personal touch from our gregarious guides/drivers. We will keep you safe, keep you laughing, and keep you drinking. I do not pretend to be a “car guy,” but so far we’ve brought great vehicles on board. They are modern and suit the area we drive through. I am excited to see what we bring on next.

Photo Credit: Justin Stone

Photo Credit: Justin Stone

How have you seen the company grow, including the overall participation and excitement from local wineries?

Well, it has been less than a season. This year’s grapes are older than we are but like them we are coming in nicely. Monticello Wine Tour & Coach benefits from a diversely experienced staff across the local wine, event, and accommodation industries. We all have deep roots here and enjoy sharing what we know. The area wineries, cideries, breweries, and event venues have been supportive of our services and style.

Photo Credit: Kristen Finn

Photo Credit: Kristen Finn

It has been a busy spring with tours and transfers every weekend but I am always happy to take more folks out. It is scary to think how many people drive themselves every weekend, I wish more would give us call. I know everyone in the industry would agree!

Photo Credit: Justin Stone

Photo Credit: Justin Stone

What are some of the options for the standard tours (3-4 wineries/breweries/cideries, 5 hours)? Can a group craft a custom tour, or are they set packages and routes?

Sounds like you’ve done this before. Yes, our tours are usually 5 hours, allowing us to visit 3 – 4 spots. With over 45 wineries, cideries, and breweries within the Monticello AVA to visit, groups can go almost anywhere they’d like. Now whether it makes sense or not, that is where we get to come in. I think I have driven just about every loop there is and continue to taste the area’s libations. I like to take this knowledge into each itinerary while working with our guest to create a tour that intrigues them. We are working on set packages but we will always be able to craft tours and transfers to our guest’s liking.

What’s next for the Monticello Wine Tour & Coach Company?

I am hoping for a fully booked summer and fall; we are well on our way! You know, we’ve started successfully with our private wine tour offerings but Charlottesville’s wine industry is so collaborative and social; we are in the midst of organizing a more communal wine tour experience. By occasionally offering individual seats on our vehicles instead of private bookings we hope to provide a chance for people to meet and taste wine collectively in a fun and social setting. Look for the first one to kick of later in July.

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Posted in: cheers, outdoors