Enjoy Your Day and Let Someone Else Do The Driving
With more than 40 wineries, Loudoun County has had great success in branding
itself as “DC’s Wine Country.” On any given weekend, you’ll find most of them packed with area residents and visitors eager to sample award-winning wines such as The
Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek Winery’s 2015 Reserve Chardonnay.
Described on the Leesburg’s winery’s website as a “delicate Burgundian Chardonnay made from 100% estate grown grapes,” the wine won a Best in Class award in the 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition – hailed as the nation’s largest contest of American wines. On the state level, three Loudoun wineries – Breaux Vineyards, Sunset Hills Vineyard and The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyard – recently took home gold medals in the 2017 Governor’s Cup.
With that kind of appeal, it’s easy to see why winery tours have become one of Reston Limousine’s strongest market segments. President and CEO Kristina Bouweiri launched the tours in 2002 to try to expand the company’s offerings after the economy stalled following 9/11. Her plan was to take two friends to visit nine wineries in one day, and to remain focused, they said they wouldn’t drink.
“At the first winery, we ran into Chris Pearmund, who is one of the most amazing and accomplished winemakers in our state,” Bouweiri says. “He insisted we try the wine at the first stop, and we ended up staying a little too long that day and getting horribly lost on the way home! But we were convinced that wine tours would be a gold mine!”
Faced with a scant marketing budget, she created public tours where passengers could purchase a seat on a bus for $35 and visit three wineries. Bouweiri then donated gift certificates for 2 seats on the winery tours to various organizations, and invited groups out to wine country to showcase the experience.
At that time, there were fewer than two dozen wineries in the county. Over the last decade and a half, the industry grew and so did the popularity of the tours, bringing
residents from all parts east into the rolling hills of Loudoun County.
Today, not much has changed with the tours. Seats are sold for $39, but the tour now stops at only two wineries for a more leisurely and enjoyable experience. “We discovered that by the time people got to the third winery, they were too exhausted
to enjoy the experience.”
Bouweiri says. A change in Virginia law several years ago now allows tour operators with permits to collect tasting fees, which allows the company to pay the wineries directly rather than conducting multiple transactions from each passenger.
As word spread of the scenic backdrops the wineries provide and more couples opted to exchange vows among the vines, the Reston Limousine’s partnership with the wineries extended beyond the wine tours to shuttle services for wedding guests to the rural locations. “There are few hotels in Western Loudoun where the majority of wineries are located, and so many brides with larger guest lists need to get their guests to the weddings,” Bouweiri says. “That’s where we come in; we actually have more buses than limousines in our fleet, so we’re capable of transporting large groups to the wineries. And with our history of winery tours, our drivers know those back roads like the back of their hand.”
Going into 2017, the winery tours will expand with new pickups in communities such as South Riding and Virginia Run; previously, passengers got on the buses at area
shopping centers and metro stations. “We hope to work with more neighborhoods and developments so that we can share the experience of DC’s Wine Country with more of our friends and neighbors,” Bouweiri adds.