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Meet Toby McDonald of Rockin’ Wine Tours in Temecula

Today we’d like to introduce you to Toby McDonald.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Worked for several record labels including Geffen Records, Atlantic Records, and a few others doing internet marketing and ended up in website development. I got out of the music industry and moved to Temecula. My wife worked for a local brewery and I made a website portal for all of the breweries in the Temecula area.

From there I started a brewery tour company called Brewery Tours of Temecula. Website: www.brewerytoursoftemecula.com

Brewery Tours of Temecula was and still is very successful. Our guests would come back a year or 2 later and ask if we did wine tours as they really liked the way we ran our tours. I have always been a big wine guy and it made sense to start a wine company.

Rather than just start completely from scratch I bought Rockin’ Wine Tours through a 3rd party. They were not a large company but just had a name that seemed to fit the vibe of what we were doing with the brewery tours. I didn’t want to just pay random limo drivers to drop people off I wanted to create a unique experience at the wineries where they have fun and have a lot of interaction.

So we basically tried running the wine tours similar to how we ran the brewery tours. For example, our tour guides are not uptight. They don’t wear silly cheap suits or polo shirts. A lot of us wear Scottish Kilts as many of us are Scottish and a few Irishmen! We want to show the guests a fun time while also being very professional and showing them a 5 star experience.

Long story short, the wine tours took off big time and now for every 1 brewery tour we do we do about 10 wine tours.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There are always struggles with any startup company. The main struggles came with every state agency wanting your money. So many people you need to pay just to be in business. Before you even start you are in debt. You have to have consistent tours booked or you will never make it. Insurance alone on our tour buses is over 30k per year. That doesn’t include all of the maintenance costs, DMV fee’s etc!

Have had some struggles hiring the right tour guides/drivers as that is very important to our company’s success.

But overall things have been pretty smooth!

Rockin’ Wine Tours – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Rockin’ Wine Tours is truly a one of a kind wine tour company. We are not the typical ‘transportation’ company that just basically provides a ride. We provide an interactive wine tasting experience is like no other.

We only do private tours. In fact, we are the only wine tour company in Temecula that only does private wine tours. That means we don’t do the big shuttle bus tours filled with random groups of people. This allows us to personalize each tour group based on their occasion.

We specialize in bachelorette parties, birthday parties, and do a ton of corporate parties / team building tours.

All of our tours are done in party buses. We don’t use shuttle buses (that have seats like in an airplane). Our buses all have perimeter seating so everyone faces each other and can interact.

We personalize each tour bus based on the occasion. We always professionally decorate the inside of our buses which includes banners, champagne flutes, specialty napkins, party favors, etc. This definitely adds to the overall experience of the guests and truly shocks most of them, in a good way!

Our tour guides hook up music, pour champagne, take photos, and go inside each winery with the guests not just sit on the bus and wait for them to come out.

Most guests will say it’s by far the most fun they have ever had on a wine tour which is something we definitely try to achieve every single time we do a tour no matter what the occasion!

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I personally am proud of running a very fun yet professional company. We have literally all 5 star reviews on Yelp other than about 2 random 3 star reviews that are questionable that the guests were ever actually on our tour. I am very proud of the hard work that is put into each and every tour we do. I can honestly say the hard work we put into each tour pays off and it’s a great feeling when our guests leave and say how amazing of a time / experience they had.

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