A local entrepreneur had the idea to pair a party bus with a tour of the area’s best wineries. Learn more about Cincy Wine Wagon and their fun, year-round tours.
After working in the banking business for 15 years, Mike Stokes decided to transition into a full-time beer and wine enthusiast.
Stokes began working in the beer industry in 2013 when he launched Cincy Brew Bus, a beer touring business that samples some of the finest breweries in the Tri-State area.
“I, like many folks, came into craft beer about eight years ago and fell in love,” he says. “When the taproom laws changed in 2012, it opened up an opportunity for us to take people to local breweries and try their goods on site.”
With that initiative in mind, Mike left his banking job for good and has been his own boss through his touring companies for nearly two years now. The Cincy Brew Bus has been offering tours since October 2013.
“I love Cincinnati, beer and entertaining,” Stokes says. “I wanted to bring to light the amazing Cincinnati brewing history along with tasting the exciting new beers from these local artisans. I also wanted to be part of this renaissance that both the brewing industry and the city is having right now.”
Cincinnati is rich in brewing history and it is Stokes’ goal to provide quality information on his brewing tours alongside tasting local craft beers. Although beer is where he started, Mike also has a deep love for wine as well. He expanded his business to wine tours in January of this year. The Cincy Wine Wagon offers tours year-round, as does the Brew Bus, but to local Cincinnati vineyards and wineries.
On the quality of Ohio vineyards, Stokes says, “I love the grapes grown here. The climate is great for it. The vineyards grow Native North American Grapes and they grow French American Hybrids very well. Our region, the Southern Ohio Valley, is historically one of the best growing regions in the country.
In addition to the Great Lakes, Ohio is in the top 10 grape growers in the country. Nicolas Longworth, who lived in Cincinnati most of his life and produced the most wine in the country in 1859 at 500,000 gallons, is known as the father of the American Grape, which was grown right here in this region.”
The Cincy Wine Wagon tours start at Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant at the Kenwood Mall and then go to Valley Vineyards, Vinkolet Winery and Henke or Meier. During the tours, people can expect history on Cincinnati wines, wine trivia and fun facts and wine tastings. Touring the facility can include seeing how the wines are made and, of course, more tasting.
Bottles will be available for purchase and the Cincy Wine Wagon has optimal storing containers based on which wines are bought. Stokes underscores that this is more than just a wine tasting company.
“I think our passion for educating our customers on local history, both in wine and beer, teaching proper tasting techniques, our knowledge of how to brew both wine and beer, and the laid back feel our tour provides really separates us,” he explains. “We employ Certified Tourism Ambassadors for the Cincinnati USA region. This program gives us additional education on local history and things to do in the entire region. It’s great because after our tour many folks want to know where to go and what to do next and with our training we are able to provide that.”
The duration of the tours typically last 4-6 hours. As of right now, beer tours are offered every week and wine tours are offered every other week.
To learn more about specific tours and pricing, visit http://cincywinewagon.com/. Also, be on the lookout for Lou’s Brew Bus, the Louisville extension of the beer tour, which is slated to start operating this summer.