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Wine Tour Safety

Updated on November 22, 2009
Wine tour safety
Wine tour safety

Your Napa valley winery is a popular designation for the bus or limousine tours out of the San Francisco Bay Area, so you augment your sales in the tasting room with winery tours. Who doesn’t like to show off a little! Just remember that your winery has hazards specific to the industry and it is your responsibility to ensure your guests remain safe while on the grounds. The following suggestions provide the basics for reducing accident and injury risks and improving tour safety, which can lead to lower general liability insurance premiums for your business.

  • Hire only experienced, knowledgeable tour guides who have been trained to recognize winery hazards. Experienced guides have better insight into people management and psychology than your average employee so can better control the group and tactfully steer them away from trouble.

Winery tour safety
Winery tour safety
  • Keep the tour groups small. Group size depends on the size of your facility and the ages and composition of the tour. Obviously, a group of children or a group of seniors requires more attention than a group of young adults because the children are more rambunctious and the seniors may be more unsteady on their feet. Use common sense but generally limit groups to no more than 20.

Take care with wet floors
Take care with wet floors
  • Take care with wet floors. Winery process areas tend to use a lot of water for manufacturing and cleaning, so floors are often wet and slippery. Either keep groups out of these areas or line walkways with non-slip floor mats or metal skid grids and instruct guests to remain on them. Actually, the mats or grids are a good idea for your employee’s safety too.

  • Don’t take groups through active process areas. Many wineries install glass walls so visitors can see the process underway inside without actually being exposed to the hazards of the activities. Another lower cost possibility is to install a wall or fence that visitors can see over but not cross.

  • Never let visitors wander through an active winery alone. Various heavy equipment, such as forklifts and gondolas, are used in the process and you risk them being hit by a vehicle. Visitors may also tamper with valves, spigots, and taps, or with automated process machinery.

  • Do not let visitors near open-top vats or empty tanks that are open for cleaning. Children especially may be tempted to put their head inside a tank hatch to see what is inside. If the tank has not been properly purged, it may contain a hazardous atmosphere that can overcome a person instantly.

Screen guests for intoxication
Screen guests for intoxication
  • Screen visitors for intoxication. Most bus tours make multiple stops at various wineries and some guests may be tempted to overindulge. If some individuals seem unsteady on their feet or overly rambunctious, guides should tactfully suggest that the guests catch the tour on their next visit. Intoxication also increases the risk of accidents or injuries to guests inside your facility and if the visitor stopped at your tasting room before the tour they could accuse you of negligence for allowing them to drink and then enter a hazardous area.

Use video surveillance cameras in barrel rooms
Use video surveillance cameras in barrel rooms
  • Use video surveillance inside barrel rooms, rick rooms, and caves. These areas tend to be dimly lit and provide lots of hiding places. A tour group visitor could slip away and hide without the tour guide noticing, and then wander around unescorted or engage in criminal activity such as theft or assaults on employees or visitors.


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