Jenn Vanner’s Westy Wine Tours is the grooviest way to shop, sip and see Prince Edward County.
Watershed Magazine: Jenn, please tell our readers what they can expect on a Westy Wine Tour in the County?
Jenn Vanner: The Westy Wine Tour experience consists of a full-day – that’s five hours – wine tour around Prince Edward County in a vintage Westfalia. It includes pickup, a visit to three or four of our favourite locations, and drop off. Guests can choose to book Stella, which can host small groups of up to four passengers, Straddie, which is equipped to host groups of six, or Sandy, our pink Westy, which can also accommodate six guests.
Do you only stop at wineries?
Our tours include wineries, breweries, cideries, distilleries, cocktail bars, food trucks, restaurants, cafés, art galleries, antique shops, you name it! I work with my clients to build their own special day. They can choose to do tastings at wineries, have a delicious lunch at one of the many places that offer amazing eats in PEC or do some shopping. At the end of the day your driver will take you back to your drop-off location.
What a fun idea! What inspired you to start a business based on travelling about in a old Westy, a notoriously collectable and hard-to-find auto?
For as long as I can remember I’ve had a soft spot for VWs, and my favourite was the VW Westfalia – the hippie bus. I dreamed of someday owning a Westy, and in the summer of 2020, I brought that dream to life. When I bought Stella, the intention was just to travel around Canada and the US. However, with COVID I ended up sticking close to home. Friends and people in the community started to ask if they could use Stella for weddings and photoshoots. I was instantly on board. I started thinking about how the County has become a destination for weddings, wine tours and bachelorettes – next thing I knew I was jumping into business!
Are you a driver? You must have other drivers now too.
I am! My favourite part about this business are the days I get to go out and connect with my clients. I love sharing the fun of driving around in the VW and showing off the beauty of PEC and all that it has to offer. I do have a few drivers now who love the VWs just as much as I do.
You must draw some attention when you zip around the County in these feel-good vehicles.
This bus brings so much love and joy to those around it; people can’t help but smile, wave or throw us a peace sign, whenever we are out for a cruise.
Do you get bookings from Baby Boomers who might have spent time in a Westy back in the day?
A wide variety of age groups book with me; I get a lot of people who approach me with stories about the time their family had a Westy back in the day. I sometimes can’t believe the number of people they would load into one Westy and the distances families would travel for an adventure.
And your Westies aren’t just for sipping and touring; what else are they used for?
They’re used for wedding transportation and photo props, too. Clients will rent a bus for their wedding day or have a bus set up for photos at their venue. Photographers also rent them out for photo sessions at various locations throughout the County.
Other than continuing to traverse the County roads, what’s on the horizon for Westy Wine Tours? Do you have any grand schemes?
For now, I am continuing to focus on building up my business here and offering clients the absolute best experiences I can! My business grew fairly quickly in the first few years, going from one VW to three. Right now, I want to make sure things run smoothly and efficiently and maybe I’ll consider expanding sometime down the road. I am taking feedback from clients, drivers, fellow tour companies and local businesses and using it to make my company the best I can.