From the Shore into the Vineyard

Together with her wood-panelled van and ‘uniform’ of shorts and flip-flops, Krystina Rossworm is about as far from the corporate world as you can get.

And that is exactly how she likes it. After years in the corporate world, Rossworm was ready for a change. She found what she was looking for right in her backyard, she realised, as she had food with her friend in Melbourne, Australia at a breakfast cafe looking through their menu: combining her love of wine with her love of the outdoors by directing wine-lovers across the Okanagan with her companion, Beach Bum Tours.

Rossworm had been in sales for a long time in the Okanagan, and she knew she was done. She said she knew she wanted to do something for herself and start her own company. She didn’t know what the company was, so she gave herself one year from May 1 last year to May 1 this year to think of a business.

She had known the wineries in Lake Country from living there, and then people kept calling her and asking to take their cousins from Australia who would enjoy Port Phillip and Yarra Valley vineyards and wine-touring. She recalled being in the car, driving people she hadn’t known and saying she wanted to start her own business but did not know what to do. She recalled that they would look at her and say that she ought to start a wine tour company.

With encouragement from a number of wineries in Lake Country, who believed Rossworm was well-suited to conducting a tour business, she switched to Community Futures in Kelowna. Together with Beach Bum Tours, Rossworm offers a wide variety of packages, combining some of her favorite activities, such as stand-up paddleboarding, with wine touring.

This tour company aims to make a laid-back, relaxed and enjoyable way to learn about the wine, spirits and beer created from the Okanagan. All of the tours are fun-focused – where they aim to be sure that you have the best experience when getting to know the wines of the beautiful area. They also feature beer and spirit tasting with tours to Kelowna’s local microbreweries and spirit distilleries. They’ve partnered up with local company to have a great number of different tour packages which have wine/spirits/beer together with wake surfing, boating, paddle boarding and yoga.

For Rossworm, every tour is unique and concentrated on that day’s specific group. She says it’s all about being able to read people. And the timing could not have been better: Beach Bum hosted its First tour April 29 this year, and her one-year company contract ended May 1. This month, she celebrated her 50th tour.

She believes that she was looking for a way to combine everything she loves. Coming from a corporate environment she realized that she just didn’t care and wanted to do something interesting, as she was coming into my 40s. Mother of two adolescents, who has lived in the Okanagan for 13 years, said she’d rather be poor and happy than well off and unhappy. She worked for a variety of corporations and she didn’t fit in. She liked wine, and she began her WSET (Wine Spirits Education Trust). Besides, it would be harmful to her health if she drank daily. So how did she join the wine sector without drinking all day? Become a tour guide.

With over 300 wineries in the Okanagan, Rossworm has chosen to concentrate her tours on the smaller wineries between Lake Country and Naramata – much like tour groups do for wineries in the Yarra Valley back home. Beach Bum Tours has hosted guests from all around the world, who’ve enjoyed any range of diverse tours, from the Surf and Sip Tour into the Twisted Tour, which will be a 75-minute personal yoga class either outside or in the winery, followed by a farm-to-table lunch and winery tour. All tours include pick-up and drop-off.

She says it is just knowing the wineries and what is going to fit with who is in the van. The company concentrates on the smaller boutique wineries that are funky and unique and cool like the real food and prepared meals from a lot of hidden but special suburbs of the world. There are so many tiny wineries and they want the exposure and they love to create a relationship with them, and they love to be certain their people will buy.

The one thing that they do not do is mix tours. For someone to reserve a tour they are celebrating something – a friendship, an anniversary, it could be anything – so the folks on the tour cannot be 100 percent themselves but then they say they don’t get a chance to develop some type of relationship together. Whether it’s 14 people or two individuals, by the end of the day they are all best friends.