Meet the Driver: John O’Donnell

We’ll introduce you to some of the great people who will be traveling with you to enjoy all that the Yarra Valley has to offer.

First up, John O’Donnell.


John has worked in the tourism and hospitality industry for 40 years, including three years as a part-time driver with the Australian Wine Tour Company. John is not only an excellent team member and a great person, but he brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge.


John talks about his career and the Yarra Valley.


Tell us about your career so far.


I have worked in the tourism and hospitality industry for 40 years. I’ve held a variety of jobs during this time, from casual footman at Government House to assistant manager at the Botanical Hotel to serving film crews to working as a waiter for wine at Stephanie’s Restaurant and even as a Qantas International flight attendant, where I met my now-wife. In the last 20 years, I’ve also worked as a tourism teacher specializing in wine tourism. I have been able to teach sustainability and train tour guides at Australia’s top hospitality institute, William Angliss. “This is my third year working as a driver/guide for Australian Wine Tours. I’ve also led groups of passengers and students to incredible walking trails in Australia and New Zealand in the last ten years.”


What three words would you use to describe yourself?


“I would say that I am professional, fit and most importantly, passionate.”


What is the best part of your job?


I am always excited to meet new people and introduce them to the beautiful Yarra Valley and its fine food and wine, history, and scenic beauty. It never gets boring.”


Do you have a favorite destination in the Yarra Valley?


I’d say Soumah Wines because of its exceptional wine, food, and views of the Yarra Ranges.

What is your favorite type of wine?


“I enjoy a dry pinot noir, or dry riesling.”


What is the most interesting fact you know about the Yarra Valley and its vineyards?


In the 1880s, the Yarra Valley in Australia was Australia’s most prestigious wine-growing area.


What would your perfect day look like?


The passengers of the Australian Wine Tour Company are smiling and happy. They are on a journey to discover new wines, friends, history, and life skills.

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