When people think of the limo industry in California, they likely picture big Hollywood stars being picked up by chauffeurs and shuffled off to movie premiers or award shows. It’s a big state, however, and people sometimes forget northern California is home to some of the country’s best wineries and vineyards — and the business of both locals and tourists who need chauffeured transportation is ripe for the picking.
A 20-year-old family owned business, Napa Valley Wine Country Tours, provides chauffeured transportation to wineries located in Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley, as well a tour of the coast from Bodega Bay to Monterey. The company’s mission is “To exceed customer expectations by providing exceptional service, wine country education and most importantly, a lot of fun.” Tracey Thornton, part of the sales and marketing team, elaborated on this consistent goal.
A Vineyard’s Worth of Vehicles
The company doesn’t just conduct wine tours; it also provides transportation for corporate events, weddings, proms, and airport runs as well. With so much business coming its way, its fleet of 34 vehicles is always in motion. From sedans (Lincoln Town Cars, MKS sedans, Hyundai Equus, Mercedes-Benz Maybach) to SUVs (Lincoln Navigator, Chevrolet Suburban), and coaches (Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van) to limo buses, the company can accommodate large and small groups.
When it comes to popularity, the Sprinter has overridden the stretch limousine due to the ease of getting in and out while wearing dressy attire. Two of the more unique choices, however, are a limousine trolley and Mercedes Sprinter convertible — the only one now available in the U.S. Napa Valley Wine Country Tours brought it to the 2016 International LCT Show and Thornton says it was a big hit.
The company only offers experienced chauffeurs who are familiar with and educated about the Napa and Sonoma wine industry. Thornton says they hold wine “sessions” led by Barry Wiss, vice president of trade relations for the Trinchero Family Estates winery, once a month. Wiss, who oversees the hospitality and culinary program at Trinchero, teaches chauffeurs anything they ever needed to know and more about how wine is made. The interactive course even includes a textbook. Chauffeurs are eventually given the opportunity to take a certification exam. “Everyone really looks forward to the class,” Thornton says.
Not only does the company offer a competitive selection of vehicles, it also serves up a wide variety of tours. Customers can choose to be picked up from their hotels and go on a tour of four wineries with other guests for a modest fee of $99, or if they don’t want to sit and sip with strangers, they can work with the company to set up a private custom tour. If customers are looking for something a little more adventurous, they can choose to be escorted to the Napa Valley Wine Train, or even take a ride on a hot air balloon.
Regardless of which package a client desires, Napa Valley Wine Country Tours provides a picnic-style lunch which consists of a turkey sandwich, pasta salad, basil-tomato-mozzarella skewers, dolma, falafels, hummus, and chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert.
A Sweet Aftertaste
The owners of the company stress the importance of exceptional customer service, and it’s apparent from their many accolades. The company has received a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor five years in a row, and has 1,616 “Excellent” reviews on the site. Chauffeurs constantly get positive feedback and encourage passengers to review them on sites like Yelp and Facebook.
“We try to go out of our way to provide excellent customer service. Anyone can have a vehicle; it’s what you do to make the trip memorable that matters,” Thornton says.
To see a gallery of their vehicle selection, click here.