Who Says You Can Have Too Much Fun? Apparently, These Girls Can, They Got Caught #LaughingWhileBlack Aboard The Napa Valley Wine Train
by Heather Cassell
It’s a fun ride through the Napa Valley filled with wine from the legendary valley and great food cooked right there on the train aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train.
The popular historic train ride rolls through the Napa Valley between downtown Napa and St. Helena serving up Napa Valley wines and fine dining along with tours of storied wineries along the tracks.
It’s a great excuse to get the girls together for an afternoon. At least that’s what Lisa Johnson, who organizes the Sistahs on the Reading Edge, a book club, thought when the 11 women boarded the wine train for their annual wine train trip August 22.
“The train is set up to be with your friends, to drink wine and have a good time,” Lisa tells the San Francisco Chronicle.
They were sipping wine, enjoying the food and the scenery and having a lively conversation and laughing and some guests were enjoying their spirited fun asking them about the latest romance novel, says Lisa.
However, some other guests weren’t as enthused, with one commenting to them “this isn’t a bar.”
“We though, um, yes it is,” says Lisa.
They were asked twice to tone down their good time by a manager, Lisa tells the Chronicle. They were even warned that they would be asked to leave the train.
“We were thinking, ‘Who are we offending?’”she asks.
The kicker came when the train stopped in St. Helena all of the women were escorted through the six historic cars before other guests by the wine train security and into the hands of waiting St. Helena police officers.
Lisa documented the incident with her smartphone on Facebook as it happened.
Apparently, the sistahs found themselves living a tale on the edge – one that they wish was somewhere long ago in historical fiction during their Saturday ride on the wine train.
“It was humiliating. I’m really offended to be quite honest,” says Lisa, 47. “I felt like it was a racist attack on us. I feel like we were being singled out.”
The wine train’s spokesperson is apologizing calling the incident and a Facebook post defending the tour company’s right to remove guests who get a bit too rowdy and disturb other guests a “mistake.” The company stated that it does remove one rowdy person a month in a Facebook post on the wine train’s page. It has since been removed.
On Tuesday, Napa Valley Wine Train CEO Anthony “Tony” Giaccio personally apologized to Lisa and her book club friends after an in depth phone conversation and took full responsibility for mishandling the situation. In addition to being given a full refund by the tour company, provided a van ride back to Napa, and given free pictures, Tony inviting them back along with their family and friends to take up one full car to enjoy the wine train in the near future. Furthermore, Tony pledged that the wine train staff, including himself, would be required to take cultural diversity training courses and vowed that guests in the future won’t be treated as these women were again.
The apology is a little too late for Lisa, who is refusing to accept Tony’s apology, reports ABC 7 News.
Updated: August 25, 2015 to reflect Napa Valley Wine Train CEO Anthony “Tony” Giaccio’s apology.
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