In 2010, Deanna Irish had no idea that creating a website for a good friend’s designated driver service, would be putting her in the driver seat for her own wine tour company business. But it did!
It wasn’t long before she was on her way with her first tour in the Napa region, chauffeuring five ladies from Minnesota for what was supposed to be a two-day 40th birthday celebration. The funny things is, Deanna shares, “The Minnesota ladies did a third day on their own. They did a walking tour of Healdsburg and I told them someone will need to skip the last few wineries, have dinner with water, to get back to the (hotel they were staying at).” She also advised “them to call me by 3 if they think they will need a ride back. Sure enough they did and when my girlfriend and I showed up at Murphy Goode my name was being sung by all of the gals. It put a big smile on my face.” It’s this sort or personal attention that gives Deanna, and her partner, Wayne King’s business, Wine Tour Drivers, rave reviews. She says she’s still Facebook friends with the Minnesota women today.
Deanna doesn’t have a formal background in wine. She explains, “I have learned everything by getting into the business. I have gone to wineries, taken tours and (I even) learned that you may have a dominant nostril and it is good to smell with each side to see a difference. Every year I learn something new by being out in the field!”
Another thing she experiences, being out in the field, is that sometimes passengers can get way too tipsy. “We have lost guests because they wandered away from the group.” She reflects, “There are two kinds of groups at the end of the day – sleepy or rowdy. The ‘Oh my Kansas City Seven’ were a blast! I was their driver when the World Series was happening between the Giants and the Royals. This group had their Royals gear on and were singing their song, Royals. The last winery we visited there was an older couple with Giants gear who were quiet and in walked my Royals, loud as all get out. Soon after the other couple left.” Oops!
Wine Tour Drivers is special because with seven years under their “seat belt” throughout the Napa and Sonoma wine countries, they are able to personalize and “pair the right group with the right driver and suggested wineries to stop at.” Deanna also shares, “I started the business with family and friends and it is still, to this day, a family and friend business, which we all take pride in.” In fact, both her son & daughter, Dylan and Lauran McAulay, help run the business.
Further, it’s not often that people are super proud of their driving record. But Deanna and Wayne have good reason to be and encourage people to look at the TripAdvisor and Yelp reviews, as well as Facebook recommendations. As Deanna says, “We aim to give every guest a fantastic memory so that when they go home they recommend this great service with fun and friendly peeps.”
DEANNA’S PICKS-We asked Deanna to list her top 5 favorite wineries…anywhere! (And being the over-achiever she is, she gave us 6)!
Next time you are visiting the Napa/Sonoma area, be sure if you drink, you don’t drive, and contact Deanna and Dylan at WineTourDrivers.com.