OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) – A new, diverse Wine Country tour has been created in Oakland in response to the recent controversy surrounding the Napa Valley Wine Train.
The Soul Wine Train has come to town, which is actually a bright green school bus called “La Iguana.” It departs Oakland on Saturday morning, bound for wineries in Napa and Sonoma Valleys.
Esperanza Pallana with the Oakland Food Policy Council spearheaded the tour after hearing about the 11 women who were kicked off the Napa Valley Wine Train in August.
The women are part of the “Sistahs on the Reading Edge” book club and they were escorted off the train after a passenger complained they were laughing too loud.
“The injury that occurred in that incident was painful,” Pallana said. “This is a new day, we will not tolerate that.”
The CEO of the train company later issued an apology and said they handled the situation incorrectly.
Pallana said she wanted to create a space where everyone is welcomed and supported. She reached out to the owners of The Mexican Bus, a charter service, who were more than willing to help.
The bus will depart Oakland Saturday morning, bound for black and Latino owned wineries in Calistoga and Healdsburg.
“We want to see how we are welcome and how we are welcoming when we are laughing loudly,” Pallana said.
More importantly, Pallana said they will be visiting wineries and vineyards where the owners had previously been agricultural workers. She said the trip is about equality and supporting businesses owned by people of color.
“This event is very important to us because of the way it allows us to create a food system that we envision, one that is equitable and sustainable,” she said.
Tickets to the 'Wine Soul Train,' which cost $100, are sold out. Pallana still encouraged people to sign up on a waiting list so they can determine if they want to continue the tours in the future. For more information, visit www.oaklandfood.org.