Livermore’s iconic wine trolley is operating again after a six-month hiatus caused by COVID-19 restrictions.
As part of the new Sip and Savor tour, riders will be treated to food and wine pairings at three wineries, all conducted in the outdoors and following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Though the trolley has undergone some changes to keep rolling, the business is working hard to maintain its tradition of good wine and good company.
“We’ve had to make major adjustments, downsize our fleet of trolleys and staff, and set up strategies to comply with CDC recommendations for everyone’s safety, but we are determined to keep on going,” said Brian Luke, owner and founder of Livermore Wine Trolley.
The tour stops at Concannon Vineyard, Las Positas Vineyard and Garre Vineyard and Winery, where guests are treated to small bites paired with different wines. During the trolley rides between stops, guests are treated to a little local trivia.
“There was a guide on the trolley who told us the background and the history of Livermore and all the wineries, so it was very informative,” said Daniel Spoon, a guest on the trolley during its first COVID-adjusted run. “They were really good about keeping the (trolley) clean ... it was a fun couple of hours.”
Spoon had purchased tickets for a spring trolley ride that fell victim to the pandemic. Lisa Tolido, the tour operations and experience manager for Livermore Wine Trolley, worked with Spoon and other affected customers to reschedule their events.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure our guests feel safe while getting back out in wine country,” Tolido said. “It’s been too long. Customers have been calling for months asking when we would reopen. It’s such a great feeling to get back on the road, supporting our local wineries, and bringing joy to people who’ve been cooped up for half a year.”
The trolley was established in 2014 as a way to explore and experience the dozens of wineries in the Livermore wine valley. Guests can choose all-inclusive wine tours or private charter services while enjoying the region’s rolling hills, picturesque canyons, vast vineyards and intimate wineries that pride themselves on their hospitality. During its six years in business, the Livermore Wine Trolley has become an iconic part of its hometown and offers a unique experience.
Jennifer Dominguez made the trip from Antioch for a fun girls’-day-out, and her afternoon on the trolley was exactly the break she needed.
“I asked my mom and sister and my sister-in-law if it was something they would all be interested in, and they said, ‘Absolutely,’” Dominguez said. “It was great. Everything was outside. They were very accommodating … everything had great flavor, and they described which bite to take with which wine and why they were such a great pairing.”
Now that operations are back underway, the company is working hard to protect guests and employees against the novel coronavirus. Trolleys are deep cleaned before each tour, and commonly touched areas are wiped down at each stop. Hand sanitizer is offered to each guest upon boarding and masks are required. Some seats are kept empty to allow for social distancing.
“The trolley company’s bottom line has been hit hard by the pandemic,” Tolido added. “Only one trolley, instead of three, will be in operation for the rest of 2020 as the general public slowly starts to emerge from their homes for outings. The maximum group size is limited to six and the 36-passenger trolley will be running at half capacity allowing for plenty of open seats between social bubbles.”