Wine Train Exec Issues Apology to Book Club

The top executive of the Napa Valley Wine Train contacted a predominantly Black women’s book club to apologize for the removal of its members from one of its tours on Saturday.

47-year-old Lisa Johnson, along with 10 other members of th eSisters on the Reading Edge book club, was kicked off of the tour for laughing and talking too loudly. The women admitted to being “rambunctious” at times, but insisted that they were not being obnoxious.

Johnson took to her Facebook page to give a detailed account of the incident, and to question whether the group would’ve been treated differently if they were not African American.

Train Chief Executive Officer Anthony Giaccio issued the following statement in response to the incident, posted via Business Wire reports.

“The Napa Valley Wine Train was 100 percent wrong in its handling of this issue. We accept full responsibility for our failures and for the chain of events that led to this regrettable treatment of our guests.”

Giaccio said that he spoke with Johnson about the incident late Monday. He apologized for the book club’s experience, and pledged to learn from the incident.

“I appreciate your recommendation that our staff, which I believe to be among the best, could use additional cultural diversity and sensitivity training,” said Giaccio. “I pledge to make sure that occurs and I plan to participate myself.”

Read the rest of Giaccio’s letter below.

“Clearly, we knew in advance when we booked your party that you would be loud, fun-loving and boisterous—because you told us during the booking process that you wanted a place where your Club could enjoy each other’s company. Somehow that vital information never made it to the appropriate channels and we failed to seat your group where you could enjoy yourself properly and alert our train’s staff that they should expect a particularly vibrant group.

We were insensitive when we asked you to depart our train by marching you down the aisle past all the other passengers. While that was the safest route for disembarking, it showed a lack of sensitivity on our part that I did not fully conceive of until you explained the humiliation of the experience and how it impacted you and your fellow Book Club members.

We also erred by placing an inaccurate post on our Facebook site that was not reflective of what actually occurred. In the haste to respond to criticism and news inquires, we made a bad situation worse by rushing to answer questions on social media. We quickly removed the inaccurate post, but the harm was done by our erroneous post.

In summary, we were acutely insensitive to you and the members of the Book Club. Please accept my apologies for our many mistakes and failures. We pride ourselves on our hospitality and our desire to please our guests on the Napa Valley Wine Train. In this instance, we failed in every measure of the meaning of good service, respect and hospitality.

As I offered in my conversation with you today, please accept my personal apologies for your experience and the experience of the Book Club members. I would like to invite you and other members to return plus 39 other guests (you can fill an entire car of 50) as my personal guests in a reserved car where you can enjoy yourselves as loudly as you desire.

I want to conclude again by offering my apologies for your terrible experience.”