Napa Native Tours are for visitors who want a lot more than wine.
It doesn’t take a lot of brain power to figure out Napa Native Tours is run by someone who grew up in the Valley. And, of course, you would be right. Tyler Jackson is proud to be a third-generation Napan, and, a millennial.
Since he began his business in 2013, he said he has come to understand that his millennial clients (those born between 1982 and 2004) are looking for “a true, authentic experience.”
Said Jackson, “the millennial generation has kind of taken over the wine market here, and I’m the only tour operator catering to them. As a millennial myself, I know that millennials want to immerse themselves in the culture here, they want to touch the vines, they want to talk to the winemakers, they want to experience the wine country without necessarily purchasing wines. They’re here for the experience and that’s what they want to spend most of their money on.”
And how does Napa Native Tours give millennials more of the experience they are looking for? “We’ve started hiking tours combined with a winery tour, it’s called our Wine and Wellness package,” Jackson said. “The first half of the day, we go hiking and then we transition to a gourmet lunch with wine pairings, and then we tour the property. It’s about a five hour day,” he explained. “That’s the exclusive experience people are looking for. I take my clients to these private vineyards where I have exclusive relationships with the owners, so we can hike on their lands and then come back and do a wine tour and a tasting.”
But if hiking isn’t your thing, Jackson has other activities for you to choose from, like fly fishing, mountain bike tours, paddle-boating and river tours. You tell Jackson what floats your boat, so to speak, and he tailors the tour to you.
He leads most of the tours himself, and he’s pretty exhausted at the end of a busy week. “My thighs and calves are hurting for sure,” Jackson chuckled.
Being a native to the area isn’t Jackson’s only well of knowledge to draw upon. “We have a small vineyard over in the Oak Knoll appellation, and I’m the family wine maker,” said Jackson. “I bring my wines along on the tours and get to talk to folks about them as we travel through the Valley in a limo-style SUV. Plus, I’ve taken the wine-making and viticulture courses at Napa Valley College, and I’ve worked in every aspect of the industry,” he noted. “I enjoy passing along the kind of knowledge you won’t get from your average tour driver who may not even be from the area.
“People love my local knowledge and I enjoy piecing together a perfect day or weekend for them, I also work with vacation home owners, private chefs, private massage therapists,” Jackson said. “Almost everything you want out of a wine country experience, you can get from me under one roof.”
A typical 5-hour experience, like his Wine and Wellness tour, usually runs about $350 a person, and that includes transportation, lunch, the different experiences, and, in some cases, a bottle of wine as well. “We have different experiences for all different price points. Everything is tailored to your specific needs and interests,” Jackson said.
“For instance, to just do wine tasting starts at $70 an hour.” Jackson can also drop the wine tasting and just do the activity you choose with you.
“It’s a seasonal business but really January is my only slow month these days, things are pretty steady,” Jackson said. “Fishing experiences are really picking up this time of year, and the hiking tours really pick up in the spring.”
Jackson said most people find him through word of mouth or social media marketing. You can find him at napanative.com, can him at 707-815-9091, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can book your tour online or over the phone.
“I tread real lightly and don’t go into areas where groups are either unwanted or can do damage to the local landscape.”
“There’s a whole other beautiful side to this Valley besides the wine industry, and I want to help people experience that,” Jackson added.