Here's the Napa Valley Wine Train statement and apology in its entirety, as released by Sam Singer and Associates:
Napa, Calif.—The top executive of the Napa Valley Wine train contacted a predominately African-American women’s book club and apologized for the removal of 11 of its members from one of its trains after several passengers complained the group’s loudness was negatively impacting their experience.
“The Napa Valley Wine Train was 100 percent wrong in its handling of this issue,” said wine train chief executive officer Anthony “Tony” Giaccio. “We accept full responsibility for our failures and for the chain of events that led to this regrettable treatment of our guests.”
Giaccio said he had a conversation with Lisa Johnson, a leader of the Sistahs on the Reading Edge Book Club, who complained on social media about the removal of 11 book club members from the wine train on Saturday, Aug. 22, after other train passengers complained about the loudness of the group.
Giaccio said he contacted Ms. Johnson late Monday, Aug. 24, and apologized for the book club’s experience, pledging to learn from the incident and offering additional diversity training for employees and inviting the club members, their family and friends to be his guest and fill an entire train car.
Giaccio also wrote an apology letter saying: “I want to apologize for your experience on the Napa Valley Wine Train on Saturday, Aug. 22. We accept full responsibility for our failures and the entire chain of unfortunate events you experienced.”
The letter to the group continued:
“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 accurately insensitive to you and the members of the Book Club. Please accept my apologies for our many mistakes and failures. We pride ourselves 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.
“I appreciate your recommendation that our staff, which I believe to be among the best, could use additional cultural diversity and sensitivity training. I pledge to make sure that occurs and I plan to participate myself.
“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.”