Federal ruling ends 30 years of Golden Gate Transit servicer

[caption id="attachment_13834" align="alignright" width="288" caption="Wine Tours President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Marino"][/caption]

NAPA, SONOMA - California Wine Tours is now the official transporter for North Bay 49ers fans and will provide rides to in-town games from seven area locations this season.

The Napa-Sonoma-based luxury wine tours carrier and transporter picked up the contract after a recent federal rule change prohibited Golden Gate Transport from continuing the 49ers service it's had for the last 30 years.

The team opened the service for bidding to several transportation companies, but executives ultimately decided on the wine tours company based on its presence near a significant fan base, upgraded service and history providing transport to 49er players and staff.

"I think one of the biggest attractions for them was our fleet. Golden Gate did a great job providing the service, but they were still public transportation vehicles," said Wine Tours President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Marino.

"During this tough economy the customer actually expects more for their dollar, and I think the 49ers felt we could really exceed their expectations."

For less than half what it cost to take a bus roundtrip from Sonoma County to the San Francisco International Airport, football fans can ride in a comfortable motor coach with music, videos, restrooms and onboard 49er raffles and prizes.

Also with Wine Tours running the routes, the rides are now available for night games, where before transit was restricted to the day time. The company also added five new pick-up sites for a total of seven stops, including the Larkspur ferry terminal, the California Wine Tours offices in the towns of Sonoma and Napa, the Vallejo ferry terminal, the Petaluma fairgrounds and two bus stops in Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park.

Mr. Marino said the company operates 173 vehicles, though not all are buses, and he does not expect to run out of room for anyone that wants a ride to a game. Tickets range between $25 and $30 and include a complimentary bottle of water. Wine Tours asks that riders make reservations ahead of time.

Mr. Marino said he would have pursued the contract even in the best of times, but it will definitely help pick up the slack where Sonoma and Napa have really been hurting for group tourism business.

"It's tough economy right now, and we are in a high-end business," the owner said.

"You just kind of learn to be creative."

The company was launched in 1986 and has over time grown into several markets including hospitality, corporate travel and student transportation.

For more information or to make a reservation, visit www.californiawinetours.com.