Enthusiasm, energy and vitality define the word “verve” as much as they do the valley’s newly launched tour company, Verve Napa Valley. By offering “curated wine country tours,” founders T. Beller and Andrew Barrett Worland are promising visitors an experience beyond the typical wine tour.
Beller and Worland said their approach is to work with their clients to understand who they are, where their interests lie and what their ultimate Napa Valley experience entails, and then create it.
“We do a lot of listening,” Worland said about how they pinpoint the vibe of each individual group.
The company offers to share its “insider access to exceptional boutique wineries, culinary masterpieces, private art collections, secret gardens, engaging characters, special events and more.” The owners explained that they shun “cookie-cutter tours” in favor of customized ones that take guests to places they might not have otherwise discovered.
The partners said their knowledge of “off-the-radar places” and interest in being “more than just a tour guide” set them apart from other tour companies. Beller explained that they strive to make each guest completely comfortable, whether that means they join them on their tours at wineries or make unplanned stops throughout the day.
“We create unique itineraries,” Worland said, “but still leave room for flexibility.”
Beller said she hopes to instill a true sense of the valley in each of their clients by sharing her knowledge of Napa’s history, politics, geology and personalities. The almost 30-year resident of Napa called Verve “a perfect intersection of all the things I love.”
She describes herself as an advocate for the arts and an activist for education reform. She is enthusiastic, both about this culmination of her passions and about her business partner, whom she described as her “perfect balance.”
A former actor and veteran of the entertainment industry, Worland said that a year ago he “followed the energy” from New York to Napa by way of the Napa Valley Film Festival. After parting ways with the organization, he began working with Napa Valley Tours & Transportation. He called his time there “a great experience” because of the relationships he established with guests, merchants, and people involved in wine, food and culture.
“People love him; he’s so engaging,” Beller said.
Worland said he feels his people skills help him provide experiences that are in sync with who his guests are and what they want.
After having worked on the first Napa Valley visitors survey years ago and continuing to keep up on the demographics of the tourists in the valley, Beller said she feels that she really understands her potential clients and their behaviors.
Worland is originally from North Carolina, while Beller is an Alabama native; she said the company serves up “Southern hospitality with a Napa Valley twist.” The partners have titled themselves as “hosts” rather than tour guides, and consider each visitor their personal guest, they said. “We hope to exceed people’s expectations,” Worland added.
To help achieve their goal, they invested in a Mercedes Sprinter limo bus to transport Verve guests. Stocked with drinks, snacks and fresh flowers, Beller said the car is just as comfortable for parties of two as it is for large groups.
Although they expect to serve more tourists than locals, Worland and Beller expressed a desire to show residents a side of the valley that they may not know. To spread the word to both target markets, the owners enlisted Visit Napa Valley, the Chamber of Commerce, art organizations and other groups. They are also planning events and promotional tours while keeping past and potential clients updated through Facebook.
Whether working with guests from near or far, the founders promised an indulgent experience their clients won’t forget. No two trips are ever the same, and prices vary depending on time of year, point of pickup and number of passengers, the owners said. For up to six passengers, the fee is $200 per hour.