Napa Valley Wine Train Kicks Off 12 Black Women For Laughing

Napa Valley Wine Train_Police Called

Twelve African-American women were kicked off the Napa Valley Wine Train yesterday for laughing. Yes, that’s right, they were removed from the train not for being drunk (because they weren’t), but for laughing.

When did laughing while black become a crime? Did I miss the memo? Or is laughing in general a crime on the Napa Valley Wine Train?

Napa Valley Wine Train_Police Called

Photo Credit: Lisa Johnson

Of course it is easy to question how much race played in these ladies being kicked off the train. Would Napa Valley Train kick them off if they were a group of Japanese tourist not speaking English? What about a group of older white women?

That’s the thing, we will never know if race played a part in this matter. None of us can get into the mind of the ONE woman who complained or the Maître D’ that had them removed to know if race was a factor.

That said, I do get frustrated when people are quick to chime in on social media to declare race doesn’t matter and they are sick of seeing people use the “race card.” Well I’m sick of seeing stories of people like Jonathan Ferrell who was shot 10 times as he approached the police for help. To say race didn’t play a role in that incident or the pool incident in McKinney, Texas or the countless other stories on the news every day is ridiculous. It is not safe being black in America these days and that is a fact.

At the same time, not everything is about race. I can’t yell racism every time someone cuts in front of me at Whole Foods or is just blatantly rude. Some people are just rude and obnoxious and it has nothing to do with my race. I recognize it would be easy for me to blame everything on race, but I know that sometimes it doesn’t matter.

None of us can get into the mind of the ONE woman who complained or the Maître D’ that had them removed to know if race was a factor.

I can’t fully say what happened to these women was racism or not. I can say I believe the reaction to throw them off the train was excessive. To have the police waiting for them once they were removed from the train was excessive. And then for Napa Valley Train to state these women, which included an 83-year-old woman, verbally and physically Napa Valley Wine Train Responseabused the staff and other patrons was excessive and just wrong on so many levels. 

I am floored, disappointed and angered by this company’s actions. Napa Valley Wine Train had a choice in how to handle this situation. They could have moved the ONE woman who complained to another cart. They could have moved the 12 women. They did not need to call the police. They did not need to claim these women assaulted others.

So am I outraged? Yes, because Napa Valley Wine Train has shown they do not care about their passengers. And if you read their older reviews on Yelp, they have a history of not caring about their passengers and it has nothing to do with race.

I just know whom I will not be riding with the next time I go to Napa.

Share your thoughts in the comments!




An eclectic, world traveling sista from San Francisco expressing 'Rogue-Thoughts' on food, travel, music, fashion and living an authentic life unapologetically.


  • Reply August 23, 2015

    Zennie Abraham

    I know it’s cool for your generation to explain way race as a factor, but when you get older and see the same pattern again, and again, you’ll either just call racism out, or go insane. In the case of Napa Valley Wine Train, they have videos of white customers being noisy on their trains and not being thrown off. See: Napa Valley Wine Train, Kira Devitt, Don’t Want Blacks; Proof Of Racism via @YouTube

    • Reply August 23, 2015

      Danielle D. Washington

      Napa Valley Wine Train has a history of inappropriate behavior and it is one (of many reasons) why I do not plan to support this company.

      I also understand your point and respect your opinion, but to say I’ll understand when I’m older is ageism. Like racism, it is not cool. Please remember black doesn’t crack and for all you know I could be 48. 😉

      • Reply August 25, 2015

        Chad B.

        I’m pretty sure he (ZENNIE ABRAHAM) meant “as you get older and see the paterns repeating”

  • Reply August 24, 2015

    Seaneeb DeLong

    I absolutely have these ladies’ back on this!
    To put it bluntly, it’s a bunch of bs what happened to them, and the escorted to city cops was entirely retaliatory in nature- as was that nasty note posted on the Wine Train’s Webpage.

    I will be sending the below to their management:

    Fisherman and Aph Roman on the SF Chronicle article’s Comments are dead on.

    And those posting there with their own personal bias flags flying are as much a disgrace as the complaining party and the tour manager’s cooperative retaliatory actions.

    I see the free pass that flat-drunk and shriekingly-loud white girls get at these types of venues.

    And also this deliberate targeting by those who feel themselves superior, where it is ALWAYS someone they think they can manipulate others into believing poorly of.

    Mean Girls come in all ages, and we have to shut THEM down at 35 or 50 the same as we do at 10 and 15. Period.

    The single complaining party should have been offered a refund if they were displeased by the tour environment, and a van ride back to their originating spot.
    And if they refused, well then they have to stop complaining!

    And add the Company post- good lord, if that doesn’t make it screamingly clear the bias is TOWARDS the ones who believe themselves above the hoi polloi, nothing will.

    Disgraceful is right.

    My grandmother would have stomped that complainer right into the dust with a single long look and a few brief words, and likely ordered the manager to remove THEM to another car if they continued to make the rest of the carriage uncomfortable with their disapproval and hostile speech.

    As it is, a grovelling apology well after the fact really isn’t good enough.

    A public posting ON YOUR FRONT WEBPAGE, to stay up for at least 30 days, detailing out the error of your ways in this incident and including what management plans to do to CORRECT the protocols to prevent this type of abuse of the guidelines for handling unruly or intoxicated guests seems like a start…

    And before you jump to judgment, I AM one of those loud, laughing white girls who gets tipsy off one drink.

    And the very worst I’ve gotten is a disapproving glare with not a word spoken.

    And THAT is bias, when these ladies were tossed off the train.

    Deal with this problem you have, or you can be quite sure a sustained information campaign against your business will continue, with any and all friends, family, and professional contacts advised strongly to avoid your company at all costs.

  • Reply August 24, 2015

    M Campbell

    Who was it that said that they were ONLY laughing? Sounds like only a partial truth was told. No company wants to deal with the hassle of putting out customers of any kind or color, especially if they are black, because they are all aware that articles like these will be sure to follow. And sure enough one did.

  • Reply August 24, 2015

    Tiffany Yarde

    This story is heartbreaking. I own and manage a tasting club that supports not only exposure to wine through education but also serves as a platform to build awareness of black vinters. After seeing this story I pulled out of an agreement to have the wine train host my group of 37. Say what you want about social media, but it’s a necessary tool to stay informed with up-to-the-minute developments. Thanks for sharing this story. MotoVino will not be sending business to Napa Valley Wine Train…

  • Reply August 25, 2015

    Don Macleay

    Napa has been the home of all kinds of right wing behavior for a long time. When I was a kid young white men with long hair or just anti Vietnam war views knew we could get beaten up.

    45 years laterit remains an enclave of hate. Nothing surprising.

  • Reply September 15, 2015


Leave a Reply