by Deborah Stone
Woodinville will soon have its own “hop on, hop off” service to transport wine aficionados to select wineries and breweries.
The Woodinville Wine Shuttle, the brainchild of local resident Richard Shaffer, will officially begin operation in mid-April, with a soft opening later this month.
The service will be solely dedicated to Woodinville and surrounding areas with an initial primary route to include stops at eight or nine wineries and tasting rooms.
“We have agreements with Matthews, Goose Ridge, Novelty Hill-Januik, William Church and Piccola Cellars right now,” says Shaffer, “and we’re finalizing arrangements with three or four more, which will make up the first route. We have a secondary route in the works, but we need to see what the demand is before we proceed any further.”
Shaffer explains that the shuttle will be continuous and operate seven days a week, most likely between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The route will take approximately 25 minutes and a one-time ticket price of $20 will be valid for an entire day of usage.
The “hop on, hop off” spots will be designated with exclusive signage to let riders know where to wait. “It’s a service that I think this community has needed for quite a while,” comments Shaffer. “When I tell people about it, they’re very excited. Everyone says that they can’t believe no one has does this already.”
The local man, who recently retired after a 17-year career in corporate security, decided to start the business as he was looking for a new venture.
“I got the idea to do the shuttle one evening while my wife and I were out sipping some wine,” explains Shaffer. “We wanted to go to another winery, but opted not to after considering the hassles involved in parking. I thought it would be ideal to have some kind of transportation for people to get around to the wineries, so they wouldn’t have to deal with their car.
“Then, later I rented a limo for my wife’s birthday to take us around to some of the wineries for the day. It cost me $800, which got me thinking again about a shuttle. It surprised me that there wasn’t one in existence, so I did some research, talked to several wineries and began formulating my plan.”
Shaffer bought a 14-passenger vehicle and then built custom wine racks inside of it to store any purchased items and goods that people pick up along the route.
“I wanted to have a secure place for the wine, so the racks lay flat,” he says. “That way people don’t have to worry about their wine and they don’t have to lug it around from winery to winery.”
As for the wineries, Shaffer comments that they’re very “jazzed” about the shuttle, adding, “We’re promoting them and they’re promoting us, so it’s a great working relationship. They’re also going to offer special discounts on their products for shuttle passengers, which will be great.”
Shaffer has high hopes for the new business and predicts it will grow with increasing awareness.
He views it as a service that both locals and tourists will use.
“I think it’ll be great for tourism in this area,” he remarks. “But, I also think area residents will want to take advantage of it, too, because it will take the hassles out of the whole wine tasting experience.”
For more information about the Woodinville Wine Shuttle, visit www.woodinvillewineshuttle.com.