We’re continuing our new “Driver Spotlight” Q&A series here on our Platypus Wine Tours blog where we introduce you to some of our top-notch wine tour guides, provide some insights as to why they love working for Platypus and what makes their tours so special.
Today we would like to introduce you to Karl Christensen, who has been working as a tour guide for Platypus for three years. Before joining Platypus Karl was a guide for Napa Winery Shuttle Excursions for over seven years, so he’s been touring The Napa Valley for over 10 years now and still enjoys every single day.
Q. Where are you originally from? How long have you lived in the Bay Area?
A. I was born in Oakland and spent my elementary school years in the Bay Area. When I was 11 years old, our family moved to Seattle. For the next 20 years, I lived in the Pacific Northwest. I still am fond of Washington State, but I’m a California boy at heart! In the late ’90s, I moved back to the Bay Area, originally for a job with the City and County of San Francisco. I would visit Napa frequently; to hang out with my brother and childhood friends. When I decided to resign from my job in San Francisco, Napa seemed like the place I was meant to be. My original plan was to become an electrician. I worked for Wolf Electric and my brother was the principal of Napa High School at the time. One of his teachers retired and created a tour company with three small vans. I was offered a job while that company was in its infancy. I’ll never forget my first day as a Napa tour guide: 8 girls from Vancouver and here for a bachelorette party!! Whoa!! The end of my first day, I knew I found my calling!
Q. What do you love best about the Wine Country?
A. Well, I have to say what I love about this place is that I met my wife here in 2011. Marriage was the last thing on my mind that February evening at the Cedar Gables Inn annual hospitality party. I was having plenty of fun with my singlehood and social life. I must say, it was love at first sight for me! Juliette, my wife, is a concierge at the Andaz Hotel in Napa.
Q. Why do you enjoy working for Platypus Wine Tours?
A. It has to be the camaraderie at Platypus that makes us a cut above the rest. Don Rickard’s leadership and his knack for hiring the right person for the job. It is so nice to be given the freedom to craft our own tour; while at the same time Don continuously works with us to step up our game.
Q. Your tours typically get rave reviews from our customers. What do you strive for to make your wine tours truly unique and special? Do you have a certain philosophy?
A. I am a genuine person, at work and off work. My success comes from the enthusiasm I have and that my guests are “new friends” in town for the day. I do put a little showmanship into the tour. Folks seem to absorb the education a bit easier when it’s fun. A spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down! I never use the microphone in the bus, so I get to practice my stage voice every day! It all stems from my childhood dream wanting to be an announcer. “Live from Television City in Hollywood” was practiced on a weekly basis in my youth. My philosophy is: “No matter what, give it your best shot.”
Q. What are some of your favorite wineries to bring people to, and why?
A. Well, I love the laid back feel of Hopper Creek. The wines at Turnbull are phenomenal. The hospitality at Hagafen Cellars is exceptional. The education at Hill Wine Co. is second to none. I also have to also give a special shout out to Scott over at Tudal Family Winery for showing my guests such a fabulous time!
Q. Do you have any particularly memorable wine tour experiences that stand out that you would like to share?
A. My gosh, there are so many! I think the days that stand out for me in general, is that the tour group is dead silent in the morning and by 4 o’clock everyone is singing “Kumbaya” and exchanging phone numbers.
The day that this job becomes mundane, is the day I’ll hang it up. So far, I haven’t had a bad day in 10 years!
Here’s what a few of our customers have to say about Karl on Yelp, TripAdvisor and elsewhere. Additional customer reviews/comments about our Platypus Wine Tours can also be found on our website.
“The concierge at the River Inn Terrace suggested this tour as it picked us up right at the hotel at 10:15. We returned around 5:30 after having visited 4 boutique wineries in Napa Valley. The guide, Karl was EXCELLENT. He was funny, down to earth, knowledgeable and very pleasant to be with. I highly suggest this tour as this was our first time to Napa. Definitely ask for Karl as your guide.”
“Great time was had. This was recommended by a friend and it was absolutely a fantastic way to see the wineries of Napa. They picked us up at our hotel. We did a shared tour so about 12 people total which was nice as we met people from all over the country on the tour with us. Karl was our guide and he was so personable, knowledgable and helpful in making our day extremely memorable. Had such a great day!”
“Me and my boyfriend had a really good time in this tour. We really liked our tour guide Karl – he was really nice and knowledgeable. We really liked getting a more personalized tour and treatment at the wineries, and all the places we went were beautiful and some had really good wine. It is a little expensive since it doesn’t include the tasting fee but I would say it is worth it.”
“We are a group of three friends and took a winery tour with Karl and we had a wonderful time. Karl is very knowledgable, informative, and funny. I like that he took us to the small wineries which were very friendly. The cheese board and lunch were nice and filling, the group was friendly and we all had a great time. I would recommend this tour.”
“What a great tour!!! It was our first time in Napa and it was amazing thanks to our driver–Karl! He was a wealth of information on the wine, vineyards, and the beautiful Napa Valley. He packed us our lunch with heirloom tomatoes from his own garden! Highly recommended.”
“We had a great time on our tour. Karl is a really great tour guide, very knowledgeable about the area and about wine-making. He also made it a really fun time. He was very attentive to everyone’s needs. I am gluten-free and he always made sure that I was taken care of, from the gluten-free crackers and pretzels to go with the cheese platter, to a special gluten-free lunch. As a former SF policeman, he was also an excellent driver. We enjoyed all four wineries he took us to. Would definitely recommend Platypus Tours and our tour guide, Karl.”