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Exploring Napa Valley with Tish Wiggins

Tish Wiggins, aka ‘Tish Around Town,’ is creating customizable Napa Valley wine itineraries that, based on client preference, can be built to specifically feature underrepresented communities in the wine industry.

Tish Wiggins moved to Napa in February 2023 to launch her business creating customizable winery itineraries. | Photo courtesy of Allison Watkins Studio

Tish Wiggins, aka ‘Tish Around Town,’ is creating customizable Napa Valley wine itineraries that, based on client preference, can be built to specifically feature underrepresented communities in the wine industry.

Less than a year ago, Wiggins, who is also a project manager for a Texas-based financial software company, moved from Dallas to Napa to launch her new business venture, which helps Napa-bound vacationers navigate the more than
400 wineries the valley has to offer.

Already, Wiggins has received accolades from her peers; most recently she was named a 2023 Wine Industry Leader by Wine Business Monthly. Her tours often highlight BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) wine professionals,
female-led wineries and small producers.

“I think that people are getting very particular about how they spend their money, where they want to spend their money, and who they want to spend their money with,” Wiggins said. “I try to place people in spaces that they’re comfortable in that are within their price points.”

Ten years ago, while living in Atlanta, Wiggins, a self-proclaimed “foodie,” created her blog, “Tish Around Town,” to write about her interest in food and travel. The more Wiggins wrote about food, the more she became engrossed in wines paired with the meals.

To become a better consumer and steward of wine, Wiggins pursued Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses and earned WSET Level 1, then Level 2 certifications. When she was living in Dallas, Wiggins began working part-time at a wine bar where she was able to share her newfound wine knowledge with customers. From there, a wine educator was born.

“Education is a big backbone behind Tish Around Town,” Wiggins said. “I think when people become educated in wine, it helps in expanding their palate and their interest. You watch people’s eyes light up when you just tell them a little bit more information about what they have in their glass.”

In 2022, Wiggins was selected to partner with wine importer Demeine Estates, through its Dream It, Live It initiative, which provides opportunities for minority-owned and socially responsible businesses committed to bringing change to the wine industry. Through the project, Wiggins launched the Celebration of Women in Wine tour, a four-day wine trip that showcased some of Napa Valley’s premiere female wine professionals. She said the success of that tour helped her to realize her dream of moving to Napa to pursue a wine tourism business.

“That tour is what opened my eyes to this side of the business,” she said. “I realized I wanted to land on the lifestyle side of things, and I want to show people Napa from Tish Around Town eyes.”

True to her moniker, Wiggins can often be found around town. She moved to Napa in February 2023 to launch the Tish Around Town customized wine tours and concierge service business, and since she moved, she said she has visited more than 70 wineries.

“I don’t send anyone anywhere I personally haven’t been,” Wiggins said. “That was one of my main goals for moving out here. I want to place people in places and spaces where I know exactly how those environments and those tasting rooms feel.”

In addition to creating itineraries for Wine Country visitors, Wiggins hosts “Sip, Socialize and Learn” events that she hopes will get people excited about wine, remove the stigma that wine is an unapproachable topic and make wine education more accessible to different audiences.

“If I’m having an event, I’m not, you know, all dressed up and stuffy, I’m going to have my Nikes on, just to help in setting the tone,” Wiggins said. “I want to bring down the intimidation, and what better way to bring down the intimidation than to have a little bit of fun.”

Wiggins said she hopes that her services will encourage a new and more diverse clientele in the wine industry. With this in mind, she said she understands that not all tasting rooms are alike when it comes to accepting visitors who are only beginning to learn about wine. Some wineries, she said, may be skewed to serve more knowledgeable clients and buyers who are looking to purchase wine for their home cellars.

“I get that,” she said. “But I also try to let the wine community know that we have got to educate them, and we have got to create and curate, and we have to build our buyers too. Someone may not be a buyer today, but they can be your buyer in three, four, five or six years from now.”

In the future, Wiggins said, her sights are set on expanding her business into other California wine regions, including Sonoma, Paso Robles and Temecula. For now, though, she is focused on further-developing Tish Around Town in the Napa Valley.

“This place is beautiful,” Wiggins said. “Come out here, take some pictures, drink some good wine, eat some amazing food. Enjoy. Life is grand.”