"It was just so relaxing - drinking my coffee and not worrying about driving," said Cynthia Sharp, office and green team manager at Cakebread Cellars, as she discussed carpooling to work with a coworker. When asked whether she'd take advantage of an upscale, private bus service complete with WiFi and TVs to get to and from work if Cakebread were to offer it, she said: "Definitely."
As part of Down to Earth Month, the NVV is promoting the Napa Commute Challenge and exploring what our members are doing to incentivize the use of alternative transportation to and from work. Cakebread Cellars, St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery and Opus One have promoted the use of alternative transportation for some time, and are now looking toward the future.
Cakebread has two electric vehicle charging stations, which employees take frequent advantage of. There are also two company hybrid cars available for work errands. As part of Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program, St. Supéry offers an incentive for drivers and passengers each day they carpool to work. The same goes for employees who bike. At their Dollarhide Ranch property, about 65% of employees – more than 20 workers – regularly take advantage of this incentive. Together with Opus One, these wineries are now exploring a partnership to offer employees a comfortable, low- or no-cost ride to work.
Human resources manager at Cakebread, Nicole Cummings, is leading the charge on their green commute initiative:
A partnership like this would not only reduce traffic and pollution but also reduce employee commute stress and costs and would benefit the whole county. We're thinking about benefits we can't quantify - like employees who work in different parts of the operation getting the chance to interact and socialize. There will be social dividends.
All three wineries are surveying employees to gauge interest in participation in "a green commuter program that consists of a private upscale bus that will shuttle employees between work and mutually convenient locations." The results are in at Cakebread: of 56 respondents, nearly 70% would ride the bus at least 1-2 days per week, and more than 40% would ride the bus 3-5 days per week. That means on any given day, there could be more than 30 employees from Cakebread alone riding the bus.
Cakebread and St. Supéry are in conversation with a group called RidePal about the possibility of offering a 48-passenger service with pickup and drop-off at a Napa Park and Ride. Several buses and an array of pickup and drop-off times would be available. Employees reported they would be more likely to use the bus if they were guaranteed a ride home in case of unscheduled events or emergencies. Having company vehicles available can help address this issue. St. Supéry is also exploring working with the VINE to offer a pop-up bus stop right outside the winery if demand is high enough.
These Napa Neighbor wineries hope to have employee buses up and running by summer. Could your winery be next?