Q&A with Katie Hayward from Uncorked Wine Tours
Katie Hayward, also known as âCaptain Katieâ in the wine tour business, owns Uncorked Wine Tours and is one of the most upbeat and bubbly personalities on the Central Coast. She loves to go on adventures and travel with her husband, Tyson Hayward, owner of mortgage company Spinnaker Financial, and when they are in town you are almost guaranteed to find them on one of the many wine routes. . It’s another story about the good people here in wine country. Learn more in the questions and answers below:
Q&A with Katie Hayward from Uncorked Wine Tours
How long have you been in the region?
I have been on the central coast all my life. I was born at Twin Cities Hospital in Templeton, grew up in Atascadero, then headed to Cal Poly. I have always loved the Central Coast and when most of my friends wanted to leave the small town when we graduated from high school I decided to stay close to home and go to Cal Poly and I graduated there in 2004. Although I love to travel, the central coast will forever be my home.
What happened first, your love of wine or the start of Uncorked Wine Tours?
I have to say that I have always been interested in wine, but it really became a passion when I started Uncorked Wine Tours. Being in the industry and around the wine making process all the time you learn a lot, and I feel like the more I learn about wine the more intrigued I get and the more there is to know. I even decided to take my sommelier exam, which I passed in 2012.
When did you start Uncorked Wine Tours?
My first official tour with Uncorked Wine Tours took place in July 2010. This year I will be celebrating my 6 years of activity. It’s amazing how fast it goes! I am very grateful for all the local support I have received over the years and for all of my loyal customers who continue to discover the Uncork wine region with us every year.
How many vehicles do you currently use?
I currently have 7 vehicles in my fleet and I can accommodate both large and small groups. All of our vehicles have comfortable, forward-facing seats which is very important on the winding roads of the wine country. They also have large windows so you can take in the views and sunroofs so you can have more headroom when getting in and out of the vehicle.
Do you have plans for more growth down the line?
I think there is always room for growth as long as it’s done the right way. My goal in the growth of Uncorked is to maintain our personalized service as well as the quality of the tours. This beautiful region has changed a lot since I was little and continues to become more and more amazing with the growth of the wine industry. It’s amazing to me that it’s now a vacation destination. While I have always known that the Central Coast is a hidden gem, it is becoming a known fact around the world which is essential to the growth of the local wine industry and Uncorked Wine Tours.
Did you feel that there was something missing from the wine tours locally? Or did you just feel there was a lot of room for more tour companies?
Yes, I felt like there wasn’t a tour company that focused on customizable tours. The main goal of Uncorked tours is that our customers can personalize their experience. With the region’s large number of wineries and the growing number of breweries and distilleries, there is so much to taste and see. We love that our customers can choose where they go and with my experience as a sommelier and my knowledge of the wine region, I really add value to their itinerary. I have certainly seen a lot more tourism and driving service companies popping up over the past few years, which I think is good for the industry, but there are also a lot of âcompaniesâ that don’t. don’t have the proper licenses and insurance, which is a bit confusing.
How far will you drive?
We usually pick up and visit SLO County, but we are open to other opportunities that may arise for our services to more remote destinations or for people who may need a driver and vehicle more big for their group to get to their destination.
Do you do more than wine tours?
Yes, we offer different experiences besides a simple wine tour. We offer wine and beer tours, sample tours including olive oil, coffee, cheese, beer, wine, etc. an afternoon wine tour (this is one of my favorite packages we offer). If you can experience it or taste it, we can include it in the tour.
Have you noticed any wine trends during the wine tours you have offered?
I think the biggest trend over the years that I’ve noticed in the wine industry is that instead of just a standard bar tasting, the cellars and tasting rooms make it an experience. They make pairings with wines such as cheese, small bites, chocolates, etc. They also offer tours of the facilities and vineyards, and during warmer months offer food trucks or catered lunches with music to keep customers longer at each destination.
What do you think is the most visited wine route or region of Paso Robles based on your company visits?
I would say the west side of Paso, going down 46 West to Vineyard Drive and Adelaide Rd, is our busiest route.
And you personally, do you have any favorite wineries at the moment?
This is a question I get asked very often and my answer is always it depends on my mood, the day, the weather, the experience I am looking for, who I am with, if I eat, etc. It’s really hard to find bad wine in Paso!
What do you like most about this region where we live?
I like the diversity of climates and activities. You can drive 20 minutes and be at the beach, drive inland and be on a ranch, or just travel the many back roads in the wine country and enjoy the rolling hills of oaks and vines. The music scene around here has also grown along with the wine region, and it’s amazing how many concerts are on hand to enjoy! I can’t imagine anything better than sipping fabulous wine and listening to music on a beautiful summer evening.
Favorite activities when you’re not working?
I love to travel, whether it’s a short weekend in Carmel or cruising around the Virgin Islands. I think you learn a lot about yourself and the world when you’re out of your comfort zone. I’m also a fitness junkie and love everything that is active – hiking, biking, walking my dog, taking classes at the gym, etc. And I like to cook healthy meals and play with different ingredients and recipes.
Favorite food and wine pairing?
I think right now the food and wine pairing that intrigues my taste buds the most is a spicy Asian dish (I love spicy dishes) accompanied by an off-white wine (sweeter style) like a riesling or a gewÃ¼rztraminer.