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At Your Service

Enjoy the best of wine country with a private concierge service.

Brian Laird

Looking to spend a bachelorette weekend with friends? Melanie Schwartz will help you pick which wineries to hit and what shops to visit after. Have friends visiting town? She’ll clue you in to under-the-radar art galleries and get you tickets to the opera. Need a romantic getaway? She’ll book you a room at an intimate B&B, and a couple’s massage for the afternoon.

Schwartz, a Sonoma resident, is the founder of Booker and Butler, a business that helps Napa and Sonoma visitors as well as locals find out what’s hot and what’s new in Wine Country. Her business is a two-part model: One, Booker, in which Schwartz helps visitors map out and book their itineraries, and two, Butler, whereby she helps locals and vacation-home owners with everything from finding a pool cleaner to accommodating guests.

“I’ve got an insatiable appetite for what’s going on in Wine Country,” she says, “and I’m a full-time networker.”

To get a feel for their time, financial, and geographical constraints, Schwartz has clients fill out an online questionnaire. Then, she maps out a few custom itineraries to match the request.

Courtesy of Milliken Creek Inn“I don’t have a list of go-to places or wineries that I reuse,” she says. “Every plan depends on the client.”

Schwartz, who worked in corporate advertising, real estate, and hospitality, stays in the know by scouring newsletters, local and national media, and social networks. She also takes monthly field trips to different pockets of Wine Country, looking to add winemakers and others in the hospitality industry to her Rolodex.

She’s been in business for only a year, but Schwartz—who has served on the boards of Wine Country nonprofits and has had a hand in events such as the Sonoma International Film Festival—feels right at home in her new role.

“I get to live the life of Wine Country for a living, and that’s pretty lucky,” she says. “What I love to do is share that with other people.”

To view sample itineraries, visit bookerandbutler.com.

Tip 1
There’s more to Wine Country than just wine. Consider a trip that’s focused on art, architecture, olive oil, music, or theater, or outdoor activities like hiking and biking.

Tip 2
It takes time to have a good time, so don’t jam-pack your schedule. Book tasting tours with plenty of time in between, and let yourself relax at the pool or spa. Serendipitous things happen when you’re not in a rush.

Tip 3
Enjoy the journey, not just the destination. Pack the car with snacks, rent a Segway or motorcycle, or hire a driver. There’s even a company that will drive you around in a 1947 Packard convertible limousine (ccwinetours.com).

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