The Where I Work series explores San Antonio’s evolving workplaces. It takes readers behind the scenes to learn from the people who work at companies large and small, nonprofits, family-owned enterprises, and in other nontraditional workplaces. Get in touch to share your story.
It is a beautiful morning and I’m picking up the Cottonwood Wine Tours van. The van has been readied by my co-worker Adam, who maintains the vans in pristine condition. Today I am picking up my guests at their home. I have a personally prepared wine tour planned for them, based on their interests and tastes in wine. My guests today are a group of military personnel who are going to be transferred to other bases. They wanted a fun and special day together before their last farewell.
My favorite part of this work is that I get to spend the day with folks from all over the world and from all walks of life. I have all types of groups such as bridal parties, people celebrating birthdays or anniversaries, and visitors to our city.
I have been fortunate to work for Matt and Brandy Garcia, owners of Cottonwood Wine Tours and Texian Tours, for three years. The small staff is tight-knit, and the Garcias are always supportive of us. It definitely feels like a family.
The Garcias have known each other since childhood. They grew up on the far West Side, went to the same high school and then away to the University of Texas at Austin. Once they graduated and returned to San Antonio, their friendship turned to love and they married.
Matt went to work as a Segway tour guide and discovered he loved leading tours. During their travels to Napa and Sonoma to visit family, the pair learned a lot about wines and winemaking. Looking at the Napa model of tours, they found no San Antonio tour company would pick up guests from their homes or hotels to take them on the Hill Country wine tours. They decided to combine their knowledge and love for wine and create such a tour.
Without any business or marketing background, and while both were working full time, they began to set up the business, work on social media, and do outreach to hotels for business referrals. In 2013, their first tour left for the Hill Country. Their first review was a 5-star review, and they knew then that they had made the right decision.
Cottonwood Wine Tours now offers several tour packages, including Wines & Vines 101 for beginners looking to learn more about wine, the popular Taste of Fredericksburg, and Alamo City Ale for guests who prefer beer. We’ve built great relationships with staff and owners at every stop on our tour, and I feel so proud to represent a company that has earned such respect with area wineries.
My goal is to provide a fabulous time for my guests on their special day. Sometimes we have different groups together on a tour. The guests don’t know each other when we head out, but by the first stop, the van is full of lively conversation and new friends. I have even had guests on my tours who still keep in touch with me and return for other tours.
In 2018, the Garcias added Texian Tours. I happily take visitors to tour our world heritage site missions. I share the 300-year-old journey to become the San Antonio that they are visiting today. We also provide a walking tour of downtown San Antonio. Doing this tour, I get to show off our city and point out what makes us unique, share interesting stories and highlight the historic buildings we’ve preserved.
After working in veterans health for more than three decades and trying out a few jobs after retiring, I’ve found being a professional tour guide to be my favorite work. The job is all about making people happy, and that positive energy we create is really special. I’ve also learned so much about Texas and our city. Living here for 48 years, I have seen our city grow and change, but how this city was founded should never be forgotten. Working for Cottonwood Wine Tours, and Texian Tours I am fortunate to be able to honor the legacies of the people who came here 300 years ago with dreams and hard work. These people of yesterday and those who have come since have helped create a city like no other.