Today we’d like to introduce you to Clint Thomas.
Clint, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
My story begins when I moved from San Angelo to the Hill Country to go to work for William Chris Vineyards in 2010. Not because of my love for wine but because of my addiction to food and shelter. I needed a job and Chris needed some help. My job history is all in blue collar manual labor so, at that time at William Chris, it was quite handy to have someone with my skill set on staff and on premise. I had no love for wine and no experience in fermentation sciences.
Almost immediately my job of being the handyman turned into farming grapes (another thing I had no clue about). My teacher was and is respected state wide as one of, if not, the best viticulturists in Texas, Bill Blackmon. Although the learning curve was steep, the knowledge has proven indispensable. From there I moved into the cellar where I learned how to turn those grapes into wine and my stint as a cellar rat began. I also was responsible for keeping the winery organized and clean. Eventually, I learned how to chat about wine and the Texas wine industry with folks who came into the tasting room. Immediately following my time at William Chris Vineyards, I became a contractor for vineyard/winery/tasting room work. As an independent contractor, I gained a lot more experience and knowledge base from several wineries and vineyards in our area.
While I was contracting, I received a call from Randy Booher, owner and operator of Texas Wine Tours, asking if I would be interested in touring here and there. I figured why not? I’m expanding my horizons and knowledge base so let’s try this on for size. It was an instant fit. As it turns out, all the knowledge and experience I had gleaned from the hands-on part of the wine industry lend themselves nicely to touring. Being able to jump into the production side of things while discussing Texas wine is STILL a thing that makes us the best.
Fast forward to May of 2013. I decided that I wasn’t going to reinvent the wheel, it just needs different tires. I figured I would throw my hat in the ring and see if I could run my own tour operation. So I built a website and booked my first tour before I even had a vehicle. In May of 2021, my team and I celebrated our 8th year in business. We’re very proud of the reputation we have not only built but also maintained with our winery partners. Today, we’re grateful to have those long-running relationships with many Texas wineries.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As a small business, my experience has not been the easiest path. If self-employment is always going smoothly for anyone out there please call me and tell me your secrets. We’re a small crew and a family operation so the pressure is always on. We have experienced a lot of bumps in the road that keep us humbled.
Advertising a new business and getting the name out there was one of the initial challenges. That was 2013, I would hate to attempt that now with the vast amount of competition. We also expect a lot from our Guides and not everyone is up to our standard. So finding help is always difficult.
One of our main challenges these days is differentiating ourselves from other tour operations.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Cellar Rat Wine Tours?
We are truly passionate about exposing folks to Texas wine. We are the only tour company in the Texas Hill Country that has grown grapes and made wine in Texas. We have industry-experienced guides, not just drivers and a concierge to assist with planning. Our goal is to establish long-term relationships with our guests. We want to be a local and industry resource every time they visit.
We also produce and sell a little bit of wine under our Cellar Rat brand. Our 100% Texas wines can be found locally in Fredericksburg at Lost Draw Cellars and Vintners Hideaway as well as online.
What are your plans for the future?
Keep getting better at touring and possibly expand our wine production. I like the way things are going for our company now but, whatever new adventures lie ahead with the ever-evolving Texas wine industry, we will be there.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.CellarRatTX.com
- Instagram: @cellarratwinetours
- Facebook: @cellarratwinetours.com