New business — Local couple starts wine tours via horse drawn cart, hoping for May opening

After seeing wine tours in limousines for years, Doug and Barbara Jackson decided they could organize something like that, but better.

“We’re looking to provide our cliental a premier wine tour experience, something you can’t do in a stretch limo or hummer or something,” Doug Jackson said.

The Jackson’s named their land DbarJ Ranch just for fun at first, but are now looking to start their first business venture with Wine County Tours A la Cart. Visitors will tour a handful of wineries along either Ribbon Ridge or the Che­ha­lem Mountains, by horse and buggy.

“We looked all over the country and found a team of Belgian draft horses,” Doug Jackson said. “They were trained by Amish farmers in Minnesota.

“These horses are very well broken and road safe.” Barbara Jackson said.

With Chip and Charlie joining the ranch, the last element was finding two wagons — a four-seater and one to hold eight.

The ranch hopes to start tours May 17, offering one each Saturday and Sunday until the weather no longer permits. The two path options include wineries such as Utopia Vineyard and Adels­heim Vineyard.

As far as arranging the details, Doug Jackson said it’s gone smoothly.

“Every single person we’ve talked to has been very receptive,” he said. “Their eyes get big, they say, ‘How cool is that?’ The better you can make the experience for our guests and their guests, the more they’ll remember and enjoy it and recommend it to their friends.”

Even ensuring they could take the horses on the road was an easy endeavor.

“We talked to the ODOT, the state po­lice, county sheriff, the city police, and ev­ery­body as­sures us we’re road users just like everyone else,” he said.

Barbara Jackson said there’s just a little training left to do and then they can host the first four-hour tour.

“We’ve researched this and found that there’s a lot of interest in Sonoma and Napa Valley. In Sonoma it’s $192 to do this, and we’ve decided to set our rate at $125 because we want people to get the experience,” she said. “It may go up next year after we find out how much these horses are eating. I’ve been told by people in the area that that’s a dirt cheap price, so we hope people will take advantage of it.”

She said although it’s been a lot of work to get the business together, they look forward to starting the tours.

“It’s just something that brings us closer to our horses and something we’ve never done before,” she said.

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