The chief executive of the Napa Valley wine train has apologised for his staff's 'insensitive' actions after their decision to eject 11 women spurred a wave of criticism on social media.

Some Twitter and Facebook users saw the Napa Valley wine train incident as a racial issue – a motive also suggested by the women themselves – and the hashtag #laughingwhileblack has been circulating widely.

The 11 women, most of whom are African American, are part of a book club and travelled on the wine train over the weekend. Staff ordered them off the train for making too much noise.

‘The Napa Valley wine train was 100 percent wrong in its handling of this issue,’ said wine train chief executive Anthony ‘Tony’ Giaccio. The organisation hired crisis management pr consultant Sam Singer to handle the situation.

‘We accept full responsibility for our failures and for the chain of events that led to this regrettable treatment of our guests,’ said Giacco, who said he apologised in person to Lisa Johnson, leader of the book club.

The wine train did not comment specifically on accusations of racism. But, Giacco promised that staff would receive diversity training.

Giacco said in a letter to book club members, ‘We were insensitive when we asked you to depart our train by marching you down the aisle past all the other passengers.

‘While that was the safest route for disembarking, it showed a lack of sensitivity on our part that I did not fully conceive of until you explained the humiliation of the experience.’

He offered the 11 women plus 39 guests a free ride in a privately reserved carriage, ‘where you can enjoy yourselves as loudly as you desire’. One carriage holds 50 people.

  • Cheyenne Jones

    Ursula, Yes they did sue! The story is these women were laughing about themselves passing gas (Farting loudly) and the looks on other passengers faces. In an expensive, luxurious place like the Wine Train, YOU DON’T DO THAT!

  • Cheyenne Jones

    I’m ashamed that The Wine Train was bullied into apologizing!!

  • Cheyenne Jones

    Ursula, read the notes on what these uncivilized women were doing…or to put it in their terms – they was dissing folks! That is why they are not welcome, it has nothing to do with race – it is behavior!! Do a little research, the book club women have filed a lawsuit for the usual – discrimination…

  • Ursula

    Their, not trying to sue. Maybe they was loud, put to be put off the train. Is Wrong. Simply Wrong.

  • Mat Wolves

    I was on that train too…and me thinking I was drinking a farmyardy Pinot Noir. Doh!

  • Michele Betti

    And of course. Here comes the apology tour. I don’t care who they were. If they were being disruptive and asked to tone it down then they should go. And by apologizing he just condones immature behavior by these people. Why not offer a refund or a private ride to the people who acted with dignity. No never. Because we do not reward good behavior anymore.

  • Disgusted

    I was there, the book club members were farting and laughing about the fact that other non book club passengers and staff could smell it, laughing and pointing and saying “look, she smell it, she smell it!!” about an elderly woman who placed a scarf around her nose. The smell was horrible and it was absolutely disgusting. This isn’t about race, it is about common decency and respect, and they had none.

  • Cheyenne Jones

    This is merely a setup so they can sue the Wine Train.