Meet Rob Stout! Rob has been volunteering with the Yountville Welcome Center since 2018. In addition to being a fixture on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Saturdays of the month in the Yountville Welcome Center Rob also serves on the Yountville Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors and as the Ambassador Chair.
Scroll down to learn more about Rob.
What brought you to Napa County?
Rita and I had lived and worked in Vallejo for quite some time. We quickly discovered that for good restaurants we had two choices: Walnut Creek or Napa Valley. Both meant long drives home after dinner. When I retired and were deciding where to live there was no real question that Napa was the place for us. The next question was where. We looked in Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga. Yountville won us over with the delightful small town feel, it’s walkability and great restaurants. We chose wisely.
Describe your volunteer path and how it lead you to the Yountville Chamber of Commerce.
On one of our first nights here, we went to Hurley’s for what we were told was “Local’s Night.” We walked in, put our bottle of wine on the community table and looked for a place to sit. The place was jammed. This nice lady probably took pity on us and said, “Hey! Would you two like to sit with us?” The nice lady – Sandy Fagan – introduced us to the table; they were all volunteers. By the end of a wonderful evening, I knew I wanted to be a Yountville Chamber volunteer.
What is your favorite part about volunteering for the Yountville Chamber?
I can’t think of another way I could have learned so much about Napa Valley, about Yountville, and about wines and wineries so fast. It’s fun being a part of such a great team. It’s also great fun to meet fascinating people from all over the world and help them get to enjoy this marvelous place.
What does volunteering entail?
We need to learn as much as we can about Napa (and, of course, Yountville) so that our recommendations for restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, and places to stay can ensure that each visitor has a great time.
What is the most surprising thing about volunteering with the Chamber?
First, just how much fun it is to meet so many people and share our love of this little piece of heaven. Second, how much, after five years, I’m still learning.
What is the hardest part of volunteering?
There have been so many changes, most related to the pandemic, in how wineries operate, the difficulties in obtaining reservations, and the shift from “tastings” to “experiences.” It’s hard to keep up! It can be challenging to help visitors, especially those who haven’t been here in a while, to understand and cope with the changes.
What was the last experience that made you a better person?
It’s sometimes troubling that we, volunteers, are making all the recommendations and never know whether the visitors followed our advice and/or enjoyed it. I once recommended Silverado Winery to a group of six: great wine and great view. After we closed up, I realized that we hadn’t been there for a while, so Rita and I went up for a tasting. The group was still there. They jumped up and told the staff, “He’s the one that recommended this place, and he was right. It is amazing.”
What is the best career lesson you’ve learned so far?
Never assume that you know it all, even about a winery that you’ve been to before. They are all evolving to try to improve their tasting experience and still make money. Both wineries and restaurants had three years of constantly changing regulations and customer expectations. It’s been tough, but they have all been wonderfully successful.
What would you do if you weren’t doing this?
Honestly, I can’t imagine having more fun in retirement.
What’s a fun fact about you that many people may not know?
How much I love history and the march of civilization: the interplay of people, technology, and events. And, of course, old airplanes and old cars.
Where’s your favorite place in the world?
I’ve been very lucky enough to have visited much of this marvelous planet: the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. As a place to visit, probably Grand Teton National Park, but as a place to live, for me, Yountville.
What is the one food you cannot resist?
I just really discovered it, right here in Yountville: caviar!
What is the one thing you cannot live without?
What is your motto or personal mantra?
Accomplish at least one thing every day and never be afraid to try something new.
Three words to best describe you?
Really nice guy!