Grady O’Bryant never flies solo. Part travel junkie, part entrepreneurial spirit, part social butterfly, he’s helped thousands of people get out of their houses and their shells to explore new places together. “I just love getting people together for travel,” O’Bryant said. “Everything’s more fun as a group. Plus, with someone else handling the details, people can just relax and enjoy the journey.”

In the Beginning, There was Wine
After years traveling overseas with the Air Force and working in Alaskan tourism, Grady and his wife decided to start their own tour company. Initially specializing in small tours with a nightlife focus, O’Bryant ventured into wine tours after receiving a call from two women visiting from Mississippi. They wanted to enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting in the Sierra Foothills.

“We called the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau and asked about tours to local wineries and were told they didn’t have any tour company to recommend,” O’Bryant said. “We were also told to call a limousine company, but every limousine company recommended a trip to Napa Valley wineries. That’s when the light bulb went on.”

So in 2007 he founded Sacramento Wine & Nightlife Tours to showcase the wineries surrounding Sacramento. The  company got its big break the next year when the American Wine Society held its annual convention here, and O’Bryant successfully conducted wine tours to five different wine regions for more than 250 wine experts over three days. Today, the company continues to organize tours for locals, vacationers, and corporate clients, offering offers tours to more than nine wine regions, including Amador, Lodi, Napa, Apple Hill, Fair Play, Clarksburg, Sonoma, Calaveras County, Suisun and Russian River. A stickler for personal service, O’Bryant has visited every winery on each tour, meeting with owners, winemakers and tasting room personnel.

From these relationships, he’s come to specialize in winemaker’s dinners. He works closely with a couple of winery owners and a chef to create authentic California winemaker’s dinners for groups of up to 100 people.

Day Trippin’
Always on the lookout for new ways to help people enjoy themselves, O’Bryant created Sacramento Day Trippers in 2008 to take advantage of the city’s proximity to so many great things. The group’s 1,800 members have visited wine country, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Half Moon Bay and other locations in Northern California. He recently took over 130 members on a day trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Upcoming trips include festivals such as the Reno Rib Cook-off and Russian River Jazz Festival, Oakland A’s and Raiders games, plays in San Francisco, a Lake Tahoe Cruise, and more.

People say they enjoy these trips because they can relax and let someone else do the driving, drink responsibly, and save a little money by taking advantage of group rates. All trips all for adults only; most participants are 35 to 60 years old.

Recently, O’Bryant set out to expand the social aspect of the Day Trippers group. Every Tuesday evening, they can enjoy each other’s company at Jazz in the Mix at Mix RoofTop Lounge. Each week, Mix features a different smooth jazz band while saxtress Ava Lemert opens the show. Finally, every six weeks in the summer, O’Bryant throws a big   Day Trippers party in wine country with three or four bands.

Next Stop, The World

A native of New York City, one of O’Bryant’s dreams was to create a tour of his hometown. So last year he created Sacramento World Travelers for out-of-state adventures. In April, O’Bryant took 29 people on his five-day “See New York with a New Yorker Tour.” Within three hours of their arrival, the group took their first subway ride and ate their first slice of New York City pizza. Thanks to Grady’s knowledge of the city and his working directly with suppliers, his trip cost almost 40 percent less than most tours to New York City. His next Big Apple tour is in April 2012.

“I created this travel club to connect good people who want to enjoy what Northern California has to offer in a group setting,” O’Bryant said. “And now we’re seeing the world together.”

What’s the Future Hold?
New for this summer, Sacramento Wine & Nightlife Tours will conduct Jazz & Blues mini-concerts at wineries located in Amador & Lodi and a series of Jazz & Blues wine cruises on the Sacramento River.

O’Bryant also recently met with a potential partner in San Francisco that conducts overseas tours to destinations such as Africa and Australia. And he’s creating a division that will take advantage of all the discounted travel deals offered by companies such as Groupon and Living Social offer each day.

Not Your Mama’s Tour Company
All of O’Bryant’s ventures are accessible via Keeping up with current technology is important to O’Bryant. He takes advantage of social media like, Facebook, Twitter, texting and email to communicate with members. He likes being Internet based and paper-free because it’s more convenient for members and gentler on the Earth.

So when you are ready to Escape Sacramento, check out


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