Get Your Wine Groove On

One-woman VW bus brings ‘groovy’ urban wine tours to Garden City

Article by Lex Nelson

Photography by Laine Conger + Provided

Originally published in Boise Lifestyle

Tucked between the body shops, breweries, and artist’s lofts on Garden City’s Chinden Boulevard are a half-dozen signs reading “tasting room.” The urban wine scene in this 4.3-square-mile suburb is one of Boise’s best-kept secrets — and now you can taste your way through it in style, from the back seat of a bright-blue 1976 VW bus. 

The bus is the centerpiece of Feelin’ Groovy Tours, a one-woman operation launched in Sandpoint in 2019. For “Chief Groovy Girl” Michelle Moreau Keener, her bus (nicknamed Georgie Girl) is more than a vehicle to ferry groups of two to seven. She’s a character all her own. 

“She’s a brick house. She’s big. She’s bold. She’s a bread box on wheels!” Keener said, noting that Georgie Girl “makes everybody smile.” 

The bus certainly worked its magic on her owner. In November 2019 Keener packed up her HGTV-recognized touring business and drove Georgie Girl into a better life. She left Sandpoint’s long winters with a peace sign swinging from her rearview mirror.

Today, the certified international tour manager spends her days digging into Boise-area history. She started sharing it on tours like Summer in the City and the Hooked on a Feelin' Urban Wine Tour this June. “I love to see [guests’] faces light up when they have those ‘ah-ha!’ moments where they learn something new,” she said.

Keener’s joy in her work shines from the moment you board the bus for your four to five hour wine tasting adventure. After an admonishment to buckle up “low and tight across your hips like a Michael Phelps swimsuit,” she cranks the 70s tunes and starts sharing tidbits of Garden City’s past. Trundling along Chinden, you learn about Idaho’s Jack the Ripper, the history of wine growing and horse racing in the region, and the Idaho Pinball Museum — a local gem hidden in plain sight. 

Each $129-per-person tour includes tastings at three urban wineries like Split Rail Winery, Cinder Wines, Rolling Hills Vineyard, and Telaya Wine Co. You can also choose to purchase only the groovy ride and history lesson ($80 per person) and pay for flights or glasses as you go. Tipsy guests can add a charcuterie board or buy additional bites on route. 

The variety of wines on offer in Garden City is matched only by the range of tasting room aesthetics. You might quaff a pour of the 2021 Yin + Yang orange wine in the neon-and-punk warehouse of Split Rail (Tasting Room Manager Keagan Capps calls this a “mind game wine” for its color and citrus taste) or sip the 2018 Mascot blend of malbec and cabernet sauvignon in the Tuscan atmosphere of Rolling Hills. By the time you reach your final destination — perhaps curled under a blanket on Telaya Wine Co.’s patio, enjoying a final sip of 2021 Grüner Veltliner in the firelight — you’ll be warm from the inside out. 

After hours of drinking and laughing in her company, adventuring with Keener in Georgie Girl doesn’t feel like riding with a teacher. It feels like riding with a friend. 

If you plan to explore the Idaho wine scene this summer, look beyond Sunnyslope and add a trip with Feelin’ Groovy to your hit list. You’ll be surprised just how much Garden City has to offer. 

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