Searches by would-be customers: 1,404 in 2013, up from 588 in 2012
Entrepreneurs listed: 109 in 2013, up from 32
Typical pay: $66 an hour
Imagine this as your work day: Car windows down, sunshine pouring in, wind in your face on a picturesque drive past vineyards, heading toward world-famous Sonoma and Napa Valley wineries.
This is Steven Lobdell's workday as a private wine tour driver. Lobdell said clients hire him so they can enjoy the wine-tasting experience without the stress of driving. They sometimes hire him to be their tour guide as well.
Lobdell's firm, Napa Sonoma Wine Tasting Driver, charges $30 an hour for a booking that typically lasts about 7 hours. He recently hired extra drivers on contract, as work has picked up along with the economy.
In fact, in the past year, searches for private wine tour drivers have doubled on Thumbtack.com, an online service that connects more than 275,000 small businesses and freelancers with prospective customers.
Demand for private wine tour drivers picks up in May and stays strong through October."So if you're doing this, be good at saving your money and finding other work in the off season," Lobdell said.