How We Began...
When the recession impacted Shira’s career in 2009, the mergers and acquisitions consultant resisted the temptation to get depressed. Instead she decided to reinvent herself. “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Those words motivated Shira Bliss to combine her love of walking (along the beach in La Jolla), fine wine, and gourmet food into a tour company that would introduce residents and visitors to the local restaurants and wineries and help boost the local economy. In July 2010 she formed La Jolla Wine Tours.
In 2011, La Jolla Wine Tours was starting to outgrow its name. Included now in the tour routes were tour stops all over San Diego County. Guests shared with Shira that they loved beer as well as wine. Shira was raised in Northern Ireland and was quite familiar with great beer, herein the expansion of La Jolla Wine Tours to San Diego Beer and Wine Tours.
Fast forward to 2016: The Spirits get involved. San Diego Beer, Wine & Spirits Tours has expanded to include Distillery Adventures throughout San Diego County!
Shira Bliss, founder/owner of San Diego Beer, Wine & Spirits Tours, is originally from Belfast, Ireland where she received her culinary education, as well as creative background with several leading international performance groups. Shira has lived in the village of La Jolla for 14 years and is pleased to pass on her experience in scoping out the best local beer, wine and food offerings. With these talents and interests she continues to research (and taste) all that San Diego has to offer. Raised in a wine business family she shares a wealth of information and enthusiasm bringing unique and memorable experiences to all.
Paul Anthony Vild, tour guide for the San Diego Winery and Brewery Chauffeured Tours brings his knowledge and passion of great wine, beer, and food from his heart to your palate. His delightful humor will brighten your day as you travel with him to hand-picked gems. Born in Cleveland, raised in Simi Valley, California, Paul Anthony has lived in San Diego most of his life. He enjoys travelling to exotic places, trying new cuisines and socializing with diverse cultures. As a young man his only experience with wine was a white zin. He still remembers, back in 1997, his first taste of a red; a 1995 Fetzer Cab that changed his view of wine. Since then he has been expanding his palate and especially loves the local winery offerings, and getting to know the winemakers who craft these wonderful wines.
Stephen Ansley is highly respected in the local craft beer community, and a personal friend of many esteemed brewers. Since 2007, he served as a recognized judge for the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) on several commercial craft beer competitions, as well as judge at the Great Alaskan Beer & Barley Wine Festival in 2010. Stephen conducted as steward at the 2008 World Beer Cup in San Diego, and will do so again in 2012. In 2011, Stephen achieved certification for Level 2 Sommelier with the International Sommelier Guild and completed the certificate program for Business of Wine. He assisted in the creation of an astrology-themed wine brand 12 Signs Wine, providing expert wine-related advice by evaluating dozens of wine samples, ultimately becoming a member of the team responsible for creating the four varieties of wines during the blending session. Stephen worked in the retail beer and wine industry for over six years, supplying expert knowledge to customers on purchases, as well as conducting in-store beer and wine tastings with an approach that values customer education. Independently, he organized and led highly sought after wine and beer tasting functions at private homes. Stephen has written over 8000 detailed beer and wine reviews since 1994, and is an active member of Beer Advocate and Rate Beer web communities. And perhaps most importantly, Stephen is extremely passionate about wine and the craft beer scene! When Stephen is not busy with beer and wine, he enjoys traveling to exotic locations, watching documentaries about science and history, playing guitar, and listening to The Beatles.
Shannon Mangerino is a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers. She first graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena before finding her true calling in the world of wine during her time working the kitchens of Italy. She then attended the Culinary Institute of America’s Wine and Beverage program in Napa Valley. Shannon has gained experience in several facets of the wine universe in restaurants, distribution, and now as a wine buyer for Holiday Wine Cellar in San Diego. Her passion is educating wine drinkers of all levels to help them identify and explore their tastes and preferences so each glass can be a new experience that widens their wine worldview. She currently hosts educational tastings at her store and privately to make the exciting and complex spectrum of wine accessible to all who want to learn and enjoy.
Marti Bommarito was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She began cooking at a very early age as the entire family–including her father–bonded by preparing dinner together regularly. In the late 70s she lived la vie bohème in Paris, France, and later studied Italian and Italian Renaissance culture and language in Italy. She graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University with a degree in Art History. Marti attributes her adventuresome palate to the fact that she was “raised in a household where the only dinner-table rule was that you had to at least try everything before leaving the table. After moving to California 15 years ago, she caught the wine bug after going wine tasting for the first time in Temecula. In a previous life, Marti was a legal secretary for 15 years before joining La Jolla Wine Tours in April 2011. When Marti is not leading tours, she is practicing yoga, reading, swimming, cooking, or discussing food and wine with other foodies and wine enthusiasts.