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, fine wine, and gourmet food into a tour company that would introduce residents and visitors to San Diego’s restaurants and wineries and help boost the local economy. Paul Anthony Vild’s love for San Diego’s wines spurred the idea for tours to San Diego’s Wine Country. In July, 2010, together as partners in business and in love, they formed La Jolla Wine Tours that has now expanded to include wine train tours and brewery tours.
Who we are….
Shira Bliss, founder of La Jolla Wine 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 12 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, co-founder of La Jolla Wine Tours, heads the San Diego Winery and Brewery Tours division and brings his knowledge and passion of great wine 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 is an automation engineer by day and loves doing product design, 3D modeling, and equipment repair. 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.
Heather Stone joined the LJWT team in July 2011. Born and raised in Northern California, Heather moved to Santa Barbara to complete her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry. There she fell in love with the SoCal beach vibe and winemaking. After UCSB, Heather moved to New York City to experience life in the Big Apple and earn her Master's Degree in Biomaterials Science. She moved back to SoCal after graduation and now happily calls San Diego her home. Heather aspires to become a professor of biochemistry and operate her own winery. Recently she apprenticed at Witch Creek Winery and gained valuable wine making expertise. She greatly enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for the art of winemaking and wine tasting with everyone, which makes her a fun and unique member of the La Jolla Wine Tours family. Heather is a home-brewer and is always learning new methods of perfecting the brew. On her free time, she enjoys cycling, running, sky-diving and reading.
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.