“You know that saying, ‘Do what you what you love to do and the money will follow?’” she asked. “I love to walk and drink good wine and eat good food. So I marched up to Café Milano, and I said, ‘How about I bring tourists and locals to taste your food and wine and that will get you more business?’”
“I live here,” Bliss said, “and I was able to support my fellow merchants while providing a job for myself.”
Five years later, she's expanded La Jolla Wine Tours, her one-person enterprise, beyond the Jewel to include other parts of San Diego, including the Gaslamp Quarter downtown.
Now known as San Diego Beer & Wine Tours, the business, which has nine employees including five tour guides, is still growing.
“Our very first tours,” Bliss said, “showcased the restaurants and wine bars — La Jolla Brewery, Café Milano, Chedi Thai, Café Laureate and Finch’s — here in La Jolla.” Meanwhile, she noted, her repertoire has expanded as well to include winery-chauffered tours, winery train tours, even a beer train trolley tour.
“Altogether, we’ve partnered with about 35 wineries, breweries and restaurants,” Bliss said, adding her guests can please their palates with fine local libations and culinary creations.
“Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, bachelor/bachelorette party or just want to have a great time, San Diego Beer and Wine Tours has the perfect tasty adventure for you,” she said.
Best of all, said Bliss, is that her partners are strictly local.
“We don’t go to the commercial wineries in Temecula in Riverside County,” she said. “Our mission is to promote family-run businesses, and we want to promote local.”
Bliss said tour guests get VIP treatment and are fed gourmet farm-to-table food on every tour, which also allows them to sample a dozen or more beers or wines while guides clue them in on the latest news and trends in the beer and wine scene.
Bliss noted that her tours include sightseeing in some of San Diego’s most attractive areas. Her tours also include interactive, educational events, like taste testings wherein clients are schooled on the history, background and particulars surrounding any given spirit.
“We often host corporate groups in their hotels or bring them to wineries or breweries,” Bliss said, adding, “You get to see the very best of San Diego. So it’s not just a wine or a beer tour.”
San Diego Beer & Wine Tours is also “green” in that guests can minimize fuel emissions by taking the Coaster train or trolley to San Diego’s breweries and wineries rather than driving their own vehicles.
The tour business is in the process of hiring more staff and acquiring additional vehicles, necessary because tours are hosted every day of the year except Christmas, New Year's and Thanksgiving.
Bliss said she can accommodate one individual or up to several hundred people on her tours.
“It’s a super-fun time,” promised Bliss, adding her business partners have been appreciative of their relationship.
“La Jollans have thanked us for boosting their businesses,” Bliss said, adding, “We’ve been very happy to be able to support them and help them grow.”
Tours run daily, year-round, by appointment. For more, see lajollawinetours.com or cal (858) 551-5115.