Local sommelier Mark DeWolf wears many hats. As a sommelier, instructor, writer, parent and owner of By the Glass, a wine touring business, DeWolf somehow finds time to drink the stuff. Together with sommeliers, Joel Williams and Alana McIntyre and Tour Specialist Jeff Ferguson, he works to promote the enjoyment of great wine and food. By the Glass fulfills their initiative by managing food and wine events hosted by local and visiting chefs and winemakers, as well as by offering international wine and food travel tours to destinations such as Burgundy, Piedmont, Tuscany, Spain, South America, South Africa and recently, Croatia.
Get the inside track on your favorite wines such as Spanish Tempranillo, Port from Portugal, Pinot Noir from Burgundy and Italian Super Tuscans. These tours are created so as to indulge the guest in an ocean of fun, culture and education, while being submerged in the regions that makes these wines famous.
And who doesn’t want to make their way through these destinations by eating and drinking? Of course, By the Glass ensures that there is a good mix of cultural fun as well. DeWolf mentions that, “while our tours are intended for wine enthusiasts and foodies, they are designed to provide a rounded experience.” He also draws his own experiences, which provides insight when planning his tours. “I am bored after seeing my fourth stainless steel fermenter on a tour,” he says, “so I suspect my guests would be as well. We intermix cooking classes, city tours and sight seeing with our winery and restaurant visits to create a full experience.”
In addition to such exciting stops as The Coloseaum in Rome, biking in Croatia and the Musea del Jamon (Museum of Ham!) in Madrid, DeWolf adds that “You can’t visit Tuscany without seeing Siena or Florence or visit central Spain without absorbing the architectural splendour and nightlife of Madrid.”
In addition to the sightseeing, there is always an added personal touch as attendees get the opportunity to interact with local residents, chefs and winemakers, and are sometimes lucky enough to make dinner with them. “There is a level of intimacy you receive when on our tours that is unlike normal tours.” DeWolfe says. “Our groups are small enough that the guides at wineries are often the owners or winemakers themselves rather than tour guides.” Jackpot!
DeWolfe mentiones that, “I like to think of our tours as personal experience.” Adding, “We attempt as best as possible to limit our tours to 12 to 14 guests and a maximum ratio of 8 guests to 1 guide. The result is you get all the benefits of travelling with a group but without the herding mentality of large bus tours.”
DeWolfe’s experiences as an editor of a food and wine publication as well as a sommelier instructor has provided him with unique opportunities that he can pass along to his tour groups. He concludes by noting that, “The quality of food and service we receive at the wineries and the restaurants we visit is enhanced by being on a small group tour – these experiences that aren’t available to the average traveller.”
There are a number of tours coming up for the summer season, and well into the fall. Check out the By the Glass website for full itineraries. These trips are certain to give you the travel bug, but the wines will quench your thirst!