Our tour hosts are crucial to your vacation. They are with you from breakfast through dinner, introduce you to the food and drink experiences in your tour location, and serve as your advisor, guide, and often friend.
All our guides are experienced in both the regions in which they guide and the food or drink of that tour. However, we hire our guides as much or more for their personality as we do for their credentials. See below to read about your Taste Vacations staff and tour hosts.
Allan Wright is the owner and president of Taste Vacations and Zephyr Adentures and has been running tours since 1997 when Zephyr Adventures first created the inline skating tour industry. Allan is a native of Seattle, resides in Colorado, and has lived in ten cities in four countries on three continents during his many traveling years. He runs his own food and drink website and the local wine appreciation group in his hometown. When asked about his life dreams, Allan will tell you, “To have a significant impact on other people and the world and to have fun doing it.” Allan is a bit of an idealist.
“His passion for creating a travel company that is centered around the participants’ wants and needs clearly shows.”
“Brilliant! Always everywhere in tune to everything and everyone. Can he be cloned?”
Giacomo Benedetti is a native of the upper Tiber Valley in Tuscany. He has a master’s degree in Art History and is also a licensed guide. He is passionate about history and is generous sharing his vast knowledge with Taste Vacations travelers whenever he can. He admits it makes him very happy when people enjoy what he has to tell them about Italian history or what their feelings are about a Romanesque church, for example. His biggest flaw? “I become impatient if I must wait for a pasta with truffles dish!”
“Giacomo was always right there with a cheerful smile, local information and willing to help you. He made the trip super.”
“Giacomo was a real plus for the trip, both for his leadership skill and the research he must have done on local history.”
Giovanni Ramaccioni is our Italian specialist and a man of many talents. Not only is he an expert on the food and wine of his country, he is licensed tour guide and can expound on history, culture, or any other subject you choose about Italy. He has guided tours throughout Italy for many years and has been our Italian partner for almost a decade. Giovanni and his college sweetheart Michela live in Tuscany with their two kids.
“Best local guide we have ever been on a tour with. He really knew his country and could talk about everything to do with it easily.”
“Giovanni made my trip. His personality, energy and knowledge were awesome and his sense of humor just made him a joy to travel with.”
Jenny Siddall is a Brit who lives in Rioja (Spain) and has ten years experience guiding both active tours and those focused on food and wine. She has a masters degree in Viticulture and Oenology and has worked in several Spanish wineries. She is fluent in Spanish, Italian, and French and so you will might find her on any of our food or wine tours in Europe or even beyond.
“Jenny is a gem and a real pro. Unflappable, good-natured, professional and a true pleasure to be around. She clearly loves her work and that enthusiasm pops through all the time. I cannot rave enough about her!”
“Jenny was wonderful. Her patience apparently unlimited. She set a wonderful tone for each day, and brought things together at dinner.”
Jim McCammon is a semi-retired clergyman who, as he describes it, “has a passion for the beauty of wine”. He has become such a fan he volunteered to work at the busy “crush” time in a local winery in his home Sonoma County and spends his vacations traveling to wine festivals. You will be impressed with Jim’s ability to engage you on just about any subject you choose! Jim regularly runs our Sonoma Wine & Walking Tour.
“Jim McCammon was a wonderful guide. He is very knowledgable about the vineyards and so much more. We appreciated that he is both professional and personable, which made for a very enjoyable day of both learning and conversing. Thanks Jim!“
“Jim was delightful. I appreciate that he didn’t have a set agenda, so the conversation and pace of the tour was spontaneous and flexible. The combination of Jim’s insight, his wisdom gleaned from years of ministry and counseling, and his passion for wine and nature were exceptional. The best guide I have ever had!“
Luis Laciar was born and raised in Mendoza, Argentina, where he currently lives with his sweetheart Patricia. After his formal college education he lived abroad for 13 years (including a stint in the US) to further his informal education. The last five of those years, he entertained himself (and surely many others) by doing a solo bicycle trip through 52 countries and three continents. He has a gift for languages and can converse in many: French, Portuguese, English, and of course, Spanish! Luis is one of the happiest people we know and his enthusiasm for life is infectious – just try not to smile when you’re around him and you’ll find it is impossible.
“Luis is such a dynamic yet down to earth guy and made us feel so welcome to South America by sharing his knowledge and briefing us on customs.”
“What a great guy. I loved his introductory e-mail: “I’m not a millionaire in my bank accounts, but a millionaire in my heart,” and he continued to show what a caring person he was throughout the trip.”
Yannick de Cocquéau
Yannick de Cocquéau lives in Ghent, Belgium. He’s adept at what he describes as a “Burgundian Lifestyle” which actually just means he enjoys life as much as possible and especially good food! His passion for beer takes an important place in this. Yannick works at the regional tourist organization and is in charge of everything related to beer tourism. In addition, he graduated as a beer sommelier, brews his own beers, conducts tasting sessions for groups, is active in different beer associations and is also part of the team behind the Zythos Beer Festival. As he loves his country and wants to share this love, beer appreciators can’t go wrong spending time with him in Belgium! As Yannick knows every Belgian brewer personally and the stories behind the breweries and their beers, he fits extremely well in the job of beer guide on our Belgian tours.
Although Santiago Castelo lives and works in Peru and is an expert on Peruvian culture and history, his knowledge spreads beyond his country’s borders. Having lived in the U.S. for a time, he is able to relate to North Americans and is comfortable conversing on any subject you choose. Born and raised in the Cusco area, Santiago has served as a guide for many years and will amaze you with everything he knows about the flora and fauna, the Incas and the Spanish, and of course the local food and drink. Santiago’s compassion for his people is easily apparent, as is his wickedly fun sense of humor!
“On a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being the best … I would rate Santiago as a 12.”
“Santiago was the best – an encyclopedia and always attentive to safety. A really nice guy as well. He has a great respect for Andean culture and I learned a lot from him.”