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About

Washington's Expert

DONALD T WARD

My background spans ten years in the hospitality business, where I owned and managed two wine tour companies, and twenty years in healthcare sales management and development, where I developed three market leaders.

It’s a short step from Cardiology to Red Wine, lol! So my lifelong passion for wine has led me to the wine industry, where I now give private wine excursions.

As a result, I have three certifications:

  • WSET level III advanced
  • FWS (French Wine Scholar)
  • Level 1 Sommelier

All of this is so that I can create palate-specific wine tour experiences for my customers without seeming arrogant. This knowledge may be shared with clients to help them appreciate wine even more.

FWS
Wset-level3-logo
sommilier
About Taylor Tasting Tours

Know Us

Taylor Tasting Tour’s was founded in 2016 by a former healthcare executive and the previous owner of Seattle’s best known group wine tour company from 2011-2016.
Don Ward. He is the most experienced Tour Guide in town, from leading wine tours for over 10 years where he has earned glowing Trip Advisor and Google reviews from guests and wineries alike. All from a combination of being very personable and using his wine knowledge to create a fun and informative experience for everyone. He will be hosting a river cruise in Bordeaux in April 2024 for a premium local Boutique Winery.

Don, along with Seattle’s most knowledgeable team of guides is proud to offer small private Luxury escorted tours that are the most, informative and fun in town. Each tour is individually personalized to your tastes and can be as close as downtown Seattle or Woodinville or anywhere throughout Washington and beyond.

Our Team

Donald Taylor

DONALD T WARD, JR

OWNER AND WINE GUIDE

Don’s passion for wine began after college, when he moved into a small seaside town on the East Coast next to a wine shop. While working for a major airline’s marketing department, he had the opportunity to travel to Europe frequently with customers and lead tours as part of his job. Thus began his tour leading experience and entry into wine. He found the Europeans really knew how to live based on their love of wine and food. The seed was planted. With uncertainties in the airline industry after many years he decided to pursue a career in the healthcare field in medical devices and equipment. He eventually moved into advanced diagnostic testing systems in Cardiology and to Seattle from here it was an easy transition from cardiology to red wine. He then took his natural curiosity to the wine industry and set–up a wine tour business for a company 12 years ago with a partner. He then had the opportunity to purchase a well know group tour company 2011, Seattle’s first true wine tour company (vintage 2005), when the original owner approached them about a buy out. “He said wanted to sell to someone with a good reputation”. He did. He and a partner purchased the company in Seattle in 2011 and Don became the co owner. In early 2016 he sold his interests in that group tour company, after receiving glowing reviews on Trip Advisor and helping to earn it SIP magazines best wine tour company in the NW award in 2015. Not resting on his laurels he continues to take classes to enhance his knowledge of wine, as well as spirits and beer all at NW Wine academy where he has enjoyed courses for the last 7 years plus. He has just recently earned his level I sommelier’s certificate, an Advanced WSET and has also been certified as a “French Wine Scholar”  with” honors” which allows him to teach. He jokingly says he is studying to be a wine snob, but will never get there. His new wine tour company, has the benefit of his education and devotion to making the wine tour experience, both informative and fun. He says he is not a wine expert, his professors at NW Wine Academy, such as Reggie and Lenny and or some of the master sommeliers he has met are the real experts. He feels that the wine knowledge is very helpful for assisting clients in determining why they like what they like and in pairing foods and wines, to this end he has taken 5 courses in Food and Wine pairing alone. He thinks the pretense and snobbery are uncalled for in the business. He thinks a down to earth approach is more helpful and more fun and it is more his style anyway. Wine is to be enjoyed.  So Let’s Enjoy it!

KAORI WINSTON

INTERPRETER/ GUIDE

Kaori Comes to us from Japan, She has taken several of my tours as a client and also attended NW Wine Academy. She has several certifications in wine as well as experience in representing wineries. She also has a WSET certification in Sake. She has worked with us for a few years as a guide and interpreter. What a delight she is.

Shelly Fitzgerald

Shelly Fitzgerald, of SommSomm, is a wine professional that specialised in creating authentic wine education seminars and experiences for groups of all sizes. She has almost two decades of experience in the wine industry, working in restaurants, retail, and education, and she is a Certified Sommelier (CS), Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), American Wine Expert (AWE), and WSET Level 4 Diplomat. Shelly has given wine seminars to thousands of casual and serious wine fans, and Tasting Room Magazine named her “one of the state’s most approachable wine educators” in 2015. Shelly is also a wine judge and expert contributor to Passport to Woodinville. She’s been featured in Costco Connection, Tasting Room Magazine, and on The Tasting Panel.

Shelly Fitzgerald

REGGIE DAIGNEAULT

EUROPEAN AND DOMESTIC WINE & SPIRITS CONSULTANT & GUIDE

I am so thrilled to have my friend and former wine professor Reggie collaborating with us on tours and educational events. She has the most amazing nose and palette I have seen and is one of the top wine authorities in Seattle. She is responsible for much of my wine education. I would not be a “French Wine Scholar” if it were not for her.

Here is her amazing BIO:

  • Certified Sommelier
  • WSET Level IIII ( a Diplomat )
  • French Wine Scholar and instructor
  • Former Head Professor NW Wine Academy
  • Bordeaux Wine Tutor
  • 30 + years in the wine industry as a sommelier, distributor, and educator
  • Judge for “The Seattle Wine Awards”

DEB HISS

TOUR GUIDE

Deb is a charming enthusiastic woman. She is a gemologist by trade and has stepped into wine with the same focus. She has excellent background having worked in several wineries and has a WSET 11 certification in wine as well., Her tours  are informative and fun.

Deb Hiss

ELEANOR PAWLEY

TASTING TOUR GUIDE

Eleanor has a diverse background – from working in restaurants to a theatre production career and meeting planning. Between pouring wines for guests – to being wined and dined – to traveling through Italy, she yearned to learn more about wine. She returned to school and studied wine at the Northwest Wine Academy earning degrees in Food and Wine Pairing & Wine Marketing and Sales. She has worked for American Cruise Lines as an onboard wine educator, in event management for Wine World & Spirits and the Northwest Wine Academy. And has poured wine for many tasting rooms. Her favourite part of wine is its relationship to food – she views wine as the final sauce for your dish that elevates your dining experience.

While at Northwest Wine Academy, Don Ward recruited Eleanor to be his first guide for the group tour company. Both Don and Eleanor have the same approach to hospitality and pride themselves in giving their clients the best service possible, by individualizing each tour. When Don started Taylor Tasting Tours, she found it only natural to follow him into his new company. They enjoy tasting wine together and exploring new restaurants in the Seattle area.

She has cultivated relationships with many winemakers and tasting room staff throughout Washington, visits the vineyards, and is constantly learning and tasting.

A. J FELIU

GUIDE

Gus as he is known is a full time School teacher ,who also happens be a very knowledgable wine guide with an Advanced WSET and a French Wine Scholar certifications to his credit. It’s what you would expect of a school teacher. This makes him a wonderfully informative and entertaining wine guide.

Why Choose Us

  • We visit the small boutiques, with no crowds
  • We have access to private outdoor tastings
  • We are often the only ones in a winery
  • We have special seating away from the others if someone else is there
  • All Tours are private and we do only one tour per day, per vehicle so each tour vehicle is sanitized each day for your tour
  • Seattle’s only wine tour company owned by a sommelier and a French Wine Scholar, so we can provide additional information to enhance your experience, like no other company
  • We have the highest reviews, from Trip Advisor, Google, etc. of any tour company in Washington
  • We  have the most knowledgeable, experienced, and highly educated guides in town, with 10 + years
  • A private tour is the best experience
  • We will pick you up when you want to go! we work with your schedule, not ours
  • We are the only exclusively private tour company that stays with you into each place,( we are not a drive-and-drop like the others) so we can provide additional information about what you are tasting
  • We focus on small  hard to get into Boutique wineries, with no crowds
  • We are a local, privately held company focused on wine and other tasting tours, not a limousine or transportation company that has decided to offer wine or other tours as a sideline.
  • The company owner and its employees have a passion for wine, as well as spirits and beers
  • Because of our deep wine knowledge and close relationships with winemakers etc., we can uniquely design tour experiences that you will be more likely to enjoy.
  • You will have a more in-depth and enriching experience than just an ordinary wine or another tour
  • Wine, Spirits, and Brewery tours are all we do.
  • We have those special contacts to take you to the cult wineries that others can’t.
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