About Me & The Story of How Farm to Glass Wine Tours Came to Be

This was written and published on May 31st, 2021.  For the 2nd part of this story, click here.

It’s 2021, and we’re looking at the world from a whole new perspective, I think we can all agree with that, right?

Question:  Did you have a crap 2019 and couldn’t wait for 2020 to start and then 2020 was like, “Hold my beer?”  “Were you wanting to say the same thing about 2020 but didn’t want to project your thoughts to the universe in case it was coming back to do a keg stand!?”

For me, I lost my job… well my career actually, in aviation.  I lost family and friends, and often it seemed that when it couldn’t get any worse, it did. 

Does this relate in any way?

I didn’t know that on March 27th, 2020, myself and 11 crew would rescue 400 Canadians from Lima, Peru and that this would be my last working flight for 18 months!

Prior to the pandemic, I loved jet-setting the world, layovers in Hong Kong to Hawaii, London to Boston, Montreal to Los Angeles.  Passengers on flights to Ottawa, I’d run into in Florence, Italy.  A bartender at Terroir in London, end's up becoming a friend, and now she's making ciders in Vermont with a cult-like following.  Layovers in NYC, gave me the opportunity to attend seminars at Racines NY and introduce Bella Wines to Pascaline Lepeltier.

Owner and Guide Jess Hopwood pictured with Pascaline Lepeltier with a bottle of ancestral method Gamay from Bella Wines in Naramata - Farm to Glass Wine Tours

I would often choose my layovers based on destinations where I could bring back unique bottles of wine from around the world.   It was cheeky, but I’m a little cheeky.  Did I ever go over my wine limit? Never! My suitcases are always this heavy.  Boston layovers were the best, thank you, Hugh @ Bacco’s Wine + Cheese

They were good times, and I miss them.  I have been back flight since Sept. 2021 and it's a very different world out there as a traveler.  

Over the last years, I have worn many hats in the wine industry.   From working at a boutique wine shop in the hippest part of Vancouver, to being a guest sommelière at a grower champagne festival at the Four Seasons, running a very successful pop-up wine bar right up until Covid-19 (shakes fist in air!) to wine buying for private aviation charters.

So let's jump back to June 2020, with my official lay off notice, no idea when or if I’ll ever go back to flying and asking myself what now?

Brain: Do what you love.

Me: I love working with people, hanging with my friends and my cat, and wine

Brain: You can’t get paid for hanging with your friends or your cat, but wine yes

Me: Don’t tell me what I can’t do!

Also Me:  Got a job at a winery! (Lulu my cat, stayed at home)

And then my perspective of the world or more specifically, of what I wanted, changed.   I loved my flying career, but I LOVED working at the winery.  Greeting guests who became friends, going on what I call “wine adventures”, guiding them through tasting flights and being able to share my passion for BC wine.  Knowledge which I gained from peers, my education or the most valuable, some of my favorite wine growers hanging out at their farms, chatting about what makes BC and in particular, the Okanagan and Similkameen Valley wines so incredibly special.   I am my happiest being around people, surrounded by vineyards.  

So my original summer 2020 travel plan was to travel all over England, Scotland and Ireland but instead, and our trips changed to: Okanagan, Okanagan, Okanagan.  

The rolling hills and what feels like never ending lakes call to me, the wines… they speak to me, and a small spark of an idea turned into a burning ember, and the more I thought about it, the more my gut feeling was telling me that this was what I supposed to be doing… where I was supposed to be.

Brain: What do you have the most experience at?

Me: Working in tourism, drinking wine (ha!)

Brain: ……….

Me: !!!!!!

Brain: Well I’ll be damned, I think she’s figured it out.

Farm to Glass Wine Tours was born!  

I have a saying and it goes like this: 

Be Kind, Drink Wine

Be Kind to: yourself, your neighbor, and the planet

Drink Wine that is: kind to your body, kind to your neighbor and community, kind to the planet, and most importantly, delicious!  

So let’s go on a wine adventure and let me guide you from the farm, to your glass.   

Jess Hopwood, WSET3 Certified, FWS with a Master in Champagne, SWS, IWS and Certificate of Viticulture, BC Wine Ambassador, Wine Geek and friend

I take pride in my professionalism...  I've been a butler on luxury yachts and private jets, but am also kind, quick witted and sometimes outright hilarious. I really enjoy curating unforgettable experiences for people from around the world.   So in a nutshell, I'd explain these tours to be "civilized elegance without being stuffy".  This wine tour is different, but I'm different and I think if you're here reading this to the end then you may be looking for a different kind of wine tour.  So let's embrace the power of being different.  

"Be curious, not judgmental." - Walt Whitman (and Ted Lasso) 

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