When Jane Gregg studied in Madrid and Salamanca, Spain, during college, she had no idea it was the start of something wonderful. Epicurean Ways, her Charlottesville-based company that customizes luxury food and drink tours throughout Spain and Portugal, to be precise.
“After college I lived in Madrid for three years and then went to graduate school for Spanish literature,” Gregg says. She ran a Spanish-English translation agency for several years, and in 2005 she moved her family to Spain so her children would “get to know the culture from the inside.” It was during that time that Gregg formed relationships with chefs, winemakers, artisan food producers and guides from all over the country. In 2008, Epicurean Ways was born.
All of Gregg’s trips are custom-created, whether there are two or 22 people in a group, and they might include an in-depth wine excursion to a single region, learning to cook alongside a Michelin star chef or spending time in a small village, visiting food producers and soaking up the local ambiance.
“Our job is to guide people to the best experiences, restaurants and hotels in harmony with their tastes and interests and the way they like to travel,” Gregg explains, adding that one of her favorite trips includes spending the better part of a day with Françesc Capafons, “the charming” 71-year-old owner of Capafons Ossó winery in the Priorat wine region outside of Barcelona. He loads visitors into his 4×4 vehicle for a trip to hilltop vineyards, where they “look out over the Priorat and inhale the scent of the rosemary and thyme and mountain herbs that he lets grow among the vines,” Gregg says. Afterward, Capafons’ guests spend time at his Montsant estate for a tasting of eight to 10 wines—white and red, Priorat and Montsant—including some older vintages.
Gregg’s clients also enjoy cooking with a private chef at a txoko (cooking society) in the Basque Country. The chef takes everyone to the market in a fishing village outside San Sebastian, where they buy the fish and go back to the txoko and “cook up a storm,” she says. “They are usually in the txoko until 4 or 5 in the afternoon, after a long lunch with a few bottles of Txakoli.”
Tours that include excursions like the ones mentioned above are typically between four and 10 days and cost about $400 per person per day for groups of two or larger (not including airfare). For more information, visit epicureanways.com.