Tom Wilmer

Host of Journeys of Discovery

Host of the Lowell Thomas Award-winning NPR digital media travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, Wilmer has also produced the on-air travel show for KCBX since 1989, and served as digital-media travel host for KRML in Carmel, Calif.

The Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer podcast is also featured on the NPR ONE mobile app, iTunes, Stitcher.com, player.fm (UK) a selected "Best Travel Roundup Podcast" and more than 20 other podcast channels around the world. Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer travel show covers a wide array of subjects including agriculture, culture, arts, science, history and cuisine.

In addition to winning the 2015 & 2013 Lowell Thomas Award--Best Radio Travel Show, Wilmer is the recipient of more than a dozen prestigious industry awards for radio and video, and the prestigious Tourism Australia/QANTAS "Henry Lawson Travel Writing Award" for the best North American feature about Australia as a travel destination.

Wilmer was Travel Editor for Central Coast Magazine in California from its inception through 2008, and Travel Editor at Las Vegas Magazine (1998 - 2003), he has also been a frequent contributor to numerous upscale lifestyle magazines including Tahoe Quarterly, and Arizona Foothills, and former Home Section columnist for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and locally has produced features for New Times, The Tribune and other regional publications.

Author of three books: Romancing the Coast, California Coast Getaways, and Wine Seekers Guide to Livermore Valley. Wilmer has also produced numerous lifestyle magazine features and more than 1,500 newspaper travel feature stories. His Knight Ridder Syndicate travel features have appeared in more than 40 North American newspapers, including the Toronto Star.

His on-location shows have ranged from the Arctic to African safaris, in the wheelhouse of the Rainbow Warrior II, flying in WWII bombers, navigating a micro light above Victoria Falls, sailing around Grenada, hiking through the wilds of Malaysian jungles and exploring remote atolls and isles throughout the South Pacific. His feature, recorded live at Harland & Wolfe Shipyards in Belfast Northern Ireland, celebrating the centenary of the launch of the Titanic was the recipient of a Best Travel award from Outdoor Writers Association of California.

Recent video/audio Awards:

  • First Place Award for Best Short Video- Pinnacles National Park 2015.
  • Wilmer and his video partner, Simo Nylander produced a video for National Park Service's Alcatraz Cruises 2015
  • In-depth video audio series for the Morro Bay National Marine Estuary Winner of 2015 "Best Outdoor Video"
  • Award from Outdoor Writers Association of California, along with "Best Short Video" award for Morro Bay Estuary Water Quality feature
  • Amgen California bike race commercial 2016
  • First Place "Best Outdoor Radio Feature" Saving Cecil's recorded live on location in Botswana
  • Second Place "Best Outdoor Radio Series" for Audubon Rowe Sandhill Cranes, First Federally Funded Wild Mustang Refuge, Heartland Shooting Range Grand Island, Nebraska. Awarded by Outdoor Writers Association of California

Professional Membership:

  • National Press Club, Washington D.C. (www.press.org)
  • Vice President (SF) Bay Area Travel Writers (www.batw.org)
  • Board of Directors Outdoor Writers Association of California (www.owac.org) 
Lodi winemaker and grape grower Larry Mettler
Thomas Wilmer

The Mettler Family started growing grapes in Lodi, California back in 1899. In 1999 Larry Mettler launched Mettler Family Vineyards winery. Ahead of the curve, Larry selected a French clone Cabernet Sauvignon rather than the tried and true Zinfandel. Mettler’s current release includes Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and naturally, the ever-popular Cab that's won praise from The Wine Spectator.  

Hearst Castle, San Simeon is one of the top draws for tourists from China
Thomas Wilmer

Ten years ago, Chinese tourists visiting the Central Coast was a blip on the screen. Today, China is the number two inbound demographic, close behind Canada and Mexico. It’s anticipated that Chinese tourists will soon become number one demographic. Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Chuck Davison, President and CEO of Visit San Luis Obispo County about the explosive growth and distinctive cultural dynamics of visitors from China. 

Georgia Lerner at Harney Lane Winery tasting room
Thomas Wilmer

Georgia Lerner, owner of Harney Lane Winery in Lodi, California talks about her family’s 120-year legacy as growers, and producers of award-winning old-vine Zinfandel wine. Harney Lane also crafts an array of other varietals, including Tempranillo, Albariño, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay, but their exquisite old-vine Zin is the winery's hallmark.   

Grower, winemaker, Steve Felton at his Klinker Brick Winery
Lodi Wine Grape Commission

Lodi wine grape growers since the late 1800’s, Steve Felton and his sixth-generation has evolved the family growing operations to embrace fine crafted wine production. Steve and his daughter are just now embarking on their 17th season of offering extraordinary, and coveted old-vine Zinfandel wines under the Klinker Brick Label. Come along and join winemaker Steve Felton at his tasting room on the outskirts of Lodi, California, where he talks passionately about the evolution of the Lodi wine world of almost 90 producers, comprised primarily by family operations. 

Liz Bokish in Bokish Vineyards tasting room Lodi, California
Thomas Wilmer

Lodi California grape growers and winemakers, Marcus and Liz Bokish pioneered the introduction of Spanish grape varieties in the region. Their first experimental plantings of Tempranillo, Albariño, and Graciano back in 1999 were wildly successful, and Spanish varieties are now an integral part of the Lodi grape growing and winemaking landscape. Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Marcus and Liz at the Bokish Vineyards Lodi tasting room.

m2 Wines Lodi California tasting room and processing
Lodi Wine Grape Commission

m2 wines founder Layne Montgomery, a native of Arkansas, started out like many  as a home winemaker.  He produced his first vintage of m2 wine in Lodi back in 2004. Today m2 Wines and Montgomery are known for producing finely crafted award-winning artisanal old-vine Zinfandel, Tempranillo, and Syrah and Petite Syrah blends and more.

Packing Tokay grapes back in the day at Jessie's Grove Winery Lodi, CA
Greg Burns family

Still harvesting Zinfandel grapes from vines planted in 1889, Lodi’s Jessie’s Grove Winery cherishes the oldest Zinfandel vines in the entire Lodi Appellation and amongst the oldest in California. Join Sarah Williams and winemaker/owner Greg Burns at the Lodi tasting room.

Inspired by hikers on Spain's El Camino trail, travel journalist, Maggie Espinosa was inspired to walk over 800 miles along California's El Camino Real. Over a year of hiking in 80 mile chunks, she visited every one of the 21 Missions, meeting other hikers, sharing meals with new friends and wrote up the experiences each night. The pictures and her journal entries became her book: On a Mission, an 800 mile walk to discover California's El Camino Real.

a sampler of Acquiesce Winery's award winning white wines
Thomas Wilmer

Sue Tipton tipped the scales in the world of white wines. Tipton did not start her wine making journey until she was 50 years old. Ten years later, she’s an industry star in the world of white wines—that’s all she produces, and her focus might partially explain why her Viognier was awarded “Best in the State of California” at the 2016 California State Fair. 

Wheeler Field damage December 7th 1941
Desoto Brown Collection

Life in America and most poignantly in the Hawaiian Islands was jarringly transformed in one day, the day of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the subsequent declaration of war by President Roosevelt. Marshall Law was declared and remained in effect throughout the war. Come along and join Bishop Museum Historian Desoto Brown as he recalls his 30 years of research about life on the island of Oahu during WWII.

Macchia Wines tasting room in Lodi, California
Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Lodi winemaker Tim Holdener, owner of Macchai Wines. Tim exemplifies the true hands-on grape producer and winemaker. Tim joined a handful of other Lodi producers who started Lodi Native—the group made a commitment to process their wine using ancient, truly hands-off approach which starts with using only native yeast, and letting the wine basically make itself. 

Dramatic San Francisco vistas from 46th floor Cityscape Bar & Lounge
Thomas Wilmer

Cityscape Bar & lounge is perched on the top of the Hilton San Francisco Union Square--46th floors high in the sky. Cityscape is enveloped with a 360-degree panorama of the City and far beyond, with soaring 14 foot-tall glass window-walls—It’s the next best thing to floating in a balloon high above the City-by-the-Bay.

Heather Pyle-Lucas and David Lucas at their Lodi Lucas Winery
Thomas Wilmer

When David and his wife, Heather Pyle-Lucas started their commercial Lucas Winery 38 years ago Lodi’s Zins were known as high-alcohol rocket-fuel concoctions. That’s all history today and David and Heather were pioneers in the evolution of Lodi, California wines by crafting extraordinarily well-balanced and complex estate-grown Zinfandel and locally sourced Chardonnay. Come along and join the conversation as Heather and David share their incredible journey as Lodi growers and producers.

Saint Mark Choir performs at Wildwood Park in Little Rock, Arkansas
Thomas Wilmer

Saint Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas raised the roof when their gospel choir recently performed at Little Rock's Wildwood Park. Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a visit with Darius Nelson, Pastor of Music and Arts, followed by 20 minutes of some powerfully awesome gospel singing. Saint Mark's choir has performed at the White House as well as around Arkansas.  

Michael David Winery owner Michael Phillips
Thomas Wilmer

The wine label, Seven Deadly Zins, produced by Michael David Winery was instrumental in putting Lodi, California on the map as a world-class producer of fine wines. Join Mike Phillips and daughter Melissa at their Lodi winery for a fascinating conversation with Tom Wilmer that proves that a catchy label is just as important as the wine inside the bottle.

Robert Luke
Thomas Wilmer

Robert Luke, assigned prisoner number 1118AZ, arrived at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary on April 14th 1954 and was paroled on April 29th 1959.

It was the smell of fresh mown grass wafting across the island from somewhere in San Francisco that spurred him to go the straight and narrow path.

Julie Woods Moncrief at Fort Smith, Arkansas
Thomas Wilmer

Fort Smith, Arkansas, the state’s second largest city, started as a military outpost on the western frontier back in 1817. Join National Park Ranger Cody Faber at Fort Smith National Historic Site and Julie Woods Moncrief at the historic Clayton House.

Roy & Kristie Rosset, owners and innkeepers Lookout Point Lakeside Inn Hot Springs, Arkansas
Thomas Wilmer

Situated bluff top, the Lookout Point Lakeside Inn is worth the stay just for the pleasure of strolling the sprawling lush garden grounds overlooking Lake Hamilton. But the rooms and the gourmet meals would be tempting enough without the vistas or gardens. Come along and join innkeeper, Kristie Rosset, who came to the hospitality industry from her previous life as a Methodist minister in Dallas. 

Thomas Wilmer

An innovator in the passenger vessel industry, Terry MacRae, is the Chairman and CEO of Hornblower Cruises and Events. In addition to crafting the only fleet of hybrid vessels in North America, MacRae has built an empire of more than 70 yachts in the last 35 years.

NPS PIO Alexandra Picavet
Thomas Wilmer

Even though Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary has been closed since 1963, the myth, legend, and lore of the infamous Rock that housed prisoners such as Al “Scarface” Capone, the “Birdman of Alcatraz”, and “Machine Gun” Kelly has grown exponentially over the past half century.

Former Alcatraz Guard George DeVincenzi
Thomas Wilmer

Retired Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary guard, George DeVincenzi served on “The Rock” from 1950 to 1958, departing just five years before the infamous island prison closed forever in 1963.

Alcatraz Clergy
Thomas Wilmer

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary opened in 1934 and when it closed its cell doors for the last time in 1963 more than fifteen hundred prisoners had served time on the Rock.

NPS Superintendent, Chris Lehnertz
Thomas Wilmer

There are 29 National Recreation Areas across America. One of the most distinctive is the Golden Gate National Recreation Area that includes 80,000 acres of ecologically and historically significant destinations around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Wayne Craig, President and CEO Lodi Memorial Hospital and Board Member of Visit Lodi CVB
Thomas Wilmer

Lodi is America’s largest grape growing region, along with approximately 91 family owned boutique wineries. The town of 60,000 residents offers a small town feel. Join Craig for a local’s insight about Lodi attractions, including upscale dining. 

 Hot Springs National Park Brewster Rose Schweikhart
Thomas Wilmer

Rose Schweikhart turned a personal passion for beer in to a driving and thriving brewery and culinary business. It’s the Superior Bathhouse Brewery in the heart of downtown Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas. Rose’s enterprise is the only brewery situated within a National Park, and it is the only brewery in the world utilizing thermal spring water.

Talkin' Birds radio show host Ray Brown at Grand Canyon
Talkin' Birds radio show

Ray Brown host of “Talkin’ Birds” is a frequent contributor to NPR’s Weekend Edition is the creator of Talkin’ Birds radio show, heard on sixteen stations in New England, New York, Maryland, and internationally via iTunes and talkinbirds.com. Brown is also a regular bird-topics contributor to National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Saturday. Join Correspondent Tom Wilmer in Michigan for a chat with Ray Brown.

Thai woman
David Noyes

David Noyes has been traveling the world for decades, recording photographic images of remote places and exotic people, from Tibet to Kenya. Correspondent Tom Wilmer visited with David at Chengdu, China Airport.

Historic Haas-Lilienthal Victorian circa-1887
Franklin-Habs 1960 book on Haas-Lilienthal home

San Francisco Heritage was founded in 1971 with a mandate to save a dozen Victorian homes slated for demolition. Today the non-profit is San Francisco’s leading advocacy and educational organization dedicated to architectural and cultural preservation.

Pete Murdaca in the kitchen at Pietro's in Lodi, California
Pietro's Trattoria

Pietro’s has been a favorite with Lodi, California locals since the Italian eatery opened 31 years ago. Family owned by Jim and Annette Murdaca, I stopped in for a visit with their son, Chef Pete who spent a year and a half learning the craft as an stagiaire (intern) in Calabria and Parma Southern Italy. 

Westin San Francisco Airport indoor pool
Westin San Francisco Airport

A visit with Simone Harms, General Manager of the Westin San Francisco Airport and sister property, the Aloft hotel. It's a popular business meeting and holiday party destination.  

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