Going on a wine tour is a great way to learn about the wine in an area. However, these trips vary tremendously; you don’t want to spend money on a tour and end up disappointed. Here are some suggestions to help you choose a wine tour that suits you best.
1) Do your research.
Conduct an internet search to find out what tours are offered in the region you wish to visit. Tour sites that aggregate tours and activities, such as Get Your Guide and Viator, can help you start. Don’t limit yourself to just the aggregators, since a lot of tour operators don’t work with these companies. Cast a wide net to start to see what options you have. I usually start by Googling the region I’m visiting to see what options are out there.
2) Narrow down the type of tour you’re looking for.
Do you want to see how wine is made? Have lunch in the vineyards? Take a general tour that introduces you to a region, or focus on a particular grape? Do you want free time in town for shopping? Are you interested in other tastings, such as olive oil, prosciutto, honey or chocolate? Do you prefer a tour that focuses on food but throws in a few wine tastings? Are you looking to learn about the viticulture, keen on restocking your wine cellar, or just in having a good time in the countryside? There is no one best tour; everyone has his or her own preferences. If you know what you want from the beginning, choosing a wine tour that meets your needs becomes much easier.
3) Decide whether you prefer a larger or smaller wine tour.
Some people prefer larger bus tours, which are generally less expensive but are much less personal. These tours will often take you to larger, more established and commercial wineries. For instance, when we visited Spain’s Penedes region, we took a bus tour that included a visit to large winery Torres, outside Barcelona, Spain. That tour included a mini train ride through the winery and a dramatic light show.
A semi-private tour is more intimate and will likely focus on smaller, artisanal, or family-owned wineries. Smaller tours can also give you more opportunity to interact with and get to know your fellow tour participants, which has allowed us to meet some fascinating people. On one wine tour, we met the head chef of a hotel in San Francisco who had been a classmate of Anthony Bourdain in culinary school. On a tour of the Alentejo wine region east of Lisbon, Portugal we met a couple from Denmark who make their own wine in their basement.
Private tours are the priciest but the most customizable. These wine tours can also be the most unique. Vincent, owner of Lyon-Winetours, escorted us through France’s Rhone Valley for two days and then invited us to his own home for a wine tasting.
4) Before choosing a wine tour, read the reviews.
While there’s some bias in self-posted reviews, they provide an eye into what others thought of the tour. Reviews can also provide helpful insight as to the details of the tour that are not in the tour description. This additional information can help you in choosing a wine tour that is to your liking.
5) Get referrals.
Ask your friends, coworkers, or travel agent. We’ve received several great wine tour referrals this way. Wine tour operators you've used in the past can also be a handy resource. Even if they operate in a different part of the country, they may have contacts in the region you’re visiting, since the industry is close-knit. It can also be a good idea to look at travel and wine blogs (like ours!). 😊
Choosing a wine tour can be complicated. We hope you found these suggestions helpful so that you feel confident and comfortable when choosing your next wine tour experience.
If you have additional tips or further questions, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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