Chateau & Winery Visits
Visits vary depending on the region. In Bordeaux you will usually taste the most recent vintage(s) of the one or two wines the chateau produces. In Burgundy you'll likely taste several different wines from each producer, as they make smaller quantities of many wines. In the Loire also you will see a variety of types of wine at each vineyard.
French winery visits are not like visits to American vineyards. In the States the vineyard is trying to sell directly, aiming to show you how their wine will age over the years. Since it's usually assumed that you don't already know their product, you'll often get to taste older vintages. In Italy you will usually taste the most recent vintage(s) and you'll likely taste several different wines from each producer. In France and Italy, for instance, it is only recently that producers have begun to receive large volumes of tourist visitors; they are more in the habit of receiving wine buyers who are familiar with the chateau, coming to taste the latest release to see if they want to purchase it.
Usually we visit with the manager, owner or cellar-master. At some of the more commercial chateaux (particularly Mouton and Pichon Baron) we will be hosted by a full-time guide, but if we have any technical questions they can't answer we can normally meet with the winemaking staff.
France: You don't need to tip in restaurants or hotels - all this is included in the price of the trip. If you feel you've received especially good service however, feel free to give a little yourself if you wish - ask our advice at the time.
Italy: Usually up to 10% is normal or a little more if you feel you've received especially good service.
A tip for your guide is quite appropriate as they appreciate your recognition if they did a good job. So, base it on the service you feel you have received, or call us for guidance if you wish.
Many people ask if they should bring wine with them - by all means, if you wish! If you have any domestic wines you'd like to show off, chateau and restaurant owners are always interested in tasting American wines especially from small or less-known producers.
We will advise you when and with whom to open them. Some people may want to open and taste with you, others may accept it as a gift for them to enjoy later. Either way it will be much appreciated, and if given at the start of a visit may lead to a more interesting tasting for you.
These are always excluded: Round trip domestic (US) and international airfare, customs fees, some tips, telephone, faxes, taxis and personal items. Wine and dining that are not specifically included in itinerary are excluded - see below.
You'll notice that many meals are included as well as wine with some of the meals. However, any meals not included will be specifically mentioned on the itinerary. If you have any special wines you would like to drink with meals, let us know. We'll tell you whether we must charge any supplement to accommodate your request.
Apéritifs, cocktails, after-dinner drinks etc. are not included, either in the hotel, restaurants or any other time. You can either pay cash for these or (as most people prefer) you may put them on our tab and we will collect at the end of the trip. Let us know which you prefer at the start of your trip.
Scheduled visits and specific artisan or gallery, tour, etc. side trips are included and listed. Optional activities arranged prior to or during the tour (golf, horseriding, river trips, balloon rides etc.) are at additional cost.
The first question we're usually asked! Most of the time dress can be fairly casual. For visits to vineyards in the Bordeaux region, men should wear long pants, preferably not jeans (the French are still a little taken aback by shorts and flip-flops). Golf shirts are usually fine; occasionally we'll advise you to wear a dress shirt. Slacks, skirt or dress are fine for the ladies. Most Burgundy visits are even less formal, and many are in moldy, cobwebby cellars, so practicality is a factor here.
Most restaurants allow open shirts and no jackets, though there are a few on each tour which prefer more formality. We'll let you know what's appropriate, but we advise the men to bring a jacket, and for the ladies a nice dress or two including your favorite "little black dress".
Spring and fall can be fresh, and often showery, so suitable outer wear is recommended for this time of year. We have umbrellas, but bringing your own usually helps guarantee that it won't rain! June through September can be hot and occasionally humid.
Pack light, layer and leave room for souvenirs and a bottle or two!
If you live in the USA, the only ways to get wine home legally are (1) through a licensed importer or (2) with you, as you return home. Officially the limit on bringing wine home with you is 2 bottles per person. This is subject to change and should be verified with US Customs directly. There is an unofficial "allowance" at the discretion of the Customs Agent that can go up to a couple of cases each person, IF IT IS DECLARED. Bringing in wine over the legal limit without declaration will render you subject to confiscation, fines and other penalties!! Shipping wine back home is not easy. You CANNOT ship wine to yourself legally, neither can a winery, unless it's shipped via an importer. Some wines are worth the effort - rare wines that are hard to find or a lot more expensive at home. Ask your guide or the winemaker if you'll be able to find their wine at home, or if they can ship through an importer (many producers have exclusive importers and can't ship to any others).
There are several factors that need to be addressed. Call and talk to us about arranging for shipment, and remember that anyone who is willing to sell you wine and ship it to you will be just as happy to send it on after you're back home - don't panic-buy!. Our supplier has its own import company in California that can sometimes help in shipping to you.
This is what the tour is all about. If anything is not to your liking, tell us right away. We do our utmost to make sure you enjoy every moment of the trip, but it's no good telling us about problems or deficiencies at the end of your vacation - we can't go back and change things then. Let us know if you're happy too - that's what we really like to hear!
You can always get in touch with us through our office in California.
- Toll Free from anywhere in US - 800-980-8005
- Or call David - (213) 399-5999
- Barry - (310) 654-3872
- Peter - (949 ) 673-7376
Yes, of course. We have knowledgeable and helpful travel professionals ready to assist you. Just go to our Customer Service page and use the e-mail form provided. We'll try to answer your inquiry within 2 hours. Or call us at 800-980-8005 and we'll get on it immediately. We can probably provide you with better 4 and 5 Star hotel accommodation at discounted prices below any online hotel or comparison shopping site.
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- Published and domestic or international fares.
- Special sale fares when an airline offers, often without notice, a special fare to a select destination or for a specified period of time. We, of course, will pass these fares on to you as soon as they are loaded into our booking engine.
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No. The credit card holder must be in the traveling party. As an extra security for our customers, all credit card users will be required to provide their three digit security code with their purchase request.
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Regrettably, not through WineWorldTours.com. You can only redeem accumulated mileage through the airline you wish to travel on.
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Cancellation fees may range from $100-$300 plus airline fees and include a possible change in fare. For this reason, it is prudent and we strongly recommend that you consider purchasing travel cancellation insurance. Change penalties depend on the individual carrier, the booking class and the destination. Please remember that International tickets may be refunded but are subject to these cancellation fees and airline penalties. Domestic tickets are non-refundable but may be reissued subject to the airline fees and any fare increase. Refunds are not possible after the flight has departed. However, if a reservation has not been ticketed, there are no cancellation fees or charges.
You will be provided with details of how to request a refund (where applicable under airline regulations) when your flight ticket has been delivered. Please be aware that heavy penalties may be applied as you ticket is discounted. In some cases your ticket may have no refund value. Again, it is for this reason that we recommend trip cancellation insurance. Read the travel conditions carefully when booking your reservation.
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It is your responsibility to complete all passport, visa, health, international drivers license and other requirements yourself.
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If you're traveling internationally for the first time or the 10th time you'll still want to follow our "Travel Tips" check list closely. It comes from common sense and from travelers like yourself and our "management" who have learned the hard way and don't want you to make the mistakes they've made. It can really make your trip a bummer if you forget all your meds; forget to check your camera battery; or, break your glasses and don't have a spare pair. Of course, if you're a seasoned traveler, you know that following these general guidelines will help make your trip a positive experience. And, prevent it from becoming a negative, expensive one.
Let's start with the basics. You've got your passport, but have you checked to see the validity date? You don't want to get caught abroad with an out-of-date passport! Need a visa? Won't know until you check the countries you are visiting. Same goes for Health documentation. Our CEO, an experienced traveler, forgot to get a visa for Australia, but thanks to that government's enlightened policy was able to get one at the very last minute at the airport! Remember, travel docs and visas are the responsibility of the traveler.
A good directive to follow when traveling in foreign lands is "don't assume anything". It's not America! It's their country and it's their laws, rules, customs and traditions. So, please be respectful too. For lots of helpful information from the US Department of State, please go to: http://www.travel.state.gov
Worried about the political landscape where you heading? Then check out the our US Gov't Travel advisories at http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html
Please check out Public Announcements for specific terrorist threats, coups, etc. and the Consular Information Sheets which include specific info ranging from immigration to health to entry regulations to drug laws and penalties.
And, the weather too at http://www.weather.com or http://www.accuweather.com. It might end up saving you a bundle of money if you are prepared and bring your raincoat, gloves and scarf since they don't not have a Wal-Mart in Bordeaux.
Get one of our "free" city or country guides (just ask us if we forget to provide one!) or splurge for a guidebook and study up on your destinations - even if you've been there before. The folks at Lonely Planet, for instance, really get into a destination and deliver the unbiased, up-to-date insights. Also, visit Mapquest.com or Maps.com for destination maps and directions abroad.
Assuming you're truly a savvy traveler, you'll also need the following critical items in addition to the documents we provide: Trip cancellation and medical insurance - chances are the country you're visiting won't accept your company health plan! Then order and purchase, in advance, your drugs (carry a few extra days supply) and over the counter meds (you might not find your favorite brand in Paris) including personal and female hygiene items, general antibiotics, pain killers, vitamins and cleaner for contact lens, a back-up pair of glasses (sun glasses?) and a copy of your prescription, a mini sewing kit and travel first-aid kit.
Don't forget your digital travel alarm clock and your electrical adapter/converter. Or, you might end up looking like you had the worst hair day when you arrive late for your luncheon with the wine-master. Last but not least, your camera, a back-up battery and film if it's not digital.
You've got a lot of necessary stuff. Where do you keep it? You'll really need and appreciate a small, easy-to-access but secure travel bag and portfolio where you can carry your passport (keep a copy at home and take one with you), tickets, money and traveler checks, credit cards and personal ID, plus maps and guidebook, camera and film, jewelry and drugs, a good paperback, your cell phone and a small water bottle.
And, whatever you do, don't let this bag out of your sight!