- Do I have to be a wine expert?
- Shoes and Clothing – what to wear?
- Can I buy wines at the domaines?
- What about the food? The meals?
- How many people on a tour?
- Pets: Can I bring my dog?
- Will we have time for “regular'” sight-seeing? Should I stay longer?
- What’s included in the tour price?
- Can a tour I book be cancelled?
- Do you get repeat customers?
- Travel Insurance and Cancellation
- Payment and Cancellation
- Health & disabilities
- Passports, visas and vaccinations
Do I have to be a wine expert?
This is a question that in particular “beginners” in wine often ask.
The longer answer is: You need to know next to nothing about wine to enjoy a wine tour! At the same time, you can also be very knowledgeable and experienced in wine and it will be just as good an experience.
Everyone goes on a wine tour to learn about wine or to learn more about wine. It is actually quite amazing how everyone from beginner to expert gets different things out of every visit.
In reality, the most important thing about a wine tour is not the more or less technical tastings, it is meeting the people, the winemakers, seeing and smelling the wine cellars and vineyards. With all the wines you taste as an added benefit!
Shoes and Clothing – what to wear?
Shoes: We advice you to wear comfortable shoes. High heels are not recommended! You should be able to walk in the vineyard even if it there is a drizzle and there may well be wet floors in the wineries. You don’t want to slip! Especially during harvest – the winery is a work place! And occasionally we are invited to climb up ladders and look down into the fermentation tank! Many tastings are also standing. So – bring your comfortable walking shoes.
Sweater / jacket: Also remember that cellars can be cool so bring a sweater or a jacket even if it is very warm outside.
Hat: Do also bring a hat in summer or late spring / early autumn. We may go for a walk in the sun in the vineyard and the sun can be hot.
Dress code: None really. Dress informally and comfortably. You are not expected to dress formally for any meals or for visits even at the grandest châteaux. However, there is nothing that prevents you from putting on nicer clothes for e.g. dinner either. To some extent it depends on the context; if you go on a luxury tour with dinners in the gilded salons of some chateau then a jacket might not be wrong…
Can I buy wines at the domaines?
Yes you can, in most cases. Most producers are naturally very happy to sell wines to visitors. It is a sign that people appreciate their wines!
Some, but far from all, can arrange for shipping.
However, many of the big chateaux in Bordeaux, for instance, do not sell directly to end customers, not even to visitors, so there you cannot buy wines.
Some domains, particularly in Burgundy, can also have sold out all of their production and therefore have nothing left to sell. Both of these cases are exceptions.
Do contact us in advance if you have any specific questions regarding this.
And remember, it is never an obligation to buy anything!
Wine producers understand that it is not easy to carry lots of bottles around when travelling.
What about the food? The meals?
On all our tours we want to give you a very good insight into local gastronomy. In short, you can expect very good to outstanding meals on our tours. Generally a meal is a multiple-course affair that will take at least an hour and a half.
On most trips we have at least one or two meals at a wine grower’s. That gives you the possibility to taste more wines and to taste them together with a meal. It also gives you the opportunity to discuss over lunch.
We also adapt to local customs and traditions, which means for example that when we are in Spain lunch starts, at the earliest, at 2 PM and dinner at 9.30 PM…
The type of meals can vary greatly. Here are some examples:
- Six-course lunch in the private dining room of a luxurious chateau
- Barbecue in the garden with the winemakers, with grand-mother having prepared the cake
- Sauternes-all-through-the-meal in the salons of one of the top producers with 14 (small!) courses to test what goes with what
- In the village restaurant-friends-of-the-winemaker with some extra truffles honey on the cheese course – because he likes it!
- Or even, lunch cooked by yourself on one of our Tuscan wine & food events!
In short, you eat very (!) well and you eat a lot.
A typical trip includes all lunches and no dinners, and this is for a reason. Many of our guest are quite simply happy with a simple salad for dinner or a steak-frites after the lunches we have on the tours… Others want to go to the three-Michelin-stars restaurant that they have always longed for. It also gives you the opportunity to go out and explore the town where we are staying on your own and at your leisure.
How many people on a tour?
On our normal open tours the number of participants is limited to approximately 20. Typically the number of travellers is between 15 and 20. We do not want to have large groups on our “open” tours (the scheduled tours on our program); sometimes you see organisations that do 30, 35 or even 40 people in a group. That is not the type of trips that we do. But on an ‘open’ tour it is also often not desirable to be too few: the ambiance and the discussions with the winemakers usually become more fun and engaging if the group is not too small.
(NB: Custom made tours are quite different. It can work very well with both larger and smaller groups for tailor made trips.)
The tipping practices vary very much from country to country. Your BKWine Tour Guide can tell you what makes sense in each location. American guests should know that tipping is much less systematic in Europe than it is in the US.
You are not expected to tip the BKWine Tour Guide (but nor is it forbidden).
Pets: Can I bring my dog?
No, pets are not allowed on our tours.
We do not recommend bringing children on our tours.
Will we have time for “regular” sight-seeing? Should I stay longer?
Many – all! – of our destinations are wonderful places that merit many days of exploration. But our tour focus on wine and gastronomy.
We do recommend that you stay a little bit longer in the wine region or in the country that you are visiting with us. Perhaps a few days in Paris if you are visiting France, or some extra days in the beautiful city of Bordeaux or Saint Emilion if you are going on a Bordeaux wine tour. Or maybe to play golf, go bicycling, go to the beach, visit 3-star restaurants.We will be happy to give you advice and recommendations.
Our wine tours are very focussed on wine and gastronomy. There won’t be half a day free for shopping or for going on an extended tour of that fabulous three star cathedral in town. We do try and give you a bit of “free” time for the most essential things, like a walk in Saint Emilion, or a quick visit to the Hospices de Beaune, but our tours are very focussed. There are exceptions: for example, if you come on our ten day tour to South Africa we promise not to fill all days completely with wine visits!
So, yes, we absolutely recommend that you plan for some extra time before or after the BKWine tour!
What’s included in the tour price?
What is included in the tour price is always specified in the tour program.
For most tours it looks like this:
- Transport in the wine region with a bus
- Gastronomic lunches each day, often at a winery with a wine producer
- A tour manager and guide from BKWine for guiding and translation as needed
Is not included:
- Your transport to get to the destination and back home (e.g. flight to Bordeaux)
(Porters to carry luggage are not available in most wine country hotels in Europe.)
Can a tour I book be cancelled?
Yes, but it happens very, very rarely.
On each tour there is a date that we call “register no later than“. At that date a final decision is taken by us if the tour will take place or not. In most cases we know this well in advance of this date. (However, it is wise not to book any non-refundable air tickets before that date, at least not without consulting with us on the booking level.) If there are not enough people registered we may have to cancel.
However, this happens very, very rarely.
The reason is on one side that our tours are generally well subscribed. But it is also because we know that if we cancel a tour we will make several people very disappointed and that is very hard to do. We are much happier to occasionally squeeze our margins on a tour and get some happy customers. Because if we do, we know they will come back.
But as said initially, it happens, but it is very rare indeed that we need to cancel a tour.
Do you get repeat customers?
Perhaps this is not a question one would think of asking, but we are happy to ask it ourselves.
Yes, we do have many customers who come again and again. On a typical trip we have around 20% of the participants who have travelled with us before. Our most faithful customers have been with us on seven different tours. We are very happy about that. It must mean that we are doing something right!
Travel Insurance and Cancellation protection
BKWine does not arrange for travel insurance or cancellation insurance.
We recommend that you arrange with your usual insurer for your own travel insurance and cancellation insurance or contact a specialist insurer. Some home insurance policies have it included.
Read more about our policies in our Terms and Conditions.
Payment and Cancellation
Please read about payment terms and our cancellation terms in our Terms and Conditions. Some tours have special condition – they are clearly specified in the tour program.
Health & disabilities
If you have any disabilities or reduced mobility, please discuss with us before you book your tour. You may also want to consult with your doctor.
Often our tours are not suitable for people with substantially reduced mobility. There are nearly always steps to walk down and up in the cellars. Sometimes the distances to walk can be non-negligible when for example we go to visit the vineyards or explore the interminable tunnels in the Champagne cellars.
Passports, visas and vaccinations
Depending on the destination and on what your nationality is, passport, ID documents and visa requirements will vary. We strongly recommend to check with the relevant embassy in your country what the situation is regarding passport requirements and visas. We also strongly advice you to check that your passport (if needed) has a sufficient validity and is not about to expire.
Most of our destinations do not require any specific vaccinations. Nevertheless we strongly advice you to check with health authorities in your country what requirements there might be.
Please read our Booking Terms and Conditions for details.
Do contact us if you have any other questions!