FAQ, frequently asked questions on wine tours
Here are some common questions on our tours. Do contact us if there is anything you are wondering about.
- Do I have to be a wine expert?
- Shoes and Clothing – what to wear?
- Health matters: health, fitness and vaccinations
- Health: reduced mobility and disabilities
- Can I buy wines at the domaines?
- The food and the meals?
- Food allergies
- How many people will there be on a tour?
- 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 and cancellation insurance
- Payment and cancellation
- Health & disabilities
- Passports, visas and vaccinations
You will find answers to all these questions below.
Do I have to be a wine expert?
Short answer: No.
This is a question that beginners or first time clients often ask.
The longer answer is: you don’t need to know much about wine to enjoy a wine tour.
However, you can equally be very knowledgeable about wine: the tour will be just as good, regardless.
Everyone goes on a wine tour to learn about wine, or to learn more about wine. It is actually amazing how everyone, from beginner to expert, gets something different out of each visit we do.
The most important thing about a wine tour is not the (more or less formal) tastings. What is truly memorable is the people you meet, the interaction with the winemakers, the experience of visiting the wine cellars and vineyards. The wines we taste together are the icing on the cake.
Shoes and Clothing – what to wear?
We advise you to wear comfortable shoes. You should be able to walk in the vineyard even if it is muddy or wet, and there may well be wet floors in the wineries. You don’t want to slip. Remember that the winery is a workplace, particularly during the harvest period. Occasionally we are invited to climb up ladders and look down into the fermentation tank. Many tastings are also conducted standing. So whatever you do, remember to pack some sturdy and comfortable footwear.
Sweater/jacket: wine cellars can be cool even when it is very warm outside, so bring a sweater or a jacket.
Hat: consider bringing a hat in summer or late spring/early autumn. We may well go for a walk in the vineyard and the sun can be hot.
Dress code: as a general guideline, you can dress informally and comfortably on our tours. You are not expected to dress formally for any meals or visits. However, there is nothing to stop you dressing up a little more if you wish to do so. To some extent it depends on the context: for example, if you have booked a luxury tour with dinners at some of the grander Bordeaux châteaux, then a touch of formality might be in order.
Health matters: health, fitness and vaccinations
Our tours have no particular health or fitness requirements, but it is very likely that we will do some walking in wine cellars and vineyards, and tastings are often done standing rather than seated. Please contact us if you have any questions.
Most of our travel destinations have no particular requirements in terms of vaccinations or health precautions, but it is always a good idea to consult a medical professional, vaccination centre or the relevant embassy in your country of origin.
Advice regarding vaccinations and health precautions can vary depending on your nationality/country of origin, so it is impossible to give valid, detailed information for all travellers. Contact your doctor if you have any questions.
You can read more about this in our travel terms and conditions.
Health: reduced mobility and disabilities
If you have any disabilities or reduced mobility, please talk to us before you book your tour. You may also want to consult your doctor.
Often our tours are not suitable for people with substantially reduced mobility. There are nearly always steps in the cellars, and sometimes there can be a considerable distance to walk, for example when visiting vineyards or exploring the interminable tunnels of some champagne houses. But in most cases, these are obstacles that can be overcome with a little help, even if mobility is reduced.
Can I buy wines at the domaines?
Yes, you can, in most cases. Most producers are naturally very happy to sell bottles to visitors.
Some, but certainly not all, can arrange shipping.
Please note however that (for instance) many of the larger Bordeaux châteaux do not sell directly to end customers, nor to visitors, so in this case you will not be able to purchase wines during your visit. Some domaines, particularly in Burgundy, may have sold all their wines and thus will have nothing left to sell.
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 bottles around when travelling.
Food, meals, gastronomy
On all our tours, our aim is to give you a thorough grounding in local gastronomy, so you can expect very good to outstanding meals. Generally speaking, a meal will consist of several courses and take at least an hour and a half.
At BKWine we firmly believe that wine and food are intimately linked, and we have made this part of our wine travel philosophy. Thus a wine tour with us will always be a gastronomic experience, and the meals included on your trip are of gourmet level.
On most trips we will have at least one or two meals at a winery with the grower, giving you the chance to taste more wines and enjoy them with food, as part of a meal. This also means you can ask questions and enjoy a leisurely conversation over lunch.
We follow local customs and traditions. This means that when we are in Spain, lunch starts at 2pm at the very earliest, and dinner will not happen before 9.30pm. This is part of the joy of travelling: you learn to live like the locals.
We can accommodate virtually all kinds of food allergy. Gluten allergy in Italy? No problem. Vegetarian in Argentina? We have the solution. There’s just one important condition: you must let us know well in advance, before the start of the tour.
How many people will there be on a tour?
At BKWine we avoid having large groups on our scheduled tours. Some tour operators run groups of 30, 35 or even 40 people, but that’s not our style.
On our scheduled tours we limit the number of participants to approximately 8, although this can vary from trip to trip. Our southern hemisphere tours are longer than our European ones and usually have more participants (around 20 at the most). The maximum number of participants is noted in each tour programme.
That said, we don’t want our groups to be too small, as the ambience is often more enjoyable and the conversations with our hosts at the wineries can be more engaging when the group is of a certain size.
Note: Tailor-made tours are a different question: they can work well with both larger and smaller groups.
Tipping practices vary greatly from country to country. Your BKWine Tour Guide can tell you what is common in each location. American guests need to be aware that tipping is much less common in Europe than in the US and when done usually it is smaller sums. You are not expected to tip the BKWine Tour Guide, but of course you can if you want to.
Can I bring my dog or my cat?
No, pets are not allowed on our tours.
Children (those aged under 18) are not allowed on our tours.
Will we have time for regular sight-seeing? Should I stay longer?
All of our chosen destinations are wonderful places that warrant many days of exploration. But our tours focus on wine and gastronomy.
We recommend that you stay a little longer in the wine region or 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, if you are going on a Bordeaux wine tour. Or maybe take a few days to play golf, go to the beach and visit a few three-star restaurants. We will be happy to give you advice and recommendations.
On our wine tours, the itinerary is full. There won’t be a spare half day for souvenir shopping or slipping off to take photos of that stunning local landmark. We do try and give you a little free time for the most essential things, like a stroll around Saint-Emilion or a quick look at the Hospices de Beaune, but our tours are very much focused on wine and gastronomy.
That said, there are exceptions: for example, if you come on our 10-day tour to South Africa or our 16-day trip to New Zealand, we promise not to fill each and every day with nothing but wine visits: there will be other, equally wonderful things to see and do. Maybe boating on a glacier lake, watching seals, exploring the Cape of Good Hope…
What’s included in the tour price?
What is included in the tour price is always specified in the tour programme.
For most tours it looks like this:
- Transport in the wine region by bus
- Gastronomic lunches every day, often at a winery with a wine producer
- A tour manager and expert wine guide from BKWine, for guiding and translation as needed
- All visits including private tastings of multiple wines at the wineries
- Your transport to and from the destination
Note: porters to carry luggage are not available in most wine country hotels in Europe.
Can a tour I book be cancelled?
Yes, but this hardly ever happens.
Each tour has a “book no later than” date. At that date we take the final decision on whether the tour will happen or not (we specify the minimum number of participants required by that date, for each programme.) We suggest that you do NOT book any non-refundable air tickets before that date, as if there are not enough participants registered for a tour, we may have to cancel it.
However, this hardly ever happens.
One of the reasons this rarely happens is that our tours are generally well subscribed. But it is also because we know that cancelling a tour will disappoint a number of people, and that’s something we try very hard to avoid. We are much happier to occasionally squeeze our margins and keep our clients happy. Because if we do, we know they will come back.
So yes, a tour could be cancelled, but this is very rare.
Do you get repeat customers?
Perhaps this is not a question you’d think of asking, but we are happy to ask it ourselves.
Yes, we do have many clients who come back, again and again. On a typical trip, around 30%-50% of the participants have travelled with BKWine before. Our most faithful clients have been with us on more than ten different tours. As you can imagine, we’re very happy about that: it means that we’re doing something right!
Travel and cancellation insurance cover
BKWine does not arrange travel insurance or cancellation insurance.
We recommend that you contact your own insurance company to arrange a travel insurance policy, including cancellation cover, or contact a specialist travel insurer. Some home insurance policies include travel insurance so it is worth checking yours.
Read more about our policies in our Terms and Conditions.
Payment and cancellation
Please read our payment and cancellation terms carefully here: Terms and Conditions. Some tours have special conditions; if this is the case, it is clearly specified in the tour programme.
Passports and visas
Requirements in terms of passport, identity documents and visas will vary depending on your chosen destination and your nationality. We urge you to check what the requirements are with the relevant embassy in your country. We also strongly advise you to check that if your passport (if needed to travel) has at least six months validity.
Please read our Booking Terms and Conditions for details.
Do contact us if you have any other questions!