Fine Vintage runs luxury food and wine tours to Bordeaux, Champagne-Burgundy, Tuscany, Spain and South Africa. We are the only company offering wine tours designed and hosted by Masters of Wine, of which there are only 322 in the world.
When you take a tour with us you'll get access to wineries that are not normally open to the public. You'll have lunches and dinners with owners and winemakers at their wineries, and taste fine and rare wines that often cost hundreds of dollars per bottle. Simply put, you'll see and experience things that others don't.
The reason for having access to these people and places is because of our buying activities for airlines, hotels, retailers, our schools, and our Fine Vintage Wine Club. Our relationships with the winemakers and vineyard owners will provide you unparalleled access that goes well beyond other wine tours. Our tours are carefully crafted to be 1st class at every step. We stay in excellent hotels, enjoy wine tastings in the region's top wineries, and eat in the best restaurants. And it's all in a fun and relaxed atmosphere!
The tours are popular with all types of wine lovers. There are always wine professionals and wine students, but the majority of people are wine lovers who simply want to experience the great estates and taste some stunning wines. There's no need to be intimidated. It's our goal to make sure everyone is comfortable and enjoys the trip. Most of all, we always have a really fun group and there's no shortage of laughs.
We run our tours in partnership with various local travel agencies and collaborate with the leading expert in the area as Host. James Lawther MW, the famous writer for Decanter magazine, covers France and Spain. Cathy van Zyl MW will show you inside South Africa, and Philip Goodband MW (previous Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine) will show you around the magical wineries of Tuscany. James Cluer leads certain tours as well.
The tours typically last about 5 days, you taste between 70-100 wines, and eat like a King. It's luxurious, and our guests says it is excellent value for money for what they experience.
We take a maximum of 20 people. It's small enough to be intimate, yet there are enough people to make it diverse and fun. So have a look at our itineraries but don't delay in booking a trip. They've been known to sell out very fast and many people are repeat guests. There are several testimonials below. Feel free to email me at James@finevintageltd.com with any questions you may have.
James Cluer, MW
I am delighted to recommend Fine Vintage Wine Tours. From start to finish, our 2012 Bordeaux trip was nothing short of excellent. James Cluer and James Lawther were entertaining and knowledgeable hosts making sure that all of the tour participants were well looked after. First class service, first class accommodations, first class dining, and most importantly, unparalleled access to some of the finest wines on the planet. Bravo!
- Bill Holder, Vancouver, BC
Just a note to say how much Jacqui & myself enjoyed our recent trip to Bordeaux. James Lawther was a terrific Host, very knowledgeable, well organised & he looked after us very well. We certainly thought we received great value for money & we both look forward to doing the Burgundy & Italian Tours at a future time.
- David Leckie, Sydney, Australia
A special thank you to the Fine Vintage team for putting together such an unforgettable experience in Bordeaux! To give this trip a 10/10 would be a massive understatement as every aspect of the tour far exceeded my expectations. I was especially impressed with our host James Lawther as he has a wealth of knowledge of the Bordeaux region, which made the tour both entertaining and educational. My bucket list includes visiting every premium wine region of the world and I intend to do it with the Fine Vintage team – first class all the way!
- Kimberly Jurgilas, Toronto, ON
I have known James Cluer for several years now and knew that any wine tour that he would organize would be first rate. This was confirmed when I went on the Bordeaux wine tour in May 2012. James Cluer and James Lawther were our guides and with two such knowledgeable leaders I knew we would be in good hands. The accommodation at Chateau Smith Haut Lafite was excellent and each of the chateaux we visited gave us a warm and professional welcome. Everything worked smoothly and it was such a pleasure to be driven everywhere so we didn't have to be concerned about that. Even though we tasted many different wines I never felt I had overindulged... with such good wines and the relaxed but responsible attitude of everyone on the tour it was never an issue. I particularly liked the other people on the tour – there was a good mix from many different countries and with only 20 of us we had the opportunity to get to know people, chat and laugh! As a result of this good experience, we have booked to go on two more tours with Fine Vintage.
First class all the way! What a perfect way to get behind the scenes in this prestigious wine region. James was a knowledgeable and friendly host who gave us just the right amount of information. The wineries were a very good mix of small and large producers; and the group was small enough to ask questions in a relaxed setting. The food! Every bite at every meal a delight. Wines were paired very well with each dish. The hotel was a beautiful place to come back to each day. The rooms were comfortable and had spectacular views of the vineyards out of every window. We stayed a few extra days to enjoy the grounds and the spa. If you want a pampering vacation in one of the most historic wine regions of France, I highly recommend the Bordeaux trip.
- Valerie Brockbank, Wilsonville, OR
My family and I were on the Bordeaux trip in May of 2012. It was easily the most memorable guided tour I've ever been on. It felt like a saunter through fairy-tale land, as the chateaux were everything that one could dream of and more. Aside from the surreal environment and the tasting of some epic wines that one rarely has access to, the food and lodging were world class, and the team at Fine Vintage were constantly keeping things relaxing, interactive, and educational. The guides were attuned to everyone's comfort level with wine, and the pace of the tours was perfect. The trip was incredibly cohesive, and by the end of it there was a special, almost unspoken bond created by all the tour members. Fine Vintage has set the precedent for wine tourism and I look forward to exploring the world of wine with them again in the future, wherever it may be.
- Jon Smolensky, Vancouver, BC
I believe it was in September of 2007 when I went to Bordeaux with Fine Vintage. It was the trip of a lifetime. The place we stayed at was superb. Every Chateau made us welcome. I especially liked that each Chateau gave insight into a different aspect of wine making. At one they spoke of the experiences of hiring seasonal workers for the vendage, at another the importance of aspect, yet another gave insight into biodynamic techniques. We visited coopers and learned about barrels. We chatted with wine makers, chateau owners, vineyard managers, personnel managers and négociants. It was all so smooth and seamless that I did not even realize how much I learned at the time, but even today as I speak with anyone about wine I find myself referring to what I learned on that trip. The wines we tasted were nothing short of superb. The food we ate was absolutely gorgeous to the eye, to the nose and to the palate. Every meal was in an exquisite setting. The company was delightful. I am seriously considering taking this particular trip again as there was so much to learn. I would encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about wine to take this trip, keep a daily journal of their experiences and have your tasting journals at the ready. Many of these wines are seriously among the best in the world.
- Adrienne Johnston
The Fine Vintage May, 2013 tour of Bordeaux surpassed by expectations. James Lawther was a fantastic trip guide, ensuring all went smoothly, spending time to get to know each of us, and providing insightful and educational knowledge of the Bordeaux area. The experiences at each Chateaux allowed us enough time to understand their technique and history and the wines and meals were among the best I've experienced. It's hard to pick one best moment of the trip because each day was filled with tastes of delicious wine, beautifully presented meals, and access to wine makers who took the time to explain their craft. I highly recommend this trip!
- Cathleen Woodward, Boston MA
In my 70's, my daughter and I discovered WSET wine courses through Master of Wine, James Cluer. James is a consummate teacher and encourager, drawing students into confidence, teaching with with and wisdom. I feel privileged to have had my WSET experience with him. At 75 years of age, I completed the advanced program and wanted more! The more turned into a trip to Bordeaux, in September of 2010, with a wonderful group of fellow students. The Bordeaux experience was much more than I expected! It consolidated my learning in an experiential setting that demystified the complexity and wonder of Bordeaux. Now, at 78, my daughter and I have signed up for the Australian Wine Tour, in January of 2014. I can hardly wait!
- Lance Woods, Vancouver BC
My first encounter with Fine Vintage was at a WSET course. I had the good fortune to have James Cluer as my teacher. I was more than impressed by James knowledge and talent in teaching. I also loved his good sense of humour and energy. Further to this I decided to check out Fine Vintages tours and couldn't resist trying one of them out. I chose the Napa Valley tour. I have taken many culinary classes in Italy and locally here in Vancouver, have been on 5-star all inclusive culinary tours in the past and was totally wowed by the quality and professionalism of the Napa Valley tour offered by Fine Vintage. The tour was unique, intimate, and luxurious all the way, and surpassed all expectations. The tour was well organized and every detail thought of. I can't say enough about the culinary and amazing wines we experienced. As a side note, I usually travel with my husband but had decided to do this one solo as a wine tour was more up my alley. I was a bit apprehensive but went for it. It ended up being perfect. I met a number of other solo travellers and had one of the best vacations I've ever had. To this day, a few years later, I am still friends with one special lady I met on the tour and we share our love for wine over many dinners with our partners. Napa Valley will not be the last tour I take with Fine Vintages and I have no hesitation to recommend it to all of my very "fussy" friends!
- Lyne Lafortune,
I have done two trips with Fine Vintage Ltd.; both were life changing for me in the best possible sense…with the possible exception of my waistline!
As someone newly emerging from a good bruising in the family law department, I was delighted and thrilled to find camaraderie and a shared sense of adventure. I had a very positive room sharing experience, despite my tendency to value my privacy.
Really exceptional wines, food, company and incomparable settings - this is the norm with Fine Vintage Ltd. Where else will you be invited to private dinners at top chateaux, with a welcome that not only includes superlative champagne or rare barrel samples, but probably your country flag waving proudly from the turrets!
If you are on the fence about taking one of these trips, just know that to choose not to, could become your greatest regret. A trip like this is an experience not to be missed. It's the VIP treatment you've always wondered about, but with intelligence and without the fuss and bother of paparazzi!
Do it! Don't wait!
- Marion Austin-Cook
My wife Karen and I were on the Tuscany tour in May of this year. The experience was all we could have asked for. James and Filippo were excellent guides, combining very extensive knowledge of the region with plenty of humor and fun. Several times they were able to add a personal touch to the tour, whether it was bringing us to Filippo's village to enjoy food, music, and dance with his family and friends, or the visit from Sergio the world champion gelato maker. The tour had a good balance of scheduled events and free time. The accommodations were excellent, very comfortable and clean. The wineries we toured were top quality and it was a treat to visit some locations which we would not be able to see if we were on our own. Lastly I must comment on the rest of the tour group. We were very pleased with the other members of the tour, who all seemed to enjoy each other's company. It was certainly not a bus full of wine snobs. The group had lots of knowledge, but never let it get in the way of having a few laughs. We look forward to the next trip we can take with Fine Vintage!
- Rob Langill
When I first met James and he told me he did wine tours, I thought it might be fun to go with someone who is as knowledgeable as he is. Then I signed up for Spain… and he redefined “fun” for me… we tasted, we nosed, we swirled, we danced, we sang, and we ATE… and along the way, somewhere between the fabulous hotels and the awe inspiring vineyards and the heady aromas in the cellars, we became compadres of the grape, students of the moment, and lovers of those things that happen when it's a carefree time in our lives. Take a tour with James…you will never be the same...
- Bruce Fox, Australia