WINE TOURS FAQ

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Fine Vintage Wine Tours

Overview of Fine Vintage Wine Tours

Who is Fine Vintage?
Fine Vintage is a leading provider of wine education in North America and offers luxury wine tours to the world’s classic wine regions. James Cluer MW is the owner and operator of Fine Vintage. He is one of only 370 people in the world to have obtained the prestigious Master of Wine title. James has personally designed all of our wine tour itineraries, each of which is hosted by a Master of Wine.
Why take a Wine Tour with Fine Vintage?
Fine Vintage has long-established connections with the estates and hotels on our itineraries – they roll out the red carpet when we visit! Some of the estates we visit are not typically open to visitors, and for those that are, we are given privileged access that general visitors do not have access to. We have a team of 4 Masters of Wine that host our tours. Because of these connections, our visits are usually hosted by owners, winemakers, managing directors, or leading members of the estate team. Most importantly, we taste wines that are often hard to obtain and lots of them! Our accommodations are always the best a region can offer, and meals are carefully designed to provide you with a diverse menu paired with the best wines.
Are these tours only for people in the industry?
We welcome trade professionals, students, and general-interest wine enthusiasts. Each tour is a delightful combination of these groups of individuals, many of whom are repeated guests from previous tours. Many people simply want an educational and fun holiday and have only a basic knowledge of wine, but are keen to learn more.
Do I need to take a wine course before joining a wine tour?
No. There are no pre-requisites to joining a Fine Vintage wine tour – other than a love of great wine!  We find that most of our participants have taken a wine course at some point, but it is absolutely not a requirement to partake in one of our tours.

Before the tour

Destinations Offered

Who participates in a Fine Vintage wine tour?
We have a wide range of people joining our tours: young and mature; men and women; couples, family members, and singles; industry types and general wine enthusiasts. On each tour there is inevitably an interesting mix of people and our groups are always great fun. Most important, everyone shares a passion for wine!
How often are tours held?
It depends on the location. Our most popular destinations – Bordeaux, Champagne-Burgundy, and Tuscany – are generally offered twice a year: once in the spring and once in the fall. Our other core destinations – the Rhone Valley and Spain – are generally offered once a year. Other destinations, such as South Africa, are only offered every couple of years.

Tours Fees

What does the cost of the tour include?
The cost includes accommodation for the duration of the tour, breakfasts, winery visits, tastings, all lunches and dinners specified in the tour itinerary, local transportation for the duration of the tour itinerary, and all local taxes and gratuities. The cost does not include local transportation to/from the meeting/drop-off point, insurance, items of a personal nature, and meals not included in the itinerary (each destination will vary).

Registration

I am having problems registering. What should I do?
Please ensure you are using a Visa or Mastercard as these are the only two credit cards we accept. Also, please close and re-open your browser and try registering again as your computer may be storing history. If you are still having a problem, please contact us and we will get you registered right away.
How will I know if a tour I wish to register for is full?
When you identify the tour you wish to take, if it is full the tour will state: “This tour is full – please contact us to be added to the waiting list.”
I only wish to register for a couple of days of the tour (e.g. the first two days). Is that possible?
Unfortunately, Fine Vintage does not accept partial bookings for our tour itineraries. Our prices are inclusive for the dates posted for the tour location, dates, and itinerary.
My travel companion is booking and paying separately than me but we are sharing a room. How do we register without paying the single supplement?
On the registration form you will be prompted to answer if you are travelling with someone. Click “Yes” and enter their basic details. Our administration will ensure that neither of you are charged for the single supplement and that you will be in the same room as requested.
I am traveling solo at this time, but a friend may join me later. How do I register?
You will need to register as a solo traveler. Should a companion wish to join the tour at a later date, please have them mention in their online registration form that they will be traveling and sharing a room with you. In order to avoid the single supplement travel fee, you will also need to contact us that such-and-such a person will be traveling with you in the same room. In the event the companion joins the tour after you have been charged the single supplement fee, we will refund this supplementary fee to the credit card you used to book your tour.
I am traveling solo but want to share a room with someone. Does Fine Vintage arrange this?
No. Fine Vintage does not connect single travelers with other single travelers. Each single traveler is responsible for finding their own travel companion with whom they wish to share a room.
We are a group of 2 to 4 looking to organize a private wine tour to one of your destinations. Does Fine Vintage organize private tours of this nature?
The minimum number for a private tour with Fine Vintage is 16 guests. If your group is smaller than this, please register with a tour itinerary as posted online. For groups of 16 or more, please contact us to receive a quote for your group.

Payment Schedule

When will I be charged for the tour?
You are charged a non-refundable deposit immediately upon registration and you are sent an automated tour receipt. A second deposit is automatically charged by our ecommerce system at 120-days prior to the tour start date and this amount will vary according to the destination. The remaining balance – including the single supplement where applicable – is then automatically processed by our ecommerce system at 90 days prior to the start date using the credit card provided at the time of booking.  Should you book within less than 120 days of the start of the tour but before 90 days, you will be charged the non-refundable deposit and the 120-day deposit. Should you book within 90 days of the start of the tour, you will be charged the full amount. Please note that we accept Visa and Mastercard and all registrations must be done online.
Are payment plans available?
Payment plans are not available. Fine Vintage charges $1,000 per person upon registration, a second deposit at 120-days prior to the start date of the tour, and the remaining balance at 90-days prior to the start date of the tour. If the tour is less than 90 days away, the full balance per person is due.

Cancellations

I would like to cancel or change my registration. Can I get back all or part of my money?
All tour deposits of $1,000 are non-refundable from the time of registration. Remaining balances are refundable depending on the timing of the cancellation. The Fine Vintage Cancellation policy for each of our destinations is as follows:

  • 90 or more days before departure: Loss of non-refundable deposit
  • 43-90 days before departure: -50% of tour price
  • 29-42 days before departure: -75% of tour price
  • 15-28 days before departure: -90% of tour price
  • 1-14 days before departure: -100% of tour price
I have booked for a tour with Fine Vintage. When will I know the tour is confirmed?
In our 10 year history of running tours it is very rare that we have ever had to cancel one. Fine Vintage will confirm a tour 90-days prior to the start date of a tour, if not sooner. Fine Vintage reserves the right to cancel a tour due to extenuating circumstances such as minimum numbers are not met, political instability, or natural disaster. In the event Fine Vintage cancels a tour, you will receive a full refund (including the $1,000 deposit) to the credit card you used to register for the tour.

Transfer

Can I transfer from one tour to another?
Please carefully select the tour you are interested in as we do not transfer people from one tour to another once they have registered. There are no transfers allowed.

Age Registrations

How old do I have to be to join in a Fine Vintage tour?
You need to be of legal drinking age in the destination of the tour. In most cases, this age is 18 years old.

Visa Requirements

Do I need a visa to participate in the tour?
Depending on your citizenship you may require a visa to gain access into the country of the tour location. Please consult with your embassy to find out if a visa is required. Fine Vintage itself does not require visas to participate in our tours.

Travel to the Destination

Travel Insurance

Do I require travel insurance for my tour?
We strongly recommend that you consult with your travel agent to arrange your own travel insurance policy.

Flights

Do I need to book a flight for the tour?
Yes, you need to make your own travel arrangements to/from the pick-up/drop-off locations. The tour price includes hotels, meals, winery visits, and local transportation for the duration of the tour. Please consult with your travel agent to arrange the best flights to meet with our tour itineraries.

Hotels

What hotels are included in the tour?
Our tours generally include 4 nights’ hotel accommodations. An exception to this is South Africa (5 nights). Should you wish to arrive before or stay a night after at the hotel on our itinerary, we will connect you with our local booking agent to offer you a competitive price and ensure you are in the same room for the duration of your stay with Fine Vintage. Please note that payment for accommodations before/after our tour dates are the responsibility of the guest. Please contact the hotel directly to make your extended-stay reservation.
What hotels do you recommend?
For each of our destinations we recommend a select group of hotels near our pick-up/drop-off points, but you are not obligated to make reservations at these hotels. If the pick-up/drop-off hotel is not included in our itinerary we do not have rates to offer at these hotels; they are simply recommendations based on their proximity to our meeting/finishing points.

What To Expect On The Tour

Dress Code

What is the dress code?
We want you to feel as comfortable as possible, but as an overall guideline smart/casual is the theme to our visits. What does not work when we visit top wineries are running shoes, flip-flops, cut-off jeans, t-shirts, etc…

For gentlemen, collared shirts and pants is recommended. Jackets are not necessary but are often worn by some owners, and you will want one for the smart dinners, even if it’s just to walk in with it on. Ties are definitely not required.

For ladies, designer jeans are fine. Generally, dresses, long pants, skirts, and a variety of shoes and boots. Flatter shoes are recommended as you will go from a vineyard to a cellar to a lovely meal in succession.

What to Bring?

What do I need to bring on my tour?
The hotels on your tour are 4- to 5-star properties so have all the amenities. You will simply need to pack the clothing and personal items you will need for a 5-day tour (or more if you plan to stay in the region a few days before/after the tour dates). Our host will provide you with hard copy of your itinerary when you meet on the first day of the tour, but you are welcome to print one ahead of time if you like.

Tour Format

What language(s) are your tours offered in?
English. No previous knowledge of a local language is required for our tours.
How many people are on a tour?
Typically, we take a maximum of 20 guests on a tour. We find that this number allows for plenty of interaction while retaining a fun, intimate atmosphere.
Where do most people come from?
Our tour participants come from all over the world. Essentially, our tour participants speak the universal language of wine!
Who will host my tour?
Our tours are all hosted by a Master of Wine with a specialty in the region you are visiting. In some locations, a local guide will co-host to give you an extra perspective into the wines and culture of the region.

Tasting of Wines

How many wines will I taste?
Each tour consists of at least 60 different wine styles to taste – some even reach up to 100! The wines include not only current vintages but also barrel samples, older vintages, and wines not tasted on other organized tours. Ultimately, the goal of our tours is to give you an insider’s perspective on the local wines, their winemaking traditions, and how they pair with regional cuisine.
Can I participate in the tours without tasting the wine?
Absolutely! There is no requirement to consume the wines at any point in your tour itinerary. Please note in your registration if you are unable to consume alcohol for reasons of personal diet, religion, or health. Fine Vintage does not, however, offer a concessionary rate for those who do not intend to consume alcohol on our tours.
Will perfume/cologne affect my wine tasting experience?
Yes, heavily scented perfumes, colognes, skin products, and shampoos can affect your ability to enjoy the special wines you are tasting. Please also bare in mind that excessive scents can also impact the tasting enjoyment of your tour companions. We therefore kindly ask that applications of perfumes/colognes be kept to a minimum.

Purchasing Wines

Can I purchase wines at any of the wineries we visit?
Some wineries do have retail sales available but not all. Our itineraries include time to visit a local fine wine shop so that you can purchase wines from the area.
What arrangements can be made to ship my purchased wine back home?
Some wineries or retailers are able to arrange this for you depending on where you live. It is generally easiest to bring your purchased wines home with you and pay the duties (where applicable) when you arrive home.

Visitors Joining the Tour

I have a friend/relative who lives in the region we are visiting. Can they join the tour for a day or two?
Unfortunately, we do not accept anyone to join a partial portion of our tours. Please arrange to meet with your friends/relatives during scheduled free time on the tour itinerary.

Food Allergies

I have food allergies. What do I need to do?
When registering for a tour, please indicate in the “Special Requirements” section if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions. Our team will communicate these requirements to our local suppliers to ensure your dietary requirements are met. If you have forgotten to communicate any dietary restrictions as part of your registration, please notify us no later than 1 month prior to the start of the tour.  After this time we cannot guarantee a supplier may be able to meet the special requirements.

Missing Out of Winery Visits

What if I am unable to attend a tour visit for personal reasons?
In the event you do not feel up to attending a day of winery visits on your itinerary please speak with your local host. We are unfortunately not able to compensate for tastings/meals not participated in once a tour has started. In some tour itineraries, some days require transferring from a hotel in one city to another. It is up to the individual guest to make sure they are on the bus on the day of transferring, but they do not have to partake in winery visits along the way.
If I miss a visit to an estate, can I make up for it at another time?
No. Fine Vintage does not organize visits of an individual nature should one miss out on a pre-arranged appointment whether it be for personal reasons or to unforeseen changes to the Fine Vintage itinerary.
What happens to guests who display disruptive behavior on a bus or winery visit?
The tour host reserves the right to prevent a guest from participating in a wine tour activity due to disruptive behaviour. Disruptive behaviour toward the tour host, driver, fellow participants, or winery/hotel/restaurant staff will not be tolerated. Compensation will not be made for activities missed out on because of disruptive behaviour.

After The Tour

Gratuities

Do I need to tip anyone at the end of the tour?
No. All gratuities for tour guides, bus drivers, hotels, wineries, and restaurants are included in the price of your tour. Additional gratuities are entirely up to the individual tour participant; you are in no way obligated to contribute further gratuities for your tour.

Onward Travel

Where does my tour end?
Each destination has a drop-off point or points with an estimated time. Although we endeavor to make our drop-off times on time, extenuating circumstances such as construction, accidents, traffic, or strikes may delay our estimated arrival time. We suggest you make your onward travel reservation with possible unforeseen delays in mind.
Does Fine Vintage arrange onward travel?
No. Onward travel is the responsibility of the tour participant. Fine Vintage itineraries strive to drop guests off at a centrally located hotel, train station, or airport. Please communicate, with your local host, your onward journey plans and we will do the best we can to drop you off at the closest location.

For those who have booked hotel nights in the region after a tour has ended, please communicate to your local host if you need to return to the same hotel. In most cases our bus will drop you off but in some (Champagne-Burgundy, Spain, Tuscany) this is not possible due to distances traveled on the last day of the tour.