Among the excursions to wineries with guide one finds a bit of everything: from tours for millionaires with top tastings to the wine maker cyclist who accompanies his guests whilst on his bike
Read for you by Donatella Cinelli Colombini
Obviously the most visited region is Tuscany, obviously the wine tour market is online and the visitors are mostly North American but there is so much on offer, diversified and full of surprises that it is better we examine it with attention also because this subject is quite unexplored.
The first evident thing is that when you digit “winery tours” from the web you get mostly Tuscan proposals, some from Veneto, Piedmont and Sicily whilst if you write “visite in cantina” in Italian Google pulls out a list of wineries in Piedmont and sometimes in Sicily. This is already an indication as to which clientele the
“incoming agencies” have or rather transporters with VAT number and web site who sell wine tours.
A second and more decisive element for reflecting comes from the study carried out by Gruppo Poste Italiane proposed at Confesercenti in Siena in January 2014. On the web the search for the word Tuscany is associated with the word wine (21%) winery (9,7%) winery tours written in various ways ( 13%). The nation which mostly searches the destination Toscana on the l web is the US 31%, if on the other hand we consider the destination Siena the American searchers go up to 64% followed by the British Canadians and Australians making the English speaking group go over 90%.
So here is the explanation as to why wine tourism in Tuscany is so strong on the web especially in English.
On a world wide scale the most famous and excellent wine tour agency is the UK Arblaster & Clarke. It manages to get wine lovers into the most prestigious and exclusive wineries, it gets the guests to meet with winemakers and fantastic people. In other words they have the keys to wine making paradise. In Italy there is no one similar but Fufluns is the one that resembles them the most. It bears the name of the Etruscan god of pleasure and offers personalized holidays with unforgettable wine experiences in wine
areas, or private visits to unreachable wineries, and tours among the Michelin starred restaurants.…. Head of the agency is Filippo Magnani, among those aspiring to become the first Italian Master of Wine. Another pioneer in wine tours in Italy is Dario Castagno, success full writer– “Too much Tuscan sun” who personally accompanies guests into the heart of Chianti Classico following his own very very personal itinerary among men, places and wines.
Let’s get off the podium and see the most common wine torus on the web. A
daily excursion lasts about 7 hours on a mini bus and includes the tours and tasting in two wineries, as well as a typical lunch. Costs 130-160€ per person.
For those who want to travel alone or as a couple there is a car with driver who come to pick you up at the hotel in the morning at 9am and takes you back in the afternoon after having given you a tour of vineyards, a lunch and two stops in wineries for a tasting of important wines. The price here goes up to 500 -700€ per couple.
There are those who add an hour’s lesson in the “wine school”, a visit to an artisan and to a small city of art but more or less the scheme of things of daily wine torsi is quite consolidated.
Other than for wines the same agencies offer excursions dedicated to extra virgin olive oil, truffles, cheeses and naturally cookery lessons which seem to be all the rage at the moment. There are then tours where the bike or a trek is associated with wine. These proposals, for one or more days, unite the beauty of the panoramas with vineyards to dinners and tastings, sometimes in the company of the wine maker cyclist or with trekkers as guides.
To buy a winery tour, the simples channel is internet; to help in the choice there is Trip Advisor which allows one to verify the reviews of each proposal. In general the reviews are favourable, maybe because the rapport among guests and chauffer-guide – nearly all young and enthusiastic – transforms a trip through the Vineyards into nice adventures even when it rains.
However opening the web sites it is easy to find amateurish proposals where it is impossible to understand prices or maybe because there is just too much text.
Another way to book is through the small in coming agencies in the wine making places. Less useful are the web sites and the offices of the Wine Routes, in most cases they propose itineraries and list of wineries with opening hours but they do not sell wine torus, so the tourists must use their own car.
The periods that are preferred for wine tours are spring and autumn. From April to June the longer days allow one to enjoy panoramas up until diner time. In autumn the harvest time and after, the changing in colour of the leaves, to golden and red, offer emotions that are unforgettable. Many wine tours are actually dedicated to the harvest time and some propose mini experiences into the vineyard – Vendemmia tour – grapeharvest experience.