9 Must-Know Strategies For Your Dream Wine Tour

Pascale Bernasse | Saturday, Mar 27th 2021


Have you ever dreamt of going on a wine tour of France and thought to yourself, I’d love to do that, but I have no idea where to begin!

Hi, I’m Pascale Bernasse with French Wine Explorers. And we help French wine lovers become Connoisseurs with our immersive online classes and wine tours in France.

So you’ve made the decision you want to go on a wine tour in France. Congratulations! What we’re going to do, is offer you nine strategies to help ensure success when planning a wine Tour in France. Now, the first thing that you can do, which is what many people do, is scouring the internet for information. After going down about three rabbit holes, you’ll quickly discover that there’s a wide variety of information and a little bit of misinformation when it comes to planning a wine tour in France.

So let’s go over the main tips and tricks to better plan your wine tour abroad.

  • The first tip or strategy that we recommend is to plan six to nine months in advance.
    • A successful trip requires proper planning, and proper planning cannot happen in a month. Six to nine months is what you’re going to need to make sure that you have the time dedicated to planning a successful tour.
  • Strategy number two, is when to travel; Now, we usually recommend that you travel slightly off-season or off season.
    • Why is that? Because you just don’t want to be with crowds. Crowds do not equal fun, crowds do not equal joy.
    • So think about going in late spring, early summer, or in the fall. And if you really, really want to have the best experience, think about going in the early spring or the late fall. Those two times are the least in-demand times for wine tours. So keep that in the back of your mind.
  • Accommodations and Drivetime; this is critical.
    • First, when it comes to accommodations, you want to make sure that the hotel or the villa, wherever you’re going to be staying has the modern amenities you’re looking for. I’ll give you a quick story. A lot of hotels, and definitely villas have air conditioning, but they only turn the air conditioning on between May and October. So what does that mean? If you’re on an October tour, because we told you that’s a good time to go. And there’s no air conditioning and you run hot, you’re not going to be happy. So it’s really critical that you know exactly what you need to make sure you sleep well and rest well.
    • And what the accommodations are going to offer you as far as modern amenities. Another example is, if you don’t like crawling into a bathtub to take a shower, you need to make sure that where you’re staying has a shower that you can walk into. Those are just small tips, but they really do make a difference.
  • Drive times: where you’re choosing your location to stay is critical in terms of how far it is away from wine touring.
    • We have a lot of guests who let us know that they want to stay in a specific property and usually the property is amazing. However, it’s two hours away from wine touring. So that doesn’t make too much sense in terms of how you spend your time.
    • So what you want to do is find a location that’s easy to access, as far as wine touring is concerned, and has those amenities.
    • And please, whatever you do, when you look at a map, everything may look close together, but it’s the winding roads that will take a lot of time. So do a Google Map search of, between your accommodations and some of the places you want to visit. And that’ll give you a really good idea of the real time it’s going to take to get there.
  • Number four, don’t drink and drive.
    • If you’re going on a wine tour, and you want to taste wine, it makes no sense to be the driver. And if you decide that you’re the driver and that you’re just going to spit. Actually, you’re still imbibing some of the alcohol, so it’s quite dangerous to be doing that as well.
    • So why not give that up to somebody else who’s a professional, who knows where they’re going, and will allow you to enjoy the wine during your tour.
  • Be adventurous.
    • What I mean by that is, make sure you discover an appellation you’re unfamiliar with or one you think you don’t care for. This has happened to me in the past. I’ve been exposed to appellation where I thought, I’m not really interested in the wine and then I fell in love with the wine.
    • So give yourself room to grow as far as your wine knowledge is concerned and an appellation or region that you are unfamiliar with, or don’t care for.
  • Less is more.
    • When it comes to quality wine touring, the quality of your visits is much more important than the quantity of visits. So think about, how much wine can you take in a day? And what’s the best way to have that wine?
    • One of the tricks that we use is we’ll do a wine tasting in the morning, followed by a wine tasting lunch. Because let’s face it, wine tastes better with food. So that’s a great way to expose yourself to wine. That’s enjoyable and relevant.

Okay, so we’ve gone over the five strategies for planning a successful wine tour.

Now let’s go over the four strategies for a successful international trip.

Whether it’s on a France wine tour, or anywhere abroad:

  • The first thing is what’s in and what’s out.
    • What is out, are bucket list trips, Instagram trips, and cover of magazine trips. What I mean by that is, decide why you’re going on your trip. The why is going to help fuel and determine the how.
    • So for example, if you’re going on a trip, like a wine tour, maybe you’ll have a mission behind it with a goal of, I would like to discover the Grand Crus of champagne, for example, that’s a good one to try.
    • And having a mission is going to help determine your itinerary, how you travel when you travel, and the why is going to be the driving force of your how. And it also is going to allow you to feel more whole and more full upon return.
  • The second tip for international travel is to avoid crowds.
    • I think that that is sufficient to say that everybody is looking to avoid crowds. Now more than ever, it’s really important.
    • So travel on the offseason will help you avoid crowds, for sure. Then travel to regions that are less in demand. The good news is wine country in France is not overrun by tourists. So there’s a great possibility that you’re going to avoid crowds if you’re in a wine region in France.
    • Another way to avoid crowds is to try a private experience. This could be a private estate visit with a winemaker, it could be a private lunch with a winemaker at an estate or it could be a private tour. In any event, you want some type of private experience that will allow you to really have time dedicated for you. And guess what? You’re also going to better understand the region because you’re with a local.
  • Plan for contingencies.
    • What I mean by that is, to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Now in one of our videos, we went over in detail what Cancel For Any Reason Insurance is, and that would be a great place to start. You want to have proper insurance in place should something happen to you that would not allow you to go on your trip, or should something happen to you while on tour.
    • Also, plan for emergency situations. Make sure someone at home knows your itinerary and has a copy of your itinerary and bring a copy of your passport with you in case you lose your passport.
    • Third, when planning for contingencies, expect the unexpected and embrace it because there is usually where the value lies in the trip. So having a flexible attitude, and setting a level of expectation that determines that you can’t control everything, will take you very far when planning a successful trip abroad.
  • Plan for success. And this is easy.
    • There are many ways you can plan for success with international travel, especially when it comes to airline travel. The first thing I would recommend is you sign up for Global Entry.
    • And Global Entry allows you to bypass all the lines in customs and passport control when re-entering the United States, just go through a kiosk. That has saved us an incredible amount of time and after a long international flight, it’s welcome.
  • Another way to plan for success is to travel with only a carry-on.
    • Now I know what you’re thinking; that’s impossible. It is not impossible. I actually have an entire video dedicated on how to travel with a carry on. And I’ve been doing it for over 20 years.
  • The third thing we recommend and helping you plan for success with an international flight is a VIP meet and greet at the airport. In your arrival country, somebody will actually meet you as you exit airplane, whisk you off to expedited passport and customs control and help you with your luggage. So you feel a little bit like a rock star. But more importantly, after a long transatlantic flight, it is a necessity to have someone take you away and not have to worry about waiting in a line that could take you two hours to get through passport control.

So let’s recap the nine strategies to help you plan a successful wine tour of France.

  • You want to plan six to nine months in advance.
  • You want to go during a time that is not too heavily traveled to avoid the crowds.
  • We don’t recommend you drink and drive when you’re on a wine tour.
  • Less is more. Quality over quantity.
  • Do heavy research on your accommodations and your drive times.
  • Bucket lists are out, intentionality is in.
  • Avoid crowds but get to know the locals.
  • Plan and anticipate problems
  • And plan for success.

Thanks for watching. Don’t forget you can get our free guide to wine tasting like a pro.

We’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, we say cheers and travel well. Take care!