We strongly believe that your experience of the wine regions we visit will be so much richer, more educational and more enjoyable on one of our trips than it would be on your own. Here’s why:
• You’ll learn so much more than you would on your own! You’ll have a fabulous, internationally-renowned instructor with you at all times to give you fascinating information, make sure you understand the nuances and subtleties of the region and its wines, and respond to all of your questions
• You will have AMAZING tastings and get access to estates you would not be able to visit on your own. We have the highest-level contacts in each region, so you’ll get to taste many more wines at each estate, and you’ll be welcomed as an honored guest.
• Your instructor has lived or worked with France, Italy or Spain for many years and has extensive experience and contacts within the region. So you’ll get expert information about the wine business there, and an insider’s take on local culture.
• You don’t have to take chances on hotels or restaurants you don’t know. With more than a decade of experience in these wine regions, we use our first-hand knowledge to choose only the best hotels and restaurants for your trip.
• You’ll have an itinerary that makes the most of the limited time you have in the wine region, minimizes driving time, and ensures that you get a thorough overview of the region and its wines.
• You don’t have to drive! So you don’t have to worry about wasting time getting lost (which is easy to do on the back roads of France or Italy), or about drinking wine at meals. You can just relax, enjoy and learn.
• You get the camaraderie and pleasure of exploring the wine region with other like-minded people who are as passionate about wine as you are.
• Your instructor and tour manager will translate for the group at all times, so you will have no communication issues (many winemakers in France, Italy and Spain don’t speak English).
The trips begin and end in the wine region you’ll be visiting. For your convenience, all trips start and end in or near a city.
You can fly into most major European cities and then take a high-speed trains to our starting point. You can purchase your tickets online at the following links:
We will take care of all group transportation needs during the week. Information on the trip starting and ending point is included in the itinerary for each trip, and you’ll be sent all the information you need to make your travel arrangements once you reserve your space on the trip.
You’ll have a great time on our trips! Although we include lots of great information and learning opportunities in each trip, we're very aware that this is also your vacation. So the instructors make sure that the atmosphere stays light and fun while also being fascinating and educational.
Participants tend to be bon vivants who enjoy the good things in life. Laughter erupts often, particularly at meals. And the winemakers often are characters and great fun! You’ll also have some time on your own to enjoy a quiet meal, perhaps with new friends you meet on the trip, to visit a beautiful village or historic site, or to take a dip in the pool before dinner and just relax.
Our trips are scheduled between the months of April and October, during the growing season of the vine. France has a temperate climate, with generally mild conditions throughout the year. In most European wine regions the average temperature rarely gets above 80-90°F (26-32C), (which is why we don’t schedule trips in those regions in July and August). We schedule our trips to give you the best possible chance of enjoying good weather.
At some of the finest estates in each region, you'll receive a warm welcome, very often with the winemaker themselves with whom our instructors have arranged professional-level tastings. In most cases, you will tour the technical facilities (vat room and aging cellars) in addition to your tasting. You may taste from the barrel or vat in addition to recent and older vintages in bottle. Sometimes you’ll taste in the cellar, sometimes in the estates tasting room itself, and other times outdoors.
During some visits, you’ll go out into the vineyard with the winemaker to discuss vineyard management and harvesting. If the winemaker doesn’t speak English; the instructor will translate for him or her, and for you if you have questions. Each estate visit is unique: you might see a cooper making barrels; there may be beautiful gardens; a special art exhibit or museum.
You get good value for your money on our trips, as they are nearly all-inclusive and include unique and extraordinary learning and touring opportunities as well as a very high level of instruction and services.
All of the trips include accompaniment and instruction throughout by one of our internationally-renowned instructors, and the services of an experienced tour manager to handle logistics and provide excellent customer service.
Also included are accommodations at superior 4-star hotels with air conditioning, WiFi and en-suite bathrooms; transportation by air conditioned coach; all fees for top-quality winery tours including educational tastings; all buffet breakfasts; most lunches and several dinners at the region’s best restaurants, often including Michelin-starred restaurants; premium wines at meals; and all taxes and restaurant gratuities.
For regions where we have Master Level programs available, participants receive access to the full Master-Level course for the region (including hard-copy manual and exam-sit). Note: Access to the Master-Level study program is granted 90 days prior to your departure after your final payment is received.
Is it mandatory to take the course to go on the Trip? Is the course included in the price of the Trip?
The objective of our immersion study trips is to allow participants to learn as much as possible about the visited region and its wines.
For regions where we have Master Level programs available, it is mandatory to take the WSG Master Level course for the region you have chosen to visit. The price of the course is included in the price of the Trip. And it is important to take the course before the trip to be able to keep up with the instruction, which will be delivered assuming that everyone has already taken the course and has all the basic information already.
An Enrolled Study Price for the trip applies to those currently studying the regions' Master-Level program or who have completed it.
Full registration in the region’s Master-Level program means students who have previously ordered the region's Master-Level study manual, exam registration and online study program. Some registrants may have had access to part of the program package and this will be taken into account on a case-by-case basis. If an updated manual is needed, it can be purchased at a 50% discount.
I’m just starting to learn about wine. Do I need to have a ‘Master Level’ in wine to take a Study Trip?
The Study Trips are open to everyone who is interested in learning more about French, Italian and Spanish wine. The Wine Scholar Guild provides foundation-level reading materials to help you to learn the basics before you start the Master-Level course for the region you’ll be visiting. This information will enable you to approach the region and the Master-Level course from a position of strength.
We recommend you take the time to read and study the course in advance of the trip, you will learn a great deal and then during the trip, everything will come together as you see the region with your own eyes and taste the wines in the places where they are made.
And... learning about wine doesn’t have to be like going back to school. It can be serious good fun!
PREPARING FOR THE TRIP
Please ask the instructor if there is enough time at the end of the visit for you to make your purchase without impeding the progress of the trip. Not all estates sell at the estate; in Bordeaux, for example, very few of the Classified Growth chateaux sell wine at the chateau (they sell exclusively through wine merchants). And not all estates offer international shipping.
If you would like to purchase wine we recommend that you ask your government’s customs office for their rules and regulations if you intend to bring wine back into your country, or have wine shipped to you.
You always have the option of bringing wine home with you in your checked luggage. Depending on your home country, this amount will vary. You may have to pay some amount of duty on your wine when you go through customs. Therefor, it's best to check with your local authorities for further information.
For day, it's best to bring clothing that’s casual without being grungy – avoid sweats and old sneakers, for example. Especially for our visits to First Growth chateaux and other very prestigious estates, slightly more elegant attire is requested and appreciated.
We'll be doing some walking, plus the cellars can be damp, so best to avoid high heels and opt for comfortable shoes for day. For walks in the vineyards, you’ll want appropriate walking shoes or sneakers. For evening, do bring some dressier clothes for dinners in elegant restaurants.
Please visit the following websites:
TRANSPORTATION, FOOD & LODGING
We choose 4-star hotels to ensure a high level of comfort, including en-suite bathrooms, WiFi and air conditioning. It’s also important for the hotels to be well-situated in the region, to keep driving time and distance to a minimum and to make sure you are as close as possible to the vineyards and other local sites of interest.
We thoroughly check out each hotel before including it in a trip. In wine regions that are large and spread-out, you will only change hotels once or twice during a week-long trip (to keep driving times to a minimum each day), and in other regions there is only one centrally-located hotel.
Charming, typically French, Italian and Spanish hotels are often located in historic buildings.
The trade-off of staying in these lovely, authentic hotels is that sometimes, for some hotels, the rooms we reserve for our group will not all be alike. There may be some difference in the size of the rooms, the view from each room may be different, the décor may be different, etc. Since many of these hotels are also fairly small, it’s sometimes difficult to get the number of rooms we need to be all in the same category. So we may have to take rooms in two different categories, and there may be a slight price difference between the two categories. ALL rooms will be lovely and have the same level of comfort and services (A/C, WiFi, en suite bathrooms, TV, etc.), no one will get a “bad” room, they just may not all be exactly alike.
If this is the case for a certain itinerary, it will be noted in the itinerary so you are informed in advance. Additionally, we will fill the rooms in the order of sign-ups for the trip, filling the highest category rooms first, to reward those who sign up quickly.
Most meals are included in the trip price. You’ll enjoy lunches and dinners at excellent, typically-French, Italian or Spanish establishments that offer finely prepared dishes.
Most dinners are gastronomic and include three or four courses; lunches are gourmet but somewhat lighter so you stay alert during your afternoon visits and tastings.
Most of the time, there will be a set menu expertly selected for your enjoyment with the same dishes for everyone, with the exception of those who have specified a dietary restriction in advance (see dietary restrictions, above).
Meals offer great opportunities to discuss food and wine matching, of course!
Most trips include a few lunches and/or dinners on your own, so you can try local restaurants of your choice or have a lighter meal if you wish.
We expertly match premium wines from the region we're visiting with each dish, including prestigious wines.
Meals offer an opportunity to taste some wines from appellations that may not be represented in the winery tastings, or to introduce you to some interesting or unusual wines your instructor feels merit your attention.
There are usually several different wines served with each meal. At all meals, we include a minimum of a half-bottle of wine per person. All wines included in your trip are expertly chosen by the instructor. You are always welcome to purchase additional wine or other beverages at your own cost in addition to those we choose.
We always do our best to accommodate special needs. It's usually possible to provide a substitute meal or dish if you cannot eat what everyone else is eating, as long as you let us know about your allergies and intolerances at the moment that you register for the trip. The reservation form you will fill out to reserve your space on the trip includes a place where you can specify these special dietary needs. If you have not informed us of your specific dietary needs, we cannot ensure that these will be met.
ORGANIZERS & INSTRUCTORS
Our trip instructors are among the most renowned and respected wine professionals in the wine business. They are also professional wine educators who are absolutely passionate about the region and its wines.
You can see a full biography of the instructor for each trip on the web page for the trip, so you can know exactly with whom you'll be touring and learning. Most are native English speakers (American or British), and they all speak English fluently. Our instructors have that special combination of high-level wine expertise, personal warmth, friendliness, and excellent leadership skills. They'll accompany you every day, throughout the trip, and will be able to answer all of your questions about the wines of the region you’ll be visiting (and wine in general).
BOOKING A TRIP
For regions where Master Level programs exist, 90 days prior to a trip start date, participants who have reserved a place on the Trip and paid their final balance will receive in the mail from the Wine Scholar Guild a Master-level study manual for the region you will be visiting and studying.
The Wine Scholar Guild will also email you with all the information you’ll need to access the Master-level online study program.
Yes, we strongly encourage you to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance package once you have paid your deposit for a Study Trip. Note that many plans require you to purchase the insurance very soon after your deposit payment (some require it within 14 days).
There are any number of things that can happen that can cause cancellation or interruption of package travel, and travel insurance can help cover costs you incur as a result. You can find travel insurers easily on the Internet, and there are sites where you can compare policies (for example, https://www.insuremytrip.com/ ).
Be sure to read policies very carefully before you purchase. Include your airfare, train fare and any other expenses you will have in addition to the price of the study trip itself. We highly recommend getting a “cancel for any reason” policy, which offers the best coverage. Travel experts say “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel,” so don’t skimp on this important coverage.
"Students of Wine"; whether wine industry professionals or serious wine hobbyists who wish to learn about the wines of France, Italy and Spain with the leader in French, Italian and Spanish wine education and certification.
Yes, you need to be in good physical condition. We will be walking short distances into the vineyards, or from the hotel to dinner (i.e., 10-15 minutes at a time), walking through a winery, up and down stairs, and often standing in place for a while during a winery tour and tasting (sometimes there is no place to sit).
Yes, definitely. We keep group size to no more than 18 participants, to make sure that everyone gets individual attention. In Bourgogne and Piedmont, where wineries are very small, we limit to 15 participants. The smaller group size also allows us to use a smaller motor coach, so we can take smaller, more scenic country roads and maneuver more easily through narrow estate access roads. It also enables us to visit exclusive estates that do not accept large groups.