Frequently Asked Questions

If you haven’t been on a wine tour before, or indeed on one of my tours, I hope these answers to some questions you may have will be helpful.
Please refer to the Terms & Conditions if you are planning to book a tour.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of any my tours, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
What does the price of a tour include?
What isn’t included?
Why are my tours so reasonably priced?
How to book?
What is the Meeting Point?
Who arranges travel to the wine region?
What kind of vehicle do we use for transfers/visits?
Is travel insurance required?
What kind of hotels do we stay at?
What is a day ‘on tour’ like?
Do people need lots of wine knowledge to enjoy a tour?
Might new clients feel out of place among lots of people who have toured before?
Do we ever suffer from wine information overload?
Why don’t I have a tour manager?
Why don’t I use experts as wine guides?
What are meals like?
Can we cater for vegetarians and vegans, or people with food intolerances?
How much travel is involved each day?
How fit do wine tourists need to be?
Is there a dress code?
What about ‘bespoke’ tours?

What does the price of a tour include?

Tim Syrad Wine Tours-Umbria-TastingMy tour price includes all accommodation, transfers and travel from and to the Meeting Point (see below), breakfast each day, at least one dinner or lunch each day (except the departure day) at which we will sample local cuisine alongside wines of the area we are visiting, and of course all elements of the visits to wineries or other tasting opportunities.


What isn’t included?

Unless otherwise specified in the brochure, your travel before the commencement of the tour at the Meeting Point.
Evening meals on days on which we have tasting lunches – it’s unlikely you will be very hungry, but most people like to stroll around the town where we are staying and have a light meal or snack.
Additional services at the hotel eg telephone, room service, laundry, bar.
Wine you may wish to buy to take home (or consume later) at the wineries we visit.


Why are my tours so reasonably priced?

Tim-Syrad-Wine-Tours-Puglia-LunchI plan, manage and conduct all my tours myself.  So I don’t need to employ tour managers or expert wine guides, and I don’t have a big ‘back office’ of people selling.  I don’t spend lots of money on marketing, because the vast majority of my clients have come on the recommendation of their friends.  Having this low cost base enables me to spend more of your money on great wine on our visits, fantastic meals, with no ‘two glasses per person’ limit, and lovely hotels in lovely places.


How to book?

Use the enquiry form to state your interest in a tour. I will reply by return, confirming there is availability and answering any questions you may have – I’m very happy to chat things through with you, which gives you a chance to find out more about me and my approach to wine tours. I can send you the booking form, or you can download it from the website – this asks for information on you, including Travel Insurance details (I do require everyone who comes on tour with me to have adequate travel insurance, and I am happy to help with arranging this). A deposit of £100 will then assure your place, the balance needs to be paid 8 weeks before the tour starts.


What is the Meeting Point?

I set a Meeting Point for every tour, and take care of all travel from that point. In Europe tours the Meeting Point will be the most convenient airport for the tour destination. This may not be the closest airport, but the one that has the best flight alternatives from UK airports.
If more convenient you may join or leave the tour at our hotel. My clients often choose to spend a few days in our base before or after the tour.
On New World tours the Meeting Point is the hotel where we are staying at the start of the tour, and if we have multiple destinations, the final hotel is the point from which you will need to arrange your onward or homeward travel.


Who arranges travel to the wine region?

With the occasional exception on specific tours of travel by coach from London, I do not arrange travel to the tour destination. Many of my clients prefer to extend their holiday before or after my tours, or use their air miles to pay for flights.


What kind of vehicle do we use for transfers/visits?

Tim-Syrad-Wine-Tours-CoachOn visit days we use a comfortable roomy coach. We may use a different vehicle for transfers, suitable to transport luggage. There is always room for wine clients may wish to purchase during our visits.

Tim-Syrad-Wine-Tours-Alternative-TransportOccasionally on vineyard visits we switch to a more suitable form of transport.


Is travel insurance required?

It is a condition of the tour that all parties have adequate travel insurance. If you need assistance in arranging your travel insurance please contact me.


What kind of hotels do we stay at?

Tim-Syrad-Wine-Tours-Hotel-RoomI always seek out good quality hotels, centrally located in a town that offers good opportunities for strolling out in the evening to enjoy a drink or meal. I don’t base my judgement on the star rating, rather the size of rooms, standard of facilities, quality of breakfast and helpfulness of staff. On average the hotels I use are classified between 3* and 4*.


What is a day ‘on tour’ like?

No two days are the same! However, I always aim to create a contrasting itinerary each day, visiting producers who may have quite different approaches and philosophies.
In general we have breakfasted and are on the coach in time to arrive at our first visit of the day at 10am. A visit usually comprise a tour of the winery, a tasting of wines hosted by the winemaker or winery owner (and generally including some rare or unusual wines that are not widely available), and often a trip into the vineyards. We therefore usually go straight to our lunch destination – often at another winery. Lunch will allow us to sample the wines we have been learning about along with local cuisine. If I can add in olive oil or cheese experiences or indeed anything that enhances our experience of the region and its gastronomy I don’t hesitate.
Depending on time we may make another visit after lunch, and we try to get back to the hotel in time to allow people to have rested and freshened up before heading out to take the evening air.
For a more detailed account of what one of my tours is like please look at the Tour Reports from my previous tours.


Do people need lots of wine knowledge to enjoy a tour?

Not at all. While some of my clients are ‘oenophiles’ who have a subscription to Decanter magazine and a wine collection at home, the majority fall into the category of enthusiastic amateurs. What unites everyone is a love of discovering new wines, where they are grown and made, and meeting the people who make the wine and tend the vines. It certainly helps to enjoy food and wine matching, and to have a love of beautiful scenery and charming locations.


Might new clients feel out of place among lots of people who have toured before?

I am really proud of the fact that so many of my clients come back on holiday with me year after year. However, the atmosphere on my tours is not cliquey. People come as individuals, couples and in small groups. People new to my tours are always made to feel very welcome. I am always struck how quickly people get to know each other and how much people socialise together in their free time. Equally it is perfectly possible to enjoy a day in the company of the group and to do your own thing in the evenings.


Do we ever suffer from wine information overload?

The amount of information you seek out is entirely up to you. The winery owners and wine makers we meet are delighted to share detail about their vineyard management and winery techniques, but most people enjoy hearing their personal stories and insights about the region we are visiting. I seek out wineries that have interesting stories, and great people to tell them. And if occasionally we get into a bit too much detail I take care to move us on – it’s one of the benefits of escorting every tour myself.


Why don’t I have a tour manager?

The difference between my tours and those of many of my competitors is that I escort every tour I run, so I don’t need a tour manager to ensure every tour ‘meets the standard’. I use my knowledge of the wine region, and local contacts to ensure we experience great wines, visit interesting wineries and meet wonderful people. And I make sure that as much of the money my clients pay as possible is spent on good hotels, great meals and good wine.


Why don’t I use experts as wine guides?

I prefer to let the people at the wineries we visit tell their own stories. I have over 25 years experience of educating and informing people about wine and am a member of the Association of Wine Educators. My clients appreciate my ability to give the right amount of information in an approachable way.  I do my research before the tour to ensure the places we visit and people we meet tell the story of the region. My clients prefer to hear the stories first hand, rather than through the filter of an expert. And I use the services of locally based people with good knowledge to facilitate introductions to the best visits, and sometimes to translate!


What are meals like?

At most of our hotels breakfasts are continental buffets – you can grab a croissant and coffee in five minutes if you are in a rush, or take your time over fruit, cereals and more substantial offerings.
Our tasting lunches and dinners (of which there is at least one on every day of visits) usually comprise three, and often more, courses. The food will be local specialities that match the wines we are learning about. There can be surprising variety of cuisine styles even on one tour as we go from area to area. I try not to be rushed over meals, and I always make sure there is plenty of wine – I don’t remember us ever running out of wine at a meal.
Lunches are often taken at a winery, sometimes in the cellar itself, more usually in the tasting room. Or I find a good local restaurant and make sure we are drinking good examples of local wines, usually from the wineries we are visiting.
On every tour I host a welcome dinner on the first night, and we conclude our adventures at a special dinner on the final night.


Can we cater for vegetarians and vegans, or people with food intolerances?

Yes of course. On most of my tours we are visiting places with wonderful fresh local produce, so it’s not hard to find meat or dairy free alternatives. I work hard with the people who are catering to make sure everyone has delicious and interesting meals.
I am very happy to discuss dietary requirements before you book a particular tour. If I have any concerns about whether someone with specific dietary requirements would enjoy the food of a particular region I will alert you to this.


How much travel is involved each day?

It really does depend. I try not to visit anywhere that requires more than two hours travel from our base – people are not coming on wine tour to sit on a coach! Most days our journey to our first visit takes less than an hour. And sometimes the travel is part of our wine adventure, such as the train journey up the Douro Valley on the Portugal Tour.


How fit do wine tourists need to be?

My wine tours are not arduous! However on most visits we will be taken round the winery, and we often visit vineyards, so you should be prepared for some walking – at a gentle pace – over rough terrain, across wet or slippery floors, and up and down narrow flights of stairs. If you have any mobility or health issues, please do discuss them with me before you book a tour.


Is there a dress code?

Casual clothing is best although I would discourage anyone from being overly casual – we are guests at the wineries we visit!
Comfortable shoes are a really good idea given the surfaces we are walking over in wineries and vineyards. Cellars can be cold, so an extra layer even in the middle of summer is a good idea. And of course grapes can’t grown without rain, particularly earlier in the growing season, so you should pack a waterproof.
We often eat at nice restaurants in the evening so packing something relatively smart is a good idea.


What about ‘bespoke’ tours?

All the tours advertised on this website are ‘open’ tours, available to anyone to book onto (space permitting).
I can offer broadly the same itineraries or suggest alternative tours for private groups, and am very happy to work with people to develop ‘closed’ bespoke tours.