How Do You Like Your Food And Wine Tour Experiences?
Like you live here, without ever actually moving in?
That’s how we like it, too.
How in the world do you plan the perfect food and wine tour?
TripAdvisor? An agent? A group tour?
Let’s save you the headache and the sugar-coated painkillers. You CAN have a trip that treats you like royalty (and lets you eat cake, too. As much as you like, actually.)
Welcome to the the traveling bears’ three bowls of single-origin, hand crafted, biodynamic, microbatch, farm fresh, honest-to-goodness, cliche-free trip-planners:
Option 1: Choosing to do it alone.
AKA, ‘Need A Holiday From Your Holiday’
Before we go into how exhausting that kind of travel is (spreadsheets and calendars and bargain hunting and… I’m tired for you just thinking about it!) please promise us one thing:
If you decide to go through that travel-planning hell, at least calm your nerves first with a local cheeseboard (something gooey and delicious is a MUST) and a drop of French pinot.
TripAdvisor is probably the #1 choice for your everyday traveller. If you’re looking for a ‘highlights reel’ tour that you can DIY (and you don’t mind waiting in teeth-grindingly slow queues) forums like that are perfect.
But there is one hitch:
You end up where ALL the tourists go.
All the tiny-but-dreamy farms, restaurants or wineries – especially those in unusual destinations… not enough people know about these pearls so they’re invisible in the forums.
And aren’t those quiet, unsung wonders of the world the real reason we travel?
Maybe you’re thinking “yeah, duh”. Ok, it sounds obvious, but most travellers don’t realise what they give up by trip planning like that:
A different, more wonderful, more nuanced version of you. You risk under-developing the parts of you and your trip you can be most proud of. The ones that come from those wild, ‘just say yes’, ‘can’t believe this is my life’ moments… and sharing them with people you love immediately.
There’s only so much surprise you can get from big brands and travel institutions. (Because once they’re big enough, they systemise like cookies in Safeway. Hello? Genuine, personal touch, are you there?)
Some people enjoy that ‘just-a-number’ travel (I know, we think they’re crazy too), but experience tells us losing your trip to a bottom line is too high of a price to pay. Especially when blow-your-mind experiences are so available… if you know where to look. Think sneaking into a vineyard at night to stargaze or slipping through an unmarked door into the city’s favourite underground bar.
Plus, don’t forget if you forum-plan your trip, there’s another, bigger issue: you’re on your own.
You have to strike up a conversation.
You have to get the ‘in’.
You have to find the unmarked door.
Of course, if you’ve got a nose for local secrets and a whole lot of time to gamble with, then you’d be comfortable booking and winging it. No forum required.
But for those of us who prefer to nail their food and wine tour immediately, there’s options 2 & 3.
Option 2: Find An Agent
(One Like This Please…)
What?! Delegate a food and wine tour?
The eating and the drinking – never. Wait. NEVERRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Mmm, that’s better. The intense research to make it outstanding? Absolutely.
Just please don’t let anyone ‘eff it up for you. Your trip deserves to be spectacular, bring you home enriched and infuse you with a fresh sense of wonder.
So here’s a checklist built on 60 years of travel, recommendations and loved-out passport wallets. Use responsibly to find the right trip-giver for you.
- Has the agent travelled? They best ones always have – nearly everywhere but at least to your destination. I’ve heard horror stories from people who ticked all the boxes but this one. Their consensus? “TICK. IT.”
- Ask about their favourite travel memories. If it’s bare on the wining and dining… hit the ‘next’ button. If they won’t shut up about that incredible Gewurtztraminer from Basel… BINGO.
- Would you invite this person out for a drink? You shouldn’t ever have to travel with someone you don’t like – even if they are more ‘behind-the-scenes’.
- Check their proposed itinerary. Google a couple of places on it, quickly. Would a big group fit in those places? Or are they tiny, tucked away gems, loved by intrepid foodies and more importantly, the locals?
- Try to get a personal recommendation or contact for your destination. e.g. a bar manager or farm owner. If you walk away empty handed, they may only have commercial relationships. And yes, there’s a slim chance those might be good, but they’re almost never ‘from the bottom of the heart because we’re friends’. Which you want. Trust us.
In the end, it may seem like the simple things. But in the travel industry, where the bottom line is – for the most part – slapping a ‘one size fits all’ elastic waist on every itinerary, it’s the little touches that matter the most. Don’t settle.
But let’s say you want to go heavy on the hidden gems. You know, the pockets where bouncy Italian gossipers or quirky Caribbean accents provide the background music to your scampi and sauv blanc.
AND you want to meet incredible people you’ll end up planning a yearly reunion with… in Tuscany… at your usual villa… which inspired Botticelli’s genius.
Let’s see how you can make it happen. Option 3:
Option 3: Do A Group Food And Wine Tour
(Here’s How You Avoid the Duds)
Don’t groan. While many poorly run, discounted group tours may have given the entire industry a somewhat dubious reputation, not every travel company is the same. Joining a quality tour group can be the best solution for anyone who are looking for a stress-free holiday. If you choose the right travel company for your needs, not only will you return home less stressed and feeling great, you will have had an unforgettable time you will want to talk about for the rest of your life.
One of the best food-centric travel groups is Epicure Travel Group. Epicure Travel Group is a one-of-a-kind culinary travel group which is challenging people’s ideas about what guided tours can be.
The best wines are the ones we drink with friends.
Why are Epicure Travel Group tours the ultimate food and wine tour experience?
There are many reason why Epicure Travel Group stands heads and shoulders above other guided travel options. Epicure Travel Group tours offer many unique benefits over competing food-based tour group providers. Here are a few:
- More experience than the big guys. Bigger isn’t better, and Epicure Travel Group proves it. Although ETG does not offer as many destinations as the biggest tour operators, each of its tours are extensively researched by the owners. In fact, every tour ETG offers is 12-Case Certified. That is how many bottles of wine were opened while researching each trip.
- Focused on foodies. Epicure Travel Group tours are about one thing only: providing guests with the finest food-centric travel available anywhere. You can think of each ETG tour as opening the door to authentic culinary experiences most tourists would never be able to enjoy;
- Small, manageable tour groups. Tours are limited to a maximum of 12 guests. The small size of ETG groups allows for each group to visit tiny village restaurants, stay together at even the coziest accommodations, and to avoid attracting as much unwanted attention as the other guy’s tours which can be up to 5 times as large;
- Hand-selected tour groups. Epicure Travel Group believes that a successful trip depends upon having the right mix of guests. That is why the owners take so much time to speak with each guest as early as possible in the booking process in order to form the perfect group. In this “matchmaking” process, the interests and personalities of the guests are blended together to create an exciting mix of individuals.
- Personalized service. Each tour offered by ETG is lead by four experienced tour guides, including a trained chef, and a sommelier. Since the tour guides are all owners of the company, you are assured prompt and courtesy service, along with the extensive knowledge to answer any of your questions or concerns;
- A glimpse behind the scenes. After years of working in the food industry, the owners of ETG have developed an extensive network of food experts. These experts have the ability to take guests inside the secret culinary world. Whether it is into the commercial kitchen of a Michelin-star restaurant, or riding through a world-renowned vineyard, ETG offers experiences which are not available anywhere else.
Do you like what you have learned so far about what makes Epicure Travel Group tours different from all of the rest? If you are interested in learning more about the future ETG tours, please contact us, and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.