Frequently Asked Questions
- Is my payment safe? Should I pay by credit card?
- What is included?
- I've heard that Wine Tours are often cancelled due to lack of support. Is this true?
- Are tours ever cancelled or curtailed due to "Force Majeure"?
- Why do prices vary so much
- What kind of meals are included?
- Do I have to be an expert to come?
- What is the booking procedure?
- Please ask us any question we haven't addressed
- Do you have any age restrictions?
Is my payment safe? Should I pay by credit card?
You may sometimes hear advice in the media that you should pay for your holidays by credit card.
Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours are fully bonded, so payment by Credit Card gives no further protection and merely costs you a little more. This bonding covers ALL bookings. All flight inclusive holidays on this website are ATOL Protected by the Civil Aviation authority. All our other holidays are covered by ABTA (Membership Number Y5806). We also belong to AITO, the Association of Independent Tour Operators, which represents the quality, choice and security offered by the UK’s top 150 independent tour operators. The AITO website has links all the member tour operators’ sites and is a great place to look for your other holidays.
NOTE: However if you are booking any flights, accommodation or other services associated with the holiday direct with a third party, whether that is a major airline or a foreign based website we recommend that you do use a credit card as this will give you significant extra protection.
For more on this subject go to Consumer Protection
Our ATOL number is ATOL 2543.
ABTA Membership number Y5806.
Company Registered in England No. 2966601
VAT No. GB 459 6545 01
What is included?
On all tours the “basics” that are included are wine visits, generous wine tastings, a range of meals with regional wines and well chosen accommodation and a wine guide plus A Tour Manager as described on each itinerary.
We do not include all meals to leave you freedom of choice and also not everyone enjoys two heavy meals every day!
Where we can obtain competitive fares we include travel from the UK with prepayable departure taxes is normally included, but as this restricts your flexibility we do not pre-include travel on any of the New World wine destinations, leaving you total freedom for length of trip and departure dates and points. We can always either book travel for you or point you to a firm that specialises in travel to that particular area of the world.
The specification varies from tour to tour, so do ask to see the detailed itinerary.
I've heard that Wine Tours are often cancelled due to lack of support. Is this true?
Escorted tours, especially wine tours, have a habit of being cancelled due to “lack of support”. Sometimes inexperienced operators, or non-specialists, put on tours and naively hope to fill them, but there are some operators who have programmes which are much larger than they sell and they then systematically “consolidate”, cancelling peoples’ holidays even at the last minute.
Arblaster & Clarke work in the opposite way to this. We are a fairly well known small company, we are the market leader in Wine Tours worldwide, and our programme is deliberately kept small – and year after year we put on extra tours to meet demand!
In early 2009 we withdrew over a quarter of our programme due to the sharp recession but this action was taken before bookings had been taken and later in the year we actually added a couple of tours.
With A&C you will often find that tours are fully subscribed. Yes, A&C tours are occasionally withdrawn, but as our regular clients know, when a tour doesn’t sell well, as happens, we go ahead with very low numbers, giving a superb and very good value holiday!
Are tours ever cancelled or curtailed due to "Force Majeure"?
If it is phsycally impossible for a tour to take place, of course it will have to be cancelled. In practice this is very, very rare. So far, only the night of “Great Storm” of 1987 has stopped us. (And some incorrect Foreign Office advice over Chile which we had no other option but to obey). In both of these cases clients were offered immediate refunds or alternative travel arrangements.
Airlines cancelling routes, strikes, adverse weather and fuel shortage are just a few of the problems we have overcome. It is part of our job as a Tour Operator to overcome obstacles and to minimise their impact on our Clients.
Why do prices vary so much
The prices of the tours vary considerably. Some include extremely expensive elements, such as great vintages of great wines, superb hotels and dinners at top chateaux, whereas others use less expensive hotels and local restaurants and interest out performing wines which we carefully select.
Notwithstanding, some of the tours do ‘look’ more expensive, especially where there are small groups. This is down to costs being divided by a small number of people and personal service comes at a price.
Also our tours are designed and set up in house to our own very exacting standards. As an example, our Piemonte Vineyard walk:
Before this new walk goes ahead there is extensive research by two people – amounting to almost a ‘man-month’s’ work, plus hotels, flights, 4×4 car hire etc. Then on the tour there is the walk guide, nice hotel, good meals, great tastings at THE top estates, support coach etc – The tour itself is for a maximum of 16 people and to be repeated only two or three times a year. Given all that, the tour is actually very good value.
Although the prices vary, we try to make sure that the value does not. Clients have consistently rated our most expensive tours (eg “Reserve Collection”), as being “very good value”.
What kind of meals are included?
Part of the joy of an Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours are the delicious lunches, sumptuous dinners and informal picnics as guests of the wine estates. This is simply not possible if you are travelling independently. The menus for our winery meals are planned with our winery hosts well in advance and feature superb regional specialities that complement the wines.
When we include meals at restaurants this is usually to enhance the itinerary – so on the first or last evening, for instance. The restaurants will vary from our own traditional favourites or ones popular with the local winery cognescenti, from simple auberges to lavish Michelin rosette – depending on the style of tour you have chosen to join. Again, menus will be pre-chosen with a range of wines from the region that we have not had the chance to taste at the estates, to match.
For non-included meals you may make your own choice, perhaps using our suggestions from our extensive experience, or you are always welcome to join our team who know the regional cuisine and can guide you through the wine list.
Special diets and vegetarianism are not understood in many of the regions that we visit, although this is more of a problem in some countries than others. We always ask for alternatives, but these may be limited and frankly may not be of the same standard as the meal for the rest of the party. If you are vegetarian, but you would, for instance, occasionally eat fish or chicken, please do let us know, as this will ensure that you have variety.
We will be pleased to make arrangements to suit your dietary requirements and serious dislikes for included meals so long as we are informed at time of booking so that we can inform suppliers when we confirm the menus to them. Unfortunately, if you let us know later than 28 days before departure we will need to pass on the administration cost to you, which will be a minimum of £50 for short tours and £100 for longer tours. It is not possible to arrange or change any dietary requests once on tour.
Do I have to be an expert to come?
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of any of the Wine Estates or half of the regions. Wine is a beverage, not a competition. Wine tasting holidays with us are sociable holidays with a relaxed atmosphere.
While some tours are for people who are at least fairly knowledgeable all our tours are for people who enjoy the good things in life, especially wine. On all tours there is the opportunity to explore beyond wine.
If your knowledge of wine is extensive, you certainly won’t be disappointed. We have quite a few clients who are members of the wine or restaurant trades or even winemakers themselves.
An Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tour is all about the joie de vivre involved in discovering the wine regions of the world, through the wines and the people who make them. This gives a special insight into a country not found on other kinds of holiday. The wine regions are made up of beautiful countryside and towns rich in history and culture. which is a good way to learn about some of the history and architecture in a short space of time, and there is usually time to visit museums, art galleries and markets, to shop, relax, walk etc.
You’ll immediately feel at ease as these are friendly, welcoming holidays where clients soon become friends with each other, and with our team of Wine Guide and Tour Manager.
We also have many regular travellers some of whom will revisit an area quite a few times to see new cellars, to get a different perspective from another Wine Guide, to pick up some favourite wines or just to enjoy it all again!
What is the booking procedure?
This is explained in simple steps in The booking procedure
Please ask us any question we haven't addressed
Call us on 01730 263111
Please ask us Any More Questions
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Do you have any age restrictions?
If you are over 70 or you have any difficulty walking or there is any other factor that makes it difficult for you to take part in any part of the tour unaided, or may affect your ability to enjoy your holiday, no matter what your age, you must discuss this with us prior to booking.
Likewise you must inform us should any of the above become the case after you book. You will be required to stand for periods of time at wineries, there are often steps at the cellars and there can be quite a lot of walking to and from venues. 18 is the minimum age.
However there is no specific upper limit; this is determined by fitness and mobility.
The coaches are not adapted for wheelchairs. If you use a wheelchair, you must notify us before you book your holiday so that we can advise you if the tour is likely to be suitable for you or what arrangements we may be able to make to accommodate you.