FAQs for our American clients
- Who are Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours?
- Who joins the tours and which tours do they join?
- Can I join the tours in the destination directly from the States?
- Is it sometimes a good idea to join in London?
- What is the quality of the accommodation?
- Can the accommodation be upgraded?
- Who are the Wine Guides?
- What kind of visits and tastings are included?
- How are the tours priced and how can I pay?
- What security & financial protection is offered?
- What is the contract?
- What is the booking procedure?
- Any More Questions?
- Useful Links
Who are Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours?
Arblaster & Clarke are a UK based Wine Tour specialist. We were established in 1986 to run high quality wine tours for wine lovers, which we have done, ever since. Although we are based in a small market town in Hampshire in the South of England, we have an experienced multi-lingual team, and we operate worldwide. See Where we are.
The tours that you see on our site are ALL our own tours. This is what it means to be a ‘Boutique’ Tour Operator. Despite being a small company, we are, to the best of our knowledge, the largest wine tours specialist in the world. We’ve also been told that we are the best! See Arblaster & Clarke over the years
Who joins the tours and which tours do they join?
Our clients are wine enthusiasts from all around the world and our American Clients come from all over the States. Most of our American clients are serious consumers and wine lovers, however some are in the trade. American wine journalists have travelled with us, as have several wine makers and a leading wine historian.
Which tours do they join? – The Reserve Collection tours and New World Tours have been popular as have the Cruises, the Classic Wine Tours, which tend to be fairly long and to explore less obvious destinations appeal too. Occasionally American clients join the Vineyard Walks and rather more often they join our Champagne Weekends, but from Paris, not joining in London unless they are working there. See Types of Tours.
Many travel on our scheduled tours, some on individual bespoke tours and others in Private Groups.
Can I join the tours in the destination directly from the States?
You can join at the destination, and there is a reduction in the price if you do not take our flights from the UK. If you were to join our Wine Tours to Chile, Australia or New Zealand for instance, it would make sense to fly direct.
If you are on vacation in Paris, it is easy to join one of our many Champagne Weekends, with tutoured comparative tastings, Champagne breakfasts, visits to famous Champagne houses such as Bollinger and Taittinger, and lunches and dinners with the likes of Veuve Clicqot and Louis Roederer. (We can book the hotel in Paris for you, or you can do this direct or via your travel agent).
Is it sometimes a good idea to join in London?
There are several reasons why you might join the European tours in London. The tours are mostly in countryside regions of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal etc. The local airports in wine country rarely have direct connections to the States, and internal flights and transfers in Europe could actually cost more than flights from the UK, plus the timings probably won’t fit in.
You might also consider joining in the UK and flying back by another route. For instance, our a Spanish tour we often run, “Rioja and Northern Spain” starts in Bilbao (easy to fly to from London, but not so easy from Seattle), however it finishes in the capital, Madrid. You could stay on for a few days here, then fly home directly.
What is the quality of the accommodation?
The accommodation we use on some tours is luxurious 4* / 5* or private chateaux or haciendas.
However on other tours, such as ‘tours by coach’ travelling from London, we mostly use 3* hotels or occasionally 2*s. These are perfectly decent hotels, usually with character, and are very good for their star rating. However, these tours are more for the British market than for our overseas clients. (Part of the reason why these tours travel by coach is so clients can buy wine in France to take back to the UK). You might be looking for a higher grade of hotel for your vacation and we can sometimes offer it as an upgrade.
Can the accommodation be upgraded?
Generally yes. If you would prefer superior or luxury hotels on the tours we can often offer these, (or deluxe rooms), as an upgrade. However it is probably a good idea to consider a more prestigious tour or even a private tour if this is not possible.
Who are the Wine Guides?
We have top British Wine Experts as guides. Some of them, such as Steven Spurrier are world famous wine critics and many are “Masters of Wine” or Wine Journalists. They are expert tasters, very knowledgeable and great tour leaders dedicated to making wine fun and interesting.
See our section Guides for more information on who escorts the tours.
What kind of visits and tastings are included?
On the tours you’ll have top-level visits to top wine producers, some of these are small domaines, others great châteaux, bodegas and cutting-edge wineries. Some of these are very well known, but others may not be as they could be our own favourites or recent discoveries.
The visits are detailed but we like to get through to the tasting pretty quickly, with time for questions then. You will meet the winemakers and often the owners and you enjoy superb meals to complement the wines.
As well as our scheduled Tours we also arrange Private Tours either for individuals or for groups.
How are the tours priced and how can I pay?
The tours are priced in Pounds Sterling and the US Dollar is very strong against the Pound. The cost in US Dollars may change because of the exchange rate differentials between the dollar and sterling but the price in sterling is subject to a binding NO SURCHARGE GUARANTEE.
An approximate price for the tours is quoted in US Dollars; if you hover over the small money icon on the tour page, or look on the Dates & Prices page.
You can make payments in a variety of ways:
Credit card or Amex – The amount will be deducted from your card in sterling but of course the amount on your card bank statement will show in US Dollars. There is a 1.5% charge for credit card payments. As with our UK based clients if you pay the deposit by credit card, unless you inform us otherwise, or make an earlier payment by a different method, the final balance will be automatically deducted fromt he card 8 weeks before departure.
US Dollar cheque or Bank Draft: You can make your payment by US dollar cheque or bank draft, but please allow an additional $25 per cheque in order to cover the high bank charges of converting these.
Bank Transfer: If you prefer to pay by bank transfer either into our sterling account or US dollar account we will provide our bank details for this. Please ensure that you ask your bank to charge the bank charges for both the sending bank and receiving bank to your account.
Holiday prices out of the UK are often lower than out of the States on a like for like basis. As an example, compare our prices for our Cruises with similar cruises offered from the USA. Also many of our tours include flights and in some cases you would not need these, so a further reduction can be offered.
What security & financial protection is offered?
Arblaster and Clarke Wine Tours is a fully licensed and bonded Tour Operator. The financial protection afforded by these bonds does cover our overseas clients. This is often not the case with other British or European companies, but is a requirement for members of AITO. (The Association of Independent Tour Operators).
In the unlikely event of our financial failure, all monies paid to us are recoverable from our Civil Aviation Authority Air Travel Organisers Licence bond (if a flight from the UK is included in the package), or from our AITO Trust bond, if no ex-UK flight is included. See our Consumer Protection section.
What is the contract?
The contract is governed by English Law and complies fully with all European Union Package Travel legislation which gives considerable rights and guarantees to the consumer. In fact of contract goes well beyond the statutory minimum for instance in extending the cover that our bankruptcy bonds offer to ALL our clients, not just E.U. residents.
We advise you to read our terms and conditions for more information.
The cancellation clause may be different to US travel cancellation clauses. Unavoidable cancellation and curtailment by the client is covered by most travel insurance policies, accordingly we strongly recommend that travel insurance is taken out from the date of booking, not just on the date of travel.
What is the booking procedure?
This is explained in simple steps The booking procedure
Please note that all documentation will be sent by email and where there are paper tickets involved that you will need for the start of or during your journey, these will be handed to you at the departure point by our Tour Manager. If you have a UK address that you are planning to stay at shortly before the tour departure, please advise us so that we can make arrangements for any essential travel documents to be sent to you there. If you wish for travel documents to be mailed to you in the states, there is $40 charge for secure postage.
You can book directly with us or via your Travel Agent.
Any More Questions?
If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to phone us on 011 44 1730 263111.
Or email us, Any More Questions
(UK time is 5 hours ahead of New York, so please call us in the morning!)
ALSO see More About Us
Arblaster & Clarke arrange Private Groups Tours- (International)
The State Department’s Travel Advice www.travel.state.gov