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Rhône Wine Immersion Study Trip with Kelly McAuliffe


Rhône Wine Immersion Study Trip with Kelly McAuliffe
Sun. Oct. 13, 2013 - Sat. Oct. 19, 2013 
Master-Level Programs


October 13-19, 2013
6 days, 6 nights - Limited to 18 participants
Instructor: Kelly McAuliffe, Sommelier-conseil

Join Kelly McAuliffe, the Rhône’s best-known and most accomplished sommelier, and explore the diversity of appellations and terroirs of the Northern and Southern Rhône, with extensive professional tastings at the finest estates and négociants of Côte Rôtie, Hermitage, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and more. Visits to some of the most spectacular historic sites of Provence, fine accommodations with vineyard views, and gourmet meals in great restaurants are among the many pleasures of this memorable trip.

Itinerary *

Sunday, October 13

Participants arrive independently in Lyon and spend the night at the charming Hotel des Artistes, ideally located in the very center of the city, near historic Old Lyon. Take the evening to enjoy the historic district and dinner on your own in Lyon, known as the gastronomic capital of France.

Monday, October 14 - Côte Rôtie, Condrieu (B,L,D)

The morning begins with a welcome and orientation session with your instructor and trip leader, Kelly McAuliffe.  Get to know your fellow participants and review the main features of the Northern Rhône wine region. Then off to the dramatic terraced vineyards of Côte Rôtie for an extensive tasting and walk in the vineyards at one of the top négociants of the Rhône Valley, Maison E. Guigal. Lunch will be at a favorite winemakers’ bistro in Ampuis, Le Bistro de Serine, where you’ll be joined by one of the top winemakers of this area. Continue on to a second top winemaker in Côte Rôtie for another tasting, for example, Domaine Jean-Michel Gérin or Bonnefond. A bit further south are the vineyards of famed white wine appellation Condrieu, where you’ll enjoy a winery tour and tasting with another top producer like Yves Cuilleron or François Villard. Arrive early evening at your comfortable 3-star hotel, the Pavillon de l’Hermitage, just down the street from the hillsides of Hermitage in the very center of Tain l’Hermitage. Your welcome dinner will be a special treat, at one of the best restaurants in the entire Rhône Valley, Le Mangevins.

Côte Rotie, Rhône Study Tours Bistro de Serine, Rhone Wine Study Trip Hermitage, Rhone WineStudy Trip Pavillon de l’Hermitage, Rhone Wine Study Tours

Tuesday, October 15 - Hermitage, Crozes Hermitage, St. Joseph, Cornas (B, L)

Move on this morning to the prestigious vineyards of Hermitage, where you’ll enjoy a comparative tasting of wines of the Northern Rhône appellations at Maison Michel Chapoutier. Michel Chapoutier is known for his fervent adherence to biodynamic viticultural techniques, which produce wines of great finesse. Afterward, you’ll visit the dramatic hill of Hermitage to see its vineyards, emblematic chapel and spectacular views. Enjoy lunch in the company of a winemaker of the area at the excellent Restaurant Umia in Tain, where we’ll pair fine local wines with the chef’s inventive Asian-fusion cuisine. This afternoon, visit two of the top producers of Crozes Hermitage (like Graillot or Combier) and Cornas (like Clape or Voge), then return to Tain. The evening is yours to enjoy Tain or visit Tournon just across the lovely pedestrian bridge over the Rhône, and dinner on your own.

Hill of Hermitage Umia Restaurant Hermitage Bridge Chapoutier

Wednesday, October 16 - CdRVillages, Cairanne, Gigondas (B, L, D)

Checkout of the hotel this morning and travel to the Southern Rhône Valley. Upon arrival, Kelly will provide a review session of the Southern Rhône with a comparative tasting of fine wines of the region. Lunch follows at another ancient castle, the Chateau de Massillan, where winemakers from Côtes du Rhône Villages Massif d’Uchaux will join us. Start the afternoon with a tasting in Cairanne, perhaps the most prestigious of the Côtes du Rhône named villages. Then on to the cru village of Gigondas for a tasting at one of the finest estates of the appellation. Early evening, check in to your hotel for the rest of the trip, the Domaine de Cabasse in the heart of the Dentelles de Montmirail. The hotel is owned by a working wine estate, which is surrounded by vineyards and offers spectacular views of the ancient perched village of Seguret. Dinner tonight is at the hotel’s lovely restaurant, the Auberge de Cabasse, accompanied by the owner of the estate.

Domaine de Cabasse Gigondas and the Dentelles Cairanne Chateau de Masillan

Thursday, October 17 - Luberon, Beaumes de Venise (B, L, D)

Today we head east to one of the best-known parts of Provence, the Luberon, whose perched villages were made famous by Peter Mayle in his book “A Year in Provence.” Our first stop is the spectacular village of Gordes, where you’ll have some time to walk around this charming village and enjoy the incredible views over the valley. Then on to Ménerbes where the local winemakers have planned a wonderful tasting and lunch at one of the best and most beautiful estates in the area, Domaine de la Citadelle. Afterward, return to the Dentelles de Montmirail with a stop in Beaumes de Venise. Here you’ll visit the famous vineyards that produce the regions premier dessert wine, and enjoy a tasting of those wines as well as the reds that have recently acquired “cru” status. Arrive late afternoon at the hotel, where you can relax or take a dip in the pool before another delicious dinner at the Auberge de Cabasse.

Vilage of Gordes Dentelles de Montmirail Auberge de Cabasse Beaumes de Venise

Friday, October 18 - Châteauneuf-du-Pape (B, L, D)

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the site of the summer palace of the Avignon Popes in the 14th century, is perhaps the best-known appellation of the Rhône Valley. Today you’ll explore the different terroirs and taste a wide array of wines from this prestigious appellation. Begin the day at the legendary Chateau de Beaucastel, where you’ll enjoy an extensive tasting, including their latest vintage as well as wines made from the individual grape varieties that are blended to make their signature wine. Lunch will be a special treat, as the winemaker’s union of Châteauneuf-du-Pape hosts a picnic and wine tasting exclusively for our group at the ruins of the Pope’s summer palace, with its exceptional views of the vineyards, the Rhône and the surrounding area.  The afternoon holds in store two more tastings at top estates of the appellation. Tonight, your farewell dinner will be at one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the area, Côteaux et Fourchettes in Cairanne.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Galets Roulés Chateau de Beaucastel Coteaux et Fourchettes

Saturday, October 19 - Avignon, Tavel, Lirac  (B)

Take this morning to explore the small city of Avignon, home to the Papacy in the 14th century. First, discover the famous covered market, Les Halles, where Kelly will lead the group in a tutored tasting of some of the top olive oils from the AOCs of the region. Then enjoy time on your own to visit the impressive Pope’s Palace, the famous Pont d’Avignon (Avignon Bridge), or indulge in some shopping in the many boutiques and galleries. After lunch on your own, we’ll meet up and drive to the nearby appellations of Tavel and Lirac.  Go into the vineyard with Kelly as he explains the nuances of this very special terroir that makes one of the finest and most famous rosés in France. Then visit one of the best producers here (either Chateau d’Acquéria or Domaine La Genestière) for a tasting of their Tavel and Lirac wines. Late afternoon, you’ll be transferred to the Avignon TGV station.

Palais des Papes Tavel Vineyards Tavel Pont d'Avignon

Legend for meals included in the trip: B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

* Itinerary subject to change: every effort will be made to keep the itinerary as close as possible to what appears here; however, the final itinerary and estates/winemakers included may vary due to wine producer schedules, availability and factors beyond our control.  The wine estates visited during this trip will all be of the highest quality.

Hotel rooms: we are staying in several small, charming hotels on this trip. As a result, the rooms will not all be exactly the same, and they may also be in different categories.  We will assign hotel rooms in the order of sign-ups for the trip. ALL rooms will be very comfortable and have the same services (en-suite bathrooms, A/C, WiFi, etc.).

Your 6 Day, 6 Night Rhône Valley Immersion Study Trip includes :
  • Instruction throughout by Kelly McAuliffe, Sommelier-conseil, renowned Rhône expert and resident of the area
  • The complete Rhône Master Level French Wine Society online course, including the written manual, online webinars and online exam
  • 1 night at 3-Star Hotel des Artistes in Lyon, double occupancy
  • 2 nights at 3-Star Pavillon de l’Hermitage in Avignon, double occupancy
  • 3 nights at 3-Star Domaine de Cabasse in Seguret, double occupancy
  • 4 gourmet dinners with fine wines
  • 5 gourmet lunches with fine wines
  • 6 delicious breakfasts
  • Deluxe air-conditioned motor coach transportation throughout, with bottled water on-board
  • All professional-level tours and extensive tastings at top-quality wine producers
  • Special tasting at l’Université du Vin
  • Special tasting with the winemaker’s union of Chateauneuf-du-Pape
  • Special tasting with winemakers of AOC Luberon
  • The opportunity to share meals with many of the finest wine professionals in the region
  • All hotel and other taxes, and gratuities for included restaurants

Price per person, double occupancy: US $ 3,795
Enrolled Student Price per person, double occupancy: $3,595**

(Enrolled Student Price is for registrants already fully or partially enrolled in the Rhône Master-Level program**)

Single Supplement: US $ 430.00
Deposit upon reservation: US $ 750.00 (per person, per trip)
Take a second trip, get 5% off!***

NOTE: There are a limited number of twin rooms available (2 single beds). Please let us know if you’d like to share a twin room with another participant to avoid the single supplement and pay the double occupancy price instead.

**The Enrolled Study Price applies to those currently studying in the Rhône Master-Level program or who have completed it. Full registration in the Rhône Master-Level program means students who have previously ordered the Rhône Master-Level study manual, exam registration and online study program. Registrants only partially enrolled in the region’s Master-Level program with the FWS (eg.: Only have Rhône manual and exam, or only Rhône online study program…) will get the Enrolled Trip Price and will be invoiced directly by FWS for the portion of the Master-Level they are missing at a 50% discount on prices listed on the FWS website. If an updated manual is needed, it can be purchased at a 50% discount.

***Get 5% off each additional trip you take, after you reserve the first trip. Discount is calculated on the double occupancy price for the Trip and will be deducted from the final balance payment for the Trip. The most expensive of the trips you reserve will be considered the "first" trip and the 5% discount will be calculated on the other trip(s) you reserve in the same calendar year.

Space is limited to 18 participants, so reserve your space today!

May 26-June 1, 2013

6 days, 6 nights             Limited to 18 participants

Instructor: Kelly McAuliffe, Sommelier-conseil

Why study the Rhône... in the Rhône?

The Rhône is France’s second largest producer of AOC wines (after Bordeaux). Its viticultural history dates back to the Romans who sculpted its terraced topography and introduced the vine.

The river itself links to the Rhine, Seine and Loire through a network of canals and waterways effectively connecting the Mediterranean with the rest of northern Europe. As a principal trade route, this region has long been the cultural nexus between Burgundy and the colder climes to the north and Provence and the warmer regions to the south. Come feel the wind and sun!

In the Rhône, a continental climate meets up with a Mediterranean one and this collision of north and south finds manifest expression in the local food culture. Lyon is the culinary heart of France. Here the cuisine au beurre (butter) mixes with the cuisine à l’huile (olive oil). There are more Michelin-starred restaurants in this French city than in any other (outside of Paris)! Taste what people are talking about!

It is in the Rhône where east also meets west. The granite and schist of the Massif Central (west) collide with the sedimentary soils of the Alps and its foothills (east). Touch it!

The wines of this region are as powerful as the geology, topography and cultural history that has shaped it. The wines themselves are living legacies. There is no place like Rhône.

Experience it first-hand.

About your Lead Instructor & Guide: Kelly McAuliffe

Kelly McAuliffe, Rhone Immersion Wine Study Trip Instructor

American-born and French-trained, Kelly’s roles within the wine world have included superstar sommelier, wine consultant and educator.   Kelly has been Chef Alain Ducasse’s go-to wine guy functioning as sommelier and wine director for Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas and as head sommelier/wine director or assistant director at Spoon, Alain Ducasse’s restaurant in Paris, Bar & Beouf in Monte Carlo, and Mix Restaurant in Las Vegas. He was also head sommelier at Avignon’s Michelin star-rated restaurant, Christian Etienne. 

Currently, Kelly is a wine consultant for Inter-Rhone and agent for French exports. Kelly has a vast network of personal relationships with the best winemakers in the region, grown from his more than 20 years living in the Rhône Valley.

Kelly completed his sommelier diploma from the Universite du Vin, Suze-la-Rousse, France and his wine education at the University of California-Berkley. He is member of the Association de Sommellerie Française in the Languedoc-Roussillon & Valley du Rhône regions.

Words on Kelly’s teaching style (feedback from French Wine Society Conference 2010 attendees):

“Great presenter, Kelly was very laid-back and approachable”
“McAuliffe was awesome, down-to-earth, knowledgable…bring him back!”
“I loved his combination of knowledge and passion. Amazing that 3 hours could go by so quickly.”
“Great humor blended with vast experience. He really knows how to engage and present.”
“With his on-the-ground experience, it was almost as good as being there.”

For more information:

We have partnered with Terroir Wine Services to operate our immersion study trips and help make them unforgettable.  FWS member Lauriann Greene, Sommelier-conseil, is the coordinator of our immersion study trips and your contact for the trips.  She has many years of experience in organizing exceptional wine tours in France and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by phone at  +1 302-415-3036. You can also find answers to many of your questions by visiting our extensive FAQ page.