French Wine Society

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Wine Immersion Trips FAQs
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General Questions

1 - Why should I take an FWS trip? Why not just go on my own?

We strongly believe that your experience of the French wine regions will be so much richer, more educational and more enjoyable on one of our trips than it would be on your own. Here’s why:

  • You’ll learn so much more than you would on your own! You’ll have a fabulous, internationally-renowned instructor with you at all times to give you fascinating information, make sure you understand the nuances and subtleties of the region and its wines, and respond to all of your questions
  • You will have AMAZING tastings and get access to estates you would not be able to visit on your own.  We have the highest-level contacts in each region, so you’ll get to taste many more wines at each estate, and you’ll be welcomed as an honored guest and fellow wine professional
  • Your instructor has lived in France for many years and has extensive experience and contacts within the region. So you’ll get expert information about the wine business there, and an insider’s take on local culture.
  • You don’t have to take chances on hotels or restaurants you don’t know.  With more than a decade of experience in these wine regions, we use our first-hand knowledge to choose only the best hotels and restaurants for your trip
  • You’ll have an itinerary that makes the most of the limited time you have in the wine region, minimizes driving time, and ensures that you get a thorough overview of the region and its wines
  • You don’t have to drive! So you don’t have to worry about wasting time getting lost (which is easy to do on the back roads of France), or about drinking wine at meals. You can just relax, enjoy and learn
  • You get the camaraderie and pleasure of exploring the wine region with other like-minded people who are as passionate about wine as you are
  • Your instructor will translate for the group at all times, so you will have no communication issues (many winemakers in France don’t speak English).

2 - What’s included in the trip price?

You get a great deal of value for your money on our trips, as they are nearly all-inclusive and include unique and extraordinary learning and touring opportunities as well as a very high level of instruction and services.  We have tried to keep the prices reasonable to make them as accessible as possible.  All of the trips include instruction and accompaniment throughout by one of our internationally-renowned Master Level instructors, access to the full Master-Level course for the region (including hard-copy manual and exam fees), accommodations at comfortable 3-and 4-star air-conditioned hotels
with en suite bathrooms, deluxe transportation by executive, air conditioned motor coach including group transfer, all fees for winery tours and extensive tastings, all breakfasts, most lunches and dinners (gourmet and gastronomic level with premium wines), and all taxes and restaurant gratuities.

3 - Is it mandatory to take the course to go on the Trip? Is the course included in the price of the Trip?

The whole point of our immersion study trips is to allow participants to learn as much as possible about the visited region and its wines.

It is mandatory to take the FWS Master Level course for the region you have chosen to visit. The price of the course is included in the price of the Trip. And It is important to take the course before the trip to be able to keep up with the instruction, which will be delivered assuming that everyone has already taken the course and has all the basic information already.

An Enrolled Study Price applies to those currently studying the regions' Master-Level program or who have completed it.

Full registration in the region’s Master-Level program means students who have previously ordered the region's Master-Level study manual, exam registration and online study program. Registrants only partially enrolled in the region's Master-Level program (eg.: Only have manual and exam, or only 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.

4 - Will the trip be very serious and studious, or will we be able to relax and have fun, too?

You’ll have a great time on our trips!  Although we include lots of great information and learning opportunities in each trip, we're very aware that this is also your vacation. So the instructors make sure that the atmosphere stays light and fun while also being fascinating and educational. Participants tend to be bon vivants who enjoy the good things in life. Laughter erupts often, particularly at meals. And the winemakers often are characters and great fun!  You’ll also have some time on your own to enjoy a quiet meal, perhaps with new friends you meet on the trip, to visit a beautiful village or historic site, or to take a dip in the pool before dinner and just relax.

5 - What's the best time of year to take one of the FWS trips?

Our trips are scheduled between the months of April and October, during the growing season of the vine.  France has a temperate climate, with generally mild conditions throughout the year.  In most regions the temperature rarely gets beyond 80-90°F, with the exception of Provence or Languedoc (which is why we don’t schedule trips in those regions in July and August). It's generally not crowded in the French wine regions, even in high tourist season.  We carefully schedule our trips to give you the best possible chance of enjoying good weather.

6 - Where do your tours start and end? How do I get to the starting place?

The trips begin and end in the wine region you’ll be visiting. For your convenience, all trips start and end in or near a city. You can fly into most French cities via a connecting flight from Paris, or you can fly into Paris and then take a high-speed TGV train to our starting point (you can purchase your tickets online at http://www.sncf.co.uk/).  We’ll make sure you get from the city to the vineyards (and vice versa) with a group transfer. Information on the trip starting and ending point is included in the itinerary for each trip, and you’ll be sent all the information you need to make your travel arrangements once you reserve your space on the trip.

7 - Can you help me purchase airfare for the study trips?

If you would like help with your airfare and other travel arrangements, we highly recommend Darlene Sweet of Advantage Travel in Syracuse, New York. You can reach her at dsweet@advantagecny.com or 315-471-2222/800-788-1980.  Please tell her you’re taking a French Wine Society trip, so she can provide the best service for your needs.

8 - If I have questions about the trips, who do I contact?

  • For questions about the educational content of the trips (what you will learn, the Master Level course, taking the exam, etc.), please contact Lisa Airey, FWS Education Director, at lairey@frenchwinesociety.org.
  • For questions about the trips themselves (accommodations, traveling to the region, food preferences, etc.), please contact Lauriann Greene at contact@terroirwineservices.com or +1 302-415-3036.

9 - I’m just starting to learn about wine. Do I need to have a “Master Level” in wine to take a Study Trip?

The Study Trips are open to everyone who is interested in learning more about French wine. The French Wine Society can provide foundation-level reading materials to help you to learn the basics before you start the Master-Level course for the region you’ll be visiting.  This information will enable you to approach the region and the Master-Level course from a position of strength. 

If you take the time to read and study the course in advance of the trip, you will learn a great deal and then during the trip, everything will come together as you see the region with your own eyes and taste the wines in the places where they are made. 

And... learning about wine doesn’t have to be like going back to school. It can be serious good fun!


Booking a Trip

10 - How do I book one of your trips?


It's easy! Here’s what to do:

1.        Fill out the Reservation Form on the French Wine Society website:

  • Look over the detailed trip itineraries, pricing and details on this website under “Study Trips”. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have, by email to contact@terroirwineservices.com or by phone to +1 302-415-3036.
  • When you're ready to book your trip, click on the “Reserve Now” button on the trip’s page (or you can click the link “Reservation Form” in the main navigation under “Study Trips”).
  • Fill out ALL of the fields in the Reservation Form (ALL fields are required).
  • Read the Terms & Conditions and click the box saying that you agree to them.
  • At the bottom of the Reservation Form, click the “Pay Your Deposit Now” button.  This will submit your Reservation Form and also take you to the Terroir Wine Services website where you will pay your deposit.  NOTE: We cannot reserve your place on the trip until your deposit has been paid.


2.       Pay your deposit(s) on the Terroir Wine Services website using a secure https server:

  • A deposit of US $1000 per person, per trip is due with your reservation.

a. You can pay using VISA, MasterCard, American Express or Discover Card; OR you can pay using your PayPal account. You also have the option of using PayPal’s Bill Me Later® service, which gives you 6 months to pay (see PayPal site for details).

i. Click the box(es) for the trip(s) you’re taking, and use the drop-down menu next to each trip to indicate the number of deposits you’re paying for each trip (each person taking the trip must pay a deposit).

ii. Click the “Buy Now” button, which will open another page where you can choose to pay with your PayPal account, with PayPal’s Bill Me Later® service, or by credit card.  The total amount to be paid will appear at the top right corner of the page.

b. If you prefer, you may send a check or money order in U.S. Dollars made out to Terroir Wine Services, to 1013 Centre Rd., Suite 403-A, Wilmington, DE  19805, USA. For checks, please note that we must wait for your check to clear the bank before we can confirm your reservation.

  • Terroir Wine Services will send you an email with confirmation of your reservation and deposit payment, along with more information about the trip to enable you to make your travel plans.
  • French Wine Society will email you with information about taking the online course for the region you have chosen (unless you indicate that you have already taken the course).
  • 90 days prior to the Trip start date, your final balance payment is due.  Terroir Wine Services will email you an invoice with the final amount to be paid and the due date.  The invoice will include a link to the Balance Payment Page on the Terroir Wine Services website, where you will pay the final balance using a secure https server.

Our goal is to give you peace of mind when booking your tour. All transactions undertaken by clients with our company are done by explicit contract, where all tour price inclusions and terms and conditions are completely spelled out and totally clear. There are no hidden costs and no surprises.

11 - How can I sign up for more than one Trip?

To sign up for more than one trip, fill out the Reservation Form and check the box next to the trips you want to reserve.  Then click Pay Your Deposit Now.  Click the box for the trip(s) you want, and then use the drop-down list to indicate how many deposits you are paying for each trip.  Then click “Buy Now” – when the next page opens, you will see the total amount to be paid on the upper right hand side of the page.

12 - What are the Terms and Conditions for taking these Trips?

To reserve your space on the Immersion Study Trips, you must agree to the Terroir Wine Services Terms and Conditions for the Trips.  Read the Terms and Conditions here.

13 - Should I get travel insurance for my Study Trip?

Yes, we strongly encourage you to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance package once you have paid your deposit for a Study Trip.  Note that many plans require you to purchase the insurance very soon after your deposit payment (some require it within 14 days).  There are any number of things that can happen that can cause cancellation or interruption of package travel, and travel insurance can help cover costs you incur as a result.  You can find travel insurers easily on the Internet, and there are sites where you can compare policies (for example, http://www.insuremytrip.com/ ).  Be sure to read policies very carefully before you purchase.  Include your airfare, train fare and any other expenses you will have in addition to the price of the study trip itself.  We highly recommend getting a “cancel for any reason” policy, which offers the best coverage. Travel experts say “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel,” so don’t skimp on this important coverage.

 

Here is a helpful article from USA Today called “How to Buy the Right Travel Insurance for Your Trip”:

http://travel.usatoday.com/deals/inside/story/2011/05/How-to-buy-the-right-travel-insurance-for-your-trip/47594582/1

14 - How do I take the Master Level course for the Trip?

90 days prior to a trip start date, participants who have reserved a place on the Trip will receive in the mail from the French Wine Society a Master-level study manual for the region you will be visiting and studying.

The French Wine Society will also email you with all the information you’ll need to access the Master-level online study program.

Once back from the trip, and when you feel ready, you will contact the FWS to schedule your online exam.


Organizers & Instructors

15 - What is Terroir Wine Services?

Terroir Wine Services, Inc. (TWS) is an American company based in Delaware, offering the highest level of service and quality in wine travel in France. For over a decade the company has specialized in travel to the French wine regions for an international clientele of wine professionals, journalists, educators and wine lovers. The French Wine Society has chosen to work with TWS because of their extensive expertise and experience in wine tourism and their high-level knowledge of wine and the wine business.

Unlike many tour companies that are run by people who are merely visitors to France, TWS’s professionals have first-hand knowledge of the local culture, customs, language and gastronomy gained from years of past experience living in France. The company is known for attention to detail, dedication to excellent customer service, and ability to create unique and authentic experiences in France. TWS has been recognized for excellence in wine travel both within the travel industry and by the top international wine and travel press.

16 - How do FWS and Terroir Wine Services work together on these trips?

The French Wine Society (FWS) and Terroir Wine Services (TWS) have worked very closely together, and with the instructors in each region, to create itineraries that provide a thorough overview of the region as well as a very enjoyable time for participants. The French Wine Immersion Study Trips are part of the French Wine Society’s Master-Level study program. The trips are then organized and operated by TWS. TWS is also responsible for sales and customer service for the trips. You will pay the trip price to TWS, and it will appear on your credit card statement as TERROIRWINE.

17 - What are the trip instructors like?

Our trip instructors are professional wine educators who have extensive professional experience in the French wine business and are absolutely passionate about the region and its wines. You can see a full biography of the instructor for each trip on the web page for the trip, so you can know exactly with whom you'll be touring and learning.  Most are native English speakers (American or British), and they all speak English fluently.  Our instructors have that special combination of high-level wine expertise, personal warmth, friendliness, and excellent leadership skills. They'll accompany you every day, throughout the trip, and will be able to answer all of your questions about the wines of the region you’ll be visiting (and wine in general).


Trip Participants

18 - What kind of people take your trips?

"Students of Wine"; whether wine industry professionals or serious wine hobbyists who wish to learn about the wines of France with the leader in French wine education and certification.

19 - Do you limit the group size on your trips?

Yes, definitely.  We keep group size to no more than 18 participants, to make sure that everyone gets individual attention.  The smaller group size also allows us to use a smaller motor coach, so we can take smaller, more scenic country roads and maneuver more easily through narrow estate access roads. It also enables us to visit exclusive estates that do not accept large groups.

20 - Do I need to be in good physical condition? Is there a lot of walking involved?

Our trips are appropriate for anyone who can walk short distances (i.e., 10-15 minutes at a time), walk through a winery, walk up and down stairs, and stand in place for a while during a winery tour and tasting (sometimes there is no place to sit).  On some trips we will walk a short distance into the vineyards, or from the hotel to dinner – this will be indicated on the trip itinerary and if it’s more than a 10 minute walk, that will be noted.


Visits, instructions and tastings

21 - What can I expect from the wine chateau or estate visits?

Our instructors have arranged professional-level tastings at some of the finest estates in each region. At all the estates, you'll receive a warm welcome and an extensive tasting often with the winemaker him or herself.  In most cases, you will tour the technical facilities (vat room and aging cellars) in addition to your tasting. You may taste from the barrel or vat in addition to recent and older vintages in bottle.  Sometimes you’ll taste in the cellar, sometimes in the chateau itself, and other times outdoors.  During some visits, you’ll go out into the vineyard with the winemaker to discuss vineyard management and harvesting.  If the winemaker doesn’t speak English; the instructor will translate for him or her, and for you if you have questions. Each estate visit is unique: at one chateau, you might see a cooper making barrels; at another, there may be beautiful gardens; at a third, a special art exhibit or museum. On some trips there will be extensive, comparative tastings organized by a local winemakers’ union, or at a famous local wine school.

22 - Do you include any sightseeing or free time in the trips?

We do!  The wine regions are rich in beautiful and culturally significant sights, and we want you to get to see some of them during your tour.  Although we concentrate on winery tours and tastings and other learning opportunities, you'll also have some time to visit charming medieval villages like Saint Emilion, Avignon or Beaune, and have free time to just meander, relax or shop in local markets and boutiques.


Transportation, Food & Lodging

23 - What kind of wines are included in the meals?

We expertly match premium wines from the region we're visiting with each dish.  Meals offer an opportunity to taste some wines from appellations that may not be represented in the winery tastings, or to introduce you to some interesting or unusual wines your instructor feels merit your attention. There are usually several different wines served with each meal.  At all meals, we include a minimum of a half-bottle of wine per person.  All wines included in your trip are expertly chosen by the instructor.  You are always welcome to purchase additional wine or other beverages at your own cost in addition to those we choose.

24 - What about the hotels you include in the trip? How do you choose them?

We choose hotels that are authentically French, charming and typical of the region, and offer an excellent value. We choose 3- and 4-star hotels to ensure a high level of comfort, including en suite bathrooms, WiFi and air conditioning.  It’s also important for the hotels to be well-situated, to keep driving time and distance to a minimum and to make sure you are as close as possible to the vineyards and other local sites of interest.  We visit and thoroughly check out each hotel before including it in a trip. In wine regions that are large and spread-out, you will only change hotels once or twice during a week-long trip (to keep driving times to a minimum each day), and in other regions there is only one centrally-located hotel.

25 - Are all the rooms identical at the hotels?

Charming, typically French hotels are often located in historic buildings. The trade-off of staying in these lovely, authentic hotels is that sometimes, for some hotels, the rooms we reserve for our group will not all be alike. There may be some difference in the size of the rooms, the view from each room may be different, the décor may be different, etc.. Since many of these hotels are also fairly small, it’s sometimes difficult to get the number of rooms we need to be all in the same category. So we may have to take rooms in two different categories, and there may be a slight price difference between the two categories. ALL rooms will be lovely and have the same level of comfort and services (A/C, WiFi, en suite bathrooms, TV, etc.), no one will get a “bad” room, they just may not all be exactly alike.

IF this is the case for a certain itinerary (it doesn’t happen often), it will be noted in the itinerary so you are informed in advance. Additionally, we will fill the rooms in the order of sign-ups for the trip, filling the highest category rooms first, to reward those who sign up quickly.

26 - What are the meals like?

Most meals are included in the trip price. You’ll enjoy lunches and dinners at excellent, typically-French establishments that offer finely prepared dishes.  Lunches will usually be full meals, usually starter-main dish-dessert; dinners may include more courses.  Sometimes you'll have a choice of dishes from a set menu; most of the time, everyone will eat the same dishes (see dietary restrictions, below).  In that case, the dishes will be expertly selected to ensure that everyone enjoys their meal (based on the food preference/allergy list you'll give us in advance, when you register for the trip).  Meals offer great opportunities to discuss food and wine matching, of course!  Most trips include at least one lunch and dinner on your own, so you can try local restaurants of your choice or have a lighter meal if you wish.

27 - Can you accommodate people with special dietary restrictions, allergies or preferences?

We always do our best to accommodate special needs.  It's usually possible to provide a substitute meal or dish if you cannot eat, or don't like, what everyone else is eating, as long as you let us know about your allergies, restrictions and strong dislikes in advance of the trip.  The reservation form you will fill out to reserve your space on the trip includes a place where you can specify these special dietary needs.


Preparing for the trip

28 - What clothes are most appropriate for your trips?

For day, it's best to bring clothing that’s casual without being grungy – avoid sweats and old sneakers, for example. Especially for our visits to First Growth chateaux and other very prestigious estates, slightly more elegant attire is requested and appreciated.  We'll be doing some walking, plus the cellars can be damp, so best to avoid high heels and opt for comfortable shoes for day.  For walks in the vineyards, you’ll want appropriate walking shoes or sneakers. For evening, do bring some dressier clothes for dinners in elegant restaurants. We ask that you not wear baseball caps or wine logo wear. It could be considered rude to arrive at Château Margaux wearing a winery shirt from Australia.

29 - Can I buy wine during the tour? Will the estate ship it home for me?

You are welcome to purchase wine during the trip. Please ask the instructor if there is enough time at the end of the visit for you to make your purchase without impeding the progress of the trip. However, not all estates sell at the estate; in Bordeaux, for example, very few of the Classified Growth chateaux sell wine at the chateau (they sell exclusively through wine merchants).  American participants should be aware that, according to U.S. law, only a licensed importer can receive foreign shipments of alcohol.  So you may want to speak with a local importer before you leave for France, and ask if they will agree to receive a wine shipment for you.  For participants from other countries, it is sometimes possible for the estate to ship wine to your home with an additional shipping charge.  In any case, you always have the option of bringing wine home with you in your checked luggage.  You may have to pay some amount of duty on your wine when you go through customs; please check with your local authorities for further information.

30 - What if I want to stay longer in the wine regions, or add some time in Paris or another city onto my tour?

We may be able to help! How about a romantic weekend with guided tours and a great wine tasting dinner in Paris, or a few more days in the region you’ll be visiting during the trip?  Just let us know what you have in mind and we’ll try to help make it happen.