Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find the most asked questions and our answers to these questions. Click on the blue questions to see the answer.

If you have any questions you cannot find here, please don’t hesitate to contact us! You can use the form on our contact page or send us an email. The mail details are also on the contact page.

  1. What is The Bordeaux Wine Experience?

    The Bordeaux Wine Experience specializes in luxury wine and culinary tours in the Bordeaux region for an English speaking international clientele, and is generally considered as the leading Bordeaux wine tour company. Activities in the Bordeaux region are based at Chateau Coulon Laurensac, just minutes from Bordeaux.

  2. Why choose The Bordeaux Wine Experience?

    The Bordeaux Wine Experience is the only company offering tours like these, which is run by real wine professionals who actually live in Bordeaux. With us you’ll tour with the Bordeaux specialists! You’ll get the personal touch: We love sharing Bordeaux with you: It’s not our job; it is our passion You’ll discover the good stuff, the best Grand Cru Chateaux, and have fun at the same time! Leave your tuxedo, suits and ties at home! A wine tour is a vacation and you are on vacation to have fun! And our wine tours are definitely not stuffy. You’ll be received like welcome friends We love what we do and it shows. For us this is not a job, it is a passion.

  3. Why is it important to select a local wine tour company?

    Local knowledge is exactly that: local. Some tour company’s operate from other country’s, like the USA or Great Britain. This means they are as much a visitor to the region as you are, with all the inconveniences and extra costs involved. And even if they do come to Bordeaux a few times a year, or use some local guide as a hired hand, you can imagine that their contacts and their local knowledge by definition can not be at the same level as those of Bordeaux wine tour specialists who live in the region all year round. With The Bordeaux Wine Experience you tour with Ronald and Margaret, wine professionals who actually live in the Bordeaux region and not with some hired gun!

  4. Why select a specialized company for Bordeaux?

    Be careful, some companies try to tour everything. They tour Burgundy, Loire, Champagne, Rhone, Italy, Spain, etc., –and sometimes even Bordeaux.  With The Bordeaux Wine Experience you’ll travel with the Bordeaux specialists. We specialize in Bordeaux and tour only the Bordeaux region, because as wine professionals we believe you can’t be a specialist at everything! Doing one thing right, isn’t that what specializing means? Of course as wine professionals our personal knowledge and experience is broader than Bordeaux alone. We have specialized on Bordeaux but we taste wines from other regions in the world regularly and of course know a lot about them.

  5. Why are non-local companies so much more expensive?

    With a non-local company you are paying more, for two obvious reasons: Firstly, other companies, from the USA for instance, have to fly people in and need hotels for their staff, which you will pay for of course. Secondly, to impress you, they need to book expensive hotels with tennis courts, sauna’s and other facilities you are not going to use, because you will be touring the vineyards most of the time. The Bordeaux Wine Experience is local. We live in the Bordeaux region so there is no travel expenses or hotel accommodation needed for us. You will stay at our own Chateau Coulon Laurensac. This is one of the reasons our prices can be so competitive. Our chateau is Michelin rated and you’ll have all the comfort and luxury you can possibly need, but you won’t pay for facilities you are not going to use. We think you can better spend that part of your budget on wine…

  6. Are the Bordeaux Wine Experience Tours in English?

    Yes. All of our tours are designed for an international English-speaking clientele.

  7. Do I need to know a lot about wine to take one of your tours?

    Absolutely not! A wine tour is a vacation and you are on vacation to have fun. Ronald will quickly have a feel for the way our guests are interested in wine and can explain things in a way that will be interesting for all “levels” in wine knowledge. Some of our guests are just discovering the basics of the wonderful word of wine where as others already have a more in depth wine knowledge. There is plenty of room for more advanced discussions for those who have more experience or a specialty interest. All guests share a common interest in travel, food and wine and enjoy the good things in life.

  8. Is the tour going to be fun?

    Well, that is the plan of course ;). With The Bordeaux Wine Experience you’ll taste, learn and enjoy in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Leave your tuxedo, suits and ties at home! A wine tour is a vacation and you are on vacation to have fun! With us you visit the good stuff, the best Grand Cru Chateaux. And our wine tours are definitely not stuffy. Some tour companies emphasize on prestige, gala dinners, superlative service and other pretentious and overpriced stuffy blah blah. Our mission on the other hand is to make this wonderful world of Bordeaux and its wines accessible to all levels of wine lovers. And we are a strong believers that a sense of humor keeps us all from taking everything too serious. Click here to see what other guest thought of their experience with us. You’ll see that we tour prestigious estates, not pretentious people.

  9. Grand Cru Tour or Grand Tour, what’s the difference?

    We offer two types of week tours: the Grand Tour of Bordeaux and the Bordeaux Grand Cru Tour. Both tours are great experiences and there is a slight difference in the itinerary. On each tour we guarantee that you will see and taste all 5 First Growths plus Yquem. And the food is spectacular as well. Your palette will be pleasantly surprised with Michelin-rated dining and exclusive meals at Classified Growths. The Bordeaux Grand Cru Tour includes a concise cooking class in Margaret’s Chateau Kitchen and a shopping spree at the region’s oldest open air farmers market. On the Grand Tour you will visit a few more First Growths. On the Grand Cru Tour You will usually taste some older vintages of these First Growths.  On both tours, guests indulge in Chateau lunches and a memorable Michelin-rated dinner. But it goes on:  Both the Grand Tour and the Grand Cru Tour both conclude with an unforgettable Farewell Dinner at Chateau Coulon Laurensac.  Click here to see the wines tasted on previous Bordeaux Wine Tours. Just ask us for the itineraries and so you can decide which is the best experience for your palate.

  10. What can I expect from a wine chateau or winery visit?

    Bordeaux doesn’t offer open tasting rooms.  The most interesting wine chateaux won’t let you in unless you are an established wine professional. Don’t worry, we have the contacts and will get you in. With us you will be received in a very welcoming way. We usually get a personalized tour conducted by the cellar master, the winemaker, the chateau owner or sometimes a guide. Usually they will speak English, if they don’t, we will translate everything for you, including any questions you might have.  Normally, before we taste we will first visit the chateau’s winemaking facilities. Some chateaux have a tasting room at others you will taste in the cellar or in the chateau itself. The tastings vary from chateau to chateau and can be extensive with barrel samples or wines from older vintages.  Maybe you have been to wineries where you choose wines you want to taste from a list pay and then taste. You may have seen the wine busses in California loaded up with a bunch of people who know nothing of wine but simply want to “drink it up”. In France this is very different. Winery visits in Bordeaux are about tasting, not drinking, and are very different from visits in the U.S. and many other country’s.  Each visit has its own charm apart from the wine. Sometimes it will be the spectacular architecture of the chateau, next time it may be the gardens that leave an everlasting impression. Mouton Rothschild for instance has its own private museum, at Chateau Haut Brion you will see a cooper working.

  11. Which meals are included?

    On all Bordeaux Wine Experience week tours all meals and all drinks are included with the exception of one dinner on your free night in the city of Bordeaux.

  12. What kind of meals will we have on your wine tours?

    Our guests usually are delighted with the restaurants and meals we choose on our wine tours. Some will be at Michelin-starred restaurants; others at very fine, typically local establishments that offer finely prepared gourmet dishes; often local specialties. Lunches will be full meals, at least appetizer-main dish-dessert; dinners usually include more courses. Sometimes you’ll have a choice of dishes; other times, everyone will eat the same meal. In that case, Margaret will expertly have selected these dishes to ensure that everyone enjoys their meal. We’ll ask you beforehand about allergies and dislikes.

  13. What kind of wines are included in the meals?

    Well, Bordeaux wines of course…. But seriously, we will make a selection from the best premium wines from appelations such as Pauillac, Margaux, Saint Julien, St. Estèphe, Saint Emilion, Pomerol and Sauternes. Ronald will expertly match these premium wines with the different dishes selected by Margaret. You are of course free to order additional wine, other beverages or other extras at your own cost, in addition to those included in the tour. This actually never happens, as there is plenty of wine included at all meals. Two different wines generally will accompany lunches. At the dinners it varies from a minimum of three different wines to six at the farewell dinner. You will taste many Classified Growths. Click here for the list of wines that were tasted at previous Bordeaux Wine Tours. You’ll agree that nobody will leave us thirsty; or hungry for that matter.

  14. Will we have enough time to enjoy these incredible meals?

    Yes, of course. The French take food and wine very serious. That’s why in France the evening meal in a restaurant usually takes up the entire evening. No three seating’s in French restaurants. The advantage is of course that you can take the time to enjoy the delicious food and wine pairings. The dining experience will start later than you might be used to. Restaurants usually start serving at eight in de evening.  Sometimes guests at first are amazed that waiters in restaurants don’t clear the dishes away as soon as they have eaten their food. In France this is considered impolite and the waiting staff will wait until everybody at the table has finished their course. Then they will usually wait a while before they bring in the next dish. Don’t be surprised to spend a few hours at dinner.

  15. Won't I gain weight eating all those delicious meals?

    Yes, very likely…, but for some reason French Women don’t get fat…

  16. Can you have people with special dietary restrictions?

    Yes that’s no problem. We’ll  ask you beforehand about allergies and dislikes. Menu planning is important, complex and arranged well in advance to feature local specialties and to complement the wines. If we are advised on the booking form we can make arrangements for dietary requirements and serious dislikes. We’ve had people that were vegetarian or on a gluten free diet for instance.  So if you have dietary restrictions, dishes you can’t eat or really hate, please let us know in advance. Usually we can accommodate most restrictions. Don’t worry; no one ever leaves our tours feeling hungry; or thirsty for that matter.

  17. What kind of physical shape do I need to be in to enjoy a wine tour?

    Naturally we’ll drop you off as close to the chateaux as possible but there is of course some walking involved. To visit cellars you obviously have to be able to climb stairs and walk around at the wineries, although the distances usually aren’t very far. Often there is no place to sit during the tastings. If you need a hand, we are always more than willing to help you.

  18. What kind of people take your tours and what age groups can I expect?

    That’s one of the most interesting parts of our profession. We receive and get to meet guests from all over the world and of all ages. We have received people from the world of finance, education and the medical professions. We have had guests who were CEO’s, real estate agents, airplane pilots and entrepreneurs, both active and retired. The age of The Bordeaux Wine Experience travelers generally ranges from early to mid-30’s up to mid-60’s. Until now we have had people in an age range from 23 to 87 years. All have a common interest in travel, food and wine.

  19. How many people will there be in a group?

    We want to keep things personal and aim for the highest level of service and quality. That’s why we only organize tours for small groups and tailor made trips.  A small group from our perspective means a maximum of 13 people. With six double/twin rooms and one single room, this is the maximum we can and will accommodate at our chateau.

  20. What is the minimum number of guest for a tour? What is the risk for a cancellation due to low bookings?

    The minimum number of guest for a tour is just two! So if you are a couple booking you won’t have any risks for cancellation due to low bookings. All our tours will start with a two-guest minimum.

  21. What kind of accommodation will we be staying at?

    During your tour with The Bordeaux Wine Experience you you’ll stay at the beautiful accommodation of Château Coulon Laurensac located just ten minutes from the city of Bordeaux. Guests will stay not in hotels but at this privately owned Chateau. This is one of the reasons our prices can be so competitive. For more information and pictures please click here.

  22. What kind of amenities can I expect at your Chateau?

    All suites are spacious and have king size beds (double or twin) and include private, en suite bathrooms with jacuzzi baths and toilets. Your beds will be made with duvets and crisp well-ironed 100% Egyptian cotton sheets. In your bathroom you will find a hair dryer and nice fluffy towels that will be changed daily on request. Housekeeping will clean your room on a daily basis. Each suite has a fridge, tea and coffee facilities, complementary WIFI Internet access and of course a TV with satellite reception and a DVD player with a selection of DVD’s. All (bed)rooms have air-conditioning. A stereo set with a with radio complete the technical equipment of your accommodation. Complimentary beverages and snack items are replenished daily. All rooms provide comfort, lovely views and private entrances. Of course they all have their own terraces with garden furniture. There is a central laundry room with a washing machine and a tumble-dryer you can use at no extra charge. For your health and enjoyment, Chateau Coulon Laurensac is a NON SMOKING property.  Click here to read more and see pictures of the rooms at the Chateau.

  23. Will we be changing accommodations on the tour?

    No! There will be no hotel hopping on our tours. Chateau Coulon Laurensac, where you will be staying, is centrally located for visiting the Bordeaux vineyards. You will stay here from the first wine tasting until the farewell dinner and the final breakfast.

  24. What is double occupancy?

    Two people sharing a room. We mention “couples”, but we offer some twin-bedded rooms at the chateau where we had the pleasure of receiving a number of father/son, mother/daughter, brothers, sisters or just friends sharing a room. Gay and lesbian travelers are of course more than welcome on our wine tours.  We have one single room available (without single supplement!).

  25. What is the single rate? Do you have single rooms available?

    At the Chateau there is just one single room without single supplement of course. Chateau Coulon Laurensac is a relative small property with just 7 guest rooms.  Single travelers fit in very well in the intimate atmosphere of our small group tours. Please click here for a short video about single travelers with The Bordeaux Wine Experience. We do have twin rooms.We do not ‘match up’ single travellers; if the single room is no longer available and you are traveling on your own, you could team up with a friend and take a twin room together.

  26. What kind of transportation do you use on your tours?

    We use very comfortable air-conditioned vehicles well adapted to the size of the group, of course these vehicles are loaded with ice-cold bottled water. Along the way, your tour leader Ronald will offer intriguing insights about the sights we see over the on-board PA system.

  27. Where do your tours start and end? How do I get there?

    All our tours start and end at Chateau Coulon Laurensac just 5 km (3 miles) from down town Bordeaux. The Chateau is conveniently situated at 20 minutes from the airport Bordeaux Mérignac and 10 minutes from the Gare St. Jean train station. At the train station or at the Bordeaux airport you can easily get a taxi. A short ride will bring you to Chateau Coulon Laurensac.

  28. Where and when will the tour begin?

    The Bordeaux Wine Experience tours always start with a check-in in the afternoon at our chateau so you have some time to settle in before your first tasting experience that evening. We usually start the program around 4 pm. No hidden costs of an extra night here. Our tour price also includes all taxes, tips and gratuities. Tipping is neither required nor expected. We hate hidden costs just as much as you do.

  29. What kind of clothes are suitable for your Bordeaux tours?

    Leave your tuxedo, suits and ties at home! You’re on vacation to have fun! Dress code in France is a combination of “casual and smart”. For your day trips to the Bordeaux vineyards, we advise you to bring some skirts and/or pants with tops/light blouses. Men can wear pants with a (polo) shirt.  We wouldn’t recommend sneakers, t-shirts, sweats or shorts. Nice jeans are OK. The weather in summer usually is nice but a light sweater is a good idea to pack. Evenings can be cooler and the cellars we’ll be visiting are usually around 60 Fahrenheit, so better bring a sweater. Also pack a coat for the occasional shower. For your day trips you’ll need comfortable shoes. The cellar floors can be slippery, so you better avoid high heels.  You can also bring swimwear because we have a lovely swimming pool at Château Coulon Laurensac. The restaurants we will visit vary from casual to modern and more elegant. Men won’t need a jacket for the restaurants we select. You could wear one if you like; however French men don’t wear ties very often, especially in summer. Women could wear dress pants or a skirt with a top or a dress.

  30. What should I bring with me on my trip?

    Bring a copy of your passport’s first page, copies of all your credit card numbers and the phone numbers to call in case you have to report a lost credit card. Keep these in a separate location from your wallet or purse. It’s also a good idea to leave copies of all these numbers with a friend or relative back home. Should you lose your passport or credit cards, having this information will be invaluable. Bring comfortable shoes. Bring two sets of all prescription medicines that you must take and pack them in different locations in case one bag gets lost. Also bring a copy of your written prescriptions, including those for eyeglasses and contacts. Electric current in Europe is 220-240 volt/50 cycles in Europe and 120/110 volt and 60 cycles in North America. Make sure your personal appliances like hair-dryer, electric razor, computer power supply, etc., are multi-voltage compatible or bring a small converter. Bring a small carry-on with an extra set of clothes. Should the worst happen and your bag is lost, you will have a change of clothes until your bag catches up with you. If you must take daily medication, bring a two-day supply with you in the carry-on. You will also want your camera and extra memory cards. Bringing a spare battery for your camera is also a good idea.

  31. What should I prepare for when traveling to France?

    Many things are different in France. That’s of course part of the thrill of traveling abroad.  The French organizational skills are at a different level than their cooking and wine making skills. Although we meticulously prepare every step of our tours, we at times have to improvise which means we sometimes all have to adapt to a new reality. If you have read any of Peter Mayle’s books on living in France, you know what we mean. Functioning in France means we all have to be a little flexible at times. If you’ll come to France with an open mind, a little flexibility and a mild sense of humor, I am sure you will love this French experience as much as we do.

  32. Can I buy wine during the tours? How can we ship it home?

    Of course you can, although you must realize that only a few of the Classified Growth Chateaux sell wine directly. Even if they do, however, the choice of vintages is often limited. We’ll take you to Ronald’s favorite wine shop that has an excellent collection and they ship all over the world. There are other merchants in Bordeaux or Saint Emilion who can ship for you and, of course you can always bring some wine home with you on the plane. Sometimes you might be required to pay some duty on these. As the duty is based on the alcohol content, it is usual only worth your while bringing home some of the better wines.

  33. Do you, The Bordeaux Wine Experience, sell any wine?

    No we don’t. Many of our guests ask us to sell wine to them because of our contacts in Bordeaux. We have chosen not to sell wine because we want to remain independent and objective. If you sell a certain wine you might be tempted to include this chateau in tours or serve these wines at dinners. We want to be able to give our honest opinion on wines and choose chateaux for visits that we think are worth the detour without being commercially involved.

  34. What is a good time in the year to visit Bordeaux and its vineyards?

    Bordeaux and its vineyards are well worth visiting all year round. The yearly average temperature in Bordeaux is higher than that on the Cote d’Azur at the Mediterranean! The city and its vineyards have their own charm and beauty in every season. Unless you are in the wine trade, you should avoid Bordeaux in the last week of March and the first week of April. Those weeks are traditionally reserved for showing the new vintage to the trade. One week is for importers and key restaurant/retail buyers and the other week is mostly devoted to showing the wines to the press. You may still be able to visit some of the chateaux but many of the more interesting ones will be pre-occupied.

  35. Can I book just shorter stay in the Bordeaux region for my next trip to Paris?

    Yes of course. Just click here for our Paris – Bordeaux wine tour combination.

  36. Do you organize wine tours to other wine growing areas than Bordeaux?

    No, we don’t. We specialize on wine tours in the Bordeaux region. We believe you can’t be a specialist on everything.

  37. How do I book one of your tours?

    Just contact us through our contact page and we will send you the reservation forms plus all information on how to proceed further.  Reservations will be accepted on a first come first serve basis (based on the date of receipt of down payment) and are subject to availability. Please don’t hesitate to call or e-mail us about any tour that you are interested in and to check if there are places available.

  38. How far in advance do I need to book my tour?

    Reservations will be accepted on a first come first serve basis (based on the date of receipt of down payment) and are subject to availability. The farther in advance that you book, the greater availability of dates or room preferences you’ll find. Avoid disappointments and book now.

  39. Can I make a last minute booking for one of your tours?

    Yes you can. Though many people book well in advance, we sometimes have last minute spots available. So it is always worth contacting us as we may have availability. However to be fair to everyone there are no last minute discounts.

  40. Are all taxes and service charges included in the tour price?

    Our quoted tour prices include all taxes, tips and gratuities. Tipping is neither required nor expected. There are NO HIDDEN COSTS like service charges, local taxes or other charges.

  41. What about airfare, train tickets etc.?

    Round-trip airfare from your home to the point of departure is not included in our tour packages. Many of our clients use frequent flyer miles or make pre- and post-trip plans that they prefer to control themselves by booking their own air transportation. We do not arrange or reserve any travel (air, land or sea) to any destination. You will have to make all travel arrangements directly yourself. Please contact your local travel agent about airline tickets to Paris and from there to Bordeaux. If you ‘d like to spend a few days in Paris (and who wouldn’t), you can take the high-speed train in Paris and will be in Bordeaux (Gare St. Jean) within 3 hours. At the Gare Saint Jean train station or at the Bordeaux Mérignac airport you can easily get a taxi. A short ride will bring you to Chateau Coulon Laurensac.You can reserve you train tickets online.

  42. What do you recommend for accessing money during a tour?

    The easiest (and cheapest) way to get money is by using your bank ATM card or credit card! Traveler’s checks are a nuisance in France.

  43. Do you recommend taking trip and cancellation insurance?

    Yes we do. There is always the risk that you have to cancel so don’t take the risk and purchase it. Your local insurance company can provide you with an insurance against: trip cancellation, trip interruption, emergency assistance and medical evacuation, accident and sickness medical, expense and baggage. We of course hope you won’t need it, but if you do, you will be glad you purchased it.

  44. What credit cards do you accept?

    We accept Visa, Master card and American Express credit cards.

  45. Where are your activities based?

    The tour activities of The Bordeaux Wine Experience have their base at Chateau Coulon Laurensac in Latresne just outside the city of Bordeaux. No hotel hopping on our tours, you will stay in the same room during your entire tour. The location is ideal for visiting Bordeaux and its vineyards. People sometimes think the Médoc is the best place to stay during a visit to this region. In reality the Médoc is great to visit and we go to this area on every tour, but it is less ideal for staying. The Médoc is rather rural and people often find themselves a little “lost” when they are staying there.  Staying close to the city of Bordeaux is much more convenient if you also want the visit Bordeaux itself and the Saint Emilion, Graves and Sauternes wine regions. Obviously the transfers to the train station and airport are much shorter.  Chateau Coulon Laurensac has a real country feel to it, but is very close to Bordeaux and the surrounding wine growing regions. The Chateau is our home and we live here all year round. Our administrative offices are in the Netherlands. Bookings will take place through these offices.

  46. What is your address?

    The Bordeaux Wine Experience is a Dutch company specializing in wine and culinary tours in the Bordeaux region for an English speaking international clientele. Bookings will take place through our administrative offices in the Netherlands: BXWINEX BV d/b/a The Bordeaux Wine Experience, Gooierserf 380, Postbus 228, 1270 AE HUIZEN, The Netherlands. The wine tour activities in the Bordeaux region are based at: Château Coulon Laurensac (Click here and you can even see our pool!) 1, chemin de Meydieu, 33360 Latresne (BORDEAUX), France.

  47. Why are your administrative offices in the Netherlands?

    Although we have been living in France for more than 16 years, we are originally from the Netherlands. Cutting through the Dutch red tape was much easier (and cheaper) for us than doing it in France. (And we prefer the Dutch “Uncle Sam” to the French…)

  48. Are you a real company? (Believe it or not, but people ask us this sometimes).

    I can understand you are careful in the Internet age, but don’t worry: we are a real company with brick-and-mortar offices in Bordeaux and in the Netherlands. (In Bordeaux the brick and mortar actually is almost three hundred years old!). You can find our addresses here. We are registered by the government (registration number: 320.66.170). With The Bordeaux Wine Experience you travel with a professional and licensed tour operator. We are a member of the Bordeaux Tourist Office and we are a member of the W.T.I.A.: The Wine Tour International Association. Our company accepts American Express, Visa and Master Card.  We have had over a thousand satisfied (or should I say: delighted) clients. Believe me, we didn’t make up those guest comments on this web site. If you still have any doubts or questions, please call me (Ronald) direct at +33 556 20 64 12 (or toll free from the US or Canada:1-877-203-2665) and I will be more than happy to answer all the questions you might have. If you want to, it will be my pleasure to bring you in contact with some of our guests from previous tours.

  49. Brochures - Can you send me a brochure?

    No we can’t!  All information about our Bordeaux wine tours is on our site but you can to ask us  for a detailed itinerary.

  50. I got an error using the site

    We strive to provide the best possible experience for our site visitors. However, technology isn’t perfect so we need your help in finding and correcting any technical problems. Should you encounter one, please send us an email. Please let us know: The kind of error you got (e.g., any words displayed in your browser to alert you to the error — you may be able to copy and paste these directly into your email); What you were doing when the error occurred and if the occurred when you were doing a search, please tell us what you typed into the search engine before the error occurred. Thank you for your cooperation.

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