The other reviewers must have low standards. Here's how it really is. This tour is great if you want to spend 145 Euros ($200) per person for a two and a half hour lunch while someone tells you her life story. The entire day consisted of a grand total of 3 wineries: 2 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. Not a lot of bang for the buck. Instead of telling us about the history of the Loire valley and the making of wine, the tour guide spent most of her time talking about her personal life and how much she hates the French. Her schedule was ineffiicient and resulted in most of the day being spent at the restaurant or in the car, so we visited only half as many wineries as I would expect for the time and money spent.
Apparently wineries here are closed daily from 12-2pm. The afternoon winery was a 45 minute drive away. A value-packed tour would have a shorter lunch and spend part of that time driving to the next destination, so we could get there by 2pm and make the most of the afternoon. Instead we had a 2.5 hour lunch followed by a 45 minute drive, eating up the afternoon and leaving time for only one winery visit.
Also wineries in this area are not like California. They don't have fancy tasting rooms filled with visitors and trinkets. In general the tasting room is small and uninspiring, and the host is surly and seems to wish us gone as soon as possible. They make no effort to tell you anything about their wine other than the year. Our guide didn't appear to have any sort of relationship with the wineries we visited, so there was no rapport with the people there and no sense of welcome. She seemed to be as much of a first timer as we were and seemed to be taking her chances that the wineries would even be open to receive us. I would expect an experienced and professional tour operator to have a better connection with the wineries and have a schedule set up so they know to expect us and can provide a warmer reception. A gift such as a local bottle of wine at the end of the tour would be a nice touch as well.
All in all this experience was a severe disappointment considering the money spent. For less money you can rent a car, get a map of the wineries, go out on your own, and visit twice as many wineries in a day.
As a simple comparison, the next day we went on a tour of the Chateaux in the region. In one day we spent 1 solid hour or more at 4 different chateaux, plus we had a lunch break, plus we drove past 3 more chateaux, plus we got a full day of colorful history narrated by the tour operator. Total cost was only 50 euros plus entrance fees, or about 100 euros per person. That's the kind of experience I would expect from a wine tour as well. Sadly this tour doesn't even come close. Pick another wine tour.
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