is one of the only full service wine tour operators who have extensive experience working in the wine and tourism industries. We organize customized wine tours for wine enthusiasts in BORDEAUX, BURGUNDY, THE LOIRE VALLEY, CHAMPAGNE and the RHONE VALLEY. Your tour may include any or all of the following services: accommodation, transportation, lunches and dinners in the wineries for small groups and wine tastings in the most prestigious wine regions of France.
We have no pre-set pre-packaged programs, you are free to choose the dates that suit you and your schedule.
We weren’t the first to this party but we are the best!
Mary Dardenne, the driving force behind Decanter Tours, is an American who has lived in Bordeaux for nearly twenty years with her two sons, three dogs, assorted cats and her husband. Originally from Texas, she made Bordeaux her home after living in London, Paris and Southern California.
Recently, Mary Dardenne was elected to serve on the French Superior Council of Wine tourism, a think tank created by the French Ministry of tourism in cooperation with winery owners to promote and develop the sector. This latest accolade proves our competence, commitment and dedication to French Wine tourism.
Thanks to her expertise in the Bordeaux area, Mary was chosen to coordinate the tour guides and shore excursions for Viking River Cruises. Since March 2014 this has meant an average of 180 passengers per week with 5 – 6 busses and guides in the wine country every day.
So how did it all start? After years of working for other people I decided it was high time to be my own boss. Today I have over fifteen years of experience in sharing the French lifestyle with wine lovers from around the world through Bordeaux wine and food tours. I enjoyed it so much that I successfully completed the Bordeaux Oenology faculty’s course at the Institute of Vines and Wine Science. The DUAD (Diplome Universitare d’Aptitude a la Degustation) course comprises on the one hand, theoretical classes that cover grapes to wine, and on the other hand practical olfactory exercises for analytical and descriptive tasting.
In 2010 I started a networking group called Women in Wine… Tourism. 150 women meet regularly in Bordeaux to discuss new trends in wine tourism, who’s who, what’s what and past successes. Generally its just a really good gossip around good food and wine! The group consists of almost everyone (female of course) in wine tourism in Bordeaux, tourist offices, chamber of commerce, château owners, travel agencies, guides…
My experience in wine is vast. Previously with the Chateau Lynch Bages group in Pauillac promoting their many wine tourism businesses, I made my mark on the industry. Dealing with a four star Relais & Chateaux hotel, two Michelin starred restaurants and cooking and wine tasting classes were a good start in luxury wine tourism.
Whether marketing wine, running the hospitality side of a prominent Chateau in Pomerol or organizing wine tours for individuals and groups, I have met almost everyone on the wine scene in France. The difference this makes for Decanter Tours is that because of these connections, our clients have the luxury of a relaxed and welcoming reception and they are well received in almost every château in the country.
Some of our previous clients have included wine clubs and fraternities from several countries, cooking school groups, future wine professionals and wine enthusiasts and major collectors from all backgrounds. The groups range from 2 to 200 people.
We are specialists in high-end clients, we cater to all your needs when touring the vineyards. Every detail of your program will be carefully planned with your input. Whether it be cultural, historical or purely epicurean, your visit to the wine regions will reflect your own desires and tastes. We offer the most luxurious accommodation, the safest and most comfortable chauffeur-driven cars, the finest restaurants and the most knowledgeable English or American guides. Our close relationships with the growers and owners mean that we can pass on to you experiences that the average wine tourist will never see. We promise that your next wine tour will be unforgettable.
We are an independent operator and are not attached to any particular properties so you can suggest your own itinerary. We will do our best to make it happen. You choose what you want to taste and who you taste it with.
But we are not stopping at Bordeaux! We have incredible contacts all over the world, mostly epicurean, some wine makers, some winery owners, some organizers, all of them active. Already Burgundy and Champagne figure prominently in our tours and we have ever-increasing connections in these areas. From kite surfing & Sherry tastings on the Costa de la Luz in Spain, to snowboarding and fondue with Riesling in a sumptuous chalet in Zermatt, our future tour opportunities will never be boring.
Connect with us via twitter, facebook or simply check back here often to see what our future tours will include. Of course you decide the dates and the destination. We put you in touch with the most exciting upmarket culinary travel professionals available today. We intend to bring you along with us every step of the way on this incredible journey.
Mary Dardenne, CTA, DS France, DUAD
A childhood in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Emma got the travel 'bug' early. While at University in Scotland, she started working as a Tour Manager leading groups all over the world.
For the past 30 years, she gained extensive experience in leading and organizing group travel-from European River & Ocean cruising, crossing the Silk Route on the Chinese Orient Express, climbing mountains in Nepal & Bhutan, to the "Madness and Magic" of India with numerous groups. These wide and demanding destinations give her an extensive knowlege and experience in group tourism and the importance of good orginisation.
While running her own events and catering company in the UK, she had a fortuitous meeting with a Bordeaux negociant, who invited her to organise the entertaining at his prestigious Medoc Grand Cru Chateau. She fell for the French way of life, the wines and quickly decided to make Bordeaux her home.
Emma derives imense pleasure sharing her knowledge and experience of world-wide travel and the French life-style with Decanter Tours' guests. When she is not in the office or in front of a group, she can usually be found in her garden or planning trips for her family.