The Flying Grape is a tour and travel business focused on top quality wine education in the great wine regions of the world.
Our leap into the wine travel business began in December of 2015. Now that we had our son safely settled in Chicago for college, it was time to pursue the dream of organizing high quality, small group wine travel to many of the wonderful places we have been lucky enough to visit.
We chose Portugal for the first trip because our good friend Ryan Opaz of Catavino lives there and could arrange all the details and logistics. We put together the Ultimate Portugal Wine Education Trip for October of 2016. We announced it via my Twin Cities Wine Education newsletter and had a little agreement between ourselves: if we sold two thirds of the seats for the trip by April of 2016, we'd consider it a viable business and continue to pursue it.
Within ten days we were oversold. The Flying Grape was off and running!
Well, actually not really off and running. We dived into the travel world via a number of insider sources we have. Parts of the traditional travel industry appealed to us while other parts did not. Typical of the way we think, we tore up the original business plan and started anew. We like to do things the way we want to do things ... it's always been our nature.
What's different about The Flying Grape? Pretty much everything.
1) Small group travel. Flying Grape trips will be no more than 14 participants. One thing we learned about the travel industry is there are certain 'break points' in terms of discounting and freebies for the organizers. These break points normally hover around 30-45 people (think size of the bus, size of hotels, etc.). But you know what? That doesn't work for The Flying Grape for one simple reason: one great and special bottle of wine can give 14 people (plus us) a good sized taste. Going to a special winery and popping special bottles will be part of every experience, and that means small groups.
2) Fair compensation to the wineries. Flying Grape trips will never be fishing for deals, comps, freebies, or other such things from the wineries we visit. On the contrary, we are going to happily pay for what we are doing, knowing the money is supporting small family operations, farmers, and winery workers. There will never be a mega-sized Flying Grape bus pulling up to the mega-sized winery because we get a good deal. What you can expect is to visit the small, weird, off the radar, historic, or up and coming wineries and vineyards while tasting with the key people involved in making great wines from that particular place.
3) Independence for those traveling with us. Flying Grape trips will allow you to travel the way you want. As we've discovered through various surveys our tribe doesn't want to be corralled into a particular flight or even stay at a particular hotel. Many people have family in the airline industry, or they like to fly Spirit and save money, or they like to fly Delta first class, or they like hotel rooms with lots of space and hot tubs, or they like small affordable hotels. Our domestic trips will have quite of bit of personal flexibility built in, while our European trips will be a tad more structured in terms of the planning. But in the end, The Flying Grape trips will offer you a level of personalization and independence that others do not.
Will trips with The Flying Grape cost more than others? Yes. But the experience will be unlike any other, guaranteed, including easy shipping of products back home, insider's access to amazing experiences, meeting key winery people, learning about the history and geography of particular regions, and helping support the kinds of wineries that deserve our love.
Learn more and sign up at The Flying Grape website.