Basilicata and Puglia with Jetsetter
'After a decadent trip to Piemonte in the fall of 2013, I spent day after day wondering why I am only Italian by a little bit of blood and not actually Italian, by virtue of living in Italy. Life, indeed, seems better there. Flipping through my photos constantly, day dreaming of each wine, each meal, each landscape - each moment meticulously planned by Robertson Wine Tours - like no vacation I'd ever experienced…. how can I make this happen again, I'd think - how can I get back there…but no - that was certainly once in a lifetime. And then one day out of the blue a text from Tim Robertson: I have a trip for you in May, you must come. I'd only met Tim once - on my trip that fall - but that was enough to understand that one should just do what he says when it comes to travel. I pretended for a few days that like rational people, I would look at the itinerary, consider the cost, look at my schedule - but once you know RWT - you trust RWT - and unless you have an exaggerated sense of know-it-all-ish-ness…. you understand you should show up and it will be worth your while. As soon as I received Tim's text I put in for vacation at work and blocked my calendar. At RWT, they are perfectionists and their business - whether you think of it as tourism, as wine fanaticism, as relationship building, as smile making - is their passion - they leave no detail to chance... (in so far as one can be a perfectionist and avoid chance in travel in italy). Thus begun my trip to Puglia/Apulia (and Basilicata) - regions of Italy I'd heard of enough to understand they were south - but knew nothing about. The trip started in Lecce… I had never heard of Lecce…. now I'd like to move to Lecce. After my first experience with RWT - I knew that every last moment would be tended to such that all I would need to do was show up. And that I did. I got on a flight at JFK knowing I'd ultimately land in Brindisi - relatively certain there would be someone there to pick me up (maybe they'd have a sign or something?), and somewhere in my email there was a meticulously planned itinerary in case anything went wrong - hopefully i'd be able to get into my email….maybe i should have printed it?…... That is how profoundly I trust Robertson wines - I flew across the world with only the vaguest clue where I was going and nothing in writing because I knew everything would not only be fine - but perfect. That is not to say they hadn't put blood, sweat and tears into ensuring I had every piece of information I'd need for my stay - day by day schedules, addresses, restaurant recommendations, etc. But I knew I didn't need to think about it until I got there - that's how relaxing of a vacation Robertson provides - literally not a detail to worry about. For me, nothing could be better than that. While knowing the trip itself would be amazing - I did feel a bit uneasy about traveling with a group….I actually love strangers - but it can be stressful enough going with people you do know - what if these people were crazy? I got myself around it by realizing that I was going to be there with Italy - and just like anything else I may do in Italy with other people around - the other people were just other tourists and I only had to spend as much time with them as I chose…..as it turned out, this group of 10 had what has to be the perfect chemistry for a group to travel with. Enough different complementary personalities to keep things fun and interesting - all warm, kind, generous and fun - I now have 9 new friends who I miss and look forward to seeing again. Whether that's Robertson being discerning about their clients - or me having exceptionally good luck - I can not know until the next time. Puglia herself was interesting - a different kind of Italy than I'd seen. Less touristed, fewer familiar american voices. Same feeling of warmth and kindness emanating from her people. Same fresh quality ingredients in food. Quality in wine. But still reflecting uniqueness of a region and culture not yet exported to the States and commercialized. Making it interesting and special. I think Robertson could take me to any region of Italy and make me feel that way of it, though. If I challenged them to take me to a Tuscany no one had ever seen before they would deliver in spades. Reflecting the difference in the more affluent, travelled north - while cooking experiences in Piemonte (all exquisite) - were with famous chefs (with tv shows, professional kitchens or michelin stars); cooking experiences in Puglia were with women who were chefs in their own homes, going into this business for themselves to teach us to cook. The best meals I ate all week were the meals we made with these women in their kitchens. The wines - Negroamaro, Primitivo, were wines I knew very little of before the trip - and some (Malvasia, and my personal favorite Susumaniello which loosely may translate to something like giddy up donkey)…. The people I came into contact with at each winery, at each cooking experience, on each guided tour, each taxi driver!! - were people so genuine and engaging I'd take them in my own family… A great highlight of the trip - that puts into perspective the adaptability of RWT despite all I just said about leaving non moment unplanned…. we got caught in a huge rainstorm at the end of our trip in the town of Matera. The afternoon was scheduled to be a walking tour of the town with a guide to explain its history… as soon as we started out the sky opened and the downpour was to intense to walk around in. Even RWT can't control the weather, but right away Tim had us under cover at a cafe with cabs on their way - taking us back and forth in groups to the art studio/home of our tour guide and her husband. What could have been an afternoon ruined - turned quickly into an intimate gathering of now good friends - drinking wine, admiring art, chatting with these locals about this town, it's history - as well as their own. One of the most special afternoons there was out of a rainstorm. I could obviously write a novel on this topic. Thank you Tim, thank you Cris, thank you Robertson Wine Tours for what have now been the best 2 1/2 weeks of my life - many more to come.'
Katie VisasAtlanta. USA
Wine and food Experience Basilicata and Puglia
Trip through Puglia and BasilicataI have and will continue to recommend this trip to anyone who is interested in seeing Puglia and the surrounding areas of Italy in a most unique way. Tim and Cris arranged not only a tour but a true experience that could never be duplicated travelling on your own or with a traditional tour company. You become totally immersed in the local life. While the focus of the tour is on the wine and food, it is all in a most relaxed way where you are free to go at your own pace and actually enjoy being a part of the beautiful surroundings. No knowledge of wine or food necessary – believe me, just a love for delicious, fresh, ingredients, and a willingness to try innumerable wonderful wines, with great company in some of the most beautiful settings in the world! Tim and Cris gave us all the unique opportunity to get to know and spend time with local wine-makers, wonderful cooks, artisans, and guides who welcomed us like family and shared their amazing talents and intimate knowledge of the wines, ingredients, and local history. From the time you arrive at the airport until you are escorted back for your flight home, every detail has been thoughtfully arranged for your comfort and pleasure. I enjoyed every minute, from the organized cooking classes, to spontaneously riding bikes to the sea during free time. It was an amazing trip that brought a lifetime of memories and friends I will cherish.
Laura TrueFarmington, CT USA
Honeymoon – Rome and Tuscany 9 nights
Yes, we have been crazy busy since coming home.
The trip was wonderful. The scenery, the food and the accommodations - all were terrific. To call out a few notables: We liked the range of restaurants, from La Pergola to small pizzerias we found on our own in Rome. We really liked the dinner at La Cantinetta de Rignana - great food, casual atmosphere with spectacular views. Similarly, the wine-tasting lunch that you pre-arranged for us in Montalcino was lovely too, with amazing views. We can't think of one sub-par meal we had for the entire time! Dan and I took home names of some of the wines we particularly enjoyed and will ask our local wine store to investigate for us. The wine tours / tasting were great. We particularly enjoyed Castello di Ama - perhaps it was the leisurely pace, the picturesque setting … and we loved the modern art woven into the workings of the winery. Lunch was lovely and delicious too.
We really appreciate having some flexibility in the tour - which was easy given that it was just us. Katherine was great about helping us evaluate the planned schedule of each day to make sure it wasn't too much.
Speaking of Katherine - she was terrific in every way. She was professional, smart, accommodating, interesting and informative. We would recommend her without hesitation to anyone. We spent a lot of time with her and she really made the trip so enjoyable. I don't think we would have enjoyed Tuscany nearly as much if we were driving ourselves. And we certainly wouldn't have learned as much about the region. Katherine's tour of Florence, off the beaten path, where we saw parts of Florence that we wouldn't have known about. Just what we like.
The hotels were terrific. We loved the location of Donna Camilla Savelli - what a great area the Trastevere Section is. We loved roaming around the streets at nights. Castello del Nero is a spectacular location and the room was huge and lovely. The Villa Cora Grand Hotel in Florence was amazing in terms of level of service and amenities.
All in all, we had a fabulous honeymoon, and would highly recommend your services! We will certainly do so on your website. Next time, perhaps the Amalfi coast for us.
Best, Susan and Dan
Susan Rosen and Dan RorabaughBoston MT. USA
UC Davis comes to discover Sardinia
July / 2014
Robertson’s Wine Tours did it yet again for us on our most recent wine pilgrimage. Having toured with them several times including Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Sicily and Piedmonte, we knew we were in safe hands when we decided to let them plan our tour of the Sardinian Cantinas. Once we contacted them, we had a prompt return with information on restaurants hotels, sites to tour and of course the cantinas. We poured over it all, but in the end we asked Robertson’s to choose the cantinas. We were given a tour that included everything from major cantina such as Argiolas to family run such as the Guiseppe's: Sedilesu and Gabbas, to the more cultish as Leda d'Ittiri: the perfect spread for getting the bigger picture not only on the industry, but on the great tastes as well. Thanks to Robertson’s!
Prof James F and Penelope Shackelford.UC Davis CA. USA
Basilicata and Puglia Food and Wine Experience with Jetsetter
Dear Tim, Lynn and I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how very much we have enjoyed recounting with friends and colleagues just how wonderful your wine and food tour of Puglia was for us. As you know, much of my motivation was professional since I import wines from the region. My goal was to acquire a greater knowledge of Puglian wines ;meet producers who might be interested in doing business and generally enjoy the region's many attributes. You delivered on all counts. Thanks to visits included in your tour, I was able to acquire import rights to two of the region's finest producers. Ivan of Tenute Rubino will be joining me in Seattle this coming September to introduce his wines to my customers. On the social side, we found the small group to be absolutely perfect. As a result we now have 8 new friends who we are sharing experiences with on a near weekly basis. I hope you are well. We look forward to scheduling another Robertson Wine Tour in the coming year.Best wishes, Bob Stevens Penn Cove Wine Company
Bob and Lynn StevensSeattle, Washington USA
Basilicata and Puglia Food and Wine Experience. 10th Wedding Anniversary.
Tim and Cristian, We made it back safe and sound to our three lovely little girls. They were all so excited to see us that it made leaving Italy much easier to bear. Shelley and I had the greatest trip we could have imagined. Your planning and attention to detail simply astounded us. I can honestly say that the trip was nothing short of perfect. It is so hard to pick any particular day that was the standout as every day was so different and so wonderful. We truly appreciate all of your efforts in planning the trip and making it come together so wonderfully. Looking back on our trip and thinking of all of the arrangements you made I decided that you two aren't at all in the travel business. I wouldn't categorize either of you as travel agents or vacation planners. I think that the clearest way to describe what you do is that you are in the business of making memories. You've created beautiful and magical memories that will last our lifetime. We absolutely loved so many things that we did on our trip and will be able to look back on them with a gracious smile. Thank you for sharing your home, your stories and your friendship. We had so much fun drinking wine and eating dinner with both of you. I’m very glad we were able to make such great friends in such a short time. We wish you both years of health, wealth and happiness. Thank you.
John and Shelly MossmanVinton Iowa USA
TESTIMONIAL 7 Nights wine Touring Piedmont Italy
As I said earlier the whole trip and experience was great.Our guide and driver excellent. Guide very knowledgeable about the area , as well as other areas and countries production. And pleasant company. Informative about culture and history etc,,, Great hotels (Villas) and choice of restaurants. And great food and service. Seemed to be a perfect pace. Excellent communication with you from beginning to end. (And after) also nice to speak to you directly on the phone. We were very well taken care of. The folks at every winery were friendly, informative, and great to spend time with. It was a beautiful area. Everything perfectly planned and carried out - A fantastic trip in every way. Even the weather cooperated. Now on to Chile.
Lyle & Anne MicheliBrookline MA / USA
Luxury wine Touring in Mendoza
So we finally get to it. Many reasons regarding both our occupations impeded me as the designated registrar of the experiences to get back to you with the feedback. Not least of those being arriving at consensus that we would share with you, ranged from very good, to more than could have been expected—which was finally what we agreed on. So having said that, and for full disclosure, we had never before retained specialized tour services, we did not have any reference on which to compare the quality of those services. So on absolute terms we must acknowledge that starting from the selection of the vineyards that at first seemed a little odd, after the experience it became abundantly clear that the range and scope of the selection was a result of a very well thought off process not a random selection of convenience. Then getting to the capabilities of your staff I must state that the professionalism of Lucille being knowledgeable courteous polite and with a wonderful sense of humor, assisted by the assuredness of Emmanuel driving, set the bar very high as to what to expect on the next experience.
Having said that, we are looking forward to an experience in Tuscany summer of 15, in which the challenge for you will be outdoing yourselves with the standards that you have set.
N.Móseres Dieppa Medellin, Colombia
3 friends from San Francisco enjoy Puglia and Basilicata
“We had an incredible trip planned by Robertson Wine Tours. Tim and Cristian created a tour that fit us perfectly – which is no easy feat! The attention to detail and personalization was what stood out for us. Tim kept in contact from the moment our feet touched the Italian soil, to the day we landed back in San Francisco. Along the way he was willing and able to make changes and accommodate our needs. The local guides we worked with were special. They really knew the area, and we felt like we were able to experience the Puglia region like a local. Every guide was exceptionally helpful and gracious – they truly wanted us to have the best experience possible. The wineries we visited were great, and we had intimate and unique experiences at each location. The food and lodging were high quality, as with the transportation. The trip ended with meeting Tim in Matera, which really made our trip. It was fabulous meeting the guy behind our adventure. We had a great experience, and I would recommend them to anyone.”
Kara Maiko & Friends. San Francisco CA / USA.
Robertson’s Wine Tours did it yet again for us on our most recent wine pilgrimage. Having toured with them several times including Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Sicily and Piedmonte, we knew we were in safe hands when we decided to let them plan our tour of the Sardinian Cantinas. Once we contacted them, we had a prompt return with information on restaurants hotels, sites to tour and of course the cantinas. We poured over it all. We were given a tour that included everything from major cantina such as Argiolas to family run such as the Guiseppe's: Sedilesu and Gabbas, to the more cultish as Leda d'Ittiri: the perfect spread for getting the bigger picture not only on the industry, but on the great tastes as well. Thanks to Robertson’s!
Penelope and James ShackelfordUC Davis CA USA