Operator Breaks Away from Pack with Culinary, Cycling Tours
DuVine Adventures works proactively with travel agents, operating small, high-end scheduled and customized wine and cycling tours of Europe and the Americas, but also features select trips to Israel.
Travel Weekly contributing editor Felicity Long spoke with Andy Levine, president and owner of the Somerville, Mass.-based company.
Travel Weekly: Wine and cycling are not the first activities people think of when they think of Israel. What was the impetus for you to create that tour?
Levine: I didn’t come up with the idea because it was trending. People are intrigued about Israel and they want to go, but usually to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and usually for family events. I felt, why not promote it as a Tuscany or Provence, where you can go ad enjoy good wine and great, fresh cuisine? This is a country where they grow their own food, and the fruits, vegetables and olive oils are remarkable and definitely on a par with European Mediterranean locations.
TW: Can you describe the wine-tasting experience?
Levine: There are some long-standing wineries using Bordeaux methods, especially in the Judean Hills, up in Golan Heights and near Haifa, where they are also growing some nice cabernet [grapes]. The Tishbi Winery, for example, is one of the oldest in Israel, and the wine tasting is very Provencal, with a big open grill and wonderful flatbread pizzas. We have found some people who have studied wine in Europe and the U.S., and they are passionate about the terroir and picking grapes. They have a lot of respect for the process.
TW: How did you choose the specific route?
Levine: I create the trips by literally biking around, meeting people and asking questions. The terrain is hilly, and there aren’t a lot of roads, so the itinerary is somewhat challenging. We do about 30 miles a day, but we don’t start until 9:30, and the route is generally broken up with hour-and-a-half bike rides, wine tastings, meals and visits, with time for the spa afterwards. We offer bike support and van support, and groups have guides who are experienced in cycling, culture and wine. We also do a lot of customized bike trips in Israel, and the trips that combine Israel and Jordan are very popular.
*For the rest of the feature on DuVine’s Israel bike tour, pick up a copy of Travel Weekly. And learn more about DuVine’s Israel trip.