Behind the Smile with Pieter Smits, JS Wine Tours
After a long time of working in publishing and informatics in the Netherlands I wanted something different. I decided to make my hobby my work. Apart from the wines, it also gives me the possibility to meet many different kinds of people.
I have built up (and still am) a network of wine producers and for example restaurant owners and chefs. I have to do with travel agenst and learn(ed) about the tourism industry.
What is it about your location that makes you and your customers smile?
Fifteen years I discovered Alsace. I liked it so much that 11 years ago, I decided to move here permanently. The space, the mountains, the freedom and of course the food and wines made me smile. And they still do! Every day. As Burgundy is only a little bit further than for example Strasbourg, I learned that I could go there too. More great views and wine and food, I am a lucky guy.
Can you tell us more about JS Wine Tours?
I have always been interested in wine. I have been a member of several wine clubs in Holland. After moving to France, I decided I wanted to make a living out of my hobby. I studied soil types, I learned about different grapes. I got to know wine makers personally. They explained me what they were doing and why. I learned they were passionate about what they were doing. So am I. I love to meet new people and show customers around. It is great to share my knowledge and passion. And everybody has a life story too. Interesting.
What is it about your tours that makes your customers smile?
I do one day and more day wine tours in Alsace and Burgundy. A couple of times per year we also go to Tuscany for a more day tour. My tours are not standard. I do not do the same thing every day. I ask my clientele what they would want before we go. And even during the day/tour we can add, skip or change things as we get to know each other and as I understand more what my customers really like.
Can you share an experience with your business that made you smile?
More then once I have had families that got together again for one of our tours. In daily life the children moved out and were living in other states or even other countries. We have had many wonderful tours where people learned something and most of all had a great time as a family together again. A big compliment is also that people decide to come back and do another tour in another region the following year. Needless to say that we got some very generous tips a couple of times. Wow 🙂 And last but not least we became friends with quite a few people over the years.