Britt Karlsson: bringing wine lovers to the wine lands
Britt Karlsson co-founded BKWine AB in 2004. The company has two main activities: wine writing and wine tourism (BKWine Wine Tours). It is today one of the world-leading specialised wine tour operators. Britt, and the company, is based in Paris (France), but of Swedish origin.
BKWine Wine Tours organises – in a normal year – around 30 wine tours to destinations all over the world. France and Italy are the two main destination countries, with most of the countries’ wine regions on the list of travel destinations. Other countries that are regularly on BKWine Tours’ programme are Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand. Britt has also on occasions planned and led tours in other wine countries, such as Croatia, Hungary, Germany. The destinations change each year.
Since the creation of BKWine, Britt has been in charge of planning and organising all wine tours and has thus created many hundreds of wine tours across a dozen or more countries. She also personally leads the majority of the tour as a tour manager, guide and instructor. In a normal year, this means that she usually visits some two hundred wineries across the world on around 20 different tours that she personally handles, bringing several hundred wine lovers to the wine lands.
Britt is also an award-winning wine journalist and wine writer. She has authored eleven wine books that have won prizes by, for example, Gourmand International, the OIV-International Organisation of Vine and Wine and the Swedish Gastronomic Academy. She writes both on technical subjects and general interest wine knowledge. She writes mainly for BKWine Magazine and for Forbes . She is also often called for to be a judge in wine competitions in countries across the globe.
This double competence – wine travel and wine writing – leads to Britt’s unique competence in organising wine tours. It is a very rare combination of very in-depth knowledge of vine growing and winemaking coupled with twenty years of working with wine travel. It is rare that wine tours are managed and guided by someone with such understanding and knowledge of wine production and the wine business.
Few wine travel organisations – if any – can offer tours led by people with such an in-depth knowledge of wine.
Contrary to what is common in the industry, BKWine does not leave tour planning and tour management to some independent freelancer. Everything is planned and managed in-house and every tour is led by Britt or another trusted BKWine guide. Every tour is different and specifically planned for the occasion.
This exceptional focus on quality and details means that customers come back time and time again. On a typical tour more than a third of the participants are repeat customers.
For Britt, a successful wine tour is not about visiting famous-name vineyards, completing a wine celebrity “bucket list” designed for name-dropping back home. Instead, she strives to give the wine travellers (and wine lovers) truly unique experiences of a kind that is often impossible to do independently. Perhaps the most important aspect of a wine tour – at least according to BKWine’s and Britt’s travel philosophy – is who the visitor meets at the winery. Britt puts a lot of effort into ensuring that in most cases the traveller meets the winemaker or the owner, or another key person involved in the business. In fact, it is the meetings with the people that stays in the memory for the traveller.
For Britt, visiting a winery is first and foremost something that should be a special and enjoyable experience, but it should also be something where you can learn a bit more, for example, why people use egg tanks, what’s the effect of barrel ageing, how you improve quality by pruning the vines, why and how is a winery “sustainable” etc.
On the wine tours that Britt organises, food always plays an important role. Many of the meals are enjoyed at wineries, sometimes with the winemaker participating at the table, at the chateaux and domaines that are on the programmes. A wine tour with BKWine is also a gastronomic experience.
Most tours extend over three days/four nights. Some tours are longer, in particular the southern hemisphere tours. Participants range from enthusiastic wine novices, to dedicated wine lovers and to professionals (wine writers, sommeliers or even winemakers).
Currently, in 2021-2022, the wine tour activity is operating only at half speed, due to the global pandemic. “Normal” operation ended in March of 2020, when Britt was leading a wine tour in New Zealand, going from north to south, visiting some twenty wineries over two weeks. The very last day of the tour was the day when New Zealand effectively closed down, which unfortunately made it a challenge for most travellers to return home. Since then, BKWine has only completed a small number of tours in the autumn of 2020 and a reasonable (but modest) number of tours in the autumn of 2021. “We are hoping for a better 2022,” Britt says.
Britt organizes wine tours both for Scandinavian clients (in Swedish) and for international wine travellers (in English). In the coming year the tours will include:
- Bordeaux – the most classic of wine regions
- Champagne – luxurious bubbles
- The Grand Tour combining Champagne and Bordeaux
- Chile and Argentina in South America
- South Africa
- New Zealand
In addition, for a Scandinavian clientele there will also be:
- Piedmont, with truffles
- Sicily, with a focus on Etna
- Three Classics, with Champagne, Chablis and Burgundy
- The Douro Valley
- Southern Rhône with Châteauneuf-du-Pape
- And maybe more