By bike to the wineries. Bike in Time interview

By bike to the wineries. Bike in Time interview

Wine and nature always goes well together. Since visits to the wineries are always welcome, there are several ways to organize them: either go to a winery for a simple tasting or for a whole experience in the vineyard.

Ionuț Maftei often organizes bike tours to the wineries as part of Bike in Time project. Because last year we noticed that he organized quite a few such tours (which you found here in the app in the Events section and you will find them here from now on also), we asked him to tell us more about these tours. Below you can find the interview with Ionuț. We hope you find it inspiring!

Carmina: Hi Ionut! Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for me at the beginning of the year.

Hello, thanks! I'm glad that the Winesday App project gives us the opportunity to meet again!

Carmina: First of all, please tell us a few words about yourself and Bike in Time project. The users of the app have found over time here in the application some very cool events that you organized in 2022, but I think they should get to know you a little better.

I will talk less about myself, because the project is more important.

"Bike in time" is an incoming tour operator, whose main activity is cycle tourism. Our desire is to reveal to tourists the real Romania, as we encounter it on the roads, through the villages, through the forests. The name was suggested by travelers themselves, who said they felt like traveling back in time (by bike). So we used this "feedback", which we identified with in many of our trips. Like many other examples, it arose from combining the pleasant with the useful, first as a hobby, but as tourists began to appear we had to become more responsible, so step by step we obtained the national guide certification, then the one for a mountain guide, then we became a travel agency. And things don't seem to stop here, because the tourism market evolves and every year we come up with something new, most of the time prompted by the situations we encounter.

In addition to cycle tourism, we have expanded our activities to hiking tours, snowshoeing, Stand Up Paddling, but also corporate events that include our activities. From 2022 we are also engaged in an international certification process for sustainable tourism, which makes us more responsible and helps us keep up with international requirements.
And although our place is through the forests, in 2021 we accepted an invitation to participate in a transnational Interreg project, as internal experts for the Romanian partner - the National Institute for Research and Development in Tourism, which is an older collaborator and to whom we thank for opportunity. It was quite a brave step, because we found ourselves in the situation of being involved in the development of the velo infrastructure in Romania. An adventure that we do not regret, especially since we have remained involved in this field and in the next period we will also announce the appearance of another project - a "child" of Bike in Time, which is related to sustainability and promotion cycle tourism.

Carmina: I know that among the bike tours you organize, some are "tours to wineries". Why did you choose to do bike tours to wineries and what is the time of the year when you organize this type of tour more intensively?

Culinary experiences, visits to historical and cultural sites, visits to artisans and interaction with communities are part of our tours, and combining pedalling with a visit to a local producer and a tasting of one's own production has always been a successful experience. This is what happened with wineries, especially during the pandemic, when this experience was also successful with Romanian travelers, who knew less about this tourism niche. Here I would also like to point out the unexpected openness we had from the wineries, who let us use their vineyard roads (basically they let us enter their houses), and the big surprise was when we received a few phone calls from the wineries themselves: “I heard you organize bike tours to the wineries! When are you coming to us?" In the end, we decided to do a series of events "By bike on the wine road", for which we also found a name - "Velodrumul vinului". We hope that we have been helpful both to the wineries - who had an unexpected income during the pandemic and which will develop in the future, and to the visitors - who discovered attractive activities and landscapes very close to their homes.

It is true that visits to wineries are seasonal: the best time is from spring to mid-summer (when it gets really hot), then during the harvest period until the end of autumn. But experience has shown us that there are people that want bike tours to wineries at any time of the year. Another situation wineries have to deal with is weekend tourism, which represents about 90% of their tourism activity.

Carmina: What kind of people can participate in these bike tours that you organize? Do you have to know how to ride a bike very well to be able to participate in a tour or do you also accept beginners?

In our tours we have had participants aged from one year to 90 years old, so there is room for everyone, even if you are not a cyclist. Moreover, in addition to the bicycle tours, we also organized hikes through the vineyards, and for participants who do not pedal there are alternatives to visit other tourist attractions, either by car or near the winery.

"What do we do with the children?" – of course we also find this question frequently. Children are welcome to the winery experiences, for them it is a lesson about nature, vine culture and wine production. And instead of the tasting, we prepared other programs for them (either a second bike ride or an activity in the winery area).

We also thought about those who cycle very little, so at many wineries we have a diversity of routes, with different distances and levels of difficulty.

In recent years, we have made an assessment of tourists who join wine tours and noticed that the typology is: middle age (30-60 years old), university and postgraduate studies, who are interested in new experiences and spend their free time in generally active.

Carmina: Those who want to come on a tour usually come with their bike. Is it possible to rent bikes if someone wants to come and doesn't have one?

There is also the option of renting bicycles from us, including for children, we try to eliminate any reason not to participate in such events.

Carmina: 2023 starts with lots of plans for bike tours to wineries, as well as longer tours around the country where you make sure you have a stop at a winery in the area where the tour takes place. Please tell me what tours are you planning this year?

For now we are focused on winter and long tours, but we already have some events at the wineries planned. Almost all of our tours include winery visits and tastings, and if these are missing, then dinners include local wine tastings. The longer tours where we still have places available are in the Danube Delta and in Transylvania, and all include tastings and visits to wineries for at least one day. App users can already find these tours here in the Winesday App under the "Events for Wine Lovers" section.

Carmina: Briefly describe how a day of cycling goes.

At the wineries: Bike experiences at the wineries take place almost throughout the entire day. In the morning we go to the winery that we will visit and where the tasting will take place later. We meet, check our bikes, then go for the bike ride. As a rule, we have a stop on the way to visit various attractions and when we return to the winery - local actors enter the scene: the owners or representatives of the winery, who present the area, the activity and the products and the presentation ends with the tasting of their own wines. I would like to use your interview to thank (and I do whenever I get the chance): 1. The hosts at the wineries, who are really involved in the work of the wineries and make the visit interesting, even though they are mostly on their own time free (Saturday and Sunday); 2. To our tourists, who are very responsible and educated and understand the difference between tasting and partying, so we never had any unpleasant events.

In multi-day tours: a cycling day starts after breakfast, runs according to a well-established schedule and often includes stops at cultural, historical, gastronomic, artisan, natural attractions. Lunch is either at one of these stops or a picnic in places that we choose carefully. After the bike ride, in the evening we gather for dinner, usually where the accommodation is (and usually also a local wine).

Carmina: If you had to give one single reason for an app user to come on a winery tour with you, what would it be?

There are few occasions when the Internet "kicks you out of the house", and Winesday App users have this chance! We take care of the rest!

Carmina: Ionuț, thank you very much for taking the time to answer the questions and I wish you a 2023 full of beautiful tours! I'm waiting for you to let me know whenever you announce a tour so I can upload it to the app.

Thank you too and congratulations on how you manage the Winesday App! Let's meet again in the woods (or at the wineries)!

Carmina Nițescu
Winesday & Winesday App

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