Tim Clarke

Tim Clarke is the Chairman of multi-award-winning international wine tours specialist, Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours, which he founded with his wife Lynette Arblaster in 1986. In their late 20’s at the time, with experience in wine and travel, they pursued their passion to give people great wine holidays.

Arblaster & Clarke’s ‘Champagne Weekends’ were launched as the first serious wine tours programme to the Champagne region. (This programme has introduced around 2 million euros to the region and is a good example of the benefits of wine tourism). A&C went on to pioneer wine tours around the world, operating the first ex-UK/international consumer wine tours to many regions, including for instance, Chile & Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. The company has arranged around 1300 tours for groups of wine lovers, so far.

Tim develops original tour concepts, designs itineraries and researches wineries to visit. He particularly enjoyed expanding wine tourism ideas and developing Wine & Opera Tours, small ship Wine Cruises and Vineyard Walks, (where he researched the routes personally). Tim also has responsibility for A&C’s brochures and Website and writes most of the destination wine booklets.

Tim was described in the Sunday Times as “one of the most entertaining and authoritative wine guides in the business”. He has personally led parties of wine consumers on over 250 wine tours to 22 countries over the past 27 years, which gives him a unique perspective on the subject.

Tim spent the spring of 2011 working as a consultant for Georgia’s Economic Prosperity Initiative, studying the potential for Wine Tourism and writing a ‘Wine Tourism Strategy’. Tim was convinced that Georgia would be an amazing destination, so Arblaster & Clarke started operating to Georgia immediately, working closely with Georgian partners. Tim has also been instrumental in persuading other Tour Operators to start working in Georgia and to develop rural tourism here.

Tim delivered a talk titled:

What I told Georgia and what I learned from Georgia

Tim Clarke first came to Georgia to advise on a wine tourism strategy. Drawing on his long experience operating and leading wine tours, he advised that the country base its USP for visitors on its unique strengths, its huge number of native grape varieties and its traditional wine making methods. However, what he learned was much more interesting….

The first question that I had to consider in the strategy report was whether Georgia should base its wine tourism ‘story’ on its history, traditions and its huge numbers of grape varieties or whether it should reinvent itself in the ‘new world style’, with modern wine tourism facilities and easily saleable wines.

Doing the study had appealed to me both as an Ancient Historian and as someone who had spent the previous 25 years taking clients on expeditions to the source of wine. In the core of the study, I described the purposes of Wine Tourism and a hierarchy of wine tourists and their relative values. I recommended pursuing the ‘Primary Wine Tourist’ - trade visitors, opinion formers and wine lovers on wine tours. I considered wine tourism as a part of rural tourism, so looked at the condition of the villages and amenities, at steps that could be taken to improve these and means to maximize spin-off from tourism into the rural economy. The study also looked at the markets, competition and possibilities, proposing ideas and an action plan.

It was one thing for me to tell Georgians their ‘story’ was unique, it was quite another to hear from them how unique it was; that the wines were not just made from rare varieties using antique methods, but were part of a vibrant, ancient wine culture and were made with deep feeling - a counterblast against the bland in wine and the homogenous in wine tourism.

Get the speaker notes here>>


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