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A few weeks ago we caught up with DuVine founder, Andy Levine, to discuss what it means to chase a dream, get off the beaten path, and experience life’s simple pleasures that only present themselves when we travel by bike.
What’s the story behind DuVine? How did it all get started?
After college, I took a solo cycling trip in Burgundy, France. I rode my bike endlessly through villages and vineyards. I learned about the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes and met a cast of local characters—real people who inspired me with their passion. When I got home, my parents wanted me to get a job. All I could think about was how I wanted to go back. I wasn’t thinking about making money—I wanted to be on my bike, and I thought it would be cool to give other people the same experience. My father is an entrepreneur and agreed to loan me $2,000 to live on while I tried to create something out of my idea.
I went back to Beaune and rented a room in a small, family-run hotel, where I started DuVine. Our first-ever guests were a couple from Michigan on their honeymoon.
Since then, it’s the local character and culture that keeps me curious about the world. My process for creating tours hasn’t changed since the very beginning: I ask, “Why are we going here?” I get on my bike and ride all the roads—I’m obsessed with beautiful roads. I meet the local people. And I connect the dots so it makes sense. It’s all about timing. Also, how things smell is important. I have a sensitive nose and most things I remember in life are about the smell.
What makes a DuVine Tour unique?
DuVine designs and leads luxury bike tours focused on exceptional food and wine experiences that meet the nutritional demands of a cyclist, thoughtfully selected accommodations, top-quality bikes, and full van support. We scout our routes personally so we can bring our guests not only to the well-known cols in the Alps, Pyrenees, and Dolomites, but so we can show them the joys of hidden roads, unexpected summits, and climbs that are the only way to reach remote destinations. The price of our tours is inclusive, so our guests feel supported and taken care of in the most complete sense.
We owe a lot of the DuVine experience to the expertise of our local guides. They’re most often locals, because anyone can learn Italian, but only someone born in Piedmont will know it like our guide Guido. When you ride with him in Italy, he’ll introduce you to lifelong friends in his hometown, invite you to shake out summer plums from the fruit trees on his family farm, and bring you into his mother’s kitchen to make pasta.
Michelin-star restaurants and luxury hotels have a prominent place on our tours, but our focus is forming meaningful human connections across cultures. Not only do our guides know these regions inside and out, but they offer up their personal community to our guests and are tapped into the family-run restaurants, less-traveled routes, and boutique accommodations—like farmhouses or live-aboard yachts—that you couldn’t otherwise find.
It all makes for a deeper understanding of a region that transcends tourism. To me, these experiences are just as luxurious as the five-star hotels and gourmet dinners.
We maintain our own fleet of top-quality bikes, offer full van support for our riders, and the price of our tours is inclusive, so our guests feel supported and taken care of in the most complete sense. It comes down to the simple, genuine, and intimate moments that best represent what we do at DuVine.
I made a conscious decision to limit the number of participants on all DuVine’s scheduled departures, not only so guests receive individual attention, but also because there is only so much room at the best tables in the world—Guido’s house among them—or drink a very rare bottle of sweet red wine made by our friend Vittorio at his cantina in Montefollonico.
Which are your top 5 tours coming up this summer?
Picking top tours is like picking a favorite child. It’s hard to choose, but I’m excited about:
1. Japan Bike Tour: While not departing until the fall, I just returned from my first visit and am excited to bring our guests to a brand new continent.
2. Douro Valley Bike Tour and Douro Valley Chef on Wheels Bike Tour: This is a super-hot destination for cyclists and wine lovers alike. Celebrity Chef Seamus Mullen will be cooking for guests in the Chef on Wheels departure of this tour in July.
4. Corsica Bike Tour: This is a perennial favorite for me. The riding is challenging but rewarding because of how beautiful this island is.
5. Switzerland Journey Bike Tour: I explored Switzerland’s tougher rides with my friend, pro cyclist Tim Johnson, last year, and discovered just how much great riding there is for serious cyclists.
6. Tuscany Chef on Wheels Bike Tour: A classic destination for DuVine with a really special spin. Guests will stay in the same luxury villa for the entire week, with on-demand soigneurs to help recover from epic rides and Chef Seamus Mullen to fuel them with high-performance and locally inspired food.
Tell us about your bike tours in Switzerland and what people can expect by joining.
Switzerland is a totally underrated cycling destination, but it’s also incredibly versatile. This country lends itself to great cycling because there is such pride of perfection—in the roads, in the hotels, in the food—and, of course, the excellent cycling apparel! We’ll be giving all guests of our Switzerland Journey Bike Tour a custom ASSOS kit.
The Switzerland Journey Bike Tour is a challenging itinerary that delivers arduous climbs between Lake Geneva and Lake Como—the kinds of cols serious cyclists dream of. The hardest day on this tour reaches an epic elevation of 3,000+ meters.
We also offer a Switzerland Family Bike + Adventure Tourwith easy riding on bike paths, lake circuits, and flat stretches through valleys. And for those who fall right in between, we also offer a classic Switzerland Bike Tour. It’s a great way to see desirable destinations like Interlaken and Lucerne, with rides that are perfectly suited to weekend riders. There’s something for every type of cyclist in Switzerland.