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What is Wine Tourism? An informal survey

What is Wine Tourism? An informal survey

In my last post I challenged readers to send me one hundred words of your thoughts on wine tourism, with the lure of a prize of a subscription to Jancis Robinson’s Purple Pages. I received six excellent entries, and invited freelance drinks journalist Susanna Forbes and wine educator Brett Jones to help me find a winner – my thanks to them and to all those who took the trouble to participate.

We liked all the entries in their different ways and took into account each of our 2nd and 3rd choices to find the eventual winner. I’ve decided to share these entries (lightly edited) with you, along with thoughts from Susanna, Brett and I.

The entries are in alphabetical order by surname, with the winner at the end, followed by the the words from us, the judges, no better, no worse, just more thoughts. I’ve illustrated these words by some photos that I’ve dug out from my own wine travels over the past couple of years, trying to express the flavour of the many different aspects to wine tourism. In order to develop wine tourism further, perhaps all the players need to understand it more.

La Clape, Languedoc

Vineyards of Ch. l'Hospitalet, Languedoc ©Wink Lorch

From Alastair Bell
As a keen ‘wine tourist’ I try to incorporate some aspect of wine in all my travel adventures – be it in a group ‘study tour’, with my wife, or with friends and family – even on a golfing trip to Lanzarote I discovered  some excellent wines in a moon-like landscape of black lava.
To me wine is about geography, about history, about the people, the landscapes, architecture, local traditions, meeting the people and sharing the liquid results of the culmination of all these things with good food and a bit of what we Irish call ‘the craic’.

Wine tasting

Tasting room in Burgenland, Austria ©Wink Lorch

From Luciana Braz Marinho
Enotourism short-sightedness is a matter of Vanity!
Yes there are big companies in the wine trade, but most of them are family businesses with one-boss. There is nothing wrong with that, don’t take me wrong. What most of them say about enotourism can be translated as: “I want you to talk about my wines, not the landscape” or.. “I only talk to old-fashioned wine geeks, I don’t like tourists they are too loud”.
I hope the ‘born-digital-generation’ change  things a bit. They will definitely increase their profits and dig most of the small producers out of the crisis.

Wine barrel rolling

Barrel rolling competition, Nizza Montferrato, Piemonte ©Wink Lorch

From Alfonso Cevola
When people ask me to help them with their trip to Italy and what they need to see, it often comes down to this piece of advice.
“You are in Italy. Take a step outside your door. Go left. Or right. Or straight. Walk. Do not have a destination. Ok, wander then. Open your eyes, your nose and especially your heart. Don’t look for anything to buy or eat or remember. Just be. And keep wandering. After 30 or so years and as many trips you will eventually see everything you need to see. It’s that simple.”

Vine pruning

Winter pruning at Ch de Meursault, Burgundy ©Wink Lorch

From Dan Chaquico
Food and drink is part of many peoples’ tourist experience. We’ve got five senses, and they all come into play when we travel.
Surely, there is no better way to truly grasp the terroir of a wine than to visit where it’s made; Burgundy or the Dordogne suddenly make sense once you’ve driven through the region. But one does not have to be an oenophile to appreciate the cheeky couple bottles brought home from holiday, for not only contained within the glass is 750ml of place, but the elixir has the ability to transport one back in time. One sip tastes of poolside, sounds of laughter, smells of sardines on the grill.
Plus, it’s a whole lot more fun to share with friends than 200 holiday snaps.

Arbois bistrot

Arbois, Jura ©Wink Lorch

From Ray O’Connor
Wine Tourism is not a niche part of the wine industry – it IS the wine industry. Wine has always been enjoyed as a double act with food and today’s winery cellar doors offer award-winning restaurants such as Herzog in New Zealand. Frank Gehry’s Marques de Riscal Hotel and The Yeatman Hotel introduce lovers of architecture and culture to wine. The future of wine consumption is the hands of the youngsters who stroke Cheetah cubs at Spier Estates in South Africa and those who accompany parents on the wine walks of the French Alps. Wine tourism asks for an open mind for an open view.

Wine Safari

The Big Five Wine Safari, Warwick Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa ©Wink Lorch

And the winner….Tim Carlisle
Two sorts of  wine tourism exist. A holiday based around wine, either with many visits to estates arranged or time spent on a particular estate, is a small niche for a few people.
However, allowing people to experience wine, meet the people who make it, see the vineyards and drink it in a local environment whilst already on holiday, or become interested and enthused by a wine ‘attraction’ is increasingly important. Consumers look for the wines they have had on holiday, and those consumers who have engaged with particular wineries or regions not only become buyers for the wines once they return home, they become evangelists.

And the Judges…

Champagne Dumangin

Gilles Dumangin, Champagne ©Wink Lorch

From Susanna Forbes
For me, wine tourism is a chance to walk the land, touch the vines, meet the people, hear the history and find out how the winemakers weave their magic in the cellar. A visit to a winery embraces culture, geography and geology, and – of course – taste. As a journalist, the personal journeys taken by the founders of each winery are always interesting. It is their generosity in sharing their time and their business with us that makes it all possible. Not everyone can make that sort of investment, so we owe a big vote of thanks to those who do. Cheers!

Quinta da Aveleda

Winery shop at Quinta da Aveleda, Vinho Verde, Portugal ©Wink Lorch

From Brett Jones
Wine Tourism has become very important, for small producers as well as large. Whether it is a special tasting room or a corner of a wine cellar there should be a welcome with the opportunity of a visitor to learn more about the winery, its wines and the particular wine region. Wine lovers who take the trouble to visit are interested in learning more and tasting wines, buying there if they can or from a distributor back home. Nothing beats personal contact and experience,  and it is a great opportunity for the visitor and winery to learn from each other.

Pauillac Chateaux

Ch. Pichon Longueville and Ch. Latour, Pauillac, Bordeaux ©Wink Lorch

And My Final 100 Words!
Wine tourism is the best chance for both individual wineries and entire wine regions to share the story behind their wines. For the individual wine tourist, whether on a first ever winery visit, a drive through a favourite or an unknown wine region, or making a repeat visit to a much-loved winery or region, wine tourism brings wine bottles to life. The vineyard views, the fascinating local town or village, the special meal, the light bulb flashing when you understand an obscure winemaking or vine farming technique, and above all seeing at first hand the dedication of the wine producers, all make the wine taste better.

Your Turn
If you would like to add your own 100 words in the comments, please do – I look forward to reading them.


Comments (7)

  1. thanks – it was a lot of fun reading the others!

    Jun 14, 2011
    • I was so glad you put a different spin on it, Alfonso – certainly made me smile!

      Jun 14, 2011
  2. Wine tourism is the quintessential manifestation of Baccus’ dreams. Sensing through the eyes, nose, touch, ears and tongue the exact terroir of a land, given and fashioned by God-himself, to bring much pleasure to the senses but culminating in an enogasmic ritual of dance for one’s papillae. Wine Tourism is the facilitation of this culmination to make known this beauty and its fruit, to all who have willing hearts and minds, thus placing our piece of paradise within their grasp and sharing this divine fermentation of grape from seed, soil and air into quaffable, delightful and intoxicating wine.

    Jun 14, 2011
  3. Wine: fermented grape juice. Tourism: a tour of never-ending joy. Searching for ourselves in the slopes of the profound, beautiful vineyards and cellars. We look for pleasure; answers in a glass of wine. Us tourists. What we witness is always new. This fermented Terroir-Must, soothes our soul, vines sing with heart as the winery conducts a choir of voices. We smell, we touch, we feel sweet fruit as we wander through vinified paths, liaising with a human winemaker to guide and help discover the unexplored. Wine tourism: a blend of the constant quest for sensing nature´s bliss with supernatural emotions.

    Jun 14, 2011
  4. For the wine lover, seeking out wineries and vineyards to visit is easily achievable. I would like to see more ‘tourists’ enjoying a wine experience as part of their holiday without feeling that they require a degree of knowledge. The combination of a beautiful walk in the countryside, a trip down the river, a wander around the streets of a town, a simple lunch served with local wine and of course a visit to a producer can bring wine alive. Wine is the end product but so many other things make a contribution – history, geography, geology, chemistry, tradition, language and personalities all bring it alive.

    Jun 15, 2011
  5. Was good to read all the comments. How complementary is it all together!
    I’ll link to my blog, if you don’t mind..
    see you at the EWBC2011

    Jun 15, 2011
    • Thank you again Luciana for participating in this and glad you like seeing all the different entries … and new ones in the comments too! Thanks also for the link – see you later in the year. Wink

      Jun 15, 2011