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.
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’.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.
If you would like to add your own 100 words in the comments, please do – I look forward to reading them.