Does wine tourism exist? Does a wine tourist exist? Certainly the French think that it is sufficiently important to have its own word, oenotourisme, but talking with some people in both the wine trade and the travel trade, particularly in Europe, one wonders about its importance. To take just one example, at the huge World Travel Market, there is no category in the exhibition catalogue for Wine Tourism, not even for Culinary Tourism. In the wine world, many simply think of it as a gimmick.
In this context, I was particularly proud and delighted to be the winner in the Best Wine Tourism Feature category of the inaugural Born Digital Wine Awards (BDWA) with my Wine Days out in the French Alps post, announced on the Access Zone at last week’s London Wine Trade Fair. I know that Robert , Gabriella and Ryan from Vrazon who founded the awards believe strongly in the category: wine tourism can be used as a big part of telling wine’s story, and after price and drinkability, isn’t it the story that is important? When I accepted the award, I noted the relevance of the award today when most people use the internet to plan and book their holidays and travel.
After the presentation of the awards, Robert McIntosh interviewed me about my thoughts on wine tourism, which you can hear on Audioboo. This is a discussion that could go on and on (but is only a few minutes, so do listen!).
I have not asked the judges of the BDWA why they chose my article as the winner – I personally thought that the other four shortlisted candidates were all very good indeed, in each case writing well about different aspects of wine tourism. Congratulations especially go to Wine Travel Guides Corsican contributor, Tom Fiorina, who was runner-up to the award with a piece on Corsica also from the Wine Travel Guides blog. Third was Joe Roberts about another Mediterranean island, Santorini and the other two short-listed pieces were both about Spain, from Marc Hinton and Ryan Reichert.
However, I wonder if part of the judge’s decision in my favour may have been because I suggested days out in the French Alps that were isolated days as part of a bigger holiday that people might take in the French Alps – skiing or walking, for example – nothing to do with a specific wine tour. And, my post was not just about visiting wine producers, as it included restaurants, viewpoints and a leisurely walk, all of which are very much part and parcel of wine tourism in my view. Yet of course, the local wines were discussed and explained too in the post.
I think that both the wine and travel industries need more time and experience to work out what wine tourism really is (Note to self, how about updating the Wine Tourism article on Wikipedia?). In the meantime, those of us communicating about it who come from a wine background, should not forget the meaning of those words ‘tourism’ and ‘tourist’ – it’s not just about the wine. And, those from a tourist background, should not forget that a good wine tourism offering needs to provide both an authentic and a mildly educational wine experience, and not just offer a visit to a dedicated wine tourism ‘destination’. The two industries have much to learn from each other.
What do you think? Please let me know in the comments below or ….
… As part of my generous BDWA prize, I received a one year subscription to Jancis Robinson’s Purple Pages (the subscription part of her site includes many extra articles, tasting notes and access to the interesting forum). As I’m already a subscriber, Jancis has kindly said that I can donate this to someone else. If you would like to receive this, please send me by email 100 words with your thoughts about wine tourism. The most original/interesting I receive by Friday 27th May 2011 at noon UK time wins the subscription.