Wine tourism is a great way to learn about the people, culture, heritage, and customs of an area.
According to most of tourism business forecasts, oenotourism is regarded
as having greatest potential. As result of the above it may become
soon, the most lucrative tourism business venue in global scale.
One of the main reasons, is giant over production of wines all over the
world. Over production, which cannot be presently consumed. Following the
above, wine producers are forced to raise the quality of wines, lower
their prices, as well as find more effective ways to sell their product.
Not to forget, that majority of the vineyards are located In the most
picturesque landscapes of the world.
Some of the famous wine producing regions have been producing wine for
centuries or even millennia, and the production and consumption of wine
is deeply ingrained in the local culture. One may meet in
France some families, whose winemaking roots are back to 60 generations
or even older.
These areas tend to be off the beaten tourist track (although not that far off) so wine tourism can expose travelers
to new and interesting areas. Getting out and visiting wine producers
provides contact with local farmers and artisans who care deeply about
the area. Wine growers are farmers, and their perspective on the local
area, and life in general, tends to be different from other locals
typically encountered while traveling.
Oenotourism is not limited, as many believe, to wine tasting as well as
visiting winemakers at their .vineyards. At the time of wine tour, guests are introduced to a different, totally fascinating way of life, always within
the circle of the deepest cultural traditions of our contemporary
civilization.
The task of the wine tours is therefore, not only to show such way
of living and local customs, but as well to friendly share it among all
participants.

Furthermore, oenotourism services providers are, in substantial majority, not just a professional tour operators like many others. The are true passionates. Passionates not only of their job, but first of all, they are dedicated to pass on the "philosophy of wine" and "wine culture" to their customers.

Usually, their motto [after Robert Mondavi] is:

Wine to me is passion.
It's family and friends.
It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit.

Wine is art. It's culture.
It's the essence of civilization and the art of living
.

Year of 1950, is commonly regarded as birthdate of oenoturism.

At that
time one of the most important French negociants, strongly
disappointed by annual sales results, decided to open its XIII th
century giant wine cellars in Beaune (Burgundy) for the public. A circuit
touristique
, (wine itinerary), combined with some 14 burgundys
tasting stations (situated on top of old wine barrels) was marked up. La Reine Pedaque wine circuit became, at
that moment, one of the most popular wine attractions in Burgundy (130
000 visitors in 2007).
Since that time, the most entrepreneurial people started to look for and
find out new, most effective methods to attract quickly growing number
of wine tourists from all over the world.
It is therefore quite easy to take part in wine tasting classes,
professionally commented walks through the vineyards, visits to wine
processing (vinification) plants, as well as assist to endless wine
tastings of locally produced wines. Always charming, always tidy and up
to high standards Bed&Breakfast accommodations are available at
winemakers homes. Some of them [in France] offer so called table d’…
which is a lunch or dinner based on traditional cuisine with complete
spectrum of locally produced wines, carefully selected for each dish
(wine & food pairing) and commented either by professional
sommeliers or by wine maker himself.
Not to forget about most luxurious hotels always welcoming their guests
from all over the world.

At present, in Burgundy over 900 caveaux (wine cellars) are open
to the public. Wine tourists are purchasing there, bottles of
wines, for approx. 112 mln US$ / year (as average 160.- US$ per couple).
The largest wine region In France for such kind of services, is the
region of Bordeaux with over 2 000 open to public cellars and châteaux.
With almost 8 mln / year of wine visitors, France is definitely on top
among other wine countries of the Old Word. Traditionally most of
oenophiles come to Bordeaux (21%), Alzace (17%), Burgundy (13%) and
Champagne (12%).
Remaining wine regions in Europe are little behind.
Italy offers at present some 800 cellars, while Spain with its 5 500 only some 100 are open to the public.
In the New Word: USA 5 000 cellars (95% of wine producers), Australia (1
500) and South Africa (570).
US winemakers enjoy a highest wine tourism turnover in the world (2,7 bln US$
/ year).
Most of oenotourism professionals expect further dynamic business
development, as result of new markets (China, Brazil and India)
activities.

Frank Gehry (Marques de Riscal, Alava, Spain

Another, absolutely fascinating side of wine tourism is development of a
new trend in architecture. Trend called “wine architecture”.
In an “good” glass wine tastes better.
How about in a “good” building ?
Top wine producers and vineyards owners agree that proper building is as
important as proper wine glass. They are contracting therefore most renown
architects, in order to create projects which would combine, at the same
time, wine production processes with easy access for wine tourists,
tasting rooms, wine boutiques and restaurants. Many of them provide as
well hotel accommodation facilities, spa, conference & congress
facilities wine museums etc. The most famous architectural companies
(projects valued several hundreds of millions US$) are engaged: Norman
Foster (Bodega Faustino, Ribera del Duero, Spain), Herzog&deMeuron
(Dominus Winery, Napa Valley, USA), Renzo Piano (la Rocca, Tuscany,
Italy), Frank Gehry (Marques de Riscal, Alava, Spain and Hall's St.
Helen Winery, Napa Valley, USA.).
For the oenophile, wine tourism is a wonderful way to better understand
terroir, the difficult to define concept that wine makers often use to
describe a key component of their art. Roughly speaking, it has to do
with how the quality of the land in which the grapes are grown affects
the taste of the wine. Tasting wine at a wine shop or in the comfort of
home provide a hint at the terroir that produced the wine. But spending
several days visiting the area, chatting with the wine makers and
growers, and eating the local cuisine (which has evolved together with
the wine for the two to perfectly complement each other) will provide an
exceptional context for the wine and give deep insight into why and how
the wine turned out the way it did.

Sources: vintrips, vikimedia
Copyright © by Adam Stankiewicz, VINTRIPS , 2010



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