Wine tourism, which had been growing steadily, is expected to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic within the next one to two years. But there will be changes to wine tourism moving forward. It won’t look quite the same as it used to – and we consumers are going to benefit.
I recently had the opportunity to attend Wine Future 2021, one of the wine industry’s premier conferences. The conference, held over several days in February, featured more than 80 expert speakers from around the world, as well as keynote speeches from Irina Bokova, the Director General of UNESCO, and movie director/wine producer Francis Ford Coppola, among others.
According to a recent worldwide survey of wineries, almost a third (31%) intend to increase their investment in wine tourism. Another 32% will at least sustain their current investment levels. That’s good news for us visitors.
Here are some of the changes to wine tourism to look forward to in the coming years.
1. We’ll be Able to Visit More Wineries
Experts predict an increasing number of wineries will take advantage of the interest in wine tourism and open their doors to us.
“[These tourists] are more like travelers. They’re going to have experiences and explore the world. Wine is a road map to explore the world and [adds] value to the visit. Wine becomes that gateway to history, food, and culture, so it benefits the wineries and the wine region. It’s a virtuous circle,” said Adrian Bridge, chief executive officer, the Fladgate Partnership, a pioneer in port wine and wine tourism based in Portugal.
2. Some COVID-19 Precautions Will Remain
Expect the effects of the pandemic to last even after it’s over. Wineries will offer more experiences outside and in the vineyards versus indoors. Wine tourism groups will also be smaller, said Sylvie Cazes, Director General of Bordeaux Saveurs, a travel agency in Bordeaux specializing in wine tourism.
3. Wineries Will Offer More Diverse and Memorable Experiences
Wine regions are expected to branch out and host more events to lure people to visit, according to Gonzalo Merina, Wine Tourism and Social Responsibility Coordinator for Bodegas de Argentina, a business chamber that brings together wineries in that country. Examples of changes to wine tourism might include more live music, festivals, and other events hosted by wineries.
We’ll also see more food and wine pairings at wineries, opportunities to blend wine, horseback riding through the vineyards, and more interaction between visitors and the winery staff so visitors create more emotional connections to the wine and wine region.
“Just going to wineries [for a tasting] can be boring. So think of content and diversity. If it’s different, more people will come,” said Bridge.
4. There Will be More Collaboration to Enhance Our Visits
While wineries by their nature compete with their winery neighbors, some predict we’ll see more wineries join forces with each other and with related entities, such as local restaurants and hotels, to enrich an individual’s trip and increase wine tourism overall. For instance, a restaurant in Porto, Portugal should not only have wines from Portugal’s nearby Duoro Region and port wines on the menu but also should be able to talk knowledgeably about them, said Bridge. That will entail some creative collaboration.
5. We’ll See More Wine Tourism in Less Rural Areas
While much of wine tourism involves visiting actual wineries, it is predicted that there will be more wine tourism opportunities not requiring travel to hard-to-get rural areas. Instead, changes to wine tourism might include more wine regions creating a centralized hub where visitors can immerse themselves in the history and culture of wine.
One such example is the Cité du Vin, a museum in Bordeaux, France with exhibits, seminars, shows, and restaurants to taste the local wine and cuisine. There are similar projects in development in France’s Burgundy and Champagne regions, as well as in China and elsewhere, said Cazes.
6. Expect Wineries to Emphasize Their Sustainability
A major change predicted for wine tourism moving forward is a focus on environmentally-friendly growing and harvest practices. Since more travelers are asking wineries about sustainability, more wineries are going to cater to this interest. “It’s one of the first things people ask about. That want to learn about each plant and how it’s treated,” said Cazes.
We hope you find this information on upcoming changes to wine tourism helpful as you plan your next trip! Please feel free to contact us and share your thoughts about trends in wine tourism. Happy and safe travels!
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