Some people travel to discover new cultures and practice languages. Other like to venture to admire landscapes and… drink wine! This is the proposal of wine tourism: to allow the traveller to make a real immersion in the history, aromas and flavours of viticulture. In recent decades, more and more tourists have taken the road and embarked on expeditions to rural regions to learn more about wine culture. The proposal is to visit wineries, do tastings, participate in the harvests and (literally) embark on a trip to the ethic world. A toast to that!
What is wine tourism
In a nutshell, wine tourism is a food travel segment aimed at getting to know and appreciate the universe of wine. The routes and tours are focused on a single objective: to know regions that are dedicated to wine production and try them.
This type of trip is designed for people looking to delve into the history, traditions and culture of wine. Tourists can participate in tastings, take guided tours through the wineries and plantations, visit museums…
Types of wine tourism experiences
There are many ways to explore and discover a wine-producing region. Some experiences, such as tasting sessions and visits to wineries, are classic and almost mandatory. But the possibilities go much further. Investing in exclusive and personalized tours is an interesting way to get to know all the stages of wine production, from planting grapes for sale on the shelves. These wine tourism experiences can include:
Guided tours at wineries and wine cellars
They are an essential part of any trip to wine-producing regions. Knowing up close how a winery works is the first step towards a dive into this universe. The vast majority of properties offer guided tours in their facilities, in which an instructor guides tourists and explains the step-by-step of production, from planting to bottling, and telling behind the scenes of the world of wine;
Some destinations have spaces to share the history of the region’s wine production. Expect to find permanent and/or itinerant exhibitions that tell more about the drink’s traditions and production methods;
At the time of the grape harvest (vintage), some properties offer tourists the chance to participate at this moment and revive old traditions. Travellers can get their hands dirty, dance to regional music, step on the grape and pick fruit from the vineyard;
This is the opportunity to effectively taste the local wines. In sequential stages, different labels are served, in small doses. In some cases, tastings are already included in guided tours;
These are events in celebration of the wine culture. Most of the time, they offer programs with musical performances, workshops and sale of labels. Before boarding, it is a good idea to check the local festivities calendar;
Workshops and courses
For those who want to go even deeper into the world of wine, some wineries offer classes on terroir, cultivation and harmonization. Usually, it is necessary to plan and register in advance to participate;
In some wineries, you don’t even need to leave the property to have a complete gastronomic experience. Before scheduling your visit, make sure that you are also offered the possibility to sample tasting menus, picnics or participate in cooking classes – all harmonized with house labels, of course.
What are Wine Routes
Some tourist destinations have been specially prepared to receive tourists interested in knowing more about the universe of viticulture. For this, they organize the so-called “Wine Routes”. The Wine Routes are nothing more than routes on which visitors can visit wineries, vineyards, restaurants and historic sites – all within a specific region to promote immersion in the world of wine. Countries like Italy, France, Portugal, South Africa and Chile are a reference in receiving this type of visitor.
In the “Old World”, that is, in European wine-producing countries, tourists have the opportunity to learn more about the history of wine, traditional methods of production, passed down from generation to generation over many years giving great prominence in the terroir and microregions.
In the “New World”, however, in non-European countries, cultivation is more recent and consequently its history. Many regions of the New World were introduced to the cultivation of wine by Europeans themselves, so another reason to call them ‘New World’. In these regions, the type of grape used in production stands out, there is a focus on technology and more flexible winemaking practices. But that does not mean that Old World countries do not work with cutting-edge techniques or there are no traditional and artisanal practices in New World countries.
Some of the most famous wine routes in the world are:
- Bordeaux and Champagne, France
- Rioja, Spain
- Douro and Alentejo, Portugal
- Tuscany and Piedmont, Italy
- Eger, Hungary
- Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Rheinhessen and Pfalz, Germany
- Kakheti, Georgia
- Santorini, Greece
- Mendoza and Salta, Argentina
- Yarra and Barrosa, Australia
- Casablanca, Colchagua and Maipo, Chile
- Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, South Africa
- Napa Valley, United States
- Serra Gaúcha, Brazil
Who is wine tourism for?
Wine tourism is democratic and appeals to all types of tourists: from sommeliers to laymen on the subject. To travel to a wine-producing region, you don’t have to be an expert. Just bring your curiosity in knowing the traditions and appreciate the aromas and flavours of the drink.
For wine lovers and experts, this type of trip is a full plate. It is the opportunity to immerse yourself (even more) in the wine universe and make the most of each experience. You can set up entire itineraries aimed at tastings and visits to wineries, with the right to private tours and chats with the owners, winemakers and agronomists of the properties.
Those interested in wine and gastronomy also take advantage (and a lot!) of wine tourism routes. This is because, in addition to expanding their knowledge on the subject, they can take the chance to discover the destination from their flavours. Even if the wine itself is not the focus of the overall trip, it opens doors for you to discover more about the gastronomic culture of the region and, of course, still return home with good labels in your luggage.
For curious tourists, wine tours are the chance to enhance the itinerary with a different and unique experience. Regardless of being knowledgeable or not about the world of wine, it is worth reserving a few days to visit wineries, stroll through the vineyards, learn about food pairing and, who knows, discover a new hobby.
Why do wine tourism
Visiting wine-producing regions is an authentic way to discover a country’s rural and inland destinations. Wineries open doors for people to immerse themselves in regional culture and learn more not only about wine but also about biodiversity and how the locals relate to their traditions and history.
Wine tourism also acts as a lever for the local economy. With the increase in tourist offers, small towns in the interior gain new possibilities for business and job creation. The presence of travellers throughout the year is a guarantee of sustenance for the community and local entrepreneurs.