Some people travel to discover new cultures and practice languages. Others like to venture out to admire landscapes and…drink wine! This is the proposal of wine tourism: to allow the traveler to make a true immersion in the history, aroma, and flavors of viticulture.
For some decades now, 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 wine tastings, participate in harvests, and (literally) embark on a journey to the world of wines. A toast to that!
What is wine tourism?
In a nutshell, wine tourism is a type of food tourism aimed at getting to know and appreciate the universe of wine. The routes and tours are focused on a single objective: get to know regions dedicated to wine production and taste their wines.
This type of food trip is designed for people looking to delve into the history, traditions, and culture of wine. Tourists can participate in wine tastings, take guided tours through the wineries and vineyards, visit museums…
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 about wine and 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 tourism offers, small towns in the interior gain new business and job creation possibilities. The presence of travelers throughout the year is a guarantee of sustenance for the community and local entrepreneurs.
Who is wine tourism for?
Wine tourism is democratic and appeals to all kinds of tourists: from sommeliers to laymen on the subject. To travel to a wine-producing region, you don’t need to be an expert. Just bring your curiosity about their traditions and enjoy the aromas and flavors of the beverage. So, what type of wine tourist are you?
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 focused on tastings and visits to wineries, with the possibility of private tours and nice chats with the estates’ owners, winemakers, and agronomists.
Those interested in wine and gastronomy also take advantage (and a lot!) of wine tourism routes. It’s a chance to explore a destination through its flavors and find hidden gems. Even if the wine is not the main focus of your whole trip, you will learn a lot about the region’s interiors, their way of living, and the best part, return home with good labels in your luggage.
For the more curious and adventurous tourists, wine tours enhance your itinerary with different and unique experiences. Even if you are not a connoisseur of the world of wine, it is worth setting aside a few days to visit wineries, stroll through vineyards, learn about food pairing, and, who knows, discover a new hobby.
Examples 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 customized tours is an interesting way to get to know all the stages of wine production, from planting the grapes to selling the wine. These wine tourism experiences can include:
Guided tours at wineries and wine cellars
These are part of the basics of any trip to a wine-producing region. Getting to know up close how a winery works is the first step to diving into this universe. The vast majority of properties offer guided tours in their facilities, where an instructor leads the tourists and explains the production step by step, from planting to bottling and telling the backstage of the wine world.
Some regions have specific places to share the history of their wine production. Expect to find permanent and/or itinerant exhibitions that tell more about the traditions and production methods.
During the grape harvest season (vintage), some estates offer tourists the chance to participate in and revive old traditions. Travelers can get their hands dirty, dance to regional music, tread the grape, and pick fruit from the vineyard.
This is the opportunity to effectively taste local wines. In sequential steps, different labels are served in small quantities. In some cases, tastings are already included in the guided tours.
These are events in celebration of the wine culture. In most cases, they offer programs that include musical performances, workshops, and label sales. Before boarding, it is a good idea to check the local festivities calendar.
Workshops and courses
Some wineries offer classes on terroir, cultivation, and harmonization for those who want to go even deeper into the world of wine. Usually, it is necessary to plan and register in advance to participate.
In some wineries, you don’t need to leave the property to have a complete gastronomic experience. Before scheduling your visit, check the possibility to sample tasting menus, do picnics, or participate in cooking classes – all harmonized with house labels, of course.
What are Wine Routes
Some destinations have prepared themselves 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 defined routes in which visitors can visit wineries, vineyards, restaurants, and historical 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,” which is in European wine-producing countries, tourists have the opportunity to learn more about the history of wine, ancient traditions, and production methods. All passed down from generation to generation over many years with great prominence in the terroir and microregions.
In the “New World,” however, in non-European countries, cultivation is more recent, and so is its history. Many regions of the New World were introduced to the cultivation of wine mostly by Europeans, which is another reason for calling them the ‘New World.’ In these regions, the type of grapes used in production, the focus on technology, and more flexible winemaking practices stand out. This does not mean that Old World countries do not work with cutting-edge techniques, nor does it mean that traditional and artisanal methods are absent 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
- Vinhedos Valley, Gaúcha Mountain Range, Brazil