Vines as far as the eye can see. The vineyards of Bandol, France from Cadiere d’Azur prove that wine country scenery can’t be beaten. © Hilarie Larson

Are you a wine tourist?  Do your travel plans always seem to include strolling through verdant vineyards, discovering new vintages and immersing yourself in the wine lifestyle?  If so, you are not alone.

Whether you call it Enotourism, Oenotrouism, or Vinitoursim, traveling to wine country destinations is hot. What was once a well-kept secret of a select few wine aficionados is now one of the fastest rising sectors of the travel industry.  Wine tourism is becoming so popular that there are several symposiums devoted to this integral part of the wine industry including the International Wine Tourism Conference, now in its 11th year, and the more recently established UNWTO (UN Wine Tourism Organization).  

Here are just a few fabulous reasons why wine tourism rocks—with a few observations from in-the-know tourism professionals.

 

Guaranteed  Gorgeous Locations All Over the World

The limestone cliff, Cap Canaille, looks upon the vineyards of Domaine du Bagnol in Cassis, Provence, France.

From South Africa to Alaska (yes, Alaska), India to Eastern Europe, vineyards and wineries dot the landscape around the globe. This is an agriculturally based business practically guaranteeing that when you visit a wine-related destination, you’ll find your self amongst some pretty amazing scenery. Quiet, rural roads, rolling hills, tranquil lakes, and rivers are common attributes of wine country. What better way to unwind than relaxing with a glass of something newly discovered while soaking in the vistas?  

 

Wine Tourists Love the Thrill of Discovery

Make local wine shops part of your itinerary. Le Cave de Didier in the Provencal village of Contignac is a treasure trove. © Hilarie Larson

For many wine tourists, tracking down new and exciting wines is half the fun.  While its great to pay a visit to well-known and established producers in world-famous regions, a true enotourist is always searching for the undiscovered.  

Put asides your assumptions and bias, and go, check and taste unconventional wines from “different latitudes”. Thailand, China, Japan, Myanmar, Bali, Vietnam, India, Belgium, England, Canada, Brasil, just to name but a few of these “new” exotic winemaking countries that will pleasantly surprise more than one can think.”  ~Laurent Granier, Laos Mood Travel www.Laosmood.com

It’s good to think outside the box.  Choose an up and coming destination like Montenegro or Uruguay, or include some new wineries when you revisit a well-loved region.  Try a wine made from a grape you’ve never heard of. Drive down a different road and stop at the first winery you see. It might turn out to be your new favorite.

 

Wine Country Equals Good Wine and Good Food 

Local cuisine meets local wine and the result is a perfect pairing at La Gorille in Saint-Tropez, France. © Hilarie Larson

It’s no secret that wine and food go together like, well, food and wine. Wine Country fare is truly farm-to-table, and when the cuisine and wine are sourced from the same region, the results can be magical.

It’s not unusual for wineries to have on-site restaurants, and many attract up-and-coming chefs from some of the best cooking academies.  The availability of fresh, local products is a huge draw for culinary talent, and satisfied visitors aren’t the only ones to reap the benefits. By eating and drinking local, wine tourists help to sustain the local economy and eco-culture.  Raise your glass to this delicious win-win situation.

 

The Ultimate in Experiential Travel

The many shades of wine tourism – There are a host of ways to enjoy the wonders of wine country. © Onepixel_1177894

Touring a wine region is about much more than tasting good wine. It is about learning the history and culture of a region, which are typically so intertwined with the local wine industry.” ~Susan Montgomery, writer www.life-uncorked.com

If you’re seeking an immersive, experiential style of holiday, a wine-focused region will deliver.  There are cooking schools, farm and orchard tours, language immersion opportunities, and a multitude of ways to feel as if you’re part of the wine region you visit.  

Feel like waking up amongst the vines?  Hotels attached to wineries are popping up all over the world.  Go local by renting a flat or house in a small wine country village.  Trips to the local market or ‘Super Store’ are an adventure in themselves. Pop into a local café and strike up a conversation. Take home experiences and memories that last forever.

Enotourism is for Everyone

Wine country has something for everyone and every age. © jordan-rowland-716491-unsplash

Wine tourists know that there’s so much more to wine country than grapes and wine.

At one time, it seemed only die-hard wine geeks would plan wine country holidays but my, how things have changed.  Of course, you can still spend your days touring cellars and tasting wines but believe it or not, wine isn’t always the top attraction for some who venture to wine regions.  

Some visitors don’t know a Merlot from a Muscat but love wine country for other reasons: concerts, art galleries, fabulous resort hotels with decadent spas, top ranking golf courses, and that laid-back, fresh air, country vibe.

Just as we each taste wine in our own unique fashion, there no limit to the ways one can enjoy a wine country destination.

 

Wine Makes the Best Friends

It’s all smiles when wine and tourism professionals get together to learn about wine. Tasting at Llopart, Penedes, Catalonia. © Hilarie Larson

 

“As a wine tourism professional, the discovery may be all about the wines but there is everything for a nice stay even if the traveler is with kids or doesn’t drink wine. It’s also meeting people or seeing them again.  It’s staying in touch for many years, sharing food, tasting wines and much, much more.” ~Mireille Ruinart, wine tourism marketer, Champagne region, France www.creactions.net

People who work in wineries are, on the whole, a friendly bunch.  They love what they do and can’t wait to share that passion. Those charming faces behind the winery tasting bar are also fabulous ambassadors for their area, and they know all the best spots.  Need a restaurant recommendation or want to know the names of the newest winery? Just strike up a conversation with your tasting room host.

Meeting the people who live and work in a region gives you an insight that you’ll never get from a website or over the internet. Wine has a way of connecting people and breaking down the divisions of language, distance, and time. It’s been like that for millennia, and now that practically every country has a ‘wine country,’ it’s never been easier to call yourself an ‘EnoTourist.’

 

For more information on wine tourism destinations, check out these articles:

A Taste of Tasmania

The Epicurean Way: Wine Pilgrimage in South Australia