We were delighted to attend the Wine Tourism Conference last month held at the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa. We met a lot of new people in the wine industry, as well as some new winery owners, winemakers and wine bloggers. We especially appreciated the intimate settings of the winery dinners offered as pre-conference visitations.
The Wine Industry Panel discussed the increased interest in visiting wineries in Southern Oregon, the state of Virginia and the Paso Robles wine region of Central California.
We learned that New York’s Finger Lakes is one of the fastest growing wine regions in the country. After having met author Evan Dawson at the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference in 2011, we read his book “Summer in a Glass,” which is a very personal look at winery owners and winemakers in this upstate wine region. We definitely have added that area to our “wish list” of future wine travel.
Ontario, Canada, has seen an increased interest in wine travel. Prince Edward County in Southern Ontario has become a hub of new hotels and restaurants, catering to winery visitors who enjoy the country feel of the area. Many of the wineries have hired Japanese and Mandarin-speaking hosts in their tasting rooms to make Asian visitors feel welcome.
The Okanagan wine region in British Columbia is attracting more and more visitors, and is the site of the 2013 American Wine Bloggers Conference in June. Many of these Canadian wineries are focusing on event-driven activities, such as vineyard walks and winery dinners.
Trends in European wine tourism include an increase in visitors to the historic Alsatian wine region of Eastern France. We had the good fortune of spending a week in this area a couple of years ago, and it is one charming wine village after another. We stayed in the delightful town of Obernai and visited 2 or 3 different towns daily. Like most other European wineries, most require an appointment.
The Office de Tourism de France has been promoting wine travel combined with cultural sites, river cruises, balloon rides, marathon races and farmers’ markets. The Summer and Autumn are the best times for this type of travel.
Many travelers who have been to Western Europe are now choosing to visit the emerging wine regions of Greece, Croatia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Turkey.
The Southern Hemisphere doesn’t try to imitate any other wine region, but has become a very popular destination for wine travelers. Many of the wineries in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile have invested lots of time, money and planning in creating beautiful, state-of-the-art wineries and wine lodges to increase their wine tourism.
Which of these regions will you put on your wine travel list?