There’s nothing like a great vacation — especially when there’s wine involved. Wine lovers are willing to travel for great wine and a great experience.
Enotourism, which is travel aimed at wine regions, has been booming for nearly a decade now and is continuing to rise. Let’s take a look at the growth of this trend, and how wineries can react and make the most of consumers who are building vacations around wine experiences.
Growth of enotourism
Wine and food tourism in Europe was the primary reason for travel for nearly 600,000 trips annually, according to the UN’s World Tourism Organization. Tourists seeking good food and wine was the secondary reason for travel for another 20 million trips.
“Wine tourism is a growing segment in continuous update that offers an extraordinary diversity to the consumer, as well as business opportunities to producers,” said Gustavo Santos, Minister of Tourism of Argentina, at the UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism.
Great wines with a side of unique experiences
When you thinking of visiting a winery, you might just be imagining walking around the vineyards, tasting the latest vintage of wine. For wine geeks, it’s exciting to see how the wine is made and learn about the vineyard. But now there’s even more to the experience of visiting a vineyard, such as live music, yoga, and ancient castles to be explored, to name a few.
Wineries are taking note of travelers seeking out great experiences with wine and are investing in tourism facilities to attract more travelers. In Europe, for example, the nearly $90 million Cité du Vin towering next to Bordeaux city centre or the Rubik’s Cube-inspired d’Arenberg Cube in McLaren Vale, South Australia are big tourists spots.
In Spain’s Rioja wine region, the vineyard Marques de Riscal, now partnered with Marriott Bonvoy Hotels, features a stunning Frank Gehry hotel on its property, complete with Michelin-ranked restaurants and a spa.
Here in the United States, the number of wineries has grown dramatically since the 1980’s, as shown in the graphic below. There are nearly 10,000 wineries and they’re providing good reasons for travelers to seek out their wines. Nearly 15 million travelers are motivated by wine each year in the U.S., according to the Mintel Group. And in 2013, nearly $20 billion in revenue was generated in the U.S. by wine tourists.
Of course, the biggest enotourism destination in the U.S. is Napa and Sonoma Valley in California. For example, Castello di Amorosa in Napa boasts a 13th century Tuscan castle replica that spans 121,000 square feet and has 107 rooms for visitors to explore. Visitors can choose to take a guided tour and then sip on some wine while overlooking the vineyards.
But California wineries are not the only U.S. wineries with attractions for wine lovers to explore.
In New Jersey, the smaller, family-owned Fox Hollow Vineyards has a full calendar of events to attract visitors. Every Friday and Sunday evenings the winery has live music. In June, it’s hosting a Rose Soiree. Guests are encouraged to dress like it’s the roaring ‘20s and will be able to taste several different types of the vineyard’s rosé.
Blenheim Vineyards in Virginia boasts stunning views and allows patrons to sit at a picnic table at the vineyard to enjoy some wine. It also plans art shows, has food trucks camp out at the vineyard, and since Dave Matthews is affiliated with the vineyard, naturally there are live music nights.
Ways for your winery to capitalize on enotourism
Wine lovers want to drink wine that provides them with a unique experience, and matches their values. The laid-back wine drinker would love yoga on the vineyard and the adventurer would want to be able to explore the winery. So think about what values your brand has and the type of people you feel make up your customer base.
When planning an event at your winery, ensure it’s cost effective. For example, starting with yoga will only cost you the price of an instructor. Then, you can upgrade to hosting a larger event like Fox Hollow’s Rosé Soiree.
You will also want to get in touch with your local chamber of commerce to ensure your vineyard is on the places to visits and things to do list for people coming in to town.
Attracting patrons to your vineyard with events is a great way to also increase your direct-to-consumer sales channel. If you have a wine club, you can encourage visitors to join, or you could offer a special 10% discount on cases of wine that day for anyone visiting and attending an event.