Wine tourism is BIG business! Also known as enotourism and vinitourism, wine tourism is a phenomenon that occurs around the globe- but what is it and why is it such an important part of the travel and tourism industry? Read on to find out…
- What is wine tourism?
- How big is the wine tourism industry?
- The history of wine tourism
- Why is wine tourism important to a winery?
- What are the benefits of wine tourism?
- The best places to travel for vinitourism tourism
- Wine tourism, enotourism & vinitourism- further reading
What is wine tourism?
Wine tourism, also known as enotourism and vinitourism, is a focused branch of food tourism which is specifically to do with wine. It is all about getting to know the world of wine as you travel. Activities typically include vineyard and winery tours, getting to see the wine production line and (of course!) wine tasting. There are even wine museums you can visit!
As with any type of food tourism, you don’t have to travel particularly far to engage with wine tourism. A proper wine tasting session at your local pub or bar, for example, is definitely a wine tourism activity. Read on to learn a bit more about it….
How big is the wine tourism industry?
Put simply, wine tourism (or enotourism or vinitourism) is massive. Enotourism is a big deal across the globe, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down in terms of its growth. Statista says, The wine tourism market worldwide was estimated to be worth around 8.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, a year in which the entire global tourism industry was hit hard by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As forecast, the enotourism’s market size was expected to reach nearly 29.6 billion euros in 2030.
Vins du Monde shared some interesting statistics too, particularly related to where the most wine tourism takes place. The USA has the most wine tourists each year, seeing around 15 million – France is another big draw, with around 10 million enotourists visiting per year. Germany hosts around 7.3 million, and Italy around 5 million. South Africa and New Zealand have much fewer wine tourists each year, welcoming around 0.5 and 0.2 million respectively.
The history of wine tourism
Wine tourism is a relatively new industry, in comparison to winemaking itself. But where there is industry, tourism isn’t far behind. People are curious to see how the world around them works, which is why any form of industrial tourism is popular. Wine drinkers are keen to see how wine is made, to see where it comes from and to try new flavours from different areas. It is the same as avid car lovers visiting a car factory, for example!
Wine tourism is said to date back to the early 20th century, when wine routes were developed throughout Germany. There were and are various routes, though none are more famous than Weinstraße, which is the oldest and runs through the Palatinate wine region. The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 in the Napa Valley, California, was another turning point for wine tourism. French judges blind-tasted French and Californian wines – and controversially, the Californian beverages came out on top. It gained a lot of traction in the media, which started promoting an interest in wine-related activities. Later still and much more recently, in 2004, the film Sideways – starring Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church – showcased two men embarking on a wine tour through Santa Ynez Valley. Following the film’s release and success, the enotourism industry definitely saw a boost!
Why is wine tourism important to a winery?
Wine tourism is important to wineries for many reasons. With cheaper mass-produced wines being much more readily available now, smaller wineries are making less money and business is slowing down. For this reason, branching out into enotourism activities is vital for many wineries. Allowing tourists to visit and pay to taste the wine, see how it’s made and meet the winemakers is a brilliant way of providing income. Wine tourists also tend to spend more than the average traveller – in New Zealand, it’s actually a whopping 52% more.
What are the benefits of wine tourism?
There are many benefits of wine tourism. As mentioned above, enotourism has a positive impact on wineries and winemakers. It brings in an alternative income, and allows people to share their passion with people who will appreciate it. Wine tourism also introduces people to different wines, meaning wineries may go on to have regular custom from these visitors.
And are there benefits to the tourists themselves? Of course – as with any form of industrial tourism, wine tourism provides an educational opportunity to guests who want to learn about wine, winemaking, individual wineries and so on. It adds a slightly deeper aspect to your trip; it’s something a bit different from simply lounging by the pool!
As a wine tourist on a specific wine tourism trip – like a tour through a specific region – you can experience so many benefits. For one, vineyard and winery locations are usually beautiful. You’ll experience drop dead gorgeous views that will surely take your breath away. From pretty Germany to jaw-dropping New Zealand, wine tourists get a *lot* of the nicest destinations!
With good wine comes good food – that’s just a given. Wine tourists eat well, whether it’s food provided at a vineyard or winery, or at restaurants recommended by tour guides. And good food, as we all know, is one of the best things we can experience in life… Other benefits include finding new wines to enjoy, and making friends with like-minded wine lovers.
The best places to travel for vinitourism tourism
There are plenty of places you can visit to enjoy some of the world’s best wine tourism. Below you’ll find some incredible destinations, tours and wineries perfect for enotourists!
Covering around 102,000 hectares, the German wine country isn’t the biggest but it is one of the most famous. The Riesling is one of the most popular wines in the world! The landscapes of the German wine region are breathtaking, and it is one of the nicest places to experience wine tourism in Europe.
Rheinhessen is the largest area of the German wine country, with some very rare grape varieties; wine has been made here since the ancient Roman times. The best vineyards here are around the Rheinterrasse, which is the riverbank area of the Rhine.
Palatinate is the best region for the famous Riesling wines. It is also *the* region for wine festivals, which are of course a huge hit with enotourists. Not only that, but Palatinate is home to some of the best food in Germany!
Mosel is where you want to go for sweet wines and views that will leave you speechless. The wines are made on heat-storing slate soil, which is really unique and of course fascinating to learn about as a wine tourist.
Wine tours are so popular in California, and a real must-do if you’re in the area and have a penchant for wine. Two areas in particular are incredible for wine tours: Sonoma and the Napa Valley. The best way to do it is on an organised tour. Some include picnics, for some you’ll be on an e-bike, and some tours are combined with hiking! Choose from luxury private tours to big group tours – but whatever you do, if you’re a wine lover vacationing in Cali don’t miss out on discovering the vineyards and wineries of the region.
If you want to see where some of the most famous types of wine come from, then wine tourism in France is for you. From Champagne to Bordeaux, there are so many regions here with wines named after them. And with wine tours, vineyard visits and tasting sessions you can explore them all…
VinoTrip, for example, offer wine tours in the following regions:
- Vallée du Rhône
- Val de Loire
From wine-and-golf weekends to champagne workshops, there is so much you can incorporate into wine tourism in France. And if you don’t want a whole wine-focused holiday but still want a taste of the good stuff on your trip, there are plenty of day trips you can book!
Wine tourism is a growing industry for the Kiwis, with a whopping 40,000 hectares of vineyard space across the country – as opposed to just 400 hectares in 1960. New Zealand is known as the ‘second home of Sauvignon Blanc’ now. Some of the best places to visit include…
Marlborough, which is the largest of New Zealand’s wine regions. The wine production here is diverse, and the scenery is breathtakingly green. The area is split into three subzones, known as the Southern Valley, Wairau Valley and the Awatere Valley. You can opt for self-guided tours of the region, hop-on hop-off bus tours and fully guided wine tours here.
Central Otago is the southernmost wine region in the world, which gives it great kudos among visitors. It is also absolutely stunning, with vines on narrow little terraces located on sloping snow-capped mountains. Some of the world’s best Pinot Noir wines come from here! Book a tour and visit multiple wineries, eat lunch, see the gorgeous scenery and most importantly, taste some of the local wines.
Wine tourism, enotourism & vinitourism- further reading
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