Winery tourism seems to be the new buzz word at the moment when it comes to talking about visiting a winery for fun. Actually we’re really just wanting to go there to taste the wine and experience the atmosphere, and maybe have some food.
So, why all this ‘winery tourism’ lark? Well, look at it from the wineries point of view. You, and millions like you, are the bread and butter of these friendly businesses – of course along with their wine sales – they NEED you just as much as you desire to visit them.
The wine industry has such a lot to offer apart from just making wines, and this is why the word ‘tourism’ is being tagged alongside. Vast sub industries are formed, when wineries add-on areas of interest to their existing wine armoury in that they now offer the public. These areas encompass tours, tastings, wine clubs, restaurants and even wedding ceremonies – all held in and around the winery itself.
With so many really high quality wineries producing great wines all over the world, marketing their product is the number one goal. Therefore, apart from selling wines to multinationals at discounted prices, they have a good opportunity – right at their backdoor – of getting a better price, as well as creating that so important ‘relationship’ with the customer.
We all know that vineyards and wineries are romantic places, from those numerous films depicting the sexy lifestyle. But in reality, having been in the treasured position of running a vineyard and winery, all I can say is that it is a wonderful environment to be in – but with all the work required – hardly sexy or even romantic. Sorry if I’ve deluded you!
But, a winery is a must to visit in order to experience the beauty of manicured vineyards in peaceful surroundings, and taste your way through a dozen wines or more.
Here are a few suggestions that I would make when you visit a winery:
- Be enthusiastic as a listener, because I can guarantee you that the wine maker or other expert who will talk to you will be very enthusiastic.
- Be attentive and show that you are really interested, so that you’ll learn a whole lot from the tour.
- Your guide will explain the entire process of winemaking from start to finish. If you’re an amateur home winemaker, you can pick up tips and ideas, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Having an interaction makes it more fun for everyone in the tour group, and you’ll all get more out of the experience.
- Learn about how the grapes are processed, and why a winery relies so much on a good laboratory.
- Look at the equipment involved from pumps to storage tanks and everything in between. You’ll note a lot of stuff is made out of stainless steel – where white wine is involved, because it is hygienically the best, as well as being strong and aesthetically beautiful.
- The tour will proceed telling you about yeasts and fermentation, filtration and bottling identifying all the equipment used for each process. After bottling, the wine bottles will be labelled, again using a special machine.
- If it’s red wine being made, then you’ll probably come across a barrel cellar. Find out how different oak used to make the barrels can dramatically change the overall character of the red wine.
- At the end you will have heard a lot of wine speak, as we call it. All those words like ‘chaptalizing’ ‘lees’ and ‘malo’ or ‘fruity’, ‘floral’, ‘fresh’ or ‘foxy’.
- Then comes the best part, where you can taste the wine, ask questions and give your opinion whilst trying to not look like too intimidated. The more wines you taste, the better your palate will get. To taste a wine correctly: a) take the glass firmly by the stem, then b) swirl the wine around in a circular motion – this helps to release the aromas for you nose to pick up on c) next take a good deep sniff to capture the essence of flavor d) and now the bit you’ve been waiting for – go for it with style. Taste the wine slowly, analyse the flavors while gently swilling it around in your mouth before swallowing (or spitting out if you’re tasting lots more!)
- Finally, enjoy learning about the fascinating world of wine.
Striking up that important relationship between consumer and producer is a two way affair, both benefit without the need of a middle-man. So, here’s to the continued success of winery tourism – romantic or not, do pay a visit sometime, it’s a fantastic experience.