History of Wine Tourism in the Ancient World
Wine tourism is a relatively new phenomenon, but the love of wine is as old as civilization itself. The first recorded instance of wine production dates back to 6000 BCE in Georgia, and by 3000 BCE, wine was being produced in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Greeks were passionate about wine, and it played an important role in their culture and religion. Dionysus, the god of wine, was one of the most celebrated deities in Greek mythology. In fact, wine was often a sacrificial offering to the gods. In Rome, wine was highly prized and often used as currency. The Romans also believed that wine had medicinal properties, and they regularly took “the waters” at natural springs rich in minerals.
It wasn’t until the 18th century that wine was produced on a large scale for commercial purposes. The French Revolution put an end to the monopolies that the nobility had held on vineyards, and the Napoleonic Wars led to a decline in demand for French wines. As a result, vineyards diversified their products and cater to a wider audience. Wine tourism emerged as a way for vineyards to promote their products and attract visitors from all over Europe. Today, wine tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
Wine tourism first began in Mondavi, California, in the 1970s. The concept quickly caught on in the United States, spreading to major cities such as Washington DC, New York City, and San Francisco. As word of mouth spread, the popularity of wine tourism began to grow in other parts of the world. New World countries such as Chile, Argentina, and South Africa soon became hotspots for tourists interested in visiting vineyards and sampling wines directly at the source. With so many destinations to choose from, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend or a non-stop action vacation, there’s a wine region that’s perfect for you.
Wine Tourism is Gaining Popularity
In the early 1980s, China, Europe, South Korea, and Japan welcomed their first visitors to see local vineyards and sample local wines. As a result, institutions took steps to promote wine tourism around the world. “The Great Wine Capitals” is a network of ten regions throughout the world with a strong potential for attracting tourists. This accreditation benefits Mendoza, Rioja, Napa Valley, Florence, Bordeaux, Cape Town, and many other places.
Establishing The Conseil Supérieur de l’Oenotourisme
The data for wine tourism demonstrated that it had a lot of room for growth. Between 2009 and 2016, visitors to French vineyards grew from 7.5 million to 10+ million, according to Atout France. The Ministers of Tourist and Agriculture founded the Conseil Supérieur de l’Oenotourisme in March 2009 by, bringing together the wine industry and tourism to promote wine tourism in France.
Structuring of The Wine Tourism Sector
Hervé Novelli, the project’s president and a former Fillon government minister in charge of trade, the craft industry, SMEs, and tourism, carried out a series of activities to preserve and promote the market. One of these activities was to create the “Vignobles et découverte” label. This label, established in 2009, specifies 67 places that provide a comprehensive and appealing range of amenities to travelers, including bed and breakfasts, restaurants, estate visits, and wine tastings. See more resources here.
Wine Tastings and Wine Trips
Italy is the top wine destination, giving tourists over 2389 wine tastings, from tours to private luxury tastings. Tuscany has been the hottest area of Italy throughout the last five years, with the enormous demand for Tuscany wines. We know that wine and food pairings are the best experiences while on holiday. Tuscan wines are usually big, bold and full-bodied reds that stand up well to hearty Italian cuisine. Some of the most popular Tuscan wines include Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Super Tuscan blends. If you’re planning a trip to Italy, include a Tuscany stop to sample some of the world’s best wines. Salute!
Even if you don’t like wine, visiting the Prosecco region in northern Italy is a great place to visit. It’s only about an hour from Venice, making it a wonderful less crowded day trip. It’s also in the Dolomite foothills, which makes it a perfect stop if you are on your way to the mountains. Prosecco is where you’ll find all the magic that produces that delicious sparkling Italian wine that we all know and love. The vineyards are picturesque, and you can learn about how wine is made. Even if wine tasting isn’t your thing, you’ll enjoy strolling through the vineyards and taking in the stunning views.
In Bordeaux, all winery visits are by appointment only. They last approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. Do not plan any visits during lunchtime between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Between November and March, wineries are open Monday through Friday only.
Don’t even try to go for a tasting at the most famous and expensive wineries of Bordeaux such as Cheval Blanc, Yquem, Margaux, Lafite, Latour, and Petrus. None of these are open to tourists.
Bordeaux is a massive wine region. It takes 40 minutes just to get from St. Estephe to Margaux on the Left Bank. Be conscience of the drive time between vineyards, you don’t want to drive late or have to leave early.
If you are trying to cross from one bank to the other, the drive takes about 90 minutes one way. Before making any appointments double check the distance between the vineyards. The last thing you want to do is spend your whole day driving, rather than relaxing with a glass of wine at a beautiful Chateau.
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ON THIS DAY
The 1970s: Wine tourism began in Mondavi, California. Visiting vineyards and sampling wines directly at the source grew popular in the United States over time, spreading to major cities such as Washington DC, New York City, and San Francisco.
In the 1980s, China, Europe, South Korea, and Japan, welcomed the first visitors to see the local vineyards and sample the wines produced there. As a result, institutions took steps to promote wine tourism around the world.
March 2009: The Conseil Supérieur de l’Oenotourisme was founded. The group, affiliated with Atout France and founded by the Ministers of Tourist and Agriculture, brings together the wine industry and tourism actors to promote wine tourism in France.
2009: In the year 2009, the “Vignobles et découverte” label was established. This label specifies 67 places that provide a comprehensive and appealing range of amenities to travelers. This includes bed and breakfasts, restaurants, estate visits, and wine tastings.
Fitzsimons, Jo. 2015. “How to Go Prosecco Tasting in Italy – 1hr from Venice.” Indiana Jo. June 10, 2015. https://indianajo.com/prosecco-tour.html.
“How to Visit Bordeaux Chateau, Vineyards for the Best Wine Tastings.” n.d. The Wine Cellar Insider. Accessed August 28, 2022. https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/wine-topics/how-to-visit-bordeaux-top-chateau-for-the-best-wine-tastings/.
“Wine Tourism, a Constantly Growing Activity.” n.d. Accessed August 28, 2022. https://webunwto.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/imported_images/44020/12076_turismo_del_vino_cornejo_en.pdf.