Drinking wine may be as old as human civilisation, but the wine industry continues to evolve.
In recent years oenotourism, or wine tourism, has seen an uptake as travellers look for new experiences. There's plenty on offer for wine lovers, with vineyards around the world offering tasting, tours and hand-harvesting experiences.
What is wine tourism?
Viticulture, or wine growing, is a craft that dates back tens of thousands of years and due to elements like soil, temperature and air quality every vineyard is unique; this is what the French call ‘terroir’. Understanding these unique conditions is one of the benefits of oenotourism.
The marrying of wine and the tourism industry may seem like a match made in heaven, but actually only began to take shape in 1976 with a wine tasting in Paris, France. This event, known as ‘the Judgement of Paris’ was set up by wine merchant Steven Spurrier in an attempt to establish French wines as superior.
Panellists blind tasted a series of red wines and chardonnays and in a surprise twist the Californian wines were rated the best by the judges. This boosted the region's reputation and opened up opportunities for other countries in a market previously dominated by the so-called Old World countries in Europe and the Middle East.
Today wineries around the globe offer wine tasting and tours in Chile, South Africa and Australia. The global wine market was worth $364.25 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow to $444.94 billion by 2027.
In 2016 the wine tourism sector revenue was found to have increased 10 - 15 per cent in three years. That same year the UN World Tourism Organisation held the first ever Global Conference on Wine Tourism in Kakheti, Georgia where wine has been made for 8000 years.
In the Old World, wine tourism and the wine industry are still going strong with the Bordeaux region of France seeing a 61per cent increase in visitors between 2002 - 2016. Languadoc, located in the south of France, boasts some of the most amazing vineyards which bring a contemporary feel to an ancient craft, and visitors will love these opportunities to engage in a little oenotourism.
A guide to some of the best wine tours
The eco-friendly Château Capitoul, is situated in the wild landscape of the Massif de la Clape. A 19th century chateau, it has given itself a three year makeover.
The site boasts a gourmet restaurant, brazier brewery, tasting cellar dedicated to and offers tours of the vineyard.
This winery hosts a gourmet 5km journey in the heart of the Grand Site of France Salagou-Cirque de Mourèze, wines and quality food will be served at each of the six stages of a delicious experience that ends in the picturesque village of Octon.
At the foot of the City of Carcassonne, this destination hosts a wine bar-cum-delicatessen that serves novel food including cheese, cold cuts and vegetarian tapas on a beautiful terrace.
AOP Saint-Chinian hosts evenings of music with dishes provided by local restaurateurs.
5 - Domaine Gayda
This vineyard features a newly reopened restaurant with a mouth-watering menu prepared from local produce. The eatery is surrounded by a breathtaking panorama of the Pyrenees and tours in the vineyard, visits and tastings are available.
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