The future of wine tourism

How Quinta dos Vales, a boutique winery in the Algarve, Portugal, transformed their vision of wine tourism into reality

Over the past years the growth of wine tourism, also known as Enotourism, has been picking up at a considerable pace, both in the new world as well as in the traditional wine-producing regions. The most renowned French chateaus now open their gates to visitors, as do the numerous modern wineries spread across Australia and all the other regions of the new world.

Enotourism comes in many shapes and forms, the most common being the simple wine tasting. However there are many opportunities for synergy between wine and other areas, whether these are gastronomic, sportive or cultural. For instance, food and wine pairings can give the consumer a deeper sensorial appreciation of both the food as well as the wine.

Whereas Enotourism can simply be an added element to an activity to spice it up, such as a horse-ride through the countryside, which includes a stop for a glass of wine amongst the vines. This wide range of activities that fall under the umbrella of Enotourism demonstrates the flexibility and potential of the sector.

Wine has seemingly been around forever, and has long been associated with class, status and luxury. This association has been an added value to the world of wine in many aspects, as it acts as a seal of approval. However, it might have gone too far, in the sense that at this point many consumers are intimidated by the world of wine, believing that you can’t enjoy the beverage unless you can give a comprehensive presentation on its origin, influences, terroir and a myriad of other elements. This is one of the fallacies that Enotourism aims to challenge, wine does not need to be seen as work, it should simply be enjoyed.

Creating a direct dialogue between producer and consumer can reduce the snobbery around wine, and shift the focus back to what matters, encouraging the consumer to enjoy their experience.

However, the reason why wineries offer and promote Enotourism is not altruistic in nature, they have a very specific goal in mind, and that reason is marketing. By establishing a link in the mind of a consumer, between a brand of wine and a person, or a story, or even a personal experience, this increases the likelihood that the consumer will remember the wine and purchase again.

Creating an emotional bond between the consumer and a product is the essential goal of all forms of marketing, and the aim of Enotourism is the same.

Enotourism seems to be here to stay, both the supply as well as the demand side continues to grow, now the only question is in which direction it will develop. A local winery in the south of Portugal has a clear vision for the future of Enotourism, and that is Quinta dos Vales in Lagoa.

Remembering that the aim of Enotourism is to create an emotional bond between the consumer and a product, there is no stronger bond than if the consumer considers the product his own. That is the thought behind Quinta dos Vales’ new project, The Winemaker Experience, wherein they take wine-lovers and transform them into wine-makers.

Each of the participants owns their own parcel of vineyard, and from the grapes grown in that parcel they produce their wine. The on-site team guides participants through the full wine-production process, offering them use of the winery, the team and expert consultancy, but encouraging them to make their very own wine, to their own preferences.

Each participants produces approximately 1 barrel of wine per year, which translates to 300 bottles, and they are able to authentically control every single element of its production. The participants are also encouraged to get hands-on, whether in the field or in the winery, it’s their wine after all.

As can be expected, the emotional bond created is exponentially stronger than in any other type of marketing or Enotourism action. These private wine-makers know why a wine tastes the way it does, they remember picking the very grapes that make up a given wine, and they designed their own label. Each of these connections deepens the bond with the wine, and the best part is that it’s all completely authentic. The participants feel like wine-makers because they genuinely are, and as we all know, everyone prefers their own production, just think of your own kids.

The Winemaker Experience started as a passion project a few years ago, based on the personal experiences of Quinta dos Vales’ owner, Karl Heinz Stock, of going from wine-lover to wine-maker. Whereas now the project is up and running, growing faster even than the team of Quinta dos Vales could have ever hoped for, over the last 12 months the number of private productions has sky-rocketed, from 7 in 2020 to 19 now. Karl Heinz Stock is now completely convinced, just as it was for him, the optimal way to appreciate wine is to produce one’s own.