Are you a winegrower, passionate about your job? Then you like to share your production, to lead tastings, to transmit your values, to let the soul of your wine express itself and touch the heart of your visitors… You love it, right? But Covid-19 has come and you are wondering what will happen to wine tourism. Will it still be possible to organize all these touristic activities that unveil the work of the vine, the wine trade, the taste of the Grands Crus, the variety of the terroirs? I give you my opinion in this article. And some tracks to seize the new opportunities offered from now on to the talented winegrowers.
The difficulties of classic wine tourism
Every summer, the same ballet of tourists interested in wine activities and the pleasures offered by good wines is repeated. It is always an opportunity to make good sales on the property, a great boost for the season…
Every summer until 2020…
Every summer until this virus appears and prevents visitors from coming and going as they please.
If you have embarked on the path of wine tourism, I understand your current concerns, your desire to put everything in order and to renew contact with the public. Despite your impatience, take a few moments to think about it seriously. Imagine a classic tasting surrounded by the current constraints…
Here come the enthusiastic tourists. What do you decide? Are you mixing vaccinated and unvaccinated persons?
Anyway… You open the bottles, hand out the glasses and… Do you visualize all those people dropping their masks and spitting over your tasting bar?
But there’s more to it than the simple barrier gestures. In addition to the sanitary constraints, there is the specter of potential lawsuits. Imagine if a glass was not properly washed or if you were accused of not requiring a vaccination passport. That a visitor turns out to be positive. Everyone, tourists and staff alike, becomes a suspected case. You are forced to disinfect everything with aggressive chemicals… You who want to produce only organic products…
I’m going to be frank now (you know me!): do you really want to spend the next few summers running a bar for penniless tourists? Do you want to risk the worst hassles caused by mutant variants and a fast-paced vaccination?
I’d like to remind you of something: you are not a professional greeter. No. You are a wine professional.
How to reinvent wine tourism
Does all this mean that wine tourism is doomed to disappear? Not at all. But it can and must reinvent itself. Wine has 5000 years of history and crosses the ages even when civilizations collapse, and this, thanks to the intelligence of those who love the vine and their children…
Of course, I could be wrong and everyone is free to choose their own destiny. But my family has been active in the wine world for more than 200 years, and our pioneering spirit has given us a certain foresight on the future. So here is what I think about the current situation.
There was the frost and then Covid… Now you have a lot of work to do to restructure your marketing system, get value from your stock and secure your vineyard. Focusing on random tasting sessions would be a huge waste of time and energy.
What about bulk sales? It is not better! Many structures will suffer and disappear in France and abroad. And the supply linked to wholesale trade and cooperatives is also likely to be restricted.
If you want to revitalize your customer base and develop your sales, you will have to turn to other solutions. At iD ViN, we believe in the power of the Internet and have developed an innovative logistics system for France and export that I regularly present on this blog or via our YouTube channel.
More than ever, I advise you to offer your wine in bottles, to sell it directly, and to develop collaborations with a few hand-picked importers who are attached to a production quality and who are loyal in the long term.
Wine tourism does not disappear from the picture for all that. This activity remains essential for your brand image and the VIP clients you will continue to receive on your domain. A successful project will sooner or later include a real partnership with a local restaurateur, and perhaps the sale of overnight stays on the property.
Look… There are already many examples of this new form of wine tourism. It is commonplace in California or South Africa. In France, I could mention Gérard Bertrand or Jean-Claude Mas whose restaurants I recommend. They have made sure that their menu matches their wines!
Good wine lovers crave for authentic productions after two years of confinement. They’re just waiting to have it delivered directly from your vineyard! This is the perfect time to use the power of the Internet and automate your prospecting.
It’s the perfect time to build healthy relationships with real partners, in France and abroad.
It is the perfect time to focus on a more ambitious wine tourism, focused on quality services. In a few years this business should be flourishing: there are many city dwellers who, today, only think of leaving the city to settle in a rethought rurality.
What do you think about it? Would you like to talk more about these alternative sales options? These are historic times. And to get you through it, I suggest a discussion among intelligent professionals.
And if you are still hesitating, I offer you my book “20 tips to better sell your wine”, in paper format, delivered to your winemaker address…