Wine is 5000 years of history. The vine endures, even when civilizations collapse. All this is thanks to the intelligence of winegrowers who love their family and their vineyard. Passion allows to keep intact the pleasure of transmission and sharing. So, is wine tourism an activity that you can still count on today? This summer, in 2022, and in the next few years, will you make good sales thanks to the tourists who come to you? If this is one of your main activities, and you are already very committed, you are certainly looking forward to the return of the public. It’s understandable, and you can’t wait to get everything in order. But the real question you must ask yourself is what is the future of wine tourism?
Is wine tourism dead in the short term?
Let’s start by looking at what has happened in the last 2 years. What were the old difficulties, what are the ones that are still going on and what are the ones that are likely to come up?
Look at what the specialists in events and the reception of the public have experienced.
You, on the other hand, must remember that you are a wine professional, not a reception professional.
How can you ensure the safety and effective disinfection of your tasting glasses?
Covid has not disappeared, far from it, variants are appearing as the weeks go by. Vaccination has been launched at a fast pace and we don’t really know the consequences.
Will you mix vaccinated and unvaccinated people during your visits? Will you decide that your clients should not wear face masks? Will everyone agree?
Masks are no longer mandatory in most countries, yet some people don’t want to give up their N95 mask! Will they be happy that others are standing in front of your bar, facing them, without this protection that they consider essential ?
So you are going to take risks. Between the strong sanitary constraints that can come back, the dangers of being sued if you washed a glass badly…
You could also put your staff and family at risk.
What would happen if a suspect case came to your home? You would have to disinfect everything chemically! What a disaster if you are organic!
In short, wine tourism, for 2022 and 2023, remains an accessory and not a priority. It is nice, it is fun, but it is risky.
Of course, in vino veritas, but nobody knows how things will turn out.
There are other solutions to make sales and increase your customer file. With the internet and innovative logistics all over the world, you can do it.
The question of the future of wine tourism
What is the benefit-risk ratio of wine tourism?
Is it worth taking unnecessary risks to attract tourists with empty pockets?
You’ll be wasting time and effort running a low-paying bar, and on top of that, if the epidemic starts up again, you may be told that you were involved.
You have so much better things to do right now. So, focus your energy on profitable and safe activities.
For the next few years, the ideal is to enhance your stock, restructure your marketing and secure the future of your vineyard.
After 2024, wine tourism will come back in force.
This will be even more the case after 2028, because rural life will have radically changed. The cities are emptying to the benefit of the countryside.
In the meantime, in the short term, you should focus on what works.
Prepare yourself, build a solid foundation, and when you are ready, then you can start thinking about hosting travelers again.
Again, this year, don’t rely too much on Sunday visitors to keep you going.
You’ll spend time and energy for a mediocre result. You would only sell a small part of your production.
This would result in you selling in bulk.
Ok, bulk is good. But in the end, don’t count on it too much either.
Because hypermarkets are in crisis. Many of them are going to disappear. As a result, wine supplies via the big wine merchants are going to be more and more restricted.
How to set priorities and secure the future of a vineyard
Securing the future of your vineyard is also securing the future of your family.
So, how do you do it?
How to accomplish this task of utmost importance with all the uncertainties surrounding us: the end – or not – of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, a global economic situation so worrying?
The solution is to sell most of your production in bottles.
In your own country, and especially for export.
Directly from your domain, and why not by receiving VIP clients.
By completing your action with quality allies: a selection of importers and retailers looking for exceptional products. Long-term loyal partners.
The priority for the years to come is direct sales in your country, but not only to customers who come to the domain.
Export is of course an essential key that will work very well with good logistics. We manage all this in the club20, for example.
After the strange period we went through with Covid, all wine lovers are thirsty for authenticity. What could be better than buying direct from the estate?
For you, it’s the right time to automate your prospecting.
Wine tourism, a complementary activity that needs to be carefully prepared
Wine tourism is of course a natural complement to your business and is very good for your VIP clients and for your brand image.
But to be complete, a real wine tourism project has to be well constructed. It necessarily includes a partnership with a restaurant in the area.
There are many restaurant owners who are in difficulty and who will be delighted to be hosted by you.
You will then be able to set up a successful wine tourism. In South Africa, in California and also in France, with Gérard Bertrand or Jean-Claude Mas, for example, there are many who operate in this way.
Because of course, you have to make sure that what comes out of the kitchen is as good as your wines. So there again, you must form quality alliances!
Another aspect of wine tourism is to be able to offer overnight stays on the estate, to exploit the full power of this project.
The real future of wine tourism is here.
It must be an exceptional global experience for the customers.
Without this, many winemakers are wasting time and creating false hopes.
We must not be satisfied with tinkering with a few weekend sales, but rather build a complete and ambitious long-term project!
A family history linked to the vine
Why am I so sure of this and taking the liberty of sharing it with you?
Because my family has been in the wine business for 200 years.
We all have a pioneering temperament and a good dose of foresight.
Of course, I could be wrong, and everyone is free to decide his or her wine tourism destiny.
My family is made up of Burgundians who went to Algeria.
At the time, only one person in ten survived because of malaria.
After many tragedies, several families joined forces to dig a tunnel under the Sahel and to drain the Mitidja, where the culture of the vine took place.
Draining a terroir, you who are a wine grower, know how powerful a key it is.
Welded together, united, they found themselves on wonderful terroirs. At the same time, elsewhere, the vine was struck down by phylloxera.
In France, in 1952, my father bought 600 hectares in the Corbières. Among them were 50 hectares of hybrids that were used to make Vermouth.
He kept the old carignans and replanted merlot, syrah, grenache, marsane, roussanne…
The result was 125 hectares of beautifully drained slopes, surrounded by 500 hectares of garrigue, a superb ecological compensation area.
Of course, he has always refused to use synthetic chemicals. This made him one of the first organic winegrowers in France as soon as the label was introduced in 1989.
He was one of the precursors of bottling in the Languedoc. He also started exporting. It was his army buddy, Gabriel Dulon, who sent him the bottles and corks from Bordeaux.
Now you understand why I say that in my family we are pioneers!
We naturally anticipate the future, it’s a fact of life.
My personal experience: wine and me
I studied international business and marketing in the United States and in Asia. In Taiwan to be precise, because at that time, China was closed.
When Pierre Gagnaire went bankrupt, we took him to Japan, to create in one year, with Asahi, the organic wine market.
I had a great export career selling hundreds of thousands of bottles.
I created Solus, with Pierre Le Tan, the first organic Corbières wine, an exceptional vintage at a remarkable price.
I was able to help Gérard Bertrand when he bought the Hospitalet. He structured his identity, his signature and he succeeded in segmenting his offer. I remember well, his German clients thanked me in the trade shows.
I could go on and on, I have so many things to tell you, I know a lot of anecdotes! Another time, maybe…
In short, with all this and my experience, I believe that the solution to the subject of wine tourism is to talk more about your near and immediate future. Think first of establishing your position in the short term before developing this new activity when the time comes. And then you can do it the right way, ensuring your success with a complete project. Therefore, consider first the alternative sales options that I put at your disposal. I offer you an informal meeting about your situation. It is free and without obligation. You know that we are going through a historic period. To get through this period, it is our interests to get together and discuss, to exchange ideas between intelligent professionals. Join us to anticipate the future of the vineyard in the new wine economy.