We recently talked to the man behind the the world’s most important event for the wine and culinary tourism industry.
You are the founder of IWINETC. Why did you create this organization?
IWINETC was born in 2009 and 2018 will see the event head to Hungary for its 10th anniversary. How IWINETC came about is a long story but to summarise the idea was to get wine tourism professionals in one event to simply learn from each other, network and do business. At the time a conference for the wine tourism industry did not exist and over the years the event has become the leading global event for the wine tourism industry being held each year a different country or region.
Who are you waiting for at the conference?
Around 70% of all conference delegates for 2018 will be international, travelling from diverse countries such as Armenia, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Italy, Moldova, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Uruguay, USA to name just a few – that’s speakers, exhibitors, tour operators, outgoing agents, media, incoming agents, sommeliers, Masters of Wine, guides and many more professionals connected to the wine and food travel industry. The remaining 30% will be from the host country, Hungary. That’s 300 – 400 delegates expected to attend the event.
Why did you choose Budapest as the venue of this year’s conference?
There was a dilemma between hosting the event in Eger (closer to more wine regions) or Budapest. After a meeting with our Premium Sponsor for this year, the Hungarian Tourism Agency, Budapest was chosen otherwise the city would not have been seen by many of the delegates.
There are around 25 talks in the 2 day conference programme. We have established 5 key content themes (Research, Professional Development, Branding and Marketing, Grape Escape Destinations and Networking) that underpin all of the talks over the 2 day conference. These have been hand picked based on the significance they play in the wine and culinary tourism market. Some of the talks are particularly specific to the Hungarian Wine Tourism evolution and should not be missed by players in the Hungarian wine and culinary tourism field.
What role does IWINETC play in world wine tourism?
IWINETC is a must attend event for the Best Education (2 days of conference talks) , Best Networking (pre and post tours and evening activities) and the Best Business (exhibition and B2B Workshop). Hosting an edition of IWINETC puts the country and it’s wine regions on the world tourism map and/or positions it higher up on the “must visit” list creating greater awareness of the destination and an increase in the number of wine tourists mainly thanks to the business that happens in both the Exhibition area and the B2B Workshop between agents specialised in wine tourism and trade providers.
What are your favourite wine regions?
The wine regions that have WOWED me the most would have to be Banyuls, Douro Valley (IWINETC 2011) and Etna, Sicily (IWINETC 2017). In Hungary Somló, albeit very small has to be the most spectacular wine region for me.
What do you think about Hungarian wines?
Well to be honest on my first visit to Hungary I concluded that Hungarian wines were over priced. Since then and having visited several wineries I have realised that most Hungarian producers are boutique, producing very small quantities and making a Premium wine takes a lot of time and investment so understandably premium wine justifies a premium price.
Do you have a favourite Hungarian wine region, winery, wine?
One of my favourite producers that I have visited is indeed in the Somló region and as I am one of the judges for the annual competition 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World I was particularly impressed with the producers sparkling wine (traditional method) not to mention the white wine made from the Juhfark variety.
Where in the world will IWINETC be in 2019?
Well it’s no longer a secret and I’m delighted to announce that IWINETC will be heading to Spain’s Basque Country – a grape escape destination that demands exploration beyond the delightful main cities of Bilbao, Vitoria and San Sebastian. Cue Rioja Alta and Txakolí!