Discover Italy with Vineyard Adventures

Robbin Gheesling founded Vineyard Adventures in 2007, a wine & culinary tour company focusing on some of the best boutique wineries and food producers in Italy.  Robbin has mastered the art of Campania, Piedmont and Tuscany and shares her knowledge to Italian wine lovers all over the globe in her 5 star tours through the beautiful countrysides of Italy.  Vineyard Adventures caters to all tourists alike, from the overplanner and the last minute traveler!  As an active member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the Society of Wine Educators, and having received the Christine Ansbacher Wine Educator Award winner from Les Dames d’Escoffier, Robbin is an unquestionably well versed educator in the wine industry!

As one of the speakers at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference, we had the opportunity to speak with Gheesling about wine tourism and wine education in Italy.  Below are Gheesling’s responses to our questions:

1.  What inspired you to start your own tour company in Italy? 

For me, it is the basic attitude towards food & wine. Although supermarket shopping is becoming more commonplace, no matter what is on the table it is still to be shared amongst family and friends. I think this attitude of sharing creates the foundation of an excellent culinary tourism experience.

2.  In the 2012 Conference you will be talking about education for those in the wine tourism business, how much should the tourist expect their guide to know when visiting wineries? 

Part of my discussion will be that “wine tourism” is so new that the average tourist doesn’t know what to expect. However, the onus of managing expectations lies with both parties. For the most part, wineries do not have open tourist hours. When a visitor calls to make an appointment, it is the responsibility of the winery to have a conversation with the visitor to see what they are expecting. It is also the responsibility of the visitor to know in advance what kind of visit they would like to have in order to seek out the right type of winery.

3.  With so many different types of wine and food certifications available, what is the most important thing for an industry professional to consider to maximize their time and money? 

A professional seeking a certification should really be forward thinking about their career, not just what the next job offer wants from them. For example, if the dream job is to be a sommelier in a high-end restaurant, contact wine directors of these establishments and ask about their career paths and what they suggest. For me, I was overwhelmed by the idea of self-study. I would stand in the wine aisle of the bookstore not know which end of the elephant to bite off first. I knew I was going to be working for myself so I didn’t have a boss requiring a particular kind of certification. I chose to take a course to help guide me through the process. I will discuss why I chose the program I did during my talk.

4.  What are you most interested in learning about in this years conference?

I am most interested in having discussions with other people who are forging new paths in culinary tourism. Quite a few principles of general tourism can be applied to wine touring but I still think that this niche market has the ability and opportunity to do things differently.

5.  What is your favorite Italian wine to drink at the dinner table?

Whatever is in the glass in front of me!

Join theInternational Wine Tourism Conference and network with Robbin and 200 – 300 more attendees. Robbin will be delivering a talk at the Wine Tourism Conference titled: Is formal wine education important for tasting room or tour guide staff?

Who’s looking forward to wining & dining in Italy at IWINETC 2012?

Thanks to expert writers like Julie Pegg, some of the best travel websites are able to offer top class articles that help fellow foodies celebrate authentic food and travel all over the world!  A contributing editor and senior writer for EATMagazine.ca and wine writer for RealFoodTraveler.com, Julie is no stranger to culinary tourism!  She spent fourteen years consulting with the British Columbia Liquor Board, and has been writing about food and wine for the last 15 years, with considerable experience in food and wine judging, pairing wine with food, and cool climate viticulture.

RealFoodTraveler.com focuses on delivering authentic material to the nomads of the world that are looking to either maximize their own travel experiences or learn world culture vicariously through the wisdom of others.  The site is rich with entertaining and insightful stories, shared by professional writers and fellow travelers, that reveal what it is about each region that makes it truly unique! EATMagazine.ca caters to the visitors and residents looking to take advantage of all that British Columbia has to offer, from award winning chef’s and exciting local recipe’s to interesting events and tourist hot spots!

As one of the speakers at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference, we had the opportunity to speak with Pegg about wine tourism in the Pacific Northwest and across the globe.  Below are Pegg’s responses to our questions:

1.   You can reportedly be seen driving your Westfalia camper through small rural locations in the Pacific Northwest, what inspires you to travel? 

Finding food and wine gems or haunts while driving back roads has been one of my greatest pleasures for over 30 years.  I never tire of finding a rural butcher, baker,  farmer, cheesemaker, brewer or winemaker–or funky diner or tucked-away bistro. The Pacific Northwest is still a culinary and wine frontier relative to Europe or even California. Artisans are popping up quicker than you can pop a cork so every road trip is a new adventure. Our northwest bounty is amazing..and much of it is accessible year round.  The van is my little home on wheels–bed, fridge, stove–what more could you want?  Ok–a loo would be nice.

2.  You have been writing about food and wine for fifteen years, what is your favorite topic to share with your readers? 

Food and wine lore, and food and wine pairing are close to my heart. Many of even the most ardent food and wine lovers come up short on their knowledge of wine and food customs, and the history behind so many of the world’s wine regions. Much of our contemporary gastronomy and many popular wines have deep and rustic roots and it’s important to know where and whence food and wine hails, not just locale but origin too. 

3.  At this years conference you will be talking about food and wine in the Pacific Northwest, what is it about this region that makes it unique? 

A bit of this is covered in question #1 with regards to the PNW as a fledgling wine and food region (historically speaking) but the genius, passion and craft that has propelled the Pacific Northwest into a major food and wine destination is mind-boggling. And where else might you ski or snowboard, swim, play golf or tennis then tuck into local wine and cuisine hours or, sometimes, just minutes later? And the bonus?–with a smashing background of mountain, water or desert.

Another unique element is our penchant for fusing Asian-inspired dishes made with local ingredients and partnered with the regions’ white wines, which for me, are among the area’s better offerings. Riesling, Pinots Blanc and Gris, Gewurz, and Viognier underscore lush, aromatic yet crisp wines—perfect partners for soy, ginger, miso, lemon grass, curry and a plethora of other Asian flavours.

4.  What part of the upcoming 2012 Wine Tourism Event in Italy are you looking forward to the most? 

Meeting new people, of course, and learning about their roles in the wine and wine tourism world.  Also I’ve never been south of Tuscany so really keen to see and experience a new wine “geography”.  I very much look to Jane’s wine tasting event. I love culinary travel writing so enjoying local food and wine is a forgone conclusion… 

5.  What food would you pair with Italy’s luscious Amarone? 

The easy answer is a simple wedge of Parmegiano Reggiano, napped with an eye-dropper nap of good balsamico, or risotto milanese perhaps with wild mushrooms or a drizzle of truffle oil.

Meat-wise I’d go for wild meat and game birds–or a nice rabbit ragu. Failing that a nice joint of beef or pork.

Join the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference and network with Julie and 200 – 300 more attendees. Julie will be delivering a talk at the Wine Tourism Conference on January 30 at 11:00, titled: Welcome to Wining and Dining in the Pacific Northwest

Bill Eyer: On the Hunt for Great Wines at Reasonable Prices. Next stop IWINETC 2012

Bill Eyer of Cuvee Corner Wine Blog is on a one-man mission to scour the globe for delicious wines at reasonable prices. As a former beer drinker turned certified Sommelier, world wine traveler and self-proclaimed ‘cork dork,’ he offers unique viewpoints on the wines, regions and events he comes across.

In anticipation of the International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy, we asked him about how his love affair with wine began, where else he hopes to travel and what excites him about wine the most. 

1. The 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Perugia, Italy, how do you view Umbria as a wine destination?

Well the way I view it is far different than the average vino-sapien who buys wine and drinks it that same day. But speaking only for myself; as a wine enthusiast and as one who wields a bit of influence over others wine drinkers, I view the area as potentially re-emerging region worthy of great attention, poised with amazing potential. Umbria is sandwiched between Tuscany in the north and the Marches in the south and is home to some of Italy’s most famous wines; like those from the Orvieto DOC. Umbria is also well known in wine-geek circles for producing some fantastically impressive vino from the two of my favorite DOCG’s; one being Montefalco Sangrantino and Torgiano Rosso Reserva.

But as a wine destination, for tourism wine is not the only protagonist for the well-heeled traveler to experience. There’s is a rich History to explore as well. This area of Italy is over-flowing with many traditions that can become inseparable voyage companions of the whole region: places like Montefalco Castle are often an excellent attraction. But, like a lot of Tuscany there does seem to be a bit of disconnect for “newbies” who want to have these experiences, without the help of sometime expensive guides and or restrictive travel packages that move far too fast and really don’t give the traveler to experience Umbria with more depth. What,  I’m saying is there needs to be more emphasis placed on producing wine travel roads, clearly marked out to the audience you want to attract now and into the future. [More on this subject in-depth when I present during the conference]

2. Your blog mentions that your dream is to travel through all of the world’s main wine regions; what are you most looking forward to in Italy and where do you hope to go next?

Ha, yes that is my goal and one I am currently on the trail of accomplishing. As far as Italy is concerned, oh-boy I still have much to see. One I’m really looking forward to visiting Umbria; exploring the Montefalco in-depth and the ten other DOC’s found within the boundaries of Umbria. I’ve never been to the north to visit Collio region [Veneto]; an area vastly under-served by the traditional print media. I would also love to visit and relate back to my readers about Piemonte in north-west Italy’s known to many as the foot of the mountains. This area is very special to me; as it contains some of the most age worthy wines in the world. It also just happens to be some of my all-time favorite wines to collect, age and savor. I would love to spend a great deal of time there, exploring and getting to know the folks behind the label see the land and absorb some the culture. As you can see from reading my blog, I really love Italy, the people and the rich traditions. I’m always so happy to return, when I have the opportunity.

3. Your website also says that your mission is to find ‘great juice for reasonable prices’; what regions, varietals or wines have you found that offer the most bang for your buck?

I would say that by far Chianti Classico, Aglianico IGT’s and Super Tuscan style wines are really giving wine drinkers here in the states, some real bargains, while providing outstanding authentic quality. I am so glad that I’ve not really seen the over-produced synthetic chemistry set wines that I often see from some U.S. producers.

4. How did you first get into wine and what about it excites you the most? 

I was mostly a beer drinker back in day before I discovered that wine be the one thing that really ignited my passion. My wife [Mrs. Cuvee] took me on a trip the Napa Valley; I was exposed to many of the better winemakers in the valley and soon found out that there’s no other libation that inspires quite like wine. Wine grapes specifically are one of most evolutionary advanced plants on the face of the earth and with each sip you take a step back in time. It really gets people in touch with the things that really matter; it hastens understanding and begs for the explorer in each of us to pursue our passions.

5. Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?

I look forward to seeing the wines from Corte dei Papi; I ran into these wines at a portfolio tasting LA and wow very impressive. I look forward to seeing the more of the wines from Montefalco Sagrantino, specifically from Tabarrinia. Bring on the Barbaresco’s, especially from producers like Produttori del Barbaresco and Dolcetto’s from Pecchenino. Love to run into some of other friends from Brunello di Montalcino; it has been a while since I was there last.

To meet Bill and learn more about where to find the best wines for their money, join the 300 other attendees at the International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy in January. If you are a wine producer bring along some wines for Bill to taste!

Italian Tradition Returns to Italy…Texas style!

Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo established the Messina Hof Winery in 1977, and Messina Hof is now the most awarded Texas wine in national and international competitions!  He is Chairman of the Texas Wine Industry Development Advisory Committee and Marketing chair for the Texas Wine Grape Growers Association, and she is an author of “Vineyard Cuisine” and lecturer at the Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management.  As Supreme Knight and Lady of Knights of The Vine, the Bonarrigo’s are well known nobility in the Texas Wine market, and the growing Messina Hof businesses are becoming more recognized to those outside of Texas and the US.

As one of the speakers at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference, we had the opportunity to speak with Bonarrigo about wine tourism in Texas and across the globe.  Below are Bonarrigo’s responses to our questions:

1.)  Paul, you were a speaker last year, welcome back!  As the 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Umbria, Italy this year, how do you view Italy as a wine destination?

Italy is the ultimate wine destination.  Wine and grape growing is everywhere. Italy has inspired  wine making and grape growing technology. Most of my wineries equipment was made in Italy. The food and wine experience of Italy is what has inspired Messina Hof Winery in my home state of Texas.

2.) You have been a part of Texas agriculture for years, can you talk about how Texas has evolved as a force to be reckoned with?

Texas has evolved from last in the USA in wine production when we began in 1977 .  Today Texas is 5th in the US and the fastest growing state in the US.  In 1977 we were one of 3 wineries and now we have 260 wineries in Texas.  Texan consumed less than 1 bottle of  wine per year in 1977.  Today Texans consume 11 bottles of wine per year. Our wine is now shipped to more than 32 states in the US.  In 2010 we had 250,000 visitors come to Messina Hof in Bryan Texas and we expect more than 300,000 visitors in our new winery in Fredericksburg, Texas.  The Texas wine  tourism is second only to Napa Valley.

3.)  At the conference, you will be talking about how to retain customers in a competitive tourism business, can you share a little bit about what it takes to turn visitors into long term customers?

At Messina Hof we retain customers by inviting participation in everything we do. Our belief is that all of our customers are part of our family. We offer an Ambassador  Program where our customers represent us at more than 200 tastings during the year.  Our customers help us pick and process the grapes.  Last year more than 2000 customers participated in harvest. We provide blending workshops, barrel tastings and tank tastings.

4.)  You have roots in Italy dating back six generations, what about Italy inspires you the most?

Italy inspires my creativity.  The land, the people and the charm of the Italian people stimulates my imagination. Italy is the perfect place to have a conference which brings people together from all over the world to promote food and wine.

5.) What is your favorite Italian wine and food pairing?

My favorite wine of Italy is Nero D’ Avola with Fettuccine Alla Carbonara.

Merrill Bonarrigo at IWINETC 2011Join the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference and network with Paul and Merrill and 200 – 300 more attendees. Paul and Merrilll will be delivering a talk at the Wine Tourism Conference on January 31‘s at 12:30, titled: Connecting with Visitors and Turning Them into Long Term Customers.

Wines of Italy Grand Tasting Hosted by Jane Hunt MW at IWINETC 2012

Master of Wine, Jane Hunt will be attending next year’s 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference in Perugia, Italy. Jane will be speaking about travel and wine tourism as well as hosting the ‘Wines of Italy Grand Tasting’ on Monday January the 30th at 17.30. A select number of Italian wines will be chosen for the tasting, promising a great evening to try some of Italy’s finest as well as a chance to mingle with leading wine and travel figures from around the world.

During Jane’s speech at the conference she will be looking to concentrate on contrasting how tours are conducted from different countries, examining what works and what doesn’t. She is hoping to share her global knowledge of wine-travel and tourism from her experiences around the world to help both new and old world wine region representatives.

Jane comes from a 34 year-strong background in the UK wine trade. She began as an English-speaking Assistant to Cantine Lungarotti of the famed Umbrian wine family in 1974 when she was living in Perugia from 1973 – 1976. After returning to the UK in 1977, Jane continued working in the wine trade from giving guided tours at Harvey’s Wine Museum to tutoring sherry tasting’s. During this time, Jane studied her way through the Wine Spirits Education Trust examinations, acquiring a number of scholarships on the way.

Jane achieved the ultimate professional wine qualification in 1985 to be one of the 289 (2011) Master’s of Wine in the world. This was followed by 9 months of travel for Jane, who acquired a job for Australian Brown Brothers, working in their UK offices.

In 2001, she began ‘Hunt & Coady Ltd’, a company which organizes wine tasting’s and events – including the annual ‘Definitive Italian Wine Tasting’ and ‘France Under One Roof’ held in London. The company is a joint venture between herself and Tina Coady, they work together to cover assignments throughout Chile, Argentina, France, Italy and Slovenia.

Jane is a permanent fixture on the Tuscany Panel at the Decanter World Wine Awards as a Regional Chairman and is currently living in Perugia. The International Wine Tourism Conference 2012 promises to be a highlight of the year with ‘The Wines of Italy Grand Italian Wine Tasting’ being one of the most popular fixtures on the program.

GranTourismo Power Couple to Reveal Essence & Soul of Wine Tourism in Italy

Lara Dunston and Terrence Carter of travel blog, GranTourismo!, are a globetrotting power couple. She captures the essence of a place with words and he uncovers its soul in photos. Together they focus on slow travel, living like locals and giving back to the communities they visit. 

Widely published in over 50 guidebooks, countless feature stories and tons of reviews, they have explored more than 60 countries since they first began their travels. As returning speakers and members of the Blogger/Media Fam Trp at 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy, we caught up with them about their favorite memories from last year, Umbria as a wine destination, and of course, some of Terrence’s favorite pictures.

1. Welcome back! Having been a part of the 2011 conference, what are some of your favorite memories and what are you most looking forward to this year?

We loved every moment of the 2011 Porto conference and the pre- and post-conference media trips to the Minho Valley and the Douro region, as you can see from our stories here: http://grantourismotravels.com/tag/portugal/ The highlight of the conference for us was Charles Metcalfe’s guided tasting of Portugal’s wines, which was essentially a grape-focused grand tour of the country. We knew – and had tried – very little vinho verde before the conference and we weren’t big port wine drinkers, so it really opened up a whole new world to us, and because of the range and depth of experiences we had, it wasn’t really a taster, but more an education. There were some fascinating speakers at the conference, but we also thought the very practical sessions by our fellow writer-bloggers such as Marcy Gordon and Thea Dwelle were terrific introductions to aspects of social media for wine tourism companies venturing into it for the first time. This year’s programme looks even better if that’s possible.

2. The 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Perugia, Italy, how do you view Umbria as a wine destination?

We’ve been travelling and writing on Italy for many years and there some areas we know intimately, like all the Northern Italian regions, such as Piemonte, Lombardia and the Veneto, and the south, such as Calabria, Sicilia and Puglia, but we’ve never been to Perugia and know little about wines from Umbria, so we’re really looking forward to discovering the grapes there, as we did in Portugal.

3. You have spent most of your life on the tourism and travel side of things, how did you get into wine and what is it about wine that excites you the most?

We got into wine in the late 1980s when we were living in Sydney, Australia, when we did a couple of wine appreciation courses and started to build a cellar based on trips to the Hunter Wine Region in NSW. We’re travel writers, and my husband Terence is also a pro-photographer, so a big part of what we write about – perhaps half – is food and wine. If someone’s writing about travel and they’re not interested in food and wine then they’re probably in the wrong business, because for most holidaymakers the most important and most enjoyable activity on a holiday is eating and drinking! I remember reading the results of a survey a major UK publisher conducted a few years ago and shared with their writers, and it showed that the number one thing a UK traveler loved to do when they travelled was sit in the sun with a glass of wine! The second most important thing was eat. Those were ahead of lazing on the beach and visiting important museums and iconic monuments.

4. Having traveled through many of the world’s wine producing regions, what advice do you have for other travelling wine lovers as far as tasting, touring and getting the most out of their visit?

Some wine regions have got their act together and are really well organized – such as the Australian wine regions, especially the Margaret River and Barossa Valley, all the South Australian wine regions in fact. They’re probably the best we’ve seen around the world when it comes to having a well set-up tourist office with loads of information and a variety of tours and activities on offer, and wineries with cellar doors that are nearly always open, so you can just drop in and embark on a series of free tastings or sit down for a wonderful lunch. The Cape Town wine regions are also very good, with wineries offering picnic lunches and cheese tastings with wine etc. In our experience, the Europeans don’t do it nearly as well – in Northern Italy, for instance, people need to phone up and make appointments to visit wineries and often they don’t have English speaking staff, and people just don’t want to deal with that when they’re on holidays. My advice is to do your research before you go away. Head to wine regions that are well organized with a tourism office and established wine routes with driving maps and brochures listing cellar doors and opening hours. Try to book accommodation at wineries for a fuller experience.   

5. Terence, vineyards can be such beautiful places and many beg to be photographed; having traveled so extensively, which wine regions/vineyards stand out to you in particular?

Cape Town’s wine regions are probably the most photogenic as they’re dotted with historic towns, the wineries themselves are very beautiful, also boasting historic architecture in many cases, and the towns and vineyards are set against dramatic mountains. If wine-loving photographers are planning to slip in some photography between tastings, my best tip would be to visit a region when there are grapes on the vines (bare vines aren’t very photogenic) and if they’re after action, go for harvest time.

6. To give our readers a taste of what’s to come, can you share a few of your favorite photographs from the conference last year?

Pop over to Grantourismo where we’ve got a handful of stories from last year’s conference and media/blogger trips with scores of gorgeous photographs: http://grantourismotravels.com/tag/portugal/

7. Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?

We’re big fans of big reds, and love a good Sangiovese, so looking forward to trying plenty of those. We’re also fond of Trebiano and Malvasia. We’ve heard a lot about the Sagrantino di Montefalco wines – even from sommeliers we’ve talked to here in Australia recently! – so keen to try those, the red as much as the pasito. If Jane Hunt’s tour is anything like Charles Metcalfe’s they’re all going to be wonderful!

Hear more about Lara and Terrence’s favorite travel and wine experiences at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy in January.

Wine Trail Traveller set to discover Campania & Umbria Cantinas

Travelling wine lovers, Terry and Kathy Sullivan of Wine Trail Traveler, have spent many years exploring, tasting and writing about different wines and regions across the world. Coming from careers in education, Terry and Kathy’s mission is to use what they learn to inspire and inform others to feel confident visiting wineries, asking questions and developing an appreciation for different wine cultures. Having tasted over 150 different varietals, they’re bringing their palates and experiences to the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy this January. In anticipation of their talk, we asked them about Italian wine, what they hope to bring back to their readers, and some of their favorite travel tips.

1.) The 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Perugia, Italy, how do you view Umbria as a wine destination?

We are in the process of researching this region for varietal grapes and wineries to visit. Last year we were introduced to Sagrantino by Claudio Salvador, owner of Firelands Winery in Sandusky, Ohio. Claudio also imports wines from Italy. Sagrantino is similar to a wine we were hoping to make. Terry likes the bold to outrageous tannins the grape offers. We made a blend of California Cabernet Sauvignon and Virginia Tannat just to create a bold tannin wine. We look forward to discovering different varietal grapes and wineries in the Umbria area. In addition to writing articles for each Umbrian winery visited, we would like to create a trip itinerary for wineries in Umbria. The itinerary can be used as a tool for wine travelers interested in visiting this wine region.

2.) You indicate on your website that you have visited Tuscany, what are your thoughts on Italian wine tourism so far and what are you most looking forward to learning in Umbria? We discovered that many wineries in Tuscany do not have an address that one can simply input into a GPS. Many just have the nearest town as an address. This caused us to work backward with our GPS. We found the approximate location of the winery on a map and told the GPS to take us there. Most of the time we were successful. We also learned that wine tasting at wineries in Tuscany has its similarities and differences than tastings in the United States. Those we visited required an appointment. Making an appointment requires research on the part of the traveler. There is a much higher use of fine stemware at the wineries we visited in Tuscany compared to the wineries in North America. In our articles about wineries in Umbria, we plan to provide the GPS coordinates as well as information about visiting the winery such as appointments. We are looking forward to meeting passionate wine people and learning about their stories. While spending two weeks at Mormoraia in San Gimignano we discovered the old next to the new. We observed large aged wine casks next to gleaming stainless steel tanks each with a touch screen monitor to control temperature. We enjoy the old and new approach to wine and will observe what methods are used in Umbria. We want to continue learning more about the use of wine and Italian food. Kathy read and wrote a review about the book My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy’s Undiscovered South and was fascinated. We are looking forward to finding such a relationship in Umbria. While in Tuscany we fell in love with the house wines being served at each table. Here in the States one typically reads the wine list and orders a bottle from the list. In Tuscany wine is treated as food, something that many in the States should learn. History of wine is fascinating and we hope to learn more about the “old ways” of making wine in Umbria, the history of wine in Umbria and the made varietal grapes of the region.

3.) Coming from long careers in education, how did you both first get into wine? What is it about wine that excites you most? And what steered you from the everyday consumer to the wine-professional? Our daughter, Erin, spent a semester in Aix-en-Provence where she learned about wine. She taught us the steps to structured tastings. We then attended a wine festival with the goal of selecting wines for our oldest son’s engagement party. We followed the structured tasting steps and selected several wines. Our selection proved to be a hit at the engagement party. From that point in 2004, we began to visit wineries to taste their portfolio of wines. In late 2006 we retired from our education careers. While visiting with a friend who is a professional with a doctorate degree, we talked about visiting wineries. We mentioned how enjoyable it was to winery tasting rooms. This professional responded that he would like to do that but was too intimidated to visit them because he wouldn’t know what to do. His statement became the tipping point and with our background in education we thought we could help encourage people to visit wineries and vineyards. We began writing articles about wineries visited in late 2006 and created the WineTrailTraveler.com site in January of 2007. Wine comes with a story. We love to hear the stories of owners and winemakers. One would think that we have heard every story possible after visiting 700 wineries and vineyards, but we still believe that everyone’s story is unique, so are their wines. As soon as we began to formally write about wine we wanted to increase our learning. We attended a local community college class that met for two evenings. The instructor provided a crash course on white wine one evening and red wine the second evening. We tasted ten different wines each night. Terry then took the Intermediate Level WSET course. Kathy learned along with Terry as studying for the exam proved to be much more intensive than the course itself. We also attended TEXSOM, the Texas Sommeliers Conference. There were five sessions that we attended with ten wines presented each session. The community college course, WSET and TEXSOM were similar in instruction. The instruction was heavy on geography and memorization of producers and grape varieties. However we thirst for different wine knowledge. We decided that in 2008 that if we were going to write about wine we should make wine. Since then we have made wine at home from kits, from juice and grapes. We made mead from scratch. In 2009, we made a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend with grapes at Tin Lizzie Wineworks in Maryland. The wine was aged for nine months in American oak before bottling in 2010. Also in 2009 we made a barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes at Vint Hill Craft Winery in Virginia. The wine was aged 20 plus months in new French oak. It was bottled in August of 2011. We are now in the process of making a Sauvignon Blanc, peach wine and raspberry melomel. Along with making wine, we took two online courses in wine from Washington State University. Actually making wine is exciting. Some of the wine we made is destined to be mulled during the winter or made into Sangria during the summer. We made some wine that passes as a good everyday wine. We also made wine that will be reserved for special occasions. Visiting and writing about wineries as well as making wine steered us from wine consumers to wine professionals.

4.) Your website outlines your travels through multiple wine regions in North America, Europe and New Zealand, what advice do you have for fellow traveling wine lovers? Kathy: Do your homework. Find out what the customs of the region are before you go. Do not compare wines with other regions. Let the wine speak for itself. Go with the flow. While language can be a barrier, wine is a commonality that brings people together. It is a wonderful experience learning how others enjoy wine and make wine. Terry: Ask questions. Realize that everyone is different and so are their likes and dislikes when it comes to wine. Just because you taste a wine doesn’t mean that you are going to like it. Form your own decision of what you smell and taste. Learn to identify wines you prefer to drink and those you would rather pass on drinking. Wine is very subjective and another person’s score of 92 may not be what you prefer. Travel, taste and drink. Travel to wine regions and visiting wineries is one of the potential avenues to wine knowledge. One can read about the wines and wineries of Umbria in a book, however, travel to wineries in Umbria offers a different experience and education. Fellow traveling wine lovers can start by visiting wineries close to home. Then extend the travel outside of their local area.

5.) Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?

Terry: I’m looking forward to Sagrantino and Tannat but also would like to taste little known varieties. I’m looking forward to tasting Grechetto, Moscatello, Moscato Bianco, Pinot Bianco, Procanico, Trebbiano, Aleatico, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Even though I made several Cabs, I like to try many different Cabs. Kathy: I will taste any wine with the exception of a wine produced with hot chili peppers. Yes, we have come across a hot chili pepper wine. It has a tendency to ruin any wine you drink after it. I enjoy red wines with food, white wines for a relaxing summer day and dessert wines, of course. Also, I am looking forward to tasting varieties I have not tasted before. We are both working on our second hundred wines for the Wine Century Club. Thus far we have tasted over 150 different grape varieties and like to experience different grape varieties while in Umbria.

To learn more about Terry and Kathy’s wine experiences, explore Italy and mingle with 300 other wine lovers, sign up for the International Wine Tourism Conference today!

L’Enoturismo è un business redditizio ed economicamente stabile

A giugno 2011 il Great Wines Capital Global Network ha diretto un progetto di ricerca di mercato intitolato Stabilità finanziaria e redditività dell’industria dell’enoturismo GWC. Hanno rivolto a circa 500 cantine nel mondo alcune interessanti domande come:

Quanto spende in cantina un enoturista? In Italia (Firenze) 200 USD, in Napa 188 USD

Quali sono i vantaggi più importanti per voi come territorio? 69% Branding, 62% Fatturato, 36% Occupazione.

Gli strumenti di promozione più efficaci sono gli uffici per il turismo, i Tour Operator e gli agenti di viaggio. Soltanto nel nuovo mondo si fa un grande utilizzo dei canali di social media. L’Europa investe ancora in materiale stampato che è invece in declino.

Tutti gli intervistati considerano l’enoturismo come economicamente redditizio ad eccezione per quelli di Firenze e Mendoza. Dall’altra parte il 100% delle cantine di Napa considerano l’enoturismo economicamente redditizio. Conclusione del sondaggio: I proventi dall’enoturismo rappresentano il 20% del reddito complessivo ma questa cifra non tiene conto delle vendite dei vini dopo le visite. L’enoturismo è uno strumento di marketing che dovrebbe essere integrato al 100% in un piano di marketing in quanto il suo impatto è importante per l’immagine di tutto il mondo. 

L’International Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop (IWINETC) 2012 si terrà nella città di Perugia (Umbria, Italia) dal 30 gennaio al 2 febbraio 2012. L’evento del prossimo anno vedrà di nuovo un programma di 3 giorni di convegno  con oltre 40 relazioni, un giorno di workshop per agenti e tour pre e post conferenza  nelle cantine della Campania, delle Marche, della Toscana e dell’Umbria. 

Programma del IWINETC

La Conferenza Internazionale sul Turismo del Vino è stata ed è tuttora il primo evento globale dedicato al settore del vino e dei viaggi, offrendo ai professionisti di tutto il mondo del vino, della gastronomia e dei viaggi un posto dove incontrare faccia a faccia e a viso a perto le opportunità di oggi sul vino e sui viaggi. E’ inoltre l’unico evento che ha una piattaforma dove vendere e comprare i servizi e i prodotti del turismo eno-gastronomico: Il Workshop del Turismo del Vino.

Organizzato da Wine Pleasures, l’evento di quest’anno consiste di cinque sessioni plenarie sulla questione del turismo del vino, come oltre 40 relazioni per introdurre e nutrire discussioni pratiche su un ampia scala di aspetti concernenti il turismo eno-gastronomico. Gli esperti di Social Media organizzeranno anche pratici workshops, che mireranno a connettere in maniera ottimale l’industria dell’enoturismo ai social media networks. 

Il convegno di tre giorni è strutturato in modo da incoraggiare l’acquisizione di competenze ed informazioni, lo scambio tra esperienza e competenza, e per favorire le opportunità di networking. Ogni giorno comprende un programma “Dopo Convegno” che consiste in degustazioni di vini e la sera, i partecipanti avranno l’occasione di cenare e bere del buon vino in varie location dell’Umbria. Lunedì 30 gennaio Jane Hunt Master di Vino e, che a volte risiede in Umbria, condurrà la Grande degustazione dei  vini d’Italia.

I partecipanti possono inoltre prendere parte a dei tour pre e post convegno che vedono in programma visite alle cantine di Orvieto, Montefalco e Torgiano alla scoperta del ricco patrimonio enologico dell’Umbria.

Il Workshop di un giorno consentirà che tour operators internazionali e agenti di viaggio incontrino privatamente i fornitori di prodotti enoturistici di tutto il mondo. Gli agenti partecipanti potranno completare il loro soggiorno con uno dei 3 viaggi di familiarizzazione da scegliere tra: Marche, Toscana o Umbria. Gli agenti ad oggi confermati arrivano da diversi posti degli Stati Uniti, California, NewYork e Florida sono ben rappresentati  Norvegia, Sezia, Germania, Inghilterra, e arrivano anche da Singapore, Filippine e Australia.

Dal 28 gennaio al 5 febbraio metteremo a disposizione dei Blogger e Media un pacchetto di 8 giorni di viaggio che comprenderà visite a cantine in Umbria e Campania.Tra i bloggers attentamente selezionati ci sarà la famosa rete televisiva di Hollywood  Celebrity Wine Review TV e molti bloggers chiave influenti nel settore dell’enoturismo 

Note per i Media

Sull’International Wine Tourism Conference and Workshop 

Fondata nel 2009 e tenuta annualmente, La Conferenza Internazionale sul Turismo del Vino è organizzata da Wine Pleasures, una società che offre servizi all’industria del vino e dei viaggi. L’annuale IWINETC riunisce professionisti del vino e dei viaggi di tutto il mondo per discutere, riflettere e sviluppare idee. Il programma del convegno offre molte opportunità per contatti professionali e sviluppi…  

La conferenza dell’anno corrente in Porto (Portogallo) ha attirato qualcosa come 250 partecipanti da più di 40 paesi.  Tour operator, agenti di viaggio, cantine, ristoranti, alberghi, Consigli e uffici del turismo, amministrazioni pubbliche, agenzie di in-coming, musei, giornalisti, blogger e fornitori di servizi complementari, erano tutti ben rappresentati durante l’evento.

Le quote per le iscrizioni anticipate per IWINETC 2012  sono di Euro 250. Dettagli ulteriori su tutto ciò che succederà IWINETC 2012  

Sponsors 

Lo sponsor principale del IWINETC 2012 è il Movimento Turismo del Vino. Altri sponsor sono l’Hotel Gio, il Comune di Perugia, la Regione Umbria, Vina Croatia e molte cantine, alberghi e ristoranti.

Wine & Technology to wed in Umbria with Big Pinots

David Lowe of the blog, Big Pinots, has successfully merged his two great passions: wine and technology, into a unique blog and career. After earning his WSET certification, he decided to combine his love of wine with his knowledge of social media and technology to create a unique platform for both winos and techies alike. He dishes about wine tasting iPhone apps, users experience on a website, and how the traditional world of wine can benefit from the latest technology.

As a speaker at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference and a member of the Blogger/Media Fam Trip in Italy, we caught up with David and asked him a few questions about the benefits of social media for the wine industry, who is doing it right and what he hopes to learn at the conference.

1. The 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Perugia, Italy, how do you view Umbria as a wine destination?

That Umbria is often overlooked in favour of its neighbour is something of its charm. I think of it as a region for people in the know; although I suspect that it would rather be like Tuscany. I got married in Umbria because we love the place so much: all the wine served at the wedding was from a vineyard near Panicale in Umbria [La Querciolana] and was superb. Unfortunately, we only managed to bring a couple of cases back with us and it’s all gone now.

2. Wine is usually associated with tradition not technology; in your opinion, how can technology benefit the wine industry?

I’m not a wine-maker, so I try not to get sucked into the tech vs nature debate in terms of production. But, as consumers, we are benefiting more and more from technology. Social tools, such as Twitter and Facebook, are allowing us to discuss wine with people which would have been prohibitively difficult in the past; it just wouldn’t have been possible to engage people like Tim Hanni, Randall Grahm and Jancis Robinson in conversation until these came about. Although many businesses claim to be using these technologies to benefit their customers, only a few truly are. It’s these businesses that will see loyalty and business growth in the future, whilst others will struggle.

Another noticable advancement, which I think is changing our interaction, is apps. I can now record a full tasting note using a bespoke tasting method, get recommendations for wines in a specific restaurant, and loads more, all on my phone. I think the future for lots of companies is augmented reality. This is where your phone’s camera shows you the image you’re looking at, but additional information is laid over the top of it. The wine industry has yet to get a handle on this, but I see huge potential, especially in terms of wine tourism.

However, I can’t stand it when companies jump into technology without considering what they actually want to achieve. They just end up with nonsense which makes the whole industry look bad. 

3. On that note, which wineries, retailers or other companies in the wine industry are doing it right with regards to technology? Who should we watch and learn from?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the one company in the UK that stands way out in front of others is Naked Wines. They have a fantastically loyal customer base that feels part of their venture because they nailed the social aspect of their business right from the start. I’ve got involved with them on a few occasions as I’m so impressed. They are truly innovative.

There are many other companies that have a good handle on social media, such as Bibendum and Majestic, but Naked is pushing technology through every pore of its business and is benefitting as a result.

4. What are you hoping to gain from the wine conference in Italy? What are you most excited to share?

I have managed to persuade one of the major brands that I work for to let us build some tour proposals in a workshop, and they have promised to review them upon my return. There are many companies offering wine-based holidays and tours, but I’m hoping that we can create something truly innovative and special for their customers. My dream is that the brand starts to offer wine-based tours as a result of what we produce at the conference. I’ve got some ideas of my own, and I’m very excited to see what we can generate in Perugia and how we can get it implemented afterwards.

5. Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?

I’m always happy to drink Barolo, Chianti, Prosecco, etc, but I’m hoping for something new that I’ve not drunk, or maybe even heard of, before. In 2006 I had a glass of Prosecco Passito that knocked my socks off – but I’ve never seen it since. It’s that kind of discovery that I’m hoping for. But, failing that, I’ll take a glass of Sassicaia!

Join us at the International Wine Tourism Conference to network with David and 300 other attending wine professionals.

Buggs & Waters to investigate Italian Wines for Minority Wine Report

Thaddeus Buggs and Jennifer Waters of the wine blog, Minority Wine Report, offer their readers an unpretentious, fun and honest look at the world of wine. Their goal is to expand their knowledge base and at the same time help others learn the ins and outs of wine. A fantastic resource for novices and connoisseurs alike, their website outlines wine basics, food and wine pairings, interesting winemakers, best value wines and upcoming events.

As speakers at the International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy and part of the Wine Blogger/Media Fam Trip, we caught up with Thaddeus and Jennifer about what they hope to learn in Perugia, what advice they have for those new to wine and which wines they’re most excited about now. 

1.) The 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Perugia, Italy, how do you view Umbria as a wine destination?

Umbria has long been overshadowed by its more famous neighbor Tuscany, but we see it going through a renaissance of sorts as new — and even more experienced wine enthusiasts — “discover” it and the fabulous wines produced there: Oriveto, Montefalco Sagrantino and Torgiano Rosso Riserva. 

2.) What experiences with wine are you most excited to share with fellow wine lovers in Italy, and what are you most looking forward to learning?

Thaddeus’s aha moment was when he tasted his first American merlot, loved it like none other he had ever tasted and delved right into merlots. “That’s where the love affair began,” he said.

For Jennifer, who had been drinking wine since her late teens — and much of it cheap then too! — it was a Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet in the mid-1990s that opened her eyes, and her nose and tongue, to the world of tannins and long, smooth finishes. “It was the first time I ever could understand what people meant when they said it had a “velvety finish,” she said “I wanted to know more about that!”

We are both most interested in really learning about the Umbrian region and what makes it so special and its wines so fine — something we want to share with our followers and friends. 

3.) How did you both first get into wine? What is it about wine that excites you most? And what wine region is next on your list to visit?

Thaddeus ventured into wine in his 20s when he tasted that first merlot. At the time, he had only minimal exposure to wine and that merlot opened the world of wine to him that has become his passion. What excites him about wine is that while it’s steeped in history and tradition, it’s forever changing. He’s an adventurous traveler who is looking forward to trying wines in Argentina and Chile.

Jennifer, like many in the 1980s, started drinking white zinfandels and chardonnays before her tastes became more developed, moving on to more robust reds. There was a time, in fact, when she refused to drink white wines, believing that reds were really the only “true wines. She’s since come to her senses about that and enjoys any number of whites. Having never been to Italy, she’s looking very forward to Perugia and mastering those bold Montefalco Sagrantinos.  

4.) What advice do you have for novices just getting into the crazy world of wine?

 Thaddeus says to just go for it. Jennifer, who has been introducing her 22-year-old daughter and her friends to wines, says you should never be intimidated by wine snobs or be afraid to talk about what you like, because what you like is what you like. Your tastes change over time and you should just enjoy the ride! 

5.) Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?

Jennifer’s looking forward to tasting and learning about all the Italian varieties that she’s not had the pleasure of tasting and learning about in their homeland. Thaddeus hopes to get a chance to sink his teeth into the Aglianico grape, which he believes is an “amazing grape that Americans need to know more about.”

Join us at the International Wine Tourism Conference to network with Mary and 300 other attending wine professionals.