Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo: Where Italian Tradition Meets Texan Attitude

Messina Hof Winery and the Bonarrigo family are where old world meets new world. Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo have been making wine in Texas since the 1970s, but the Bonarrigo winemaking tradition dates back to the 1800s when Paul’s family was making wine in Sicily.

That tradition was reborn in the United States when he and Merrill pioneered a viticultural experiment in the 1970s which set the foundation for the Texas wine industry as we see it today. From three wineries in the 70s to 250 today, that determination and excitement has spurred the Lone Star State on to become the 5th largest wine producer in the United States.

In anticipation of the Bonarrigo’s upcoming presentation at the International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy, we talked with Paul about going back to Italy, Texan wine tourism and how his family has developed Messina Hof into the most awarded Texas winery in domestic and international competitions.  

1. 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?

Last year every winery, restaurant and lodging could not have been nicer.  Texas means friendly, I could not have been more surprised how everyone was so friendly.  I have been to Europe many times. Wine and Food people know the hospitality industry. 

2. Italy is known as a land of great wine, but for you Paul, it’s also the land of your forefathers; what are you looking forward to most in Italy?

As an Italian American who grew up in a very ethnic area of the Bronx, there was only one type of wine consumed: Italian and Home Produced. Every time I return to Italy I feel the warmth of the people and the common bond of ethnic customs.  Italy has so many wines that are not known in America.  There are so many grapes that I am not familiar with.  Perugia is an area of Italy I have not been and I am looking forward to visiting the area and meeting the people. 

3. You host wine and travel lovers all the time at your hotel and winey; what advice do you have for people travelling and tasting through wine regions?

When people travel thru a new area it is so important to take many pictures and many notes.  When you complete a wonderful trip those pictures remind you of those fabulous memories.  In Italy it is important to know what grapes grow best in that area. Some wines are blended and some are not. The interaction of the grape blends and the pairing with the regional foods enhance the regional cuisine. 

4. Texas is not the first place people think of for wine, but from reading your blog, it appears to have played a huge role in the industry. What should we know about the history, wines and wine tourism in the Lone Star State?

Texas wine began in 1640 when the Spaniards established missions and planted grapes. In 1977 Messina Hof was part of a great experiment planting 50 varietals in 13 locations throughout Texas. There were 3 wineries in 1977, now we have 250 wineries in Texas. Texas is 5th in wine production in the USA. Messina Hof is distributed in Texas and 8 other states.  We produce 100,000 cases. 

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

In Jane Hunt’s wine tasting, I am looking forward to new grape varietals, new techniques and new blends. 

Join the 2012 International Wine and Tourism Conference this January in Italy and network with Paul, Merrill and 2-300 more attendees.

Melba’s Wine Discoveries and Travels heading to Italy

Melba Allen, of the wine blog Melba’s Wine Discoveries and Travels, is one of the leading women in the wine industry today. Originally from Texas, her love affair with wine began when she was living in Paris as a young model and discovered that she had an incredibly acute palate and sensory memory. Her interest in wine grew into a career and she has spent the majority of her adult life living and working in the wine industry in France.

A member of the Union des Sommeliers de France, Melba has earned a ‘Sommelier Conseil’ diploma from the University du Vin of Suze-la-Rousse and an advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust of London. In addition to her own studies, she teaches others at the European International Management Institute in Paris.

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 Melba and asked her what she is most excited to learn, what it’s like being a part of the of the French wine industry and what advice she has for wine travelers to France.  

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

Although I’ve been to Tuscany, Veneto and Naples, Umbria is a region in which I’ve only read about and have yet to visit. I’ve heard and read many great things about the food and the people and am looking forward to discovering them and their wines so that I can better share my experiences with my public.

What experiences with wine are you most excited to share at the conference in Italy, and what are you most looking forward to learning?

I’ve not tried the Orvieto whites nor the Rosso di Montefalco, so both of these styles of wines are high on my list of things to experience and learn more about…

Living and working in France, you are surrounded by legendary chateaus and wines on a daily basis. When you’re not working, what other wine destinations to you like to travel to?

Living and working in the Wine Industry in France is great. Most of the people we meet are very kind and passionate about what they do. That passion is very contagious and passes quite freely from the winemaker to whoever is listening. We tend to work mostly on a daily basis with small Domains because of their availability, meaning that you can always find a family member ready to talk with you. We particularly like working with Family owned properties where everyone in the family is involved from A to Z. Because of the many years of hard work and constant self-doubt, I usually try to focus my blogs on many of these smaller Properties. Houses like Michel Picard here in Burgundy, or Château de la Gardine of Châteauneuf-du-Pape of Château de Clapier of Luberon in the Southern Rhône, to Château Charmail, Haut Médoc in Bordeaux and Domaine Cazes in Rousillon.

When we are not working, we organize approximately once every two months either at our house or the neighbors, tastings of wines coming from all over the world. Our neighbors and friends are happy, because that get to travel with us through the wine that they taste. We’ve had wine coming from the Penedès in Spain, to the Hill country of Texas. This is fun, because everyone gets to participate by bringing a wine that they find interesting and where we all taste blindly. After the tasting, we then sit down to dinner together to finish off the bottles during a delicious meal. I don’t blog about this because it is very personal and some of the people are quite sensitive to having their life story published for everyone to read. But one day, I will probably write a fiction about these very special moments.

For many people, tasting and touring through France is the apex of wine travel. What advice do you have for wine travellers visiting France?

My advice to Wine travelers in France is because each wine region is so completely different; don’t try to do all the regions at once. Take the time to enjoy each region one at a time, even if it means that you will probably have to come back.

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

As mentioned before, being that I have very little knowledge of these wines, the Orvieto whites and the Rosso di Montefalco for starters. But if there are indigenous grapes of good quality, I would be very interested in discovering them too!

Sign up for the International Wine Tourism Conference today and network with Melba and 300 other attendees.

Wine lover Diane Letulle to add Italy to her wine & travel – based memoir

Diane Letulle of the wine blog, Wine Lover’s Journal, has been blogging about her wine travels for over four years. During that time, she has taken readers along on her journey through wine regions in France, Tokaji and Canada.

In addition to blogging about wine travel, Diane earned her Advanced Certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and teaches regional wine and food pairings at a local adult school. She stays actively involved in the wine community through joining groups like Women for Wine Sense and the American Wine Bloggers Conference. Currently, she is compiling all of her experiences into a wine and travel-based memoir.

As one of the speakers at the upcoming International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy, we had a chance to speak to Diane about her wine travels, her memoir and her recent visit to the Wine Bloggers Conference. 

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

I feel that Umbria is an exciting destination that offers wines of excellent quality and relatively good value compared to more popular Italian regions.  I discovered some of Umbria’s wines at the Vino 2011 event in New York City this past winter and was fascinated by Sagrantino di Montefalco. As a tourist destination, I have heard that Umbria offers much of the same beautiful landscape and delicious cuisine that makes Tuscany so popular – but without the crowds—making it an ideal “next big thing” in Italian tourism. I will be excited to tour and taste these wines and then to share the knowledge of them with an American audience through articles as well as wine classes. 

Of your multiple trips to Europe, how does the winemaking and viticultural practices compare to those in the United States? 

The winemakers of Europe have by and large mastered the challenge of terroir. With two thousand years experience, they know what grows well, where.  Nothing is as amazing as viewing the vineyards on Burgundy’s Cote d’Or and observing how the vines are planted to take advantage of every bend in the sloping soil.  In America, our newer vineyards are often planted with grapes that are popular, rather than the best grapes for the climate and geography.  For example, Cabernet Sauvignon is being planted where Chambourcin would do better.  Viticultural practices are still being refined, new areas are being planted–it’s still an age of experiment in much American winemaking.  Europeans know what grapes to grow and, in many areas, have taken advantage of advanced winemaking techniques to improve traditional wines. 

According to your blog, you’re writing a wine and travel memoir. What is the most important thing you’ve learned from your experiences that others interested in wine travel should know?

As an author who has traveled throughout Europe’s top wine regions, my advice is to travel to the region that grows what you love.  If you are a fan of Chianti, then, by all means, plan a trip to Tuscany.  If you love Riesling, explore the Mosel.  Every wine producing area in Europe offers traditional local cuisine that pairs with these regional wines, as well as cultural and historic attractions that are fascinating to Americans.  Travelers who follow this advice are sure to have a wonderful wine vacation. 

You also indicate in your blog that you traveled to the American Wine Bloggers Convention. What have you taken away from this conference that will be beneficial at the upcoming conference in Italy?

My IWINETC presentation is a comparison between American and European wine tourism. During the North American Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia, I was able to tour vineyards and tasting rooms in a part of America that I had never visited before. These small regional tasting rooms offer a different experience than what is available in Napa and Sonoma, for example. The experience of visiting smaller American wineries will amplify the presentation I will give at the International Wine Tourism Conference. 

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

At the grand tasting, I hope that Jane Hunt, MW will lead us through wines from a variety of regions.  From the great Nebbiolos of Piedmont to the Nero D’Avolas of Sicily, I am looking forward to enjoying wines that I know and treasure as well as discovering many hidden gems. For me, this is the joy of Italian wine: there are so many great wines that are loved the world over and so many unknown varieties and regions that are like mining gold – providing secret treasures for wine lovers.  In addition, I look forward to hearing about the tourism opportunities in all of these areas. 

Join the International Wine Tourism Conference for a chance to Meet Diane, as well as 300 of her peers in Italy this January.

Top wine travel writer, Marcy Gordon comes back for the wine

Marcy Gordon of the wine and travel blog, Come for the Wine, spent years exploring the world as a travel writer and marketing professional. In addition to her published travel works, the self-proclaimed reader, writer, eater and traveler, shares her experiences with wine and cultures around the world.

A returning speaker at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy and a member of the Blogger/Media Fam Trip, we asked her about her favorite memories from the conference last year, what advice she has for fellow wine travelers, and what she hopes to learn this year. 

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

The entire Portugal trip was exceptional, but the best memory is celebrating my birthday on the Douro with great new friends and a few wonderful old Ports. Plus the folks at Quinta do Pego made me a birthday cake that was amazing and quite a surprise.

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

Umbria has incredible wine regions that are finally getting the attention they deserve. Also Umbria is a perfect place to discover many regional foods and, of course, the wonderful olive oil.

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 most?

My background is in consumer marketing and I worked positioning start-ups including Travelocity and OpenTable. My love of travel and writing led me to work in publishing and I was co-editor of the Authentic Italy guidebook series for the Touring Club of Italy. I started a wine blog three years ago to learn more about wine and share my travel experiences in different wine regions. In my view, wine is the very essence of a place, it’s truly travel in a bottle. The first place I go when I travel somewhere new is the wine areas of the region.

4. Having traveled all over the world and explored many of its wine regions, what advice do you have for fellow traveling wine lovers?

Take the time to linger in the vineyards and really get a feeling for the landscape. It’s what makes each region unique. Also avoid wearing white shirts, dark colors are best when wine tasting and leave room in your bag to bring home wine!

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

I am a fan of Umbrian Sagrantinos and Merlots, so would be nice to see some of those. Also hope to see some varietals from lesser known regions.

Early bird registration for the 4th International Wine Tourism Conference 2012 is now open! Register here

Master of Wine, Jane Hunt to host Italian Wine Tasting at IWINETC 2012

On Monday evening, January 30th Jane will present an hour and half long tasting on Italian wine within the context of the International Wine Tourism Conference. Her aim is both educate on the myriad styles of Italian wine and its intricate relationship with Italian wine tourism.  As Italy is still an undiscovered jewel for many wine tourists, Jane will do her very best to enlighten us as to the wide range of wines and destinations within Italy.

In July 2011, Jane Hunt completed 34 years working in the UK wine trade. A serendipitous introduction to wine occurred in 1974 when she was employed as an ‘English-speaking’ assistant by Cantine Lungarotti in Torgiano, Umbria in Italy – a role she occupied for some 2 years.  (She lived in Perugia, Italy from January 1973 – April 1976). 

An opportunity to develop a future in the wine trade occurred in July 1977 when she joined the PR Department of John Harvey & Sons Ltd in Bristol giving guided tours of the Harvey’s Wine Museum and tutoring sherry tastings.  During this period, Jane Hunt studied her way through all the WSET examinations from Certificate to Diploma gaining the Madeira Shippers’ Scholarship for 1981.  An internal move to the Wine Department within Harvey’s offered greater opportunities to learn about wine.  The Vintners’ Company Scholarship was awarded to JH in 1981, which permitted three months travel and study in France and Germany. 

In 1982, JH took on a role as retail buyer for Annabel’s Wine Cellars.  This developed into a position as buyer for the group of four André Simon shops in central London.  JH achieved a pass in the Master of Wine examination in 1985. 

Nine months of world travel ensued including a period of employment in Australia with Brown Brothers in Victoria.  JH continued to work for Brown Brothers via their agents in the UK, Walter Siegel & Co. Ltd on her return. 

From 1987 – 1991, JH was employed as Sales & Marketing Director for Paul Boutinot Wines.  This period saw the company though a period of significant growth.  

From 1992 – 1995, JH operated on a ‘freelance’ basis during which time she wrote a monthly column for House and Garden, co-ordinated and lectured wine courses for Leith’s School of Food and Wine, wrote copy for wine lists, leaflets etc. for Sainsbury’s, Bottoms Up and Wine Rack, supplied purchasing strategy plans for Wine Cellar, lectured for Christies Wine Courses, acted as wine guide for Arblaster and Clarke Wine Tours – amongst many other activities. 

In 1995 JH set up and ran ‘Wines of South Africa’, the inaugural UK based generic promotional body for South African wines after the historic transition of power to the ANC and the subsequent election of Nelson Mandela to President. Her assistant during this time, Tina Coady, is now her business partner in Hunt & Coady. 

During a two-year career break 1999 – 2001 she completed a Higher National Diploma in Horticulture and Crop Technology. 

Since 2001, she operates ‘Hunt & Coady Ltd’ in a 50/50 arrangement with her business partner, Tina Coady, where activities are concentrated on organising wine trade tastings and events.  H & C has worked variously with Chile, Argentina, France and Italy (Alto Adige Wine Promotion & Gambero Rosso) in this respect in recent years and continues to work in greater measure with Italy and Argentina at present.  In 2010, H & C worked for the first time with Slovenia. 

H & C own and run the annual ‘Definitive Italian Wine Tasting’ (13th year in 2011) and ‘France Under One Roof’ (10th year in 2011) tastings in London. 

JH is a Regional Chairman for Italy (Tuscany Panel) for the Decanter World Wine Awards and, when time permits, escorts wine tours to Italy for Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours.

In July we caught up with Jane at her home in Umbria and we interviewed her on the topic of becoming a Master Of Wine

Conferenza Internazionale sul Turismo del Vino e Workshop 2012

La Conferenza Internazionale sul Turismo del Vino e Workshop 2012 si terrà nella città di Perugia (Umbria, Italy) dal 30 gennaio al 2 febbraio 2012. L’evento sarà caratterizzato di nuovo da tre giorni di conferenza in cui ci saranno più di 40 relatori ed un giorno di work-shop per gli agenti di settore prima di partire alla scoperta della Campania, Marche, Toscana e Umbria

Programma della Conferenza 

La Conferenza Internazionale Turismo del Vino è stata ed è ancora il primo evento mondiale dedicato al settore del vino e dei viaggi, offrendo un luogo  ai professionisti del vino, della gastronomia e dei viaggi da tutto il mondo, dove incontrarsi di persona e affrontare apertamente il vino di oggi e le opportunità di viaggio. E’ anche l’unico evento che ha una piattaforma per comprare e vendere vino, prodotti del turismo gastronomico e servizi correlati – il Workshop sul Turismo del Vino.

Organizzato da WIne Pleasures, l’evento di quest’anno sarà composta da cinque sessioni plenarie sulla questione del turismo del vino, così come da più di 40 relazioni mirate a generare e nutrire discussioni pratiche su una vasta gamma di aspetti legati al vino e al turismo gastronomico. Gli esperti di social media dimostreranno anche workshop pratici, che si concentreranno su come avere un business nel turismo del vino ben connesso  ai social media network.

La conferenza di tre giorni è strutturata in modo da favorire l’acquisizione di abilità e di informazioni, lo scambio di competenze ed esperienze, e in modo da promuovere le opportunità di networking. Ogni giornata prevede un “dopo Convegno” con un programma composto da degustazioni di vini e, la sera, i delegati avranno la possibilità di bere e mangiare nella città di Perugia e nei suoi dintorni. I delegati possono anche partecipare a tutti i programmi dei tour Pre e Post – Conferenza costituiti da visite a cantine di Orvieto, Montefalco e Torgiano per scoprire il ricco patrimonio enologico dell’Umbria

Il workshop di un giorno sul turismo del vino è per tour operator internazionali e agenzie di viaggio, perché possano avere incontri privati con  fornitori di turismo del vino di esperienza provenienti da tutto il mondo. Gli agenti che parteciperanno completeranno il loro soggiorno con una dei tre “fam trip” tra cui scegliere: Marche, Toscana o Umbria. 

Dal 28 gennaio al 5 febbraio metteremo di nuovo  a disposizione un pacchetto di 8 giorni di viaggio per i  Blogger / Media Fam, che comprende visite alle cantine in Umbria e Campania.

Note per i Media 

Sulla Conferenza Internazionale sul turismo del vino e il workshop

Fondata nel 2009 e tenuta annualmente, la Conferenza Internazionale Turismo del Vino e Workshop è organizzato da Wine Pleasures, una società che offre servizi per l’industria del vino e dei viaggi. L’annuale IWINETC riunisce i professionisti del vino e di viaggi di tutto il mondo per discutere, riflettere e sviluppare idee. Il programma della conferenza offre molte opportunità di contatto professionale e di sviluppo

La conferenza di quest’anno a Porto (Portogallo) ha attirato circa 250 partecipanti provenienti da più di 40 paesi. Tour operator, agenti di viaggio, aziende vinicole, ristoranti, alberghi, agenzie e uffici del turismo, amministrazioni pubbliche, agenzie di in-coming, musei, giornalisti, blogger e fornitori di servizi complementari sono stati tutti ben rappresentati nella manifestazione. 

La quota delegato per le prenotazioni anticipate per il IWINETC 2012 è di €195. Maggiori informazioni su quanto accadrà disponibili su:IWINETC 2012 


Lo sponsor principale del IWINETC 2012 è il Movimento Turismo del Vino. Altri sponsor saranno l’Hotel Giò, Comune di Perugia Turismo, Regione Umbria e molte cantine, alberghi e ristoranti.

Le aziende o le organizzazioni interessate a sostenere la Conferenza Internazionale Turismo del Vino 2012 e l’ Workshop possono contattare gli organizzatori all’indirizzo: o consultare la pagina sponsorship opportunities

International Wine Tourism Conference 2012 Shaping Up

The 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop (IWINETC) will be held in Perugia (Umbria, Italy) from January 30 – February 02, 2012. Next year’s event will again feature a three-day conference programme with over 40 talks, a one-day workshop for agents and pre-and post tours to wineries in Campania, Marchè, Tuscany and Umbria. 

IWINETC Programme  

The International Wine Tourism Conference is the first ever global event dedicated to the wine and travel sector, providing a place for wine, culinary and travel professionals from the around the world to meet face to face and openly address today’s wine and travel opportunities. It is also the only event which has a platform to buy and sell wine and culinary tourism related products and services – the Wine Tourism Workshop. 

Organised by Wine Pleasures, this year’s event will consist of five plenary sessions addressing key areas on wine tourism , as well as over 40 talks to generate and nurture practical discussion about a wide range of aspects related to wine and culinary tourism. Social Media experts will also host hands-on workshops, which will focus on getting wine tourism businesses better connected on the social media networks. 

The three-day conference is structured to encourage the acquisition of skills and information, the exchange of expertise and experience, and to foster networking opportunities. Each day includes an “After Conference” schedule consisting of wine tastings and in the evening, delegates have the chance to wine and dine in and around Perugia. Delegates can also participate in Pre-Conference and Post Conference tour programmes consisting of visits to wineries in Orvieto, Montefalco and Torgiano to discover Umbria’s rich oenological heritage. 

The one-day Wine Tourism Workshop is for international tour operators and travel agents to hold private meeting with wine tourism experience providers from around the world. Participating agents will complement their stay with one of three Fam Trips to choose from: Marchè, Tuscany or Umbria. 

From January 28th  – February 5thwe will again feature a packed 8 day Blogger/Media Fam Trip which will include visits to wineries in Umbria and Campania. 

Notes for Media 

About the International Wine Tourism Conference and Workshop 

Founded in 2009 and held annually, the International Wine Tourism Conference and Workshop is organised by Wine Pleasures, a company which offers services to the wine and travel industry. The annual IWINETC brings together wine and travel professionals from around the world to discuss, reflect and develop ideas. The conference programme offers many opportunities for professional contact and development. 

This year’s conference in Porto (Portugal) attracted some 250 participants from more than 40 countries. Tour operators, travel agents, wineries, restaurants, hotels, tourists boards and offices, public administrations, in-coming, museums, journalists, bloggers and complementary service providers were all well represented in the event.  

Early bird Delegate fees for IWINETC 2012 are €195. Full details about everything happening at IWINETC 2012 


The IWINETC 2012 premium sponsor is the Movimento Turismo del Vino. The Hotel Gio, Comune di Perugia Turismo, Regione Umbria and many wineries, hotels and restaurants are also providing sponsorship. 

Companies or organisations interested in supporting the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference and Workshop should contact the organisers at: or visit IWINETC sponsorship opportunities.

Further info 

Anthony Swift
T. 0034 93 897 70 48
Skype: winepleasures


Call for Papers

The 4th Annual International Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop 2012 Italy jointly organized by Wine Pleasures and the Movimento Turismo del Vino, with the support of several public and private entities is a professional get together of a large number of wine and travel professionals from around the world to share, discuss, reflect on and develop their ideas and at the same time foster wine tourism worldwide. Dates are 30th Jan – 2nd Feb. The event will be held in the beautifully preserved medieval town of Perugia located in Italy’s green heart – Umbria. The Wine & Jazz themed Hotel Giò will be the venue for the Conference talk prog.

The conference format will include themed sessions, interactive workshops, panel discussions and special interest symposiums. The conference programme will also provide excellent networking opportunities as well as a chance for wine and travel professionals to get acquainted with the latest in wine, food, travel and services at a large resources exhibition.

Call for Papers

If you would like to submit a talk to be included in the Conference programme please complete the Speaker Proposal Form. Deadline to receive proposals is 30 September 2011.

Early Bird Delegate Registration Open

As every year, the conference will provide superb education, socializing, relaxation, fun and loads of wine to taste. We are looking forward to seeing you all again. Registration is now open and we strongly recommend that the delegates register early and take advantage of the early bird registration – offer ends 30th June!. To register please complete a Registration Form.

Wine Tourism Workshop

The Workshop is a unique event which enables wine tourism experience providers to meet international tour operators and travel agents specialized in wine and culinary tourism in a business meeting format. Providers and Agentsvalue the workshop as it is the only international event which specializes in the buying and selling of wine tourism products in a one stop cost effective setting.


Perugia to Host the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference

The 3rd International Wine Tourism Conference and Workshop closed last week, following a great week of, business, meetings, networking, talks, winery visits and wine tastings.

This year’s edition attracted 173 delegates from over 30 countries. New countries to have representation included Argentina,Austria, Brazil, Croatia, Latvia, India and South Africa, The number of tour operators and travel agents specialized in wine and culinary tourism was 45 reflecting a 30% increase on last year and total attendance including bloggers, exhibitors, speakers, traditional media, wine experience providers reached 326, a 46% increase on 2010 event held in Spain (unaudited figures). 40 talks were delivered over the 3 days of the conference. Hosted Travel Tour Operators and travel agents at the workshop undertook more than 810 Pre scheduled appointments, 66% increase on 2010 (subject to final confirmation). 12 businesses participated as exhibitors which is 100% increase on 2010.

Pre and post tours for bloggers, delegates and hosted buyers took place in a week that saw some fine sunny and mild weather in regions visited such as the Minho and Douro.

Many new features were launched at this year’s event to include a Grand wine tasting of Portuguese wines, hosted by Charles Metcalfe, Social Media Clinic for wine and tourism related businesses, a blogger/media trip, wines and tastings from Italy, Portugal, Spain, Texas and Turkey and Chefs from the same countries preparing traditional dishes for delegates. Anyone who didn’t attend can view eight days worth of event news on the Wine Pleasures site and on the Facebook page and will be able to see view the Speaker’s notes and presentations as well at a later date. Twitter hashtag for the event was #iwinetc. iPhone fans were also able to install an application for the event which delegates found useful – WTC 2011

Also new was the auction of the programme cover painting done by Gabriela Gonçalves. Victor Marques of Douro based Vitoria Koi was the highest bidder at 250 Euros and this will be donated to Novo Futuro, Lisboa who care for homeless children.

Other highlights included over Olive oil tasting (Tras Os Montes), port and wine matching (Sogevinus), the Great Spanish Wine Quiz evening (hosted by Celebrity Wine Review TV and wines provided by Ferré I Catsús) and dinners in venues around Porto and Gaia.

We would like to recognise Taylor’s Port and The Yeatman Hotel for being our premium sponsors and Sogrape Vinhos for their silver sponsorship and to all of the 30 + sponsors who have help 2011 Portugal prove to be a huge success. Also to our local DMC company (DOC-DMC) for their hard work.

The 4thInternational Wine Tourism Conference and Workshop will take place 30 January – 2 February 2012 in Perugia, Umbria, Italy. Our Premium sponsor is the Movimento Turismo del Vino.