Basque Country to host the 2019 edition of IWINETC 

The finale of the second day of IWINETC 2018 saw a delegation from the Basque Country (Euskadi) take the stage as it took over the IWINETC reins from the Budapest team that more than lived up to reputation of fine Hungarian hospitality.

An enthusiastic audience welcomed the official announcement that the Euskadi-Basque Country will be the host and destination for the 2019 edition of IWINETC. Alfredo Retortillo, Minister of Tourism, Trade and Consumer Affairs, Euskadi-Basque Country, whet participants palates with a taste of what to expect. He highlighted the fact that Euskadi-Basque Country has the highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants on the planet, with 31 packed into a relatively small area that can be traversed in just two hours and is home to two million inhabitants.

The conference action of the 2019 edition of edition of IWINETC will take place in the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz on March 12-13 in the stunningly designed Palacio de Congressos. The city’s mayor, Gorka Urtaran, was one of the delegation members to make it over to Budapest.There will also be two days of excursions into Rioja Alavesa, the Rioja sub-region that lies in the Basque Country.

Rioja Alavesa is the smallest of the three Rioja sub-regions but it is very much a case of small is beautiful. It is noted for its excellent wines, as well as for its picturesque landscapes, delicious food and ground-breaking winery architecture. The latter includes the remarkable Marques de Riscal Hotel by Frank Gehry, who put the Basque Country on the architectural map with his design of Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum. There’s a strong resemblance between these two landmark buildings. Another contemporary classic is the wonderfully wavy Bodegas Ysios, designed by Santiago Calatrava. A further masterpiece of modern architecture in Rioja Alavesa is the glass box structure of Bodgeas Baigorri, built and designed by Basque architect Iñaki Aspiazu.

Rioja Alavesa lies above the River Ebro and is the northernmost of the three sub-regions with its vineyards typically located at high altitudes, making for cooler climatic conditions to the rest of Rioja. A tasting of Rioja Alavesa’s mainly red wines (although there was also one white from made from the Viura grape) at IWINETC revealed the trademark cool classiness associated with this part of Rioja. Incidentally, Rioja Alta is also home to seven producers of Txacoli. This über fruity dry white, which is often slightly sparkling, is fast gaining attention on the international stage and will also feature in IWINETC 2019. Stand by for further bulletins as the programme for 2019 is prepared. Over to the Basque Country for what will be the 11th edition of IWINETC!

Robert Smyth

Robert Smyth is a Budapest-based wine journalist, writer and communicator. He is the author of Hungarian Wine: A Tasting Trip to the New Old World (Blue Guides, 2015). He has been been covering wine for more than 15 years and writes on Hungarian and international wine for the Budapest Business Journal (BBJ),, VinCE Magazin and Wine Connoisseur,  among others. He’s also served as deputy editor of the Circle of Wine Writer’s Update and edited David Copp’s Wines of Hungary and contributed to the same author’s Tokaj: a companion for the bibulous traveller. He holds the WSET Diploma and Advanced certificates from London’s Wine and Spirit Education Trust, run tastings for Tasting Table and also guide tours for Taste Hungary. He regularly judges at Hungarian and international competitions and also translates wine text from Hungarian to English.


….and that was IWINETC 2018 Hungary

The 10th anniversary of IWINETC was a truly memorable edition with three awesome days packed full of education, business, and networking.

A big thank you to the team at the Hungarian Tourism Agency who made the event such a huge success.

Before we get going on the 2019 edition of IWINETC in the Basque Country, we’d first like everyone to have a look at our pick of the highlights from IWINETC 2018 Hungary. Check out our video below and if you attended you might spot yourself enjoying the #iwinetc!

Here’s to a fantastic IWINETC 2019!

What a Fantastic IWINETC!

The IWINETC 10TH Anniversary has been just great….

IWINETC 2018 has now closed. A whole year of planning resulted in a truly memorable event for all involved. We wanted to thank all participants for taking the time to attend, and a special mention goes to our Premium Sponsor, The Hungarian Tourism Agency and to all of their partners and sponsors for their continuous support.

Here are a few facts and figures:

  • 307 international industry professionals representing 29 different countries.
  • 860 one to one meetings took place at the Wine Tourism B2B Workshop between trade providers and agents from around the world
  • Over 12 networking opportunities in only 3 days
  • Over 300 unique attendees to 23 conference talks, panels discussions and workshops in just 2 days
  • 3 Fam Trips for Agents and Media to 6 different wine regions each with an intense programme of 10 visits to wine tourism experience providers such as accommodation, museums, restaurants and wineries.
  • 2019 will see IWINETC travel to Spain’s Basque Country on the 12 and 13 March in the Palacio de Congreso, Vitoria- Gasteiz

A big thank you to all attendees who made the journey to be with IWINETC 2018 Hungary.

Here’s to a fantastic IWINETC 2019!




IWINETC Highlights day 3

It’s been another fantastic day at IWINETC 2018! Outstanding destinations, unique wineries and innovative trade suppliers from diverse grape escape destinations such as Armenia, Bulgaria, Champagne, Czech Republic, Italy, Moldova, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay and of course  hosts, Hungary came together at the IWINETC B2B Wine Tourism Workshop to meet international Tour Operators and Agents with a specific focus on wine tourism in their business.

The B2B Workshop was held in the The Pesti Vigadó Concert Hall located on the Danube embankment in the heart of the capital city of Hungary, with its imposing building and magnificence. Built in 1865 and designed by Frigyes Feszl, Vigadó used to house decisive cultural and social events of its age it proved to be the perfect choice for the best business and best networking.

Meanwhile a number of conference delegates went out of town to discover Eger as a grape escape destination. Eger is the home of the celebrated Egri Bikavér (Bull’s Blood) – a blend of local red grape varieties such as Kékfrankos, Kadarka and international ones such as Pinot Noir and Cabernets. Tour highlights include blending your own cuvée of Bikavér, 3 visits to the best vintners in the Eger region, lunch in Eger followed by climbing up a cobblestoned road to Eger Castle where you can get the best view of the beautiful baroque architecture of the city of Eger.

The evening saw agents head off on a 3 day Fam Trip to discover Hungary as a grape escape destination with one group heading north of the River to Eger and Tokaj and the other heading south to Szekszárd and Villány.

IWINETC Highlights day 2

It’s been another great day at IWINETC 2018 Hungary . Here are just a few highlights…

  • The Theme “Deliciously Hungary” was taken to a higher level at yesterday’s networking evening at the Lázar Equestrian Park Horse Show, Dinner and Tasting.
  • The Conference Programme began with a plenary session led by Paul Richer, Travel in the Digital World giving delegates food for thought for the future in the wine travel industry. Back by popular demand saw Robin Shaw and Judith Lewis each deliver two outstanding talks of immediate practical use. The day finished with the official announcement that the Basque Country will be the host and destination for the 2019 edition of IWINETC and this was well received by the audience. Then followed a presentation from Alfredo Retortillo, Minister of Tourism, Trade and Consumer Affairs, Euskadi-Basque Country who gave us a taste of things to come.
  • The Exhibition area proved once again very popular with conference delegates providing the chance to discover diverse grape escape destinations and wines from not only hosts Hungary but also from different destinations in and around Europe

The Networking evening was varied with many delegates opting for a wine tasting dinner at the Budapest’s Tasting Table.

IWINETC Highlights day 1

It’s been a great day at IWINETC 2018! Here are just a few highlights we wanted to share with you…

  • New connections were made throughout the evening yesterday during the IWINETC Welcome Reception and dinner hosted by our Premium Sponsor, The Hungarian Tourism Agency with the theme “Deliciously Hungary” taking place on the River Danube aboard the Europa Boat.
  • The Exhibition area proved very popular with conference delegates featuring exciting diverse grape escape destinations such as Armenia, Greece, Italy, Spain and of course from hosts Hungary showing wines and grape escape options from Eger, Lake Balaton, Tokaj and Villány
  • As part of the Conference Programme, Zsombor Gál of the Hungarian Tourism Agency  uncorked IWINETC  with an overview of Hungary as a Grape escape Destination and this was followed by the  highly topical session – How to Thrive in the New Tourism Economy delivered y Felicity Carter of Wine Business International. Integrating Wine into a wider Cultural Context. The Importance of Wine Festivals was chaired by Master of Wine Elizabeth Gabay and discussed, with the help of 3 panel members the need to retain the attraction of wine festivals. 6 highly informative and directly relevant talks for the wine and culinary tourism industry later,  saw the long awaited Wines of Hungary Grand Tasting led by Master of Wine Ronn Wiegand and Agnes Herczeg of Fine Wine Consulting.

The Networking evening took place at the Lázár Equestrian Park where conference delegates were treated to a spectacular Hungarian Horse Show and later put on a few kilos after a massive traditional Hungarian feast all matched with Wines of Hungary.

It’s the final countdown!

Next Monday the global Wine and Culinary Tourism industry will arrive in Budapest to connect, learn, share and secure valuable business connections at the International Wine Tourism Conference, Exhibition and Workshop (IWINETC). We are so proud that we make those connections possible and that we’ll be bringing over 300 industry professionals together for three exciting days for the best education, the best business and best networking.

Upon arrival conference delegates will receive  a Budapest Welcome Pack: – an attractive bag with a little Budapest key holder and useful brochures courtesy of the BFTK Budapest Festival and Tourism Centre – the official Budapest Tourism Board

Budapest Festival and Tourism Centre also offer the official city card, the BUDAPEST CARD with a 10 % discount to all IWINETC Conference Delegates. Delegates wishing to explore Budapest after the event can get The Budapest Card online with a special promo code: IWINETC2018 and can be picked up at our Budapestinfo Point offices at the airport or in the city centre until 30th April 2018.


Be prepared to get maximum value from IWINETC 2018…

The International Wine Tourism Conference, Exhibition and Workshop (IWINETC) uncorks on the 9th April at 19.15 with the IWINETC Welcome Reception and Dinner aboard the Europa Boat sponsored by the Hungarian Tourism Agency, Premium sponsor for the event

To get the very best from IWINETC on the 10 and 11 April you need to plan a bit.

The 10th anniversary of the IWINETC sees new and enhanced features, designed to help you have a great conference experience and here are the absolute must-do’s:

You will find everything you need in the Conference programme so to maximise your time at IWINETC, check out the programme and start planning your IWINETC today.

Interview: IWINETC Founder, Anthony Swift

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.

What is the main topic of the current event?

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 Alavesa and Txakolí!

Register to attend IWINETC 2018 here>>

Wining and Dining In Budapest, The Classic Way

Despite Hungary being a small country with under 10 million in population, it’s rich in hundreds-of-year-old food and wine traditions which make exploring here an endlessly delicious adventure. Hungary’s location in the middle of Europe—surrounded by Austria, Romania, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, and Ukraine (and all of their unrelated tongues)—is the biggest factor in the wide-ranging and diverse culinary and wine culture. There are Turkish influences (from the Ottoman period), remnants from the Austro-Hungarian Empire (the era when the cuisines of many nations became intertwined),Jewish influences (which go so deep that the Jewish origin of many well-known dishes aren’t even considered). But there’s no question that Hungarians are committed to their classics, be they ingredients, dishes, or wines. While Budapest has so many impressive restaurants which do a fine job of putting a contemporary spin on things, here are a few ways attendees at the upcoming International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) can experience the classic side of Hungarian cuisine and wine.

Visit a Market Hall
Budapest’s 19th-century Central Market Hall is not only architecturally spectacular, but it’s also one of Europe’s greatest markets. The brick structure, topped with Zsolnay roof tiles, is full of iron, glass, and open space. The basement holds butchers, fishmongers, and colorful pickle stalls with barrels of sauerkraut and more pickles than you may have ever seen in one place. The main level is where most of the action is, with three aisles of fruit, vegetables, and butchers. When it comes to meat, every part is put to good use (as you’ll discover on restaurant menus), bacon is considered vital, and cracklings are sold by the kilogram. Grab alángos (fry bread with sour cream and cheese) upstairs (and perhaps a shot of Unicum to wash it down). Another really special thing about Budapest is that most districts have their own smaller-scale markets, so good ingredients are abundant.

Eat Like a Local
You can start at breakfast by swapping out your bowl of cereal for a hard-core traditional Hungarian village-style breakfast of cheese, charcuterie, fresh vegetables, and thick slices of bread. As you’ll see at the market, the assortment of salami, sausage, bacon, and cured hams is impressive, so breakfast is another chance to taste it! A Hungarian lunch is not really complete without starting with soup. This is your chance to taste an iconic goulash (gulyás), a paprika-rich soup made with beef and potatoes. Like so many Hungarian dishes, it is simple and complex at the same time—elegant enough to be served at Michelin-starred restaurants, yet humble enough to be served at every red-checkered tablecloth eatery. Or go for a lighter vegetable soup or húsleves (consommé). For a main, try a classic chicken paprikás, foiegras, or one of the many stews (pörkölt) that are likely to be on the menu.

Make Time For Coffee and Cake
If you have nowhere pressing to be, find a seat at a great kávéház (such as Centrál) order a strong eszpresszó, and settle in. Try to picture what Budapest’s grand coffeehouses were like in their golden age back around the turn of the 19thcentury when there were nearly 600 of them in Budapest and they were centers of intellectual and social life, with writers and artists treating them as second-homes. Be sure to order cake. Hungary has one of Europe’s great baking traditions, and coffeehouses serve fancy layered cakes like Dobostorta (multiple thin cake layers with chocolate buttercream topped by a shiny solid caramel top) and Esterházytorta (layers of walnut cake and walnut cream). A RigóJancsi (a rich square of chocolate mousse sandwiched between two layers of chocolate cake and topped with a chocolate glaze) or Rákóczi-túrós (short crust and baked curd cheese topped with a lattice of meringue and apricot jam) are also fine choices.

And Drink Local, Too
Hungary is truly a country of wine-lovers where wine is part of the lifestyle. No meal is complete without it!Wine is produced in nearly all parts of the country, and the range (from sparkling, white and rosé, through orange, red, and amber-colored sweet wine) perfectly complements Hungarian cuisine. In the past few decades most of the country’s 22 wine regions have been getting back to focusing on growing indigenous regional grapes, and these often unpronounceable varieties are especially worth seeking out while you are here. Furmint, Juhfark, Hárslevelű, Kadarka, and Kékfrankosare some of the best known and successfultypes, which you’ll find all over. And there are so many other unique wines that can be experienced only here, such as Ezerjó, Kéknyelű, Zéta, IrsaiOlivér, cserszegifűszeres, and cirfandli. Be sure to devote some time to exploring Hungary’s sweet wines—after all, Tokajiaszú is a national treasure, hand-harvested (grape by grape), and only made in years when botrytis invades the vineyards, turning the healthy grapes into shriveled raisin-like berries.

Carolyn Bánfalvi is co-founder Taste Hungary (an award-winning food and wine tour company) and The Tasting Table Budapest (a wine tasting room and independent wine shop in central Budapest). She is also a food and travel writer who has written the culinary guidebooks Food Wine Budapest (Little Bookroom) and The Food and Wine Lover’s Guide to Hungary (Park Kiadó). Carolyn has written about Hungarian food, wine, and travel for publications including Saveur, Explore Parts Unknown, Afar, Gastronomica, Olive, Gourmet,, and Frommer’s. She holds an advanced WSET certificate (and is just one exam away from her diploma). Visit The Tasting Table Budapest (BródySándorutca 9, Budapest 1088) to taste from its selection of unique Hungarian wines.