Closing IWINETC 2017 Sicily, Italy on a massive high….

….the wine & culinary tourism world connected in Viagrande at the Hotel Villa Itría (Catania) 27th March to 2nd April.

Riding a growth wave, the 9th International Wine Tourism Conference, Exhibition & Workshop closed on Thursday 28th March in the Catania province where the global wine tourism industry showed that it was in good shape.
Knowledge, Business & Networking was the IWINETC theme this year for almost 250 delegates from 32 different countries attending with significant attendance from grape escape destinations such as Italy, Spain, USA and host region, Sicily. The Wine Tourism Workshop with more than 800 appointments scheduled before the start of IWINETC proved to be the business highlight of the event with many more meetings conducted at the exhibition area during the 2 day conference programme of 24 talks.

“The wine tourism industry is clearly on the rise and can no longer be called a small niche market with so many wine regions around the world investing significantly in this kind of tourism. The future is bright for all who understand that wine tourism is a sustainable business opportunity” said Anthony Swift, Director of IWINETC.

The announcement that IWINETC will be heading to Budapest, Hungary in 2018 was met with a great reaction by IWINETC attendees with Dr. András TÖRÖK, Director, Hungarian Tourism Agency, Directrorate of Gastronomy and Wine Marketing closing the 2 day IWINETC Conference of talks.

This year saw a heavy emphasis on networking events. Evenings were enjoyed with visits to Etna wine producers Tenute Mannino di Plachi, Benanti and Tornatore. Several wine tasting events within the talk programme provided a chance to discover diverse grape escape destinations and wines from Franciacorta, Greece, Georgia Slovenia, & Hungary as well as Wines from Etna in the IWINETC Grand Cava Tasting led by Valeria Carastro and Giampietro Nadali

44 Tour operators divided up into 3 groups discovered the Etna from South to North and the Siracusa and Ragusa as a grape escape destination with visits programmed to a variety of wine tourism experience providers such as wineries, high end accommodation, agroturismos and cultural highlights of Noto and Ragusa. Fam Trips came to a conclusion on the 2nd April.

The whole event was executed in collaboration with the Regione Siciliana Assessorato Turismo Sport e Spettacolo and the support of the Sicilia Convention Bureau and Etna Wine Lab.

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Summing up IWINETC 2017 Anthony Swift added, “Our objectives for IWINETC every year is to provide the stage for wine and culinary tourism professionals from around the world to gain knowledge and ideas, for agents and wine tourism experience providers to meet, do business and connect through networking. This year the buzz was obvious from the moment the Welcome Reception began with a feast of culinary delights created by Chef Giovanni Torrente and sponsored by the Distretto Turistico Vini e Sapori di Sicilia. The opening announcements and the opening plenary session delivered by Robin Shaw were well supported where some 250 people attended along with Sicilian media. As a team, we focus on delivering a quality experience because at the end of the event there is only one thing that matters – satisfied participants who leave taking away positive results for their careers and/or business.”

More info: Anthony Swift

IWINETC 2017 It’s been all about knowledge, business & networking

The IWINETC Conference, Exhibition and Workshop 2017 has now closed. A whole year of planning resulted in a truly memorable event for all involved. We wanted to thank delegates for taking the time to attend, and a special mention goes to all of our partners and sponsors for their continuous support.

The Wine Tourism Workshop saw a packed full day programme of one to one meetings with tour operators and travel agents specialized in wine and/or culinary tourism meeting with wine tourism experience providers from around the world to discuss business possibilities for the FIT, Group and MICE markets. Some 800 meetings were held during the Workshop schedule.

Lunch time provided the opportunity for agents to try some of the varied red wine styles from Nemea Pelopomese, Greece made with the Agiorgitiko grape courtesy of the Venikos. Bubbly was courtesy of the Franciacorta Wine Route (Satèn & Rose) and were quickly appreciated by Workshop delegates.

Meanwhile, some of the Conference delegates stayed on to participate in a one day wine tasting tour to discover some of the beautiful Etna wine region of Sicily with visits to Tenute Mannino di PlachiAziende Agricole Emanuele Scammacca del Murgo winery (Murgo for short!), Museo Miele di Sicilia & La Gelsomina Amphitheatre of Vines.

We look forward to sharing speaker notes and more show highlights, photos and videos with you in the coming weeks.

We look forward to seeing you at IWINETC 2018 Hungary!

It’s been just great – see you all next year in Budapest, Hungary!

Here are a few highlights from the final day of the Conference talk programme at IWINETC 2017….

We had some fantastic sessions taking place in the both the Auditorium Etna and the Ciclopi rooms at the Grand Hotel Villa Itría, giving delegates plenty of food for thought not only for professional development but also valuable business ideas and tips. Judith Lewis fresh in from Atlanta and armed with chocolate gave two sessions to inspire us to get to grips with digital marketing (find link building through outreach here) and use the numerous tools to get the wine tourist’s attention to home in to a specific grape escape destination, winery, hotel, restaurant….

The Grape Escape themed talks provided tour operators and agents with several diverse grape escape destinations to consider such as Moldova, Slovenia, Greece and Hungary. Several mini tastings of wines from several countries was well received.

The exhibition area proved once again a popular spot to discover grape escape options while simultaneously networking with fellow professionals

The closing plenary session saw Hungary revealed as the 2018 destination for IWINETC and this was immediately applauded by the audience.

Top Etna wine producer, Benanti received 40 delegates at their property in Viagrande for a vineyard and palmento visit followed by fine Etna Rossos and 3 course dinner.

And finally…

We wanted to say a personal thank you for attending IWINETC this year, and to key supporters: Regione Sicilia, the Sicilia Convention Bureau, Etna Wine Lab, Grand Hotel Villa Itría and to the numerous supporters for filling in the gaps where others failed. If you are leaving us today, have a safe journey home and we look forward to sharing our full IWINETC highlights, photos and videos with you in the coming weeks – so keep an eye out!

IWINETC continues tomorrow with the eagerly awaited Wine Tourism Workshop where 40 tour operators will hold B2B meetings with wine tourism experience providers from around the world and of course with host destination Sicily.

Also going on tomorrow is the wine tasting tour for conference delegates to enjoy to the Etna Wine Region South and East.

See you in Budapest, Hungary in 2018!


Highlights from Day 1 of IWINETC 2017

The IWINETC Conference Talk programme began shortly after the doors opened. Conference delegates flocked to the opening plenary session for the official welcomes and Robin Shaw’s food for thought plenary session Beyond the Cellar Door: Creating a Destination in your own right!

The Exhibition area was well visited and many wines from around Europe were available to taste.

The Official IWINETC Grand Wine Tasting: Wines of Etna expertly led by Valeria Carastro and Giampiero Nadali revealed through the tasting of 8 volcanic wines just how impressive Etna wines are.

New business connections were made throughout the day and the day ended with a tapas style dinner at the Tenuta del Gelso.

Here’s what conference delegates can look forward to tomorrow…

There is plenty to look forward to tomorrow, so be ready for a packed day of conference talks, tastings and networking events.

  • Digital Integration in Wine Travel & Tourism: Strategies for Success with & Connecting your Tourism Brand to the Consumer key note speaker Judith ‘deCabbit’ Lewis and more lessons from down under with Robin Shaw.
  • Over a varied buffet lunch we’ll be treated to wines of Greece
  • Panel discussion What makes a Successful Winery visit
  • Closing plenary session & official announcement of the IWINETC 2018 destination.
  • Networking dinner at Benanti


IWINETC 2017 got off with a boom!

It’s been a great day for IWINETC attendees today, here are just a few of the highlights…

The IWINETC Welcome Reception took place last night with a few words from Daniela Marino, Direttore Operativo Sicilia Convention Bureau and Gregorio Sparacino, President of the Distretto Turistico Vini e Sapori di Sicilia and this was followed by a Sicilian feast of local dishes. Some of the culinary delights created by top chefs Giovanni Torrente, Rocco Pace and Rocco Cusenza on offer were:


  • Dall’orto di Sicilia – Isola rustica vegetariana Parmigiana, Caponata, Involtini di melanzane, Ortaggi di stagione gratinati,Zucca gialla all’agrodolce, Macco di fave
  • L’isola della «tavola calda» Arancinettiassortiti Pizzettineall’origano, Crocchettinedi patate al sésamo, Verdurine in pastella, Cipolline mignon Panellinedi ceci al finocchietto
  • L’isola degli chef Casarecce alla Norma con melanzane fritte e ricotta salata ,Cous cous di pesce alla Sanvitese con verdurine croccanti

Anybody with any room would have had one of the delicious deserts on offer such as

Isola del Pasticcere Cassata siciliana Cannolicchi assortiti Babà mignon Torta al pistacchio di Bronte Torta al limone Tagliata di frutta 

All of which was savoured with one or two or more of the great wines provided courtesy of Casa Vinicola Fazio and the Strada del Vino Erice DOC

Here’s what delegates can look forward to tomorrow…

At 09.30 Welcome and Opening AnnouncementsAnthony Barbagallo,  Assessore al Turismo, Sport e Spettacolo della Regione Sicilia, Daniela Marino, Direttore Operativo Sicilia Convention Bureau and this is immediately followed by the Opening plenary session Beyond the Cellar Door. Creating a Destination in your own right! with Robin Shaw from Wine Tourism Australia.

At 11.30 Wine Tourism and Staff Training in a Novice Wine Region: the Case of Northern Virginia Speaker: Laurence Cogan-Marie, School of Wine & Spirits Business, Burgundy School of Business, France

At 12.30 Panel discussion: Branding & Marketing your Territory – How well are you doing? With Carlo Pietrasanta, National President of the Movimento del Turismo del Vino (MTV) Italy, Elisabet Vidal, Sales Director, Champagne-Marne Tourism Office, France & Daniela Marino, Director of Operations of Sicilia Convention Bureau, Italy. 

At 16.00 Official IWINETC Grand Wine Tasting: Wines of Etna with Valeria Carastro and Giampiero Nadali


IWINETC Grand Wine Tasting: Wines of Etna

Sicily’s volcanic wines from Belpasso on Etna’s South slope through Milo on the east slope to Randazzo on the north, are definitely booming as are the wine and culinary tourism possibilities on offer at many of the wineries.

Barone Viagrande and Cantine Russo have deep roots in Etna wine making with Benanti adding to the flow of wine in the early 1990s. Since 2000 new blood came from Firriato and Planeta with many local families quick to reclaim their passion for the terroir such as Graci and Tornatore.

Attendees at the IWINETC Official Grand Tasting of Wines of Etna will discover the magic on the mountain thanks to a team up of two authorities on Etna’s varying terrorirs, wines and tourism. Valeria Carastro will take the audience around the horseshoe-shaped Etna wine region highlighting the distinctive local grape varieties, the myriad soil types, the history and the wine tourism possibilities. Giampiero Nadali will guide us through a tasting of 8 vibrant wines produced on the slopes of Europe’s most active volcano.

The following wines have been selected for the Grand Tasting:

  • Murgo – Murgo Extra Brut 2009 – Nerello Mascalese
  • Palmento Costanzo – Bianco di Sei Etna Doc Bianco2015 – Carricante(70); Catarratto(28); Minella e Trebbiano(2)
  • Planeta – Etna Bianco 2015 – Carricante
  • Barone di Villagrande – Etna Bianco Superiore Contrada Villagrande 2013 – Carricante
  • Tornatore – Etna Rosso Trimarchisa 2014 – NerelloMascalese(90); Nerello Cappuccio(10)
  • Tenuta di Fessina – Laeneo IGT Sicilia 2014 – Nerello Cappuccio
  • Benanti – Rovittello 2012 – Nerello Mascalese; Nerello Cappuccio
  • Cantine Russo – Etna Rosso Rampante 2010 – Nerello Mascalese(80); Nerello Cappuccio(20)

Explore a representative sample of the terroir driven wines of Etna at the 9th edition of the annual International Wine Tourism Conference.


Step up the Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte and admire alluring ceramics

Being only a little over an hour away from the island’s second largest city Catania, the city of Caltagirone is the perfect city to spend on a day excursion. The city is nicknamed for being the “city of brightly painted ceramics” and you are sure to see them everywhere. There are many shops and stores to buy some fine crafted pottery or you can walk over to the ceramic steps to truly admire this form of art.

The city’s main attraction is the Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte which means stairway of Saint Mary of the Mountain.This stairway which has 142 steps connects the old part of the town to the newer directly to the church which is also called Santa Maria of the Mountain. The tiles have both religious and natural designs and has also been decorated by the locals with flowers and candles.

In May during the third weekend the city holds a festival of flowers called Infiorata where citizens lay beds of flowers in intricate designs along the streets and the ceramic steps. Then again, in July the steps are once again lined with beautiful and vibrant flowers and luminous candles to honor the patron saint of the town, St. Peter.

The area of Caltagirone is also well known for the production of peaches, olive oil, and of course grapes. Grab a glass of wine and come admire the city of alluring pottery.

Where to stay? Try Il Casale delle Rose, a rural hotel close by.  Owner, Francesco is making some great wine so make sure you get to try his Don Michelangelo (Nerello Cappuccio 85%, and Syrah 15%) and try the culinary delights from the kitchen.

Which wineries to visit? Nearby there are three are wineries to consider visiting:

Judeka, Nanfo, and Daino

Gorge on Zafferana Etnea Honey during IWINETC

About 33 km north of Catania, and 160 km southeast of Palermo, busy bees thrive on the eastern coast of Sicily, on the slopes of Mount Etna.  Although the small village of Zafferana Etnea only houses 10,000 residents, the smaller residents, honey bees, outnumber these villagers 7,200:1. With these numbers, this area manages to collect some very appetizing and unique types of honey.  One can find vast diversity in flavors available, including: orange blossom, eucalyptus, and chestnut, just to name a few.

In addition to honey, local companies passionate about bees offer a range of personal products, such as soap, lip balm, and face cream including royal jelly, as well as candies, spices, wines and liquors.

Zafferana honey production makes up over 20% of all Italian honey.  But, it’s not alone in Sicily. Whilst speaking of Sicilian honey, one must also take note of Sortino.  About an hour south of Catania, the bees are busy making some of the most delightful honey in Italy. Sortino, a town in the province of Syracuse, Sicily, is also top producer of honey citrus.  Celebrated for its properties and organoleptic characteristics, honey citrus is one of the most popular honey available today. Sicily has seen an increased production of citrus honey in the island’s southern citrus groves.  This area is known for mixed citrus honey with notes of orange, lemon and tangerine, rather than single variety honey.

So, while booking your 2 day conference ticket for the 2017 IWINETC, why not book an extra day or two and go indulge in some honey on one of the post conference tours on offer!  And, don’t forget to bring home your favorite bottle to sweeten and flavor yogurt, whipped cream and deserts, cream, mascarpone or ricotta.  Then, pair with your favorite wine! Experiment and have some culinary fun!  And, don’t forget to tell us which pairings are your favorite. Post them on our Facebook page, or on twitter @iwinetc.  Who can come up with the best pairing?

Gastronomy Tourism Sicily – Pistachio from Bronte

When you think about the autumn season you may picture crisp orange and golden yellow leaves falling from trees but if you travel to Etna’s western slopes during the month of October you might find yourself surrounded by green and purple.


Even though today in Italy, most of the pistachios are imported from Iran and Iraq; that was not always the case. Sicily, especially around Mt. Etna, has produced some of the finest quality pistachios in Europe. They were originally brought over from who are thought to be the Phoenicians and they are used in a variety of sweets and desserts.

The lava soil in the Bronte area of Sicily, being so close to Mount Etna, gives the pistachio a distinctive flavor much different than other varieties of pistachios even on the island of Sicily. The pistachios grown in this area are much longer and thinner than other varieties. They also have a sharp more unique flavor which is due to the different soil. Pistachios are all harvested by hand but separated by machine to split the shell from the nut. Then the nuts are set out to dry before being able to snack on.

Pistachios are key ingredients in Sicilian cooking and you will find them in both sweet and in savory dishes. Some of the most common dishes using pistachios are gelato and ice cream, as fillings in the special bread called panettone, and as toppings in various sweets such as baklava, cookies, chocolate, and in cannolis; which are another Sicilian specialty. Other than sweets, people use the “green gold” in pesto and as seasonings for meat and fish. A popular dish on the island is farfalle pistacchi e pancetta which is pasta and pancetta with a cream sauce made from pistachios.

In Bronte, which is the capital of pistachios, you can attend the Pistachio festival in early October. Set in the beautiful park of Mt. Etna you can enjoy many different dishes showcasing this prized nut. The festival draws in local artists who display their creations in markets where you can buy things like paintings, crafts, and street art. Local farmers also get to present their artisan goods like cheese, honey, and sweets. Be sure to try the pistachio pesto. Some people swear that it is better than it’s pine nut cousin’s version. Another typical treat during the festival is a pistachio cream which is like nutella but omitting the hazelnuts for the Sicilian nut.

In addition to the food and shops one can also sit back and hear traditional music during the two week festival. If you love history you can visit the Museo della Raccolta in Piazza Piave. It’s a museum showing the history of the machines and harvesting techniques of this particular crop. At only a hour drive away from the venue of the International Wine Tourism Conference, Exhibition and Workshop 2017 (Catania), Bronte is the perfect place to spend a day learning more about their pistachios and trying dishes and treats made from the green and purple nut. They are often regarded as Italian gastronomic excellence and it’s worth the time to find out why. Follow the hashtag #SicilyisAwesome 

Sicily UNESCO World Heritage Site & Venue IWINETC 2017

Italy is known for having a vast and immense amount of history and throughout time we have stood side by side these incredible monuments. This country has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country on the planet dating back from centuries ago. The island region of Sicily has seven of these famous sites and they are all worth a visit. Wine and culinary tourism professionals attending the upcoming International Wine Tourism Conference, Exhibition and Workshop will get the chance to visit some of the UNESCO sites mentioned in the article.

Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano is an iconic site visible far from it’s base. The history of this volcano can be traced back 500,000 years and about 2,700 years of activity have been documented. Mount Etna is one of the worlds most active volcanoes and it is almost always in an active state drawing in thousands of visitors a year.

Drive to the north coast of Sicily and you’ll find the Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalu and Monreale. This site is actually nine sites including two palaces, three churches, a bridge, and three cathedrals which include the Cathedral of Cefalu and the Cathedral of Monreale. This site is a good example of cross cultures between Western Islamic and Byzantine cultures. Many people from different origins and religions called this place home.

A little trip north in the Tyrrhenian Sea you’ll discover the beauty of the Aeolian Islands. These islands are a volcanic archipelago named after the demigods of the winds Aeolus.  Lipari is the biggest out of the eight islands and the group is often called Lipari Islands. The Aeolian Islands provide an outstanding record of volcanic island-building and destruction, and ongoing volcanic phenomena. Star Trek fans will love this one with a trip to Vulcan pictured below.

Going towards the south east coast you’ll uncover another historical phenomenon: The Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica. This site consists of two different elements; the Necropolis of Pantalica and Ancient Syracuse. The Necropolis of Pantalica contains over 5,000 tombs cut into the rock. Most dating back from the 13th-7th centuries B.C. Ancient Syracuse was founded by the Greeks and was called “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of all” by Cicero.

A little south of Syracuse and you stumble upon the Late Baroque towns of Val di’Notto. This site is made up of eight cities that were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building.

Next we will head a little south to the Archaeological Area of Agrigento founded in the sixth century.  Its supremacy and pride are demonstrated by the remains of the magnificent Doric temples that dominate the ancient town, much of which still lies intact under today’s fields and orchards. It was also one of the leading cities in the Mediterranean. The excavated areas expose the late Hellenistic and Roman towns and you can see the old burial practices of its Christian inhabitants.

Last but certainly not least we end up back near Mount Etna to view the Villa Romana del Casale. Built in the fourth century this estate certainly was one of the most luxurious during that time! In the year 1997 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site for having the most complex collections of Roman mosaics in the world. After a landslide in the 12th century the villa was partially buried and not excavated until 1929 by an Italian archaeologist. Mosaics are all around you as you walk into each room of this Roman mansion. These mosaics were made out of multicolored marble and glass.