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?