Diane Letulle has been writing Wine Lover’s Journal for over five years. Her blog takes readers along on journeys through the vineyards of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Hungary, Republic of Georgia, United States, and Canada. She writes the Manhattan Wine Examiner and national Wine Travel Examiner columns and contributes wine and travel stories to various online publications including Palate Press and Snooth.
Creating a WOW factor sounds expensive. Does it have to be?
A wow factor for winery visitors by definition is something memorable. It can be as elaborate and expensive as the mind can imagine. Or it can be something rare that is not necessarily expensive, such as a charismatic winemaker who is available to guests.
Wine tasting fulfils a great number of sensations in itself. How do you think the visitor experience can be enhanced?
Wine tourism is definitely a multi-sensory experience. When imagining a guest experience, paying attention to visual aesthetics is of course important. But what about scent? In the Rhone for example, having small jars of lavender and fragrant herbs that comprise the aroma “garrigue” would enhance guests’ visits and provide a moment of education as well.
Your blog often mentions the wine experiences, outside of wine tasting, that were memorable to you. How much do you think tour operators could benefit from expanding their offerings to match a region’s best sights?
It’s wise to consider the wine tasting as a larger part of a tourist experience. Winery owners can consider their potential role providing concierge-type services. For example, when visiting Veuve Clicquot, I was pleased that the staff located a Michelin one star restaurant for me and called to make a reservation.
What are some of your recent winery visit most memorable aspects?
I was in Spain last summer, and touring the giant Torres winery on a little train was full of big production wow factor moments. Yet creating a memorable moment can be as simple as setting out a basket of warm cheese rolls, as were provided with every Tokaji tasting I had in Hungary, or a collection of whimsical corkscrews on display, as I saw at a tiny tasting room in Chablis. More often than not, it is meeting someone who is truly passionate about the wine that makes visits memorable.
You’re working on a new book documenting your wine travels, will you tell us if IWINETC 2013 makes the cut?
The book I am writing is a memoir of my travels in wine country – and IWINETC will probably be included. My story takes place on a road trip from Saint Emilion, France.