Aselma Tours to research Italy wine tourism for HORECA customers

Tamara Dubiel, co owner of the Polish agency Aslema Tours, offers her clients exotic vacations all across the globe. At this year’s International Wine Tourism Workshop, Tamara is seeking to expand her wine travel experience (previously focused in Portugal) to Italy! We took a few moments to ask Tamara what drew her to wine tourism and how Italy competes with some of her more exotic locations. 

1. What do you hope to gain from the workshops and meetings at the International Wine Tourism Workshop?

First of all – the knowledge of wine producers and how to use this knowledge making trips. Second – knowledge of the Tuscany region, the most demanded by our customers.

2. Your website indicates that Aslema Tours specializes in travel for small groups of active singles. How popular would you say wine tourism is in this market?

As the world becomes more unstable we noticed the group of customers interested only by european destinations is bigger than some years ago. We are doing our best to fulfil these expectations by offering a new travel possibilities. It could be a trip combined with  wine &
gastronomy, more and more popular combination as well as trip combined with grape harvesting that could be a great possibilty to show the work connected with wine production ( in this case I am mostly interested in small wineries). But – mostly – wine tourism is dedicated for professional groups for tailor – made trips ( restaurants, hotels etc).

3. Your company already offers wine tastings in Portugal. What differences do you expect to see between Italian and Portuguese wine tours?

It’s different country, different wine, different cuisine… = different product for me.

4. Aslema Tours offers a variety of exotic trips throughout Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe and the Caribbean. How do you think Italian wine holidays will compete with these more unusual destinations?

As I wrote above, the group of customers for european destination is growing. As we always try to offer  something more that hotel, sand & sea I think  it will be a new opportunity. And please remember professionals that often travel with us.

5. After the conference, you´re headed to Tuscany from the 2nd to the 5th of February. Why did you choose to explore this region?

Aselma Tours to attend IWINETC 2012The region is definitely the most demanding by our customers. It’s important for me to know it as much as possible.

To meet Tamara Dubiel and learn more about Aslema Tours, join the 300 other attendees at the International Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop 2012!

GLI “STATI GENERALI” DEL MONDO DI SCENA A PERUGIA NEL 2012….

IN UMBRIA PIÙ DI 300 PROFESSIONISTI, TRA TOUR OPERATOR, AZIENDE, GIORNALISTI, BLOGGER E PLAYER DELL’ENOTURISMO (DA 40 PAESI)

Degustazioni, press tour, case history da tutto il mondo, workshop per più di 300 professionisti, tra tour operator, aziende, giornalisti, blogger e player dell’enoturismo provenienti da 40 Paesi. Ecco i numeri della Conferenza internazionale sul turismo del Vino (Perugia, 30 gennaio – 2 febbraio 2012), evento che farà tappa in Umbria e, per la prima volta in Italia, grazie alla partnership tra l’organizzatore Wine Pleasures e il Movimento Turismo del Vino Italia, con le sue cantine italiane associate.

Un’economia, quella del vino, che in Italia vale 5 miliardi di euro e che non conosce crisi. Secondo la presidente del Movimento Turismo Vino, Chiara Lungarotti: “il vino è un prodotto sempre più globale. Anche la promozione dell’enoturismo, che è la vetrina del settore, deve seguire la stessa strada. Per intercettare nuovi pubblici – ha continuato la presidente Lungarotti – è indispensabile perciò puntare anche sugli strumenti offerti dai nuovi media. Promozione sul web 2.0 e app per smartphone e tablet sono elementi ormai centrali quanto qualità del vino ed accoglienza”.

International Wine Tourism Conference and Workshop

Mix Umbrian Art and Wine with the Ferrari Brand

Marcello Lunelli, and oenologist and agronomist, studied all aspects of winemaking and agriculture in two of Italy’s beautiful cities, Trento and Milan.  He is President of Tenuta Castelbuono, which is one of several brands managed by The Lunelli Group, and Vice President of Ferrari Metodo Classico, which his family has owned for three generations.  Highly involved in Italy’s prestigious wine culture, Lunelli is a board member of both the Italian Wine and Italian Confederation of Wine and Vine Associations.

We were fortunate to speak with Lunelli about his upcoming presentation at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference in Umbria, Italy and his views on Italian wine and art.  Below are his responses to our questions.

1. Your family has significant history with the Ferrari brand, what is your family’s relationship with Ferrari and what is your proudest achievement with the group? 

The story of the Lunelli family is inextricably linked to that of the Ferrari winery, as in 1952 grandfather Bruno bought from Mr. Giulio Ferrari the winery he founded in 1902, that was the realization of his passion for sparkling wine.  A passion he had cultivated after receiving an enological degree when he went to study in Champagne the art of producing sparkling wine with the noble method of re-fermentation in the bottle.  In the last 110 years Ferrari has kept growing in quality and quantity becoming soon the most important Italian producer of Metodo Classico, and through the years the sole guiding principle has always been the worship of quality from the soil to the table, from the founder, Giulio Ferrari, to grandfather Bruno, through the second generation until us, the third generation Lunelli cousins. This achievement involved large investments in the vineyards and into the winery where a team composed of eight enologists and six agronomists follow, like guardian angels, the quality of the product, making it the leader and the key player of the TRENTODOC® wine region, which lays in the northern part of Italy and includes many other great Metodo Classico producers.

The uncompromising search for excellence has allowed Ferrari to obtain an unequalled series of  accolades: it has won the Wine Oscar awarded by the Italian Sommeliers’ Association no less than four times and each year it receives the highest ratings from the most authoritative wine Guides, including the “Three Glasses” from Gambero Rosso, which gives this comment on its decision: “Relish Italy’s finest sparkling wine, and one of the finest anywhere in the world”.

Ferrari has always provided the perfect accompaniment for the most significant moments in the realms of the state, culture, show business and sport. It is with Ferrari that all guests to the Residence of the President of the Italian Republic and to Italian Embassies around the world are welcomed. It is with Ferrari that the stars of Hollywood celebrated on the night of the Oscars, and it is with Ferrari that our sportsmen have always toasted their victories, from the historic soccer World Cup of 1982 to that of 2006. The great names of fashion and of Italian lifestyle also choose the great sparkling wines of Trentino to put the final seal on their most important events. It is no accident that Ferrari is one of the founder-members of Altagamma, the association that is made up of Italy’s most prestigious brands.

 2.  The Lunelli Group, alongside Ferrari, offers a number of impressive sparkling wines.  Can you talk about sparkling wine in Italy and what makes it unique from other parts of the world?

The world of sparkling wines within Italy is rich and varied.  There are sparkling wines produced in large quantity using the Charmat method like Prosecco and Asti, and other produced using Metodo Classico in various areas of northern Italy like Oltrepò, Altalanga, Franciacorta and Trentino, where Ferrari grows.

Metodo Classico represents sparkling wine excellence and is recognized by the market as such. Within it, TRENTODOC® is the most distinctive because it perfectly matches a territory extremely vocated with over a century long tradition: it’s a zone delimited by the borders of the province of Trento, in the Northeast of Italy, in the middle of the famous Dolomite mountains, an area mainly suited for the cultivation of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the two principal varieties for the production of sparkling wine using the traditional method.  The particular climate here characterized by strong diurnal temperature variations during the months of grape maturation, combined with a limy soil rich in rock fragments, make Trentino exceptionally unique for the quality of the grapes used in the Metodo Classico sparkling wine.  The wisdom of the producers combined with more than a century of tradition are inseparable elements of success that, in the Ferrari winery, make testimony to the aptitude of this land for producing great sparkling wine.

3. You will be talking about Castelbuono’s picturesque “Carapace” Winery at this years conference, what is it about the marriage of art and wine that creates such a unique experience?

A famous Italian writer, Mario Soldati, defined wine as “the poetry of the land.”  Wine, in this case Sagrantino, is the true soul of Umbria, not only the fruit of man’s labor, but also as an expression of the territory with its traditions, its history, its people and its background.  Wine represents a testimony to civilization which holds, conserves and conveys through time the soul of its territory, and stimulates not only the earthly senses but also the thoughts of those who taste it. Even art, especially sculpture, has a similarity in the reactions that it causes in those who appreciate it.

By involving the master sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro, a family friend for a long time, we wanted to link together the destiny of the two arts,  sculpture and enology, in an entrepreneurial adventure in which the sculpture becomes part of the territory in a harmonious way and will become a precious and unmatchable foundation for a project which has the scope to enhance both an extraordinary wine like Sagrantino as well as the region of Umbria with its rare beauty and intense mysticism.   Therefore, wine brings together sculpture, local culture, man’s work and territorial tradition in a harmonious combination of emotions that touches the senses and sensibility of all the men lovers of art and good wine.

4. What are you looking forward to most at the conference in Italy this year?

The conference in Perugia is a wonderful opportunity at an international level to gain experience and critical insight enabling us to tackle seriously and in a qualified way the management of a cellar which can be defined as “the only sculpture in the world where one works, produces and tastes wine”. We strongly believe that food and wine tourism in Umbria is a resource not yet fully expressed, but with great potential that, thanks to the uniqueness of the “Castelbuono’s Carapace” combination of great art and wine, could increase its appeal benefiting all the players in the sector.

5. What wine will you be drinking this weekend?

I wouldn’t start without a glass of Metodo Classico Ferrari, symbol of lightness, joy, cheerfulness and conviviality and then I will give myself up completely to the magic world of Sagrantino, with its unexpected and magical aroma, impenetrable color, and majestic structure.  A taste as intense, powerful and mysterious as the land which nurtured it.

Join the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference and network with Marcello and 200 – 300 more attendees. Marcello will be delivering a talk at the Wine Tourism Conference on January 30 at 11:00, titled: Art & Wine as drivers for Tourism: the unique experience of Castelbuono’s “Carapace” Winery

Batutta Reisen look to branch into wine tourism at IWINETC 2012

Marcus Knüppel, Head of Department, North Italy for Swiss agency Batutta Reisen, offers his clients exotic vacations all across the globe. At this year’s International Wine Tourism Workshop, Mr. Knüppel is seeking to expand his services into Italy’s renowned wine regions. We took a few moments to ask Mr. Knüppel what drew him to wine tourism and how his unique travel experience influences his perception of wine tourism.

1. What are you hoping to gain from the workshops and meetings at the International Wine Tourism Workshop?

New contacts to wine producers and local operators/foreign operators, restaurants with a focus on wine and food specialities of Umbria. The new contacts in combination with a better knowledge of the products will help us to improve our business. 

2. Service-Reisen, your agency, hasn´t yet branched into wine tourism. what drew you to wine tourism? Why now?

Our focus lies on  leisure and cultural groups but we are also organising package travel for clubs and societies, special arrangements also for wine tour operators. With new contacts and ideas from the educational tour we  hope to increase the number of special  interest groups in wine and enograstonomic travel. 

3. Service-Reisen offers a variety of exotic trips across the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe. How do you plan to integrate Italian wine holidays into your portfolio?

Italy is already a  big market for our company.  Every year Service-Reisen sends 1300-1500 groups to Italy. We sell these trips  to  our clients  (tour operators in Germany , Austria, Switzerland and other foreign countries). We are still organizing  group travel  in this market. 

4. What do you think makes wine tourism extraordinary?

Wine is a piece of pleasure and life culture .  

5. After the conference, you´re headed to Umbria from the 2nd to the 5th of February. Why did you choose to explore this region?

Umbria is a beautiful region to the south of Tuscany. In group tourism the demand for group trips to Umbria isn’t as high as for Tuscany and we try to evaluate new programme ideas like a combination of wine, food and culture.

Service-Reisen, Switzerland to attend IWINETC 2012Service-Reisen is the market leader for package tours in Germany. At Service-Reisen 140 professionals are working in the area of travel organisation. Our customers are coach tour operators and travel agents in Germany and neighboring countries.

Company profile: Our customers are coach companies, travel agents, community colleges, church groups and clubs, mainly from Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In 2010 we have been certified by SQ Deutschland – a leading service quality inspection authority – and have been continuously refining our selection of service providers. The result of this is the ability to work more closely and more intensively with the selected partners thus improving the working relationship on both sides.

To meet Marcus and learn more about Batutta Reisen, join the 300 other attendees at the International Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop 2012!

Tuscany a blank spot for travel agent Sport + Reisen

Thomas Schilde, owner of Sport+Reisen travel agency in Germany, has long been exploring European wine regions. This seasoned veteran is a return guest at this year’s International Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop in January. Recently, we caught up with Thomas about his unique experiences in wine travel (the good and the bad), and which wines he enjoys most. 

What do you hope to gain at this year’s International Wine Tourism Workshop? 

I hope to meet colleagues to discuss new projects and to get new ideas for my business.

You have extensive experience with wine travel in Germany, Austria, Spain and France. What challenges do you anticipate encountering in Italy? 

The problems will be similar to Spain and France. The customers mostly don’t speak the language and have problems understanding the knowledge the winery wants to transfer to them. Also, the wines and wine regions of Italy are not as well known, with the exception perhaps of Barolo.

Considering your experience with wine, what are your favorite wine destinations and why? 

I’m from Germany, so I like German wines. I think they’re some of the best in the world. I personally very much like wines from South Africa. But there are very good wines all over the world, you only have to try them.

Adventure tourism seems to be your company’s specialty. How do you integrate wine into this type of travel? 

“Adventure” is too much. I integrate wine and gourmet events in extraordinary settings. I combine events with stays in excellent hotels in the Alps, or integrate it into city travels or sport programs. So wine tastings are a normal part of any of my programs.

After the workshop, you’re headed to Tuscany from the 2nd-5th of February. Why did you choose to explore this region? 

Tuscany is one of the blank spots on my personal world map. I expect to discover good food and good wines and good gourmet places and event locations there. Tuscany is one of the favorite destinations in Italy for German travelers.

To meet Thomas and learn more about Sport+Reisen, join the 300 other attendees at the International Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop in January 2012!

Wine & travel bloggers to experience an Umbrian tasting dinner at Goretti

Wine and travel writers will descend on Perugia for the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop. Prior to the conference they will visit Orvieto, Montefalco and Torgiano. Post Conference trip will take them to discover the wines of Campania. During the 3 days of conference they will be at it again with a packed evening programme of activities. One of which will be a visit to nearby Goretti.

The vineyards of ‘Azienda Agricola Goretti’ stretch over the gently rolling Umbrian hillsides on the outskirts of Perugia city. The Goretti estate is dominated by a twelve-century tower which is of historical interest and it is now used for wine tastings.

Goretti visit in IWINETC 2012 visit programmeThe Gorrotti family run winery produces approximately 360,000 bottles (about 30.000 cases) of exceptional wine each year. Their award winning vineyards yield white, red and rosé wines. They also produce sparkling wines, Vinsanto, Novello, three types of grappa, 20-year-old Brandy, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey.
Umbria is a region of great historical significance to central Italy because of the influences of both the Etruscan and Roman people. There is a 14th century tower located on the winery’s property. Goretti vineyards are located in the heart of an area classified as “D.O.C. Colli Perugini”, as well as in an area classified as “Montefalco D.O.C.G.”, where the celebrated Sagrantino di Montefalco wines are produced.

Goretti visit in IWINETC 2012 visit programmeThe Goretti cellars have been handed down from father to son for four generations, making them yet another family owned and operated producer of top-quality wines. Oenologists, Vittorio Fiore and Barbara Tamburini, are involved in every stage of the wine-making process, from grape selection to bottling, the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work.

Fruit of Goretti’s hard work has been recognised internationally by well known publications such as Wine Speactator and Decanter.:

Some of Gorreti wines include: • Sagrantino D.O.C.G (the big Red of Montefalco), Grape Variety: 100% Sagrantino, • L’Arringatore D.O.C., (Red Colli Perugini), Grape Variety: Sangiovese 60%, Merlot 30%, Ciliegiolo 10%, • Red Montefalco D.O.C., Grape Variety: 60% Sangiovese, Merlot 20%, Sagrantino 20%, • Il Moggio I.G.T, White wine – Grechetto, • Grechetto D.O.C., (White Colli Perugini), Grape variety: Grechetto 100%, Chardonnay D.O.C., (White Colli Perugini), Grape variety: Chardonnay 100%, Torre del Pino D.O.C., (White Colli Perugini), Grape Variety: Trebbiano Toscano 50%, Grechetto 30%, Chardonnay 20%, Grappa di Sagrantino,  Grappa di Grechetto  & Brandy – aged 20 years

But don’t worry if you are not on the Blogger/Media group! A visit to Goretti is also available as an option in a packed social programme during the 3 day conference. Sara Goretti will will be leading wine lovers through the winery and finishing up with a tasting and food matching extravaganza.

Discover Italy with Vineyard Adventures

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?

Who’s looking forward to wining & dining in Italy at IWINETC 2012?

Thanks to expert writers like Julie Pegg, some of the best travel websites are able to offer top class articles that help fellow foodies celebrate authentic food and travel all over the world!  A contributing editor and senior writer for EATMagazine.ca and wine writer for RealFoodTraveler.com, Julie is no stranger to culinary tourism!  She spent fourteen years consulting with the British Columbia Liquor Board, and has been writing about food and wine for the last 15 years, with considerable experience in food and wine judging, pairing wine with food, and cool climate viticulture.

RealFoodTraveler.com focuses on delivering authentic material to the nomads of the world that are looking to either maximize their own travel experiences or learn world culture vicariously through the wisdom of others.  The site is rich with entertaining and insightful stories, shared by professional writers and fellow travelers, that reveal what it is about each region that makes it truly unique! EATMagazine.ca caters to the visitors and residents looking to take advantage of all that British Columbia has to offer, from award winning chef’s and exciting local recipe’s to interesting events and tourist hot spots!

As one of the speakers at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference, we had the opportunity to speak with Pegg about wine tourism in the Pacific Northwest and across the globe.  Below are Pegg’s responses to our questions:

1.   You can reportedly be seen driving your Westfalia camper through small rural locations in the Pacific Northwest, what inspires you to travel? 

Finding food and wine gems or haunts while driving back roads has been one of my greatest pleasures for over 30 years.  I never tire of finding a rural butcher, baker,  farmer, cheesemaker, brewer or winemaker–or funky diner or tucked-away bistro. The Pacific Northwest is still a culinary and wine frontier relative to Europe or even California. Artisans are popping up quicker than you can pop a cork so every road trip is a new adventure. Our northwest bounty is amazing..and much of it is accessible year round.  The van is my little home on wheels–bed, fridge, stove–what more could you want?  Ok–a loo would be nice.

2.  You have been writing about food and wine for fifteen years, what is your favorite topic to share with your readers? 

Food and wine lore, and food and wine pairing are close to my heart. Many of even the most ardent food and wine lovers come up short on their knowledge of wine and food customs, and the history behind so many of the world’s wine regions. Much of our contemporary gastronomy and many popular wines have deep and rustic roots and it’s important to know where and whence food and wine hails, not just locale but origin too. 

3.  At this years conference you will be talking about food and wine in the Pacific Northwest, what is it about this region that makes it unique? 

A bit of this is covered in question #1 with regards to the PNW as a fledgling wine and food region (historically speaking) but the genius, passion and craft that has propelled the Pacific Northwest into a major food and wine destination is mind-boggling. And where else might you ski or snowboard, swim, play golf or tennis then tuck into local wine and cuisine hours or, sometimes, just minutes later? And the bonus?–with a smashing background of mountain, water or desert.

Another unique element is our penchant for fusing Asian-inspired dishes made with local ingredients and partnered with the regions’ white wines, which for me, are among the area’s better offerings. Riesling, Pinots Blanc and Gris, Gewurz, and Viognier underscore lush, aromatic yet crisp wines—perfect partners for soy, ginger, miso, lemon grass, curry and a plethora of other Asian flavours.

4.  What part of the upcoming 2012 Wine Tourism Event in Italy are you looking forward to the most? 

Meeting new people, of course, and learning about their roles in the wine and wine tourism world.  Also I’ve never been south of Tuscany so really keen to see and experience a new wine “geography”.  I very much look to Jane’s wine tasting event. I love culinary travel writing so enjoying local food and wine is a forgone conclusion… 

5.  What food would you pair with Italy’s luscious Amarone? 

The easy answer is a simple wedge of Parmegiano Reggiano, napped with an eye-dropper nap of good balsamico, or risotto milanese perhaps with wild mushrooms or a drizzle of truffle oil.

Meat-wise I’d go for wild meat and game birds–or a nice rabbit ragu. Failing that a nice joint of beef or pork.

Join the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference and network with Julie and 200 – 300 more attendees. Julie will be delivering a talk at the Wine Tourism Conference on January 30 at 11:00, titled: Welcome to Wining and Dining in the Pacific Northwest

Bill Eyer: On the Hunt for Great Wines at Reasonable Prices. Next stop IWINETC 2012

Bill Eyer of Cuvee Corner Wine Blog is on a one-man mission to scour the globe for delicious wines at reasonable prices. As a former beer drinker turned certified Sommelier, world wine traveler and self-proclaimed ‘cork dork,’ he offers unique viewpoints on the wines, regions and events he comes across.

In anticipation of the International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy, we asked him about how his love affair with wine began, where else he hopes to travel and what excites him about wine the most. 

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

Well the way I view it is far different than the average vino-sapien who buys wine and drinks it that same day. But speaking only for myself; as a wine enthusiast and as one who wields a bit of influence over others wine drinkers, I view the area as potentially re-emerging region worthy of great attention, poised with amazing potential. Umbria is sandwiched between Tuscany in the north and the Marches in the south and is home to some of Italy’s most famous wines; like those from the Orvieto DOC. Umbria is also well known in wine-geek circles for producing some fantastically impressive vino from the two of my favorite DOCG’s; one being Montefalco Sangrantino and Torgiano Rosso Reserva.

But as a wine destination, for tourism wine is not the only protagonist for the well-heeled traveler to experience. There’s is a rich History to explore as well. This area of Italy is over-flowing with many traditions that can become inseparable voyage companions of the whole region: places like Montefalco Castle are often an excellent attraction. But, like a lot of Tuscany there does seem to be a bit of disconnect for “newbies” who want to have these experiences, without the help of sometime expensive guides and or restrictive travel packages that move far too fast and really don’t give the traveler to experience Umbria with more depth. What,  I’m saying is there needs to be more emphasis placed on producing wine travel roads, clearly marked out to the audience you want to attract now and into the future. [More on this subject in-depth when I present during the conference]

2. Your blog mentions that your dream is to travel through all of the world’s main wine regions; what are you most looking forward to in Italy and where do you hope to go next?

Ha, yes that is my goal and one I am currently on the trail of accomplishing. As far as Italy is concerned, oh-boy I still have much to see. One I’m really looking forward to visiting Umbria; exploring the Montefalco in-depth and the ten other DOC’s found within the boundaries of Umbria. I’ve never been to the north to visit Collio region [Veneto]; an area vastly under-served by the traditional print media. I would also love to visit and relate back to my readers about Piemonte in north-west Italy’s known to many as the foot of the mountains. This area is very special to me; as it contains some of the most age worthy wines in the world. It also just happens to be some of my all-time favorite wines to collect, age and savor. I would love to spend a great deal of time there, exploring and getting to know the folks behind the label see the land and absorb some the culture. As you can see from reading my blog, I really love Italy, the people and the rich traditions. I’m always so happy to return, when I have the opportunity.

3. Your website also says that your mission is to find ‘great juice for reasonable prices’; what regions, varietals or wines have you found that offer the most bang for your buck?

I would say that by far Chianti Classico, Aglianico IGT’s and Super Tuscan style wines are really giving wine drinkers here in the states, some real bargains, while providing outstanding authentic quality. I am so glad that I’ve not really seen the over-produced synthetic chemistry set wines that I often see from some U.S. producers.

4. How did you first get into wine and what about it excites you the most? 

I was mostly a beer drinker back in day before I discovered that wine be the one thing that really ignited my passion. My wife [Mrs. Cuvee] took me on a trip the Napa Valley; I was exposed to many of the better winemakers in the valley and soon found out that there’s no other libation that inspires quite like wine. Wine grapes specifically are one of most evolutionary advanced plants on the face of the earth and with each sip you take a step back in time. It really gets people in touch with the things that really matter; it hastens understanding and begs for the explorer in each of us to pursue our passions.

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

I look forward to seeing the wines from Corte dei Papi; I ran into these wines at a portfolio tasting LA and wow very impressive. I look forward to seeing the more of the wines from Montefalco Sagrantino, specifically from Tabarrinia. Bring on the Barbaresco’s, especially from producers like Produttori del Barbaresco and Dolcetto’s from Pecchenino. Love to run into some of other friends from Brunello di Montalcino; it has been a while since I was there last.

To meet Bill and learn more about where to find the best wines for their money, join the 300 other attendees at the International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy in January. If you are a wine producer bring along some wines for Bill to taste!

Italian Tradition Returns to Italy…Texas style!

Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo established the Messina Hof Winery in 1977, and Messina Hof is now the most awarded Texas wine in national and international competitions!  He is Chairman of the Texas Wine Industry Development Advisory Committee and Marketing chair for the Texas Wine Grape Growers Association, and she is an author of “Vineyard Cuisine” and lecturer at the Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management.  As Supreme Knight and Lady of Knights of The Vine, the Bonarrigo’s are well known nobility in the Texas Wine market, and the growing Messina Hof businesses are becoming more recognized to those outside of Texas and the US.

As one of the speakers at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference, we had the opportunity to speak with Bonarrigo about wine tourism in Texas and across the globe.  Below are Bonarrigo’s responses to our questions:

1.)  Paul, you were a speaker last year, welcome back!  As the 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Umbria, Italy this year, how do you view Italy as a wine destination?

Italy is the ultimate wine destination.  Wine and grape growing is everywhere. Italy has inspired  wine making and grape growing technology. Most of my wineries equipment was made in Italy. The food and wine experience of Italy is what has inspired Messina Hof Winery in my home state of Texas.

2.) You have been a part of Texas agriculture for years, can you talk about how Texas has evolved as a force to be reckoned with?

Texas has evolved from last in the USA in wine production when we began in 1977 .  Today Texas is 5th in the US and the fastest growing state in the US.  In 1977 we were one of 3 wineries and now we have 260 wineries in Texas.  Texan consumed less than 1 bottle of  wine per year in 1977.  Today Texans consume 11 bottles of wine per year. Our wine is now shipped to more than 32 states in the US.  In 2010 we had 250,000 visitors come to Messina Hof in Bryan Texas and we expect more than 300,000 visitors in our new winery in Fredericksburg, Texas.  The Texas wine  tourism is second only to Napa Valley.

3.)  At the conference, you will be talking about how to retain customers in a competitive tourism business, can you share a little bit about what it takes to turn visitors into long term customers?

At Messina Hof we retain customers by inviting participation in everything we do. Our belief is that all of our customers are part of our family. We offer an Ambassador  Program where our customers represent us at more than 200 tastings during the year.  Our customers help us pick and process the grapes.  Last year more than 2000 customers participated in harvest. We provide blending workshops, barrel tastings and tank tastings.

4.)  You have roots in Italy dating back six generations, what about Italy inspires you the most?

Italy inspires my creativity.  The land, the people and the charm of the Italian people stimulates my imagination. Italy is the perfect place to have a conference which brings people together from all over the world to promote food and wine.

5.) What is your favorite Italian wine and food pairing?

My favorite wine of Italy is Nero D’ Avola with Fettuccine Alla Carbonara.

Merrill Bonarrigo at IWINETC 2011Join the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference and network with Paul and Merrill and 200 – 300 more attendees. Paul and Merrilll will be delivering a talk at the Wine Tourism Conference on January 31‘s at 12:30, titled: Connecting with Visitors and Turning Them into Long Term Customers.