The Porto and North of Portugal Wine Tourism Routes has been created with the aim of helping to boost sustainable tourism in the region by taking advantage of the huge potential of its vine and wine culture, associating it with the reputation and location of Porto and North of Portugal as a tourist destination.
The route arises from a protocol entered into with the four existing routes corresponding to each of the wine regions, Douro, Vinhos Verdes, Távara-Varosa and Trás-os-Montes, as a means of creating differentiated wine tourism experiences on each of the four routes. This interconnection, whether physical or functional, is capable of arousing considerable interest in the consumer market through a thoroughly screened and identified provision of services.
Due to the fact this is a relatively recent activity in Portugal, the wine cluster accounts for a large slice of the tourism sector in northern Portugal. The last ten years have registered a highly significant growth in the number of wine-producing estates, which have found wine tourism to be an extremely interesting way of promoting their products. There are currently more than 400 estates in the region with the potential to engage in tourist activity, this being a very important means of boosting activity related to a product that is of enormous strategic value for the region.
Wine and tourism are two strategic sectors of the national economy and provide a major contribution to the country´s Gross Domestic Product, and which, due to networking and the use of synergies, will certainly become one of the biggest tourist attractions in Porto and northern Portugal.
A Global Benchmark
“Some of these estates have undergone a process of adaptation to the reality of wine tourism and are now recognised on a worldwide basis, and have earned important international awards”, declares Luís Pedro Martins, the president of Porto and North of Portugal Tourism Board.
This ambitious project aims to help the region establish itself as a benchmark in the field of food and wine tourism on a global scale, enabling it to compete with other destinations that have been successfully exploiting wine tourism for some time. “There is no reason why we can´t be major players in the area of wine tourism; other regions have achieved success without our natural and landscape resources, our secular history, or our range of hotels and restaurants”, points out the president of Porto and Northern Portugal Tourism. This product is highly appealing, easily wins over new audiences, creates an emotional relationship and, when well exploited and streamlined, boosts other tourism products “such as gastronomy, culture, nature, water-based activities, health and well-being, among others”. The creation of an integrated offer composed of the four wine-producing regions will have the greater advantage of attracting tourists for a longer period of time and distributing them among the four main destinations in the region – Porto, Douro, Trás-os-Montes and Minho – in a more organised manner.
Wine cellars, wineries, estates and hotels have been enhancing the areas in which they have been traditionally sound and increasing investment in the continuous improvement of their infrastructure, thereby strengthening the wine tourist’s emotional relationship with their brand, district and region, generating natural income from the sale of wines.
The full enjoyment of the wine tourism experience is subject to the following criteria:
– Winemaking visits
These visits are geared to getting to know the winemaking culture and the respective wines of each of the regions of northern Portugal, from the vineyard to the winemaking processes, aging and the end product.
– Visits to places of interest related to winemaking
Visits to museums, ruins, artisans and other places directly or indirectly associated with the winemaking culture and which represent an interesting tourist venue in each of the regions.
The provision of duly licensed accommodation, which, due to the fact it is directly or indirectly linked to wine culture, can be used to promote and market the route. Accommodation units should by choice be based in a wine-producing landscape or in an urban environment with wine culture as a theme, and geared to the appreciation of the wines of the winemaking region in which they are located.
– Meal Service
Restaurants, wine bars, bars and/or cafés, duly registered for the exercise of this activity, which, in addition to providing a specific range of certified wines from the winemaking region in which they are based, composed of at least eight types of wine from four different producers, can provide the gastronomic experiences typical of the region, thereby constituting an interesting stopover along the Route. Menus and wine lists should be translated into at least one foreign language (preferably English) and, whenever possible, should also be available in braille. This activity can also include places mentioned in the previous items that, in addition, provide a permanent meal service.
– Tourist Entertainment
In addition to the aforementioned activities, participants can also engage in other activities of a tourist nature, such as excursions and/or picnics in vineyards, as well as workshops and other events aimed at directly or indirectly diversifying the services on offer associated with the wine culture of the region in question. These tourist entertainment activities should identify both the target audience and the respective degree of difficulty, in addition to other relevant factors in relation to the activity.
Sustainability and storytelling
One of the biggest guidelines for tourist activity in the near future is the reduction of the ecological footprint in tourism. This practice is part of the guidelines given to agents, suggesting the implementation of an integrated development strategy with the assumption of a principle of responsibility in relation to the land and exploration thereof, thereby reducing the impact of the activity on the environment. As such, the adoption of good practices with regard to environmental sustainability is recommended, such as the selective collection of waste, incentives to reduce the consumption of water and, whenever possible, the option of alternative sources of energy. Moreover, consumers/visitors should be taught to adopt practices aimed at safeguarding the environment.
Efforts should be made to assess and enhance the facilities, the service, the surrounding nature and history and tradition, such as the history of the building, the landscape, the architect entrusted with the project, the beauty of the garden, collections associated with wine, among others, capable of adding value and setting the services apart when compared to other participants in the Route, in the sense that the services as a whole can provide the market with new experiences that will attract tourists from different segments of society. These aspects are increasingly appreciated by the profile of the modern tourist.
Participants should be committed to the protection of natural resources and should be willing to take part in or implement programmes geared to safeguarding these resources and enhancing the wine heritage. It is of paramount importance that the site of the tourist experience features the unique characteristics of the region in order to guarantee the authenticity of the experience. Materials associated with the region and wine culture should be prominent in the decoration and iconography of the site. The interpretation of the site´s natural and cultural heritage by the personnel interacting with clients should be complemented with historical facts and authentic stories and from the region as a means of enhancing the customer experience. To this end, local human resources should be hired to the extent possible. These two factors make a significant contribution to the social and cultural sustainability of the destination and should therefore be a priority for participants.
All participants will undertake to ensure all their promotional and informative material, on both physical and digital media, includes the image of the Wine and Wine Tourism Route of Porto and Northern Portugal, all the logos of the respective wine routes and wine tourism, as well as the destination brand for tourism in the region.
The four specific regions
– Douro and Porto Wines
The mission of the Douro and Porto Wine Institute is to promote the control of the quality and quantity of Porto wines and to regulate the production process, as well as the protection and defence of Douro and Porto designations of origin and Douro geographic indication. The institute promotes the prestigious international image of the Porto and Douro designations of origin, and aims to increase the perception of value by consumers, based on the solid differentiation of the products on offer with regard to the concepts of designation of origin and “terroir”.
– Vinhos Verdes Region Wine-Producing Culture Commission
The Demarcated Vinhos Verdes Region lies throughout northwestern Portugal in the area traditionally known as Entre-Douro-e-Minho. Its boundaries are the river Minho to the north, which forms part of the border with Spain, the river Douro and the Freita, Arada and Montemuro hills to the south, the Peneda, Gerês, Cabreira and Marão hills to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. In terms of geographic area, it is the biggest Demarcated Region in Portugal and one of the biggest in Europe.
– Regional Távora-Varosa Wine-Producing Commission
This region is home to the districts of Moimenta da Beira, Sernancelhe, Tarouca and a number of parishes in the districts of Penedono, São João da Pesqueira, Tabuaço, Armamar and Lamego, where the climate and granite soil ensure excellent conditions for the production of fresh wines and ideal levels of acidity for the production of sparkling wines.
The Porto and North of Portugal Wine Tourism Routes will be presented at the International Wine Tourism Conference, Exhibition and B2B Workshop (IWINETC) on Tuesday 26 October 2021 by Dr. Manuel Pinheiro at 10.30 at the Lodge Wine & Business Hotel.