While other food and beverage sectors faced heavy losses during the pandemic, the wine industry grew. Now that travel is back, a boom in wine tourism is expected to follow.
According to a recent study, wine tourism is projected to reach nearly $14 million this year. By 2033, it’s expected to hit $47.5 million.
There are a number of factors contributing to this growth, including a rise in experiential travel and larger culinary tourism. However, it is also important to note that, while several food and beverage sectors faced heavy losses during the pandemic, the wine industry actually grew.
Here are a few ways that both wineries and their surrounding areas can make the most of this moment:
Pulling back the curtain on the production process.
Traditionally, the tasting room is the focal point of any vineyard visit. While many winemakers also offer property tours, visitors know that they’re getting only a glimpse of the winemaking process. By offering unique experiences that forge deeper ties to the creation of the wines, vineyards can attract and forge deeper relationships with visitors while instilling an appreciation of their favorite bottles.
For example, visitors to Portugal’s Douro Valley–the oldest wine region in the world–can now participate in biodiversity collection that is critical to preserving the area’s terroirs. While it may seem like dirty work, these tours facilitate better understanding of the area, an appreciation for the conditions necessary to create its famed wines, and an opportunity to contribute to the ongoing health of its ecosystem.
Expanding dining options.
As wine tourism increases, a rise in competition for guests is likely to follow. To stand out from the crowd, vineyards should look for ways to present themselves as destinations, rather than stops on a tour–and food is a critical piece of that puzzle.
In the UK, for example, vineyards are increasingly opening restaurants onsite–which also creates additional revenue streams and helps attract visitors who may not be interested in wine. It can also provide a boost to the area’s food scene. However, there are a number of ways to reap these benefits without investing in a full-fledged restaurant, like food trucks and pop-ups featuring local chefs.
Invigorating emerging wine regions.
In the last five years, Bolivia’s previously unrecognized wine prowess has earned it the title of “the next wine destination to visit.” As one of the poorest countries in South America, wine tourists will now play an important role in invigorating the area.
Similarly, communities in other hidden wine regions need to be ready to support and make the most of increasing wine tourism. For example, expanding hotels and transportation options, offering a variety of dining and shopping, and bolstering tour companies and existing tourist attractions.
As climate change continues to create new challenges and opportunities for wine regions across the globe, this tourism will play a critical role in shaping the future of the industry and countless local economies.
I look forward to seeing how they answer the call.
Danilo Diazgranados is an independent investor in the global food and wine, financial services, real estate, and the hospitality sectors.