What Is Wine Tourism?

O. Parker

"Tourism" is term that is used to define travel that is predominately for recreation or leisure. Wine tourism is recreational or leisure travel with wine as the central focus of the trip. It might be visiting a vineyard, winery or wine region. The term "wine tourism" also can be used for recreation and leisure travel to restaurants that feature specific wines and for visits to wine festivals. The wine tourism business is all the business related to wine tourism, including promotional material, tour organizations and package trips to wine regions.

Many wine tours take place in California's Napa valley.
Many wine tours take place in California's Napa valley.

Grapes tend to grow in specific climate conditions. They can't grow everywhere, so regions that are successful tend to attract more than one winemaker to the area. Instead of visiting just one vineyard or winery, wine tourists often have a whole region to explore. Grapes grow best in regions that have mild winters and hot, dry summers. These climate conditions are appealing to tourists as well making wine tourism synonymous with blue skies, clear weather and rolling green vineyards.

Many areas in the U.S., including parts of California, Oregon and Washington, are becoming wine tourism destinations.
Many areas in the U.S., including parts of California, Oregon and Washington, are becoming wine tourism destinations.

A visit to a vineyard and winery is a chance to taste some of the wines where they are made. Most wineries have tasting rooms where tourists can chat with the winemaker or the owners. In a wine growing region, this offers tourists a chance to taste some of the wines produced by wineries in that area.

Wine tourism can include a visit to a restaurant that specializes in fine wines or in wines from a specific region.
Wine tourism can include a visit to a restaurant that specializes in fine wines or in wines from a specific region.

Pairing wine with food is an art. Wine tourism can include a visit to a restaurant that specializes in fine wines or in wines from a specific region. Festivals are another common activity. Featured wines are often paired with food to bring out the best flavors in each. Wine festivals also commonly include grape stomping, music and other cultural activities.

Some wine tour operators shuttle tourists among neighboring wineries.
Some wine tour operators shuttle tourists among neighboring wineries.

France, Italy and Spain have always been known for their wine-producing and grape-growing regions. These regions are steeped in history and wine tourism opportunities. Many of Europe's wineries have centuries of history behind them.

Winemakers have discovered suitable grape-growing regions outside of Europe. California's Napa and Sonoma regions have seen a blossoming of wineries and vineyards. Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington are areas where vineyards and wineries have multiplied. Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina also have wine industries.

Wine tourism may involve visits to wine tasting festivals.
Wine tourism may involve visits to wine tasting festivals.

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