Saturday, 10 November 2012

Wine Tourism on a Budget


Can there be any better way to understand a wine than to visit the vineyard? See the vines, feel the sun on your face and the soil beneath your feet? Of course not - and it needn't cost a fortune.

Wine Consumption World Map
As part of my recent WSET Diploma exam I had to take a close look at the world of wine tourism. One of the aspects I considered was wine tourism on a budget. As this is a relatively new industry (having only really taken off in the 90's) there are new ideas emerging on an almost daily basis, but I've noticed a few features which seem to be relatively consistent all over the world.



Firstly, set your sights on areas where vineyards and wineries cluster together. Not only does this mean you can visit more producers easily (cutting down on transport costs), but these producers and other supporting industries (restaurants, accommodation etc) are likely to have good relationships which can save you both tine and money when navigating the region.

Secondly, consider your destination carefully before you set off. Obvious, really, and in the age of the internet it goes without saying that you can find a lot of information such as maps and local history without purchasing guidebooks and the like. Phoning or emailing ahead can help you to get the most out of your visit: ensuring there will be someone to speak with, or finding out about any events / tastings they may be holding.

A bottle holder for your bike! You can buy these here

Third, think about your mode of transport. For example, if you are lucky enough to find yourself in Mendoza, Argentina, you can hire a bike for just £2.50 (GBP) a day. This includes a map of the vineyards of the region. For an extra £1, they'll even take you into the foothills with your bike, so you can just spend the day rolling back to where you started, stopping for picnics in vineyards along the way. Perfect!

My fourth and final hint is probably the most obvious, yet the most often overlooked. If you really want to get into the vines, but at minimum cost, simply visit the nearest vineyard to you. I got in touch with the English Wine Producers and was thrilled to discover they have a free map, which they'll even post to you, detailing all the registered vineyards of England and Wales. Imagine my delight to discover five vineyards within 20 miles of my home - I had only been aware of one of them up to now.

The free map provided by the English Wine Producers

So, taking my own advice, I have been planning a route around a few of these vineyards (thanks to google maps), phoning ahead to ensure there's someone to talk to when I get there, and will be jumping on the bike in the near future to pay them all a visit. The total bill for this trip will be no more than the (inevitable) purchases from the cellar doors, and you can't beat that for a bit of wine tourism on a budget.

So what's stopping you? Get out there and immerse yourself in a bit of 'terroir tourism' - and let me know what you find!


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