Day 1 of the 3rd International Wine Tourism Conference 2011

Michael Oudyn of Wine Tripping and member of the Blogger- Media Fam Trip sums up day 1 of the 3rd International Wine Tourism Conference 2011:

First we were given a regal welcome by His Royal Majesty Dom Duarte de Braganca.  He encouraged us to enjoy wine and Portugal, two things we needed very little encouragement to do.

The second plenary talk was by Manuel de Novaes Cabral of The Great Wine Capitals Global Network who discussed the dynamics between urban and rural wine territories. The plenary talks were the easy part.  The hard part of the Wine Tourism Conference was choosing between the three sessions being offered simultaneously.  They all seemed so interesting.

The first one I went to asked the intriguing question “Is Champagne Losing Its “’Luxury Allure’?”  Melba Allen-Buillard, a professor of wine science based in Paris.  The short answer: “no”. But wine tourism offers new opportunities to make sure it doesn’t happen. There are bicycle trails, boat rides on the Seine, the cathedral of Rheims which is where all but two of the French kings were crowned.  She defined  Champagne “wine tourists” from the Brits, Belgiums, and Germans who have second homes in Champagne to the day trippers on “the bullet train” from Paris. 

My next session was “Wine in Portuguese Culture & History” given by Vasco d’Avillez of Companhia das Quintas. This was a goldmine of amusing and informative anecdotes.  Choosing just a couple of the many notes.  The origin of the word “tips.”  At the tea houses of the 18th century you put a little money in a slot to To Insure Prompt Service. TIPS.  Why port is traditionally passed to the left; the origin of the English “to toast,” not what you do to bread but what you say before taking a drink.

Then on to a talk called Texas Tourism Texas Stylegiven by Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo of the Messina Hof Winery and Resort.  It turns out that Texas, of all places, has the second most developed wine tourism industry in the U.S., behind Napa Valley of course.

Then  Marcy Gordon of Come For the Wine emphasized story telling in travel marketing today,  Focusing on the narrative and keeping it interactive we all came up with imaginative short tweets about green wine.

I had hit the jack pot on the talks I went to. They were all very interesting; they didn’t just rehash what you already knew.  But I talked to others who had gone to the other talks and they said the same thing.

Charles Metcalf of Inn House Publishing, UK in his plenary conference asked the intriguing question of whether wine tourism could help Europe drain its Wine Lake of surplus of wine..  Not if they keep making bad wine from wrong grapes planted in the wrong places.  But it certainly can help sell good wine.

Finally, Metcalfe led us through a tasting of interesting and “surprising” Portuguese wines from sparklers to vinhos verdes to the reds and finally of course the Ports.

What a day! And so much more to come.