On February 1st 2010 over 200 wine tourism professionals from around the world will descend on the little know Catalan village of La Beguda Baixa in the Penedès & Cava wine region of Catalonia, Spain for the 2nd edition of the Wine Pleasures International Wine Tourism Conference and Workshop which will be held over four days at the Barceló Hotel Montserrat.
Bloggers and media together with early arrivals will be able to take part in a Pre – Conference Event. On the agenda are visits to two DO Penedès wineries Jean Leon and Mas Rodó. The latter being the only winery in the whole of the Penedès to produce a wine with the Montonega grape variety. Participants will be treated to a Calçotada matched with wines from the “Finca”. Evening Cava tasting in the hotel.
The provisional conference programme boasts an international line up of world-class plenary speakers; (Joy Neighbours White Owl Winery, USA), Kelli McCarty (Celebrity Wine Review TV), Jochen Erler (Journalist & Wine Consultant from Germany), Gloria Vallès (Can Bonastre Wine Resort, Spain), Rainer Brusis (Wine Tourism Consultant from Germany), John Callely (CEO Jameson Distillery Tours, Ireland) and Alioscia Lombardini (Movimiento Tuismo de Vino, Italy).
As well as being packed with over 40 talks, workshops, symposia and posters, the event offers a state of the art exhibition of wine tourism related products, as well as a rich “After Conference” social programme which includes live blogging of wine tastings of wines from Bulgaria, Portugal and Italy. There is also a contrastive whisky tasting as well as a practical workshop on how to cut Iberian ham and match wines. There’s even a water and wine matching session from Font Vella and of course there will winery visits to nearby producers such as Torrens Moliner, Pinord, Mascaró and Vilarnau.
For those who want to delve further into Catalan wines, a highlight this year is drop-in Catalan taster sessions run by winemakers. These will provide an informal opportunity to learn about the great variety of wines from Catalunya. By the time they bid farewell, all delegates will have had a chance to taste wines made from local grape varieties such as Xarel.lo, Parellada, Macabeo, Carinyena, Malvasia de Sitges and Montonega.
They say a bottle of wine is like a geography lesson. To date 31 different countries are represented at the event, making it a truly international occasion, with delegates from Australia to USA, Norway to South Africa. This is in line with the aims of the organisation of linking and supporting wine tourism professionals worldwide.
Day 4 of the event is closed to the public and open for International Tour Operators to hold private pre-arranged meetings with wine tourism experience providers from around the world within a Workshop format. The purpose of the workshop is for both parties to increase consumption of wine tourism in the tourism market place.
20 of the participating tour operators in the workshop will take part in a Fam Trip and visit wineries, hotels, restaurants and places of cultural interest in the following regions: Conca de Barberà, Penedès, Priorat, Penedès, Montsant and Tarragona.
There are of course many hundreds of professionals for whom attending the conference is usually no more than a dream because of the costs involved in travel to Barcelona. This year plans are afoot to make the event accessible to many hundreds more participants from around the globe through the Wine Pleasures website where the online audience can view the speakers in the main conference room and participate. Participants will be able to post comments, put questions to the speakers and of course follow and see the whole event as it happens
Participants can also follow the event through the Wine Pleasures twitter account @winepleasures. We will be using the #wp hashtag to actively exchange questions and comments with the community. Participants will need to have a twitter account to participate. Comments and blog links will also be posted on the Wine Pleasures Facebook Fan Page for people to view and add comments.
This initiative builds on the groundwork laid at our previous conference. It is an exciting and truly ground-breaking innovation. It promises to be one of the biggest global wine tourism events ever.
So what happens? A winery or tour operator in Chile, or New Zealand, or China will be able to sign up and participate in the conference from their own country. All the plenary talks, as well as a sizable number of other presentations will be shown live over the Net or recorded and made available on the conference site. We will also have forums to discuss all aspects of our profession, photo albums, chat sessions and prizes especially for our remote participants. A large team will be in place behind the scenes to bring the event to the remote audience, which is anticipated to be in the region of 7000 participants.
This year certainly promises to be different.
Delegates are advised to register before the event as we do not have an infinite number of places.