Wacky Wine Weekend

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Taking place this weekend is the Robertson Wine Valley, Wacky Wine Weekend.

With over 10 000 visitors in 2006, the Wacky Wine Weekend has been firmly established as one of South Africa’s leading wine tourism events. This fun-filled weekend spans the valley and includes 40 wineries from Ashton, Bonnievale, McGregor and Robertson with a special focus on good food, great wine and an even better time spent with friends and family.

Wineries all across this picturesque valley host extra activities in addition to wine tasting which includes boat cruises, tractor trips, paragliding, golfing, the sound of live music, loads of childrens’ activities and food ranging from traditional SA meals to gourmet delicacies. There are plenty of different scenes to enjoy - almost every taste and style is covered in one weekend.

A survey commissioned by Cape Town Routes Unlimited on last year’s Wacky Wine Weekend indicated that the event was highly successful with an estimated direct spend in the Valley of R 9,7million. And advertising last year was mainly by word of mouth!

By Mike Carter.

An eBay For Wine Collectors

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The best wines in the world aren’t at Trader Joe’s, it turns out. They are in some collector’s cellar.

“The better the quality of the wine, the harder it is to get,” says Stephen Bachmann, CEO of Vinfolio, a wine trading/collecting site. ”The best wines that get released end up in the cellars of collectors. Private cellars have more supplies of these wines than the trade does.”

Vinfolio essentially acts like an eBay for oenophiles, who turn out to be just as crazy and compulsive as collectors in other fields. Wine owners list the contents of their cellars on the service. They can then sell, buy or trade with other collectors. If you start out as a California collector, but have switched to French wines, you can start selling the old bottles to pay for the new habit.

Vinfolio gives away its desktop software but takes a cut on transactions.

The company also provides data on estimated prices for your wines, current auctions and other information on the wine world. In other words, the dizzying array of data that makes rotisserie baseball addictive to its adherents is now part of wine collecting.

Subscribers are expected to grow to 21,000 people in 2007. Revenues will likely reach $17 million this year. The company is only three years old. In 2005, revenues came to $2.4 million. The average wine traded on the site sells for $100 to $125 with some bottles selling for several thousand.

And in the June 2007 issue of Food & Wine, Vinfolio was voted as one of the 10 Best Online Wine Shops.

By Michael Kanellon.

All You Need For A Great Wine Trip

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Take a look at a great new wine tourism web site - www.winetravelguides.com - which offers over 40 Guides for wine travellers in France, all written by writers with the inside track on their region.

Launched at this years London Wine Fair by UK and French based wine writer, editor and educator Wink Lorch, each guide has a selection of wine producers to visit, places to stay and eat, and much more. The information is very detailed, varying in length from 10 - 18 pages including Michelin maps, and they have promised that this information will be reguarly up-dated. I particuarly liked the suggested itineries. Fortunately there’s no advertising as the Guides are available only by subscription which start at $15 for one Guide.

An interesting idea, with the potential to expand to other countries and wine regions as well.

Just register on the site with your email to test drive one of the Guides for free. One problem though - the confirmation email they sent me after registering included my password - not a good idea, and hopefully they will change this.

By Mike Carter.

Well over a million wine lovers and tourists are expected to flock this weekend to some 1,000 vineyards taking part in this year’s Open Cellars event. Now in its 15th year, Open Cellars has been a pioneer in developing Italy’s wine tourism sector which attracts over four million people to the Italian countryside.

Aside from seeing where and how wine is made, and discovering the difference of tasting it at its source, Open Cellars offers visitors a chance to learn about traditions and culture linked to wine-making and country life. Although wine is the chief focus, Open Cellars also offers tourists a chance to sample other farm products, especially olive oil, and feast on an array of regional foods and cuisine.

The initiative, organised by the Wine Tourism Movement (MTV), originally began in Tuscany to then spread quickly to Italy’s other wine-producing regions. A number of special events have once again been organised in various Italian regions for the Open Cellars weekend.
The region of Lombardy will reprise “dinners with winemakers” in a number of vineyards, historic homes and restaurants where visitors will be able to enjoy the region’s best wines and foods while chatting to a professional vintner.

A cross-country bike rally has been organised in Friuli Venezia Giulia and the region will also offer Open Cellars 2007 souvenir glass wine goblets, the proceeds of which will be donated to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). In Emilia Romagna, wine tasting will be twinned with sampling the region’s varieties of bread, with each vineyard playing host to a local baker. Vintage and classic cars and motorcycles will be an Open Cellars sideshow in Abruzzo with the participation of the Motoclub Pescara, the Sulmona Vespa Club and the regional Fiat 500 Club.

In Molise, Open Cellars this year coincides with the feast day of the patron saint of Portocannone, an ethnic Albanian enclave, where there will be the traditional ox cart race in honor of the Madonna of Constantinople. A ‘wine road’ will be inaugurated during Open Cellars in Calabria to allow wine tourists a year-round itinerary to discover the region’s wines.

Wine tourism in Italy has been expanding at a rate of some 8% a year and now attracts and generates annual revenue of around 2.5 billion euros in wine-producing regions.

A study by the social research group CENSIS found that every 10 euros spent in the vineyard generates 50 euros in earnings for the local economy. According to another CENSIS report, wine and food have become the second most important reason why tourists come to Italy and is considered the treat which gives the greatest satisfaction to visitors.


California Wine Month

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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared September 2007 California Wine Month.  In a proclamation, the Governator stated “With more than 2,400 wineries and 4,600 grape growers, California is proud to produce ninety percent of all U.S. wine and to be the world’s fourth largest wine maker.  Not only does this mean that our wines are adding distinctive flair to countless meals and special occasions, but also that billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs are strengthening our economy.”  The Wine Institute is partnering with winery members, regional winery and grower associations, retailers and restaurants and other organizations with a calendar of California wine events in September. Visit www.californiawineevents.com for listings of events in California wine country in September and throughout the year.

It’s no surprise that with California leading the US wine production, our beautiful weather and amazing scenery, we draw in nearly 20 million tourists annually who come to experience the wines of California.

California Wine Month last September helped increase sales of California wines by 11 percent that month in U.S. supermarkets, compared to the previous summer.  So grab the California Wine Month image, post it on your site, get it in you next email blast and celebrate your contribution to an industry that strengthens our economy but lets not forget the most important part, produces some of the most amazing Vino in the world.

By Stephen Mutch - REthink Wine Blog

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