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Abstract

This text includes the history of wine tourism in Italy since 1993, when the first edition of the event "Cantine Aperte" (Open Cellars), Wine Day, took place. The movement grew from the initial 25 wineries to the 21,000 that participate today in opening their doors to the public, while visitors grew in numbers from a couple of hundred, 20 years ago, to the current 4 to 6 million. Wine tourists can be divided into four main groups: wine tourists by chance, classic wine tourists, talent scouts, and lovers of luxury. Each group is examined according to its consumption, its conduct, and its expectations. Wine tourism in Italy boasts around 170 territorial networks: "Strade del Vino" (wine routes) regulated by law. After an initial pioneer phase during which preexisting wineries adapted to the growing number of tourists, modern-day wineries were created with bespoke areas for the welcoming of visitors. Wineries in Italy can be classified into the following main types: "functional wineries" that concentrate on productive efficiency; "cathedrals" - renovated historic buildings or modern "starchitecture" designs in which esthetics play an important role, wineries with a "strong identity" linked to the owner or wine producer with the special imprint of his or her personal wine making passion. Other features of Italian wine territories such as food and wellness centers not to speak of the ever present cultural heritage also play a part in attracting wine tourists. Lastly, an evaluation is made of business and communication aspects with a specific reference to the use of the web.
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International Journal of Wine Research 2015:7 29–35
International Journal of Wine Research
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EXPERT OPINION
open access to scientific and medical research
Open Access Full Text Article
http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/IJWR.S82688
Wine tourism in Italy
Donatella Cinelli Colombini
Orcia Doc Wine Consortium, Rocca
d’Orcia , Italy
Correspondence: Donatella
Cinelli Colombini
Casato Prime Donne, Loc Casato 17,
53024 Montalcino SI, Italy
Tel +39 05 7784 9421
Fax +39 05 7784 9353
Email donatella@cinellicolombini.it
Abstract: This text includes the history of wine tourism in Italy since 1993, when the first
edition of the event “Cantine Aperte” (Open Cellars), Wine Day, took place. The movement
grew from the initial 25 wineries to the 21,000 that participate today in opening their doors to
the public, while visitors grew in numbers from a couple of hundred, 20 years ago, to the cur-
rent 4 to 6 million. Wine tourists can be divided into four main groups: wine tourists by chance,
classic wine tourists, talent scouts, and lovers of luxury. Each group is examined according to
its consumption, its conduct, and its expectations. Wine tourism in Italy boasts around 170
territorial networks: “Strade del Vino” (wine routes) regulated by law. After an initial pioneer
phase during which preexisting wineries adapted to the growing number of tourists, modern-day
wineries were created with bespoke areas for the welcoming of visitors. Wineries in Italy can be
classified into the following main types: “functional wineries” that concentrate on productive
efficiency; “cathedrals” renovated historic buildings or modern “starchitecture” designs in
which esthetics play an important role; wineries with a “strong identity” linked to the owner
or wine producer with the special imprint of his or her personal wine making passion. Other
features of Italian wine territories such as food and wellness centers not to speak of the ever
present cultural heritage also play a part in attracting wine tourists. Lastly, an evaluation is made
of business and communication aspects with a specific reference to the use of the web.
Keywords: wine tourism, Italian wineries, winery tours, wine roads of Italy
History of wine tourism in Italy
In the past years, wine tourism has changed in Italian wineries and as a result the
entire economy of the wine territories. When the first edition of “Cantine Aperte”
(Open Cellars) was organized in 1993, an event that spread wine tourism all over Italy,
hardly more than 20 wineries in the whole of Italy were accessible to tourists, with
a total turnover of around 200,000 Euros per year. The first 100 Tuscan wineries that
agreed to open their doors to the public on that Sunday May 9, 1993, triggered a kind
of revolution. The tourist attraction of wine production areas had become evident, and
competitors joined in a common objective that could not have been reached individually:
the visibility that stems from the very size of an initiative – the critical mass that makes
news attracting the attention of TV channels and newspapers.
After the first edition of the “Cantine Aperte” day, the event was repeated during the
following years; first in seven regions of Central Northern Italy, then all over the coun-
try, and finally in an effort to render the event international, the model was launched
as a sort of worldwide “Wine day”, a welcome-to-wineries day. Unfortunately, this
project was not successful.
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Cinelli Colombini
The Wine Tourism Movement, the association that
organizes “Cantine Aperte”, printed brochures, promoted
communication, and above all taught producers how to
organize sales, tours, and tastings for visitors. Since 2007,
an increasing number of wineries decided to stay open all
year round. From then on the Tourism Movement’s efforts
concentrated on encouraging a warm welcome by qualified
staff. The Wine Tourism Movement (MTV) still exists and
also promotes other events apart from “Cantine Aperte”.
August 10 – the feast of San Lorenzo – was chosen as the
day of “Calici di stelle” – (wine glasses of stars) for open-air
tastings in wineries and in the villages of wine-producing
regions. The event is mostly for young consumers and is
organized together with the Associazione Nazionale Città
del Vino. Other events take place during the grape harvests
and at Christmas time.
Since 1999, a law that regulates the Wine Routes also
financed the birth of more than 179 territorial networks.
Unfortunately, only about 20 are fully functional and able to
generate income while most of them are merely administra-
tive decrees. In the absence of an Italian Ministry of Tourism,
wine tourism is regulated by the regions, but wine tourism
and the wine routes have always fallen between two areas:
agriculture and tourism with the result that neither of them is
efficiently managed. There is no such thing as national coor-
dination to promote and further the sale of wine as a “tourist
product” able to dictate minimum standards of income, as
there are no systemic studies capable of drawing up an exact
picture of the situation.
The two national organizations that are involved in wine
tourism are the Movimento del Turismo del Vino (Wine Tourism
Movement), which counts 1000 wineries, and the Associazione
Nazionale Città del Vino, which refers to the the townships of
wine areas. Both of them are highly committed to their work
and are present in all the Italian regions. The page on wine
tourism in the government website http://www.italia.it refers
to these two organizations for any information.
As always, rapid growth has its pros and cons, and in fact,
the number of wineries equipped for hosting people is low. Of
the 21,000 wine estates with a shop, only 1000 boast of trained
multilingual staff, rest rooms, a tasting hall, an informative
recreational activity, and a well-equipped shopping area.
Who are the tourists
of Italian wineries and
what are they looking for
Foreign visitors of Italian wineries are estimated at between
4 and 6 million per year with an annual rise of 3.6% – clearly
higher than general Italian tourism that is currently going
through a difficult time. For 2 years now, Italy has seen
its flow of Italian visitors decrease while the 46 million
foreign tourists, despite their increase of 1.9% in 2013,
are not enough to counterbalance the decrease in domestic
tourism.
The data available for evaluating business generated by
wine tourism is very vague and there are no in-depth studies.
All the experts of this sector refer to the Osservatorio del
Turismo del Vino, drafted by Censis Servizi for the Associ-
azione Città del Vino, which indicates a turnover of between
3 and 5 billion Euros depending on whether only the business
in the wineries is taken into account or the entire income
created by visitors of wine regions.
The Osservatorio points out how wine on its own does
not generate tourism. The influx arises when prestigious
bottles are produced in particularly beautiful intact areas.
The landscape factor is clearly crucial and linked to respect
for the environment and cultural aspects. Visitors perceive
wine tasting as a complement or indeed as part and parcel
of the land they are in, comparable to visiting a medieval
castle or a 16th century villa. It is not surprising that the
quality of the territory is at the top (23%) of the factors
that influence the choices of wine tourists, coming before
culture (19%), wine and food (17%), and the wine itself
(13%). There is an inextricable link between wines and
they come from a bond that the winery owners aim to
convey both in the welcoming of guests and in the wine
tastings.
The Italian wine tourist is generally male (61.3%)
between 30 and 50 years of age. He travels as part of a couple
or with a group of friends (source Centro Studi turistici Cst
2012 for Movimento del turismo del Vino).1
Even if they are all called wine tourists, 86% of Italian
wineries visitors are in fact excursionists, ie, people who
travel from morning till evening within a radius of 200 km
from their home. Only 14% of them spend the night in the
wine area, and of these, one half stick to the weekend for
their travel (WineNews data 25 May 2012). The quota of
people who spend more days is marginal and above all
foreign.
Italy is the prime destination for tourists whose holidays
focus on wine-tastings and cuisine. Their destinations vary
by culture. German-speakers gravitate to the northeast of the
country – Trentino and the Alto Adige, Friuli, Venezia Giulia
Veneto – whereas English-speakers definitely prefer Tuscany.
Wine is also an important consideration for tour operators
66% of them. Statistics compiled in 2010 indicate that 23% of
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Wine tourism in Italy
the Europeans and 43% of the Americans featured “tasting”
destinations in their brochures.1
Visitors to Italian wineries fall into four general
categories:
• Casual or spontaneous tourists, who stop at a winery by
chance
• Dedicated oenophiles
• Wine scouts and reporters
• Lovers of luxury
Wine tourists by chance
On the whole, casual tourists are not educated about wines.
They are often on a restricted budget. They probably only
know about a few mainstream labels (eg, Chianti) adver-
tised in their local media and available in their local shops.
They need the reassurance of a known commodity. Price,
convenience, and tradition are important to them. What best
appeals to them is a brief group tour, enlivened by entertain-
ing anecdotes, and short on technical and gourmet jargon. The
wine “tourists by chance” are also interested in typical food.
Sampling the cuisine of local restaurants is more appealing
to them than tastings at a winery. Most of this demographic
stays in cities or coastal towns near wine areas. Some travel
by bus. For that group, it helps to organize a winery visit as
part of a tour focused on art and monuments. Many travel
agents leaven an art-rich urban tour with a day in the coun-
tryside, so as not to overwhelm their clients with too many
churches, museums, and old masters. These travelers tend
to be older or retired people, not seasoned travelers. They
appreciate the diversion of a country jaunt, especially when it
includes a delicious lunch in a farmhouse restaurant, irrigated
by a famous wine, in a beautiful and historic location.
Dedicated oenophiles
These are the majority of winery visitors – between one and
half to two million a year. The fame of the winery is essential
to them. They are interested in prestigious, rare, and/or new
wines, and they are also prepared to spend freely on them. They
tend to be sophisticated and individualistic. So they hate group
tours and are thrilled to meet the producer or wine-makers.
They have a strong preference for expert guidance in the
tasting of an experimental vintage – and for the boasting
privileges of having been the first in their circle to discover
it. Many in this demographic cultivate their palates by taking
sommelier courses (widely available, in Italy, to lay people).
They read gourmet magazines and blogs, and, above all,
wine guidebooks. (These are plentiful in Italy, too.) Technical
tours by competent staff appeal greatly to them. That said, these
are picky and sometimes prickly guests. They like to show off
their knowledge and may “test” the bona fides of their guides.
Oenophiles prefer wine tastings with four or more vintages.
(Two samplings are fine for the casual tourists.)
Included in this group are professionals in the wine busi-
ness – merchants, restaurateurs, sommeliers, and importers.
Their tourism is purposeful. They visit wine regions to keep
up with new trends and to forge personal relationships with
the producers of the wine they sell. Another subgroup in this
category are thefoodies”, who prize, and can judge, superior
cuisine. They shop for and sample first-rate foodstuffs of
local origin. The highlights of their vacations involve meals
in starred restaurants, cooking classes with well-known chefs,
and exclusive tastings.
Here, too, the categories vary among nationalities.
German-speakers tend to come with their own cars and
return to the same wineries year after year. They prefer small
vineyards owned by vintners with whom they develop friend-
ships. North Americans, on the other hand, prefer organized
tours and often book them before leaving home. Usually, the
excursion to a vineyard takes place in a minivan for eight to
12 people, with a driver who is a wine expert. It lasts 7 hours
and includes two wineries and a traditional meal. Spring and
autumn are the peak seasons for this group. The going rate
for such tours is 130–170 per person. For the individual-
ists – couples, friends, or family groups – who prefer a car and
driver, the average price of an excursion is 500–700.
Most wine tours get booked on the Internet and are
concentrated in Tuscany, the Veneto, Piedmont, and Sicily.
Minibus or private tours tend to be the rule in Tuscany.
Wine scouts and lovers of luxury
These are really two separate groups, although they share an
affinity for exclusive access to wineries, their owners, and/
or new wine making techniques. Here, however, they divide.
The scouts are highly discriminating, and they understand
the technology, but can often not afford the wines. The luxury
tourists can afford the wines, but may not understand their
subtleties. Wineries need to coddle this demographic. It is
the scouts who discover and popularize new trends. They
report back to wine journalists and important sectors of
the trade. The ultra-rich spend a fortune on the highest end
wines, those in which wineries have the biggest investment.
No group tours for EITHER of them, but a focus on novelty,
experiment, great vintages from the past, and meet-and-greets
with owners and wine makers. Tastings should include a great
variety of bottles, and the highest possible level of exclusivity
in the manner and settings in which they are offered.
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Complementary offers
The wine tourist business has, in recent years, been diversified
and sophisticated. Twenty years ago, efforts to increase wine
tourism focused on viniculture and on the creation of museums
such as the Museo del Vino in Torgiano (Umbria) or the Museo
del Vetro da Vino at Banfi (Tuscany). In the last few years,
investments have been focused on hotels, restaurants, and other
services.
“Destination wine weddings” have also increased greatly
in popularity for visitors to Italy. The winery becomes the
setting for the wedding banquet, and sometimes even for
the ceremony. Nearly all destination-wedding planners have
Italian wineries in their venue portfolios. Another new trend is
the “Vespa” tour, a romantic holiday for adventurous couples
who rent a motor scooter and explore the countryside. The sce-
nic wine country in nearly every Italian province is a magnet
for such tourists, who stay at local inns or agriturismos.
“Themed” guided tours have also increased in popularity.
They peak at the vendemmia – the grape harvest season in
October. Tourists choose a few key wineries, in different
regions, tour their cellars and bottling facilities, and enjoy
minicourses on viniculture, often with overnight accommo-
dations on the estate.
Another new trend involves “wellness” vacations.
Vinotherapy, cross-country walks or hikes, spa treatments,
thermal baths, bicycle tours, and local cuisine, with organic
wines, at picturesque restaurants, are aspects of this trend.
The Coldiretti association of cultivators has been highly
successful with an awareness campaign for “km 0” food,
meaning cuisine based on the most local products (zero-
kilometer distance away) and their authenticity of ingredients
and preparation.
Finally, the last and perhaps most successful innovation
for the wine tourist industry is represented by the growth
of cooking schools. There has been an increase in authentic
Italian cooking classes, partly thanks to their popularity on
television, but partly because celebrity chefs have such pres-
tige and earn such high salaries. Many wineries host such
schools, and part of the curriculum includes wine education
and tastings.
Organized events have had an important role in increasing
wine tourism. Every wine city hosts at least one, and often
several, a year. They are more like film festivals, or literary
festivals, than they are like the tastings or tours of old. This
tendency is so common all over Italy that technicians now
speak of a promotion that has been “festivalized”. The eco-
nomic crisis has, however, taken a toll on these events. It has
made careful planning on a focused demographic, offering
them a memorable experience, the prime consideration. In the
current climate, it is advisable to restrict such occasions to the
oenophiles, the luxury lovers, the scouts – the connoisseurs,
in other words best able to appreciate the charm of the estate
or the appellation. And best able to spread the word.
Wine tourism offers –
destinations and wineries
All lists count Tuscany as Italy’s prime wine destination. The
Travellers’ Choice Award 2012, The Wayn Award 2013,
and major social media platforms for travel consider it first
in the world. Huffington Post 2013 and USA Today 2014
grade it respectively in sixth and seventh place. Whatever
the score, Tuscany seems to be among the historic wine des-
tinations least vulnerable to competition from newer locales
like the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia and Maipo
in Chile. Here it is worth a note of caution about the lists.
Perennially popular areas like Champagne and Alsace have
practically disappeared from them, while in reality, they still
welcome hordes of tourists. This paradox indicates that the
lists focus on novelty for the few, not mass popularity, and
that they penalize destinations perceived as too crowded or
commoditized.
Tuscany offers wine tourists the four things they prize
most dearly: spectacular landscape, high culture, excellent
food, and great wines. The network of hotels, country inns,
and restaurants of good or excellent quality supports the
industry throughout the province, in its cities, towns, and
villages. The large number of antique fairs, art festivals,
concerts and other cultural events, the celebrities asso-
ciated with Tuscany (from Prince Charles to Sting), the
luxury shopping – and the luxury outlet shopping (Gucci,
Prada, and Cavalli) – all help to consolidate Tuscany’s
supremacy.
In 2014, the vineyards in Langhe (Piedmont) were named
a World Heritage site by UNESCO. This designation fol-
lows the one given, in 2004, to the Val d’Orcia (Tuscany),
an area that includes the Brunello di Montalcino region. For
the Barolo area, this is an incentive to develop wine tour-
ism and to coordinate it with the opening of new hotels in
renovated historic buildings. Italian wine lovers, motivated
by the UNESCO honor, have flocked to Langhe, catapulting
it to first place as a wine destination in the survey conducted
by WineNews for Vinitaly 2014, (the preferred destinations
were Langhe, Chianti, Franciacorta, Alto Adige, Montalcino,
and Valpolicella).
Until 10 years ago, new wineries found it challenging
to create facilities for tourists ie, a tasting hall and retail
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Wine tourism in Italy
store. Most of the wineries created in the last few years have
included them. There is now a widespread awareness of wine
tourism as a source of income and liquidity. For this reason,
siting a winery is a decision of utmost importance. It should
ideally be near tourist hubs. It should also, ideally, have the
possibility for creating a restaurant, accommodations with
private baths, a cooking school, and even an event space for
conventions, concerts, or weddings.
Obviously, the new wineries offer services that are bet-
ter organized, but they are not necessarily more charming
than the older wineries. The irony is that overmarketing can
be its own worst enemy. Thoughtful tourists (including the
richest ones) prize the authentic character of the traditional
locales. A processed experience is like processed food, and
their palates are too sophisticated for it. They still come
to Italy seeking a connection with real Italians who work
the land, make their own wine, and respect their timeless
heritage. So small wineries the majority in Italy may
be the “underdogs” in terms of capitalization and traffic,
but they have a real advantage among the more discerning
wine tourists.
Italian wineries open to the public, which are new or have
renovated facilities, fall into to two categories.
Functional
These include the best wine making with the greatest
efficiency. Everything works and nothing excites.
The great private or cooperative wineries are part of this
group. Usually, they are modern and full of technology and
stainless steel. In many cases, at least some of the wines
are of high quality, but the coldness and mechanization is
off-putting.
Monumental
These are characterized by expensive construction materials,
famous architects, and luxury decor. These wineries impress,
but they have also proliferated to a bewildering degree. And
they tend toward grandiosity.
• Ceretto, Barolo chapel with frescoes by David Tremlett
and Sol Lewitt
• Terre Moretti, Petra winery Suvereto LI by Mario
Botta
• Antinori, Campo al Sasso winery in Bolgheri by Gae
Aulenti
• Panerai and Rothschild, Rocca di Frassinello winery in
Gavorrano GR by Renzo Piano
• Gaja, Cà Marcanda winery, Castagneto Carducci, LI by
Giovanni Bo
• Distilleria Bartolo Nardini, Bassano del Grappa VI by
Massimiliano Fuksas
• Tarminn in Termeno Alto Adige, by Werner Tscholl
• Marchesi Frescobaldi, L’ammiraglia, Magliano in
Toscana, GR, Piero Sartogo and Natalie Grenon
• Feudi di San Gregorio, Sorbo Serpico, Hikaru Mori-Zito
• Lunelli, Carapace winery, Montefalco, PG, Arnaldo
Pomodoro
• Antinori, Cantina del Chianti Classico, Bargino, Archea
Associati – Marco Casamonti.
“Starchitecture”
This is a grand space designed by a big name plays an
important role in determining the appeal of a winery, but
not the only role. Here I will describe three exemplary
estates: the Florio winery, in Marsala, Sicily; and two Tuscan
destinations, the Castello di Brolio, near Siena; and Antinori,
in Chianti.
The latter, a few kilometers from Florence, is a striking
marriage of modernism to the Tuscan Renaissance tradi-
tion embodied in buildings by Brunelleschi, Leon Battista
Alberti, and Arnolfo di Cambio. It is an undulating concrete
structure designed by Marco Casamonti, of the Floren-
tine firm Archea Associati, and it won the archdaily.com
contest in the category of “Industrial Architecture”. (This
website showcases the work of the world’s foremost archi-
tects, and last year, it featured a number of distinguished
wineries, including Cheval Blanc, in France, designed
by Christian de Portzamparc, and the Faustino Winery,
in Spain, a masterpiece by Norman Foster.) The building
symbolizes Antinori’s twofold commitment to tradition and
innovation: in its investment in viniculture and terroir and
in its campaign to heighten brand awareness. The luxury
wines of Antinori already enjoy worldwide fame, but the
company isn’t resting on its laurels. It has made both its
winery and its evolving products a “must” for any serious
wine tourist.
The Florio wineries in Marsala, in the province of Trapani,
are the oldest Italian example of a large wine making enter-
prise able to create a global profile. They were founded in
1833 and modeled on those of two Marsala-producing English
rivals, Woodhouse and Ingham and Whitaker. They played an
important part in the landing of Garibaldi’s followers that led
to the liberation of Sicily and its unification with the nascent
Kingdom of Italy. Garibaldi visited the Florio family, and his
gifts to them are still on display at the winery.
After a period of decline in the 20th century, the Cantine
Florio was bought by the Illva Saronno Corporation, which
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has undertaken an ambitious renovation of the property. It
restored the cellars to their 19th-century glory. The six wine
making halls, each longer than a football field, have vaulted
cathedral ceilings with wooden beams. Beneath them, the
wine is aged in large and small oaken casks that exude the
charm of yore. A baronial table in the tasting hall seats 50,
and the wine shop has the rarefied ambience of a designer
boutique. Some 50,000 visitors a year make a pilgrimage
to the winery, which has helped to revitalize wine tourism
throughout the province. It has become one of the premier
wine destinations in Italy.
The last example of a great wine destination is Castello di
Brolio, a property that has belonged to the noble Ricasoli fam-
ily since the 12th century. In the 19th century, Baron Bettino
Ricasoli, Minister of Agriculture and later Prime Minister,
conducted experiments and research in his ancestral vine-
yards, and in 1 874, he created the blend of grapes we know as
“Chianti”. Brolio is the fourth oldest wine estate in the world
and dates back to 1142. The 32nd baron, Francesco Ricasoli,
is the current head of his dynasty and its wine business. He
has created a museum that celebrates Baron Bettino – “the
father of Chianti” – housed in apartments originally reserved
for visits from the king. While the medieval castle (which
received a neo-Gothic overhaul in Victorian times) is not
open to visitors, they can admire the Renaissance gardens, and
tour the winery. Baron Francesco has invested some 6 million
Euros in a new fermentation facility, and Brolio, like Florio,
attracts some 50,000 wine tourists a year.
In conclusion, we can say that the combination of a
winery’s venerable history, strong identity, a splendid edifice,
and signature products of great quality and tradition create a
unique magnet for tourists.
The bigger picture
Italy has 383,000 wine-producing estates. The average size
of their vineyards is 1.64 hectares (two and a half acres). In
2013, the country’s total wine production was 44 million
hectoliters (1,186,000,000 gallons). There are 25,000 wine-
bottling estates. Small estates, however, only account for 20%
of the Italian wine that is sold internationally. Eighty percent is
produced by the 500 major cooperative or industrial firms.
Wine tourism, however, depends largely on the mosaic of
small producers, mostly situated in prestigious areas, many of
whom bottle the wine of their own vineyards. (Only 25,000
wineries have private labels.) These are the wineries that
offer tourists the pleasure of personal contact and authentic
atmosphere that keeps them coming.
Areas such as Montalcino attract a constant flow of wine
lovers, mainly foreigners who return every year to the same
winery and its warm hospitality. The diversity of the small
wineries is another factor. Each one bears the imprint of the
generations – fathers, sons, and daughters, in a few cases –
who have cultivated their grapes with hands-on passion.
They contrast starkly to the factory-like installations and
to the impersonal wine supermarkets that are so similar the
world over.
Wine tourism business
Of the 73 billion Euros spent annually by tourists in Italy,
nearly 12 billion (16.1%) are spent on wine and foodstuffs,
including cheese, cured meats, and olive oil. A third of all
visitors take home an edible or drinkable souvenir, at an
average expenditure of 10 Euros.
Direct sales in winery shops account for 10%–20% of
the vineyards’ total business. The percentage tends to be
higher on the smaller estates. A 2014 survey of 25 major
wineries revealed that 8.4% of their business came from
direct on-site wine sales, a figure that increases to 16.6%
for prestigious wines.2
Wine tourists, however, are not the only direct buyers. One
out of every three Italians buys wine where it is produced,
with a natural preference for the wines of his or her region.
The recent economic crisis has increased local shopping. Of
these native clients, 31% are attracted by the price/quality
ration of wines bought directly from a local vintner. This sta-
tistic has decisive importance for cooperative wineries. A poll
of Italian consumers reveals that a quarter of them stress the
importance of guaranteed provenance – an official denomi-
nazione di origine controllata. Another 24.9% are gratified
and reassured by knowing the producer personally.3
A growing segment of the business, however, is in direct
sales of organic or biodynamic wines. Of these consumers,
72% – about 8 .8% of the Italian wine-savoring public prefer
buying directly from a winery. As a general rule, they drink
a bottle every week, spending between 10 and 15.
Wine tourism generates other profit points beyond the sale
of bottles or cases. According to the CST survey carried out
in 2012 for the Movimento del Turismo del Vino, for every
50 spent on wine, the oenophile spends again as much for
other wine-related products, wine-paired meals, souvenirs,
and services. According to Censis for every euro spent on
wine, oenophiles spend 5 on eating, shopping, visiting
museums, and generally speaking on any other attraction
offered by the area.
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Wine tourism in Italy
The web and wine tourism
According to statistics compiled by the Osservatorio del
Turismo del Vino, the Internet has overtaken word-of-
mouth as the most successful medium for promoting wine
tourism. Word-of-mouth, however, remains a potent vehicle.
Institutional promoters travel agencies, press tourist offices,
magazines, and guidebooks are far behind – have always only
made a modest contribution to the trade. One exception is the
“Cantine Aperte” (Open Cellars), a national wine celebration
day that was launched in 1993, which continues to generate
excitement and business.
Foreign wine tourists have a pronounced affinity for doing
their vacation planning on the Internet and via social media
six times more so than the average Italian.4 A survey carried
out by Confesercenti Siena by Poste Italiane in January 2014,
revealed that online searches for “Tuscany” were linked to
searches for “wine” (21%), “winery” (9.7%), and “winery
tours” (13%.) English-speakers, with Americans at the top of
the list, outstrip other nationals in typing “Tuscany” into their
search windows (31%). If we narrow the search to “Siena”,
the figure reaches 64%. British, Canadian, and Australian
users bring the total to over 90%.
The Internet does more than provide booking information. It
also fosters virtual communities of wine-lovers. They compare
notes, trade stories, and share their passions on the many wine
blogs and chat rooms. This digital word-of-mouth (or word-of-
click) is increasingly important to Italian wine tourism.
The Internet is vital to the wine industry for another reason
a geographical one. The small wineries are notoriously hard
to find! Where wineries are concerned, Italian road signage is
rather unhelpful. The Highway Code does not allow them to
post closely spaced billboards along the routes that tourists
have to follow, which are often serpentine and confusing. And
the situation is particularly difficult where a high density of
small enterprises cluster at a crossroads. GPS becomes essen-
tial. It is a modern-day shepherd that gathers the flock.
Unfortunately, many wineries do not seem to care suf-
ficiently about their Internet profiles. A survey of 276 wine
importers from 12 nations, conducted by Italy Fine Wines, in
2013, revealed that 83% of them judged the Italian wineries’
websites inferior to those of other countries. Of the importers,
9% receive regular news and updates from the wineries outside
of – but not from – Italy. A survey by Fleishman Hillard Italia,
conducted in November 2013, that focused on the 25 major
Italian wineries, underlined a disappointing situation. Their
websites were unattractive, or hard to navigate, or uninforma-
tive – quantity over quality. Only 34% of wineries had posted
a video in the last 6 months. So Italians are missing out on,
or misusing, a vital medium for transforming the casual wine
tourist into a faithful return client.
The Italian Strade del Vino wine routes also use
the Web too little and not well. Only about 20 of the
170 authorized associations are really functional. In most
cases, the wine routes just print brochures and take part in the
odd tasting fair, but they do not have an information office
open to the public. In the last 2 years, there have been a few
more translations and a better use of social networks but there
is plenty of room for improvement. A 2 013 survey conducted
by the Osservatorio del Turismo del Vino (Censis Servizi per
Ass) revealed, however, that 67% of them were satisfied by
the promotional activities of the wine route organizers.
Disclosure
The author reports no conflicts of interest in this work.
References
1. Istituto Nazionale Ricerche turistiche. Available from: http://isnart.
it/rassegnaStampa_elenco.php?totrec=3978&startRec=1970&
PHPSESSID=. Accessed April 2, 2015.
2. Mediobanca. Indagine Sul Settore Vinicolo [Wine sector survey].
2014. Available from: http://www.mbres.it/sites/default/files/resources/
download_it/Indagine_vini_2014.pdf. Accessed April 13, 2015.
3. Comunicare Il Vino. Vino, futuri possibili; il secondo rapporto sulla
filiera. Available from: http://comunicareilvino.it/index.php/2013/07/
vino-futuri-possibili-il-secondo-rapporto-sulla-filiera/. Accessed April
13, 2015.
4. Indagine quali-auantitativa: Il volto dell’enoturista oggi. Available
from: http://www.movimentoturismovino.it/it/news/nazionali/0/0/466/
indagine-quali-auantitativa-il-volto-dell-enoturista-oggi/. Accessed April
13, 2015.
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This paper examines how involvement in wine tourism has affected winery owners’ identity processes. Using Breakwell’s Identity Process Theory (IPT) as a conceptual framework, we investigate the extent to which place is a part of winery owners’ self-identities, thereby giving them senses of belonging, distinctiveness, continuity, and self-esteem. Simultaneously, we find that these senses and feelings influence winery owners’ perceptions of the benefits and dis-benefits of wine tourism development in their region. We also discover how personal involvement in tourism can strengthen or threaten winery owners’ identities and thereby affect their support or otherwise for wine tourism. Empirical evidence is provided via a sample of twenty-eight winery owners in Langhe, Italy, who have recently engaged in various tourism related-activities due to the continuous development of the local tourism industry. Our research recognises that place is an integral part of the identity process.
Il volto dell'enoturista oggi Available from: http://www.movimentoturismovino.it/it
  • Indagine
Indagine quali-auantitativa: Il volto dell'enoturista oggi. Available from: http://www.movimentoturismovino.it/it/news/nazionali/0/0/466/ indagine-quali-auantitativa-il-volto-dell-enoturista-oggi/. Accessed April 13, 2015.
Indagine Sul Settore Vinicolo
  • Mediobanca
Mediobanca. Indagine Sul Settore Vinicolo [Wine sector survey].
Available from: http://isnart. it/rassegnaStampa_elenco.php?totrec=3978&startRec=1970& PHPSESSID=
  • Istituto Nazionale Ricerche Turistiche
Istituto Nazionale Ricerche turistiche. Available from: http://isnart. it/rassegnaStampa_elenco.php?totrec=3978&startRec=1970& PHPSESSID=. Accessed April 2, 2015.
Vino, futuri possibili; il secondo rapporto sulla filiera
  • Comunicare Il Vino
Comunicare Il Vino. Vino, futuri possibili; il secondo rapporto sulla filiera. Available from: http://comunicareilvino.it/index.php/2013/07/ vino-futuri-possibili-il-secondo-rapporto-sulla-filiera/. Accessed April 13, 2015.
  • Indagine
Indagine quali-auantitativa: Il volto dell'enoturista oggi. Available from: http://www.movimentoturismovino.it/it/news/nazionali/0/0/466/ indagine-quali-auantitativa-il-volto-dell-enoturista-oggi/. Accessed April 13, 2015. International Journal of Wine Research downloaded from https://www.dovepress.com/ by 192.255.79.182 on 31-Aug-2016 For personal use only.