This post is part of a series of posts about le Vin 2.0 2011 where Robert Joseph presented on the topic of wine tourism and consumer psychology.
Oenotourism is the other big subject Robert Joseph tackled. The presentation was similar to the one Vitisphere reported on in October. And it definitely falls in line with some of the wine tourism concepts I wrote about earlier this year. The gist of the presentation is that we have to change a lot of things in the wine tourism business. But really it’s a big sprawling topic so you might want to look through the slides embedded below:
Here are some random observations I’d like to make:
There are people who want to visit vineyards even though they’re not obsessed with wine. Wine tourism is supposed to be entertainment. I agree with all of this and talk about it a lot (most recently in the conclusion of my five minute story at the EWBC). Visiting a winery should not be a task. It should be fun and entertaining. It can also be educational and informative, but those are all secondary to the entertainment. And then he does a semantic analysis of trip advisor reviews (again, I’m getting deja vu here as I just did this type of analysis with the O’Vineyards tripadvisor reviews this year)
Although he also argues that wineries should have pools and movie theaters and daycares and all kinds of peripheral activities. I think this is smart, but it’s also important to note that not every winery will do all of this. It’s up to each winemaker to figure out how to intelligently expand their tourism offer without overstretching themselves or falling into a job they don’t actually want to do.
Slide 17 is hilarious/tragic… 99% of Napa wine producers find tourism to be financially viable while 60% of Florentines do not find it financially viable even though the average shopping cart size is actually smaller in Napa (according to this study). Is this because there are far more visitors at a time in Napa? Or are Italians/Europeans/Mediterraneans just predisposed to being unhappy about our tourism activity? ;D
The question of merchandise is also raised. Here too I wholeheartedly agree with Robert. My parents and I really make a lot of sacrifices to create delicious, unique, life-altering wines and we sometimes make pennies per bottle. On the other hand, I can buy glassware, corkscrews and hoodies with our logo or Carcassonne written on them and sell those at 400% markup. It’s absurd, but I make more money selling a bar of soap with my logo (ordered online) than on the bottle of wine that I spent three years on. And this is a point of contention. Some people say that a winemaker exists to sell wine, not to sell soap. I’m not sure, but I think a winemaker exists to make wine. If I have to sell soap to subsidize my wine sales, then I will sell soap. It’s what I have to do to make wine. And I don’t want to imagine a world where I’m not making wine. So sell soap.
Joseph also cites this article about tasting room sales and it’s pretty interesting.
I don’t really have a well organized mailing list (which is terrible of me. it’s one of the things I need to change in 2012) or any wine club (something I might change). This was a big topic and I am ashamed at the end of it. :-/
Then he also talked about the R&D potential of visitors at the vineyard. Why not ask your visitors to try new blends and see if they like it. Test out ideas on your tourists because they are your final market. This sparked some controversy in the talks afterwards as many winemakers find it unthinkable that you would make a wine to cater to the public (essentially to the lowest common denominator the way record labels pick singles to go on the radio). At this extreme, you end up with bland, inoffensive wines that nobody hates (and nobody loves) that can appeal to all markets. But that is an extreme. If you actually have a steady flow of tourists, you can draw information from them and choose to use it or ignore it the same way you would use an oenologist or winemaking consultant. Furthermore, I’d argue that my tourists are not the same as a random sample from the global population. People who visit my vineyard tend to be a little like me, weird sense of humor, interested in learning, like a large range of different wine styles, and so on. Taking their opinions into count is not the same as trying to cater to everybody.
Sorry this post is so rambly. Hard act to follow.
This is a list of Cabardes vineyards that provide bed & breakfast services or other lodging options north of Carcassonne.
Of course, if you want to stay at a vineyard, I strongly recommend staying at O’Vineyards Bed & Breakfast.
But this post includes all the options for staying with winemakers in the Cabardes.
Why stay in Cabardes?
The Cabardes is a gorgeous region of France that is very close to the historic medieval castle of Carcassonne. Proximity to the Cité makes the Cabardes a perfect vacation area because it means you can visit the Cité de Carcassonne, the Canal du Midi, and benefit from all the amenities of Carcassonne. There’s a train station and an International airport (almost exclusively RyanAir flights though). You’re less than hour’s drive from the Mediterranean coast, about an hour from Toulouse, about an hour and a half from Montpellier, and a couple of hours from the Pyrenees.
I should also mention you’ll be surrounded by delicious wine!! 🙂
The Cabardes AOC is small, dominated by independent wine producers, and features a unique blend of Mediterranean and Atlantic grape varietals.
Vineyard B&B, gites, and other lodging
O’Vineyards Bed & Breakfast – Villemoustaussou
4 elegantly furnished B&B rooms with direct view on the vines. You’ll be sharing the building with us, a Franco-American family with a small vineyard and winery just north of Carcassonne. We’re very happy to host, and we have a full range of high end red wines.
Ventaillole, Ventenac Cabardes
B&B on an organic vineyard in Ventenac Cabardes.
Domaine des Homs
Technically, this is in the Minervois but I thought I’d mention it since the winemakers also produce some Cabardes and these two appellations are close neighbors that share the south-facing slope of the Montagne Noire. This is a gorgeous house in the center of their Minervois property and the adjacent photo shows how the vines creep across the front of the property.
Auzias – Pennautier
A gite with view on the winery. Red, white and rose wines.
Cazaban Gites – Conques sur Orbiel / Villegailhenc
4 gites located on a small organic vineyard. Red and rose wines.
Rayssac used to have gites, but I don’t know if the new owner maintains them anymore. The website has changed significantly recently so watch this space.
Chateau Pennautier properties – Pennautier
The de Lorgerils have a lot of different properties and gite offers.