Wine tours for groups
Wine tours are a new segment of this ever growing segment and generate larger and larger fluxes of tourists visiting wineries. But there are many differences
By Donatella Cinelli Colombini
The large tour operators who sell tours in Italy by bus have now the habit of braking up the itinerary full of museums and shopping sprees with a day to relax in the countryside to slow down. Generally only one winery is visited where a tour, tasting and lunch take place. The wine stop is not necessarily in a very famous wine region but does certainly privilege those near the Venezia-Firenze-Roma motorways. This type of clientele chooses wineries where there are accessory services to wine (restaurant, cookery school, castles, monumental gardens…. ) as well as an offer with a very convenient price. Tour operators sign contracts for many years that foresee the arrival of many groups from March to October.
Other than these groups wineries r receive wine torus that come from hotels and information offices in tourism areas. In this case too they are “tourist by chance” that buy an excursion among the vines in the same way as they would a ticket to an amusement park or to see glass being made in Murano. These are trips that last about 7 hours and that take visitors to a wine city (Montefalco, Barolo, San Gimignano…) and to one or two wineries. Generalized explanations, quick trip, booking on site and an affordable price of 50-100€ per person.
Finally there are the wine tours for small groups and for great wine lovers; these are the most interesting segment. It is they in fact who spend more than the above mentioned groups on wine shopping. There are various proposals: from the most exclusive and expensive itineraries to those affordable by all.
Obviously the most loved destination is Tuscany, and of course the wine tour market is all online and those requesting the service are mostly North American but the offer is so varied, rich and full of surprises that it is better to examine it in detail as this subject is quite unexplored.
The first thing that is evident, in typing “winery tours” it is Tuscany that comes up most frequently, some proposals for Veneto, Piedmont and Sicily, while writing in Italian “visite in cantina” Google proposes a list of wineries in Piemonte, Sicily, Tuscany and Trentino. This is already a clue regarding the type of clientele that the “incoming” companies have, or rather those with a vat number and web site who sell wine tours.
A second and more decisive element to think about comes from a study carried out by the Gruppo Poste Italiane offered to Confesercenti di Siena in January 2014. . On the web the search for the word Tuscany is associated with the word wine (21%) with the word winery (9,7%) winery tours written in various ways (13%). The nation that searches for the word Tuscany in the web the most is the USA 31%,if on the other hand we study the destination Siena the American searchers go up to 64% followed by the British, the Canadians and the Australians , that grouped all together as English speaking nations make up a total of 90%. That is why the sector of Tuscany is so strong on the web especially in English language.
On a worldwide the most famous and prestigious wine tour agency especially for its type of clientele is Arblaster & Clarke. Here they are able to get visitors into the most exclusive of wineries, to get them to meet the wine maker and extraordinary people for the wine world. IN Italy there is nothing the same, but the agency that most resembles it is Fufluns. Another pioneer, maybe pioneer in wine tours in Italy is Dario Castagno the successful author – “Too much Tuscan sun” following his very own personal itinerary made up of people, places and wines.
Let’s come of the Olympus to see the most widespread wine tours on the web. The daily excursion lasts 7 hours in a mini bus and includes two guided visits with wine tastings in wineries as well as a typical lunch. IT costs between 130-160€ per person. For those who wish to travel alone or as a couple there is the chauffeur driven car.
Some offers include a face to face lesson in a “wine school”, visit to an artisan and to a city of art but more or less the day long wine tour programme is quite consolidated. The last fashion is trekking through the vineyards
To buy winery tours the best channel is internet, to help in the choice one can use Trip Advisor that allows one to see the reviews received by each proposal. The favoured periods for wine tours are spring and autumn. Many wine tours are in fact dedicated to the grape harvest period and so even offer mini experiences in the vineyard – Vendemma tour