Vineyard, Algarve, Portugal VY Caron Badkin
Report by Gwen McCauley
Think Algarve and images of pristine, sandy beaches backed by incredible cliffs likely come to mind. And for many of its 5 million plus annual visitors, that’s exactly what they want and get. But satisfying a visitor’s interest in wines is a relatively new Algarvean experience.
Both in the Algarve and lower Alentejo region, many small, custom wineries are flourishing; bringing with them new ideas about the role of wine in society and in the broader tourism industry. These savvy businesses know today’s tourist seeks more than just wine and wine tastings and are gearing up to meet that demand.
Unique strengths invite tourists to re-engage
(Foto 2) – Quinta dos Vales by Gwen McCauley
Karl Heinz Stock, innovative founder of Quinta dos Vales at Estombar believes that local wineries must focus on their unique strengths in order to create an offering that invites tourists to re-engage on subsequent visits. He is clear that landscape is an Algarvean strength and his formula of whimsical sculptures placed in shaded rest/picnic areas that offer event facilities for weddings and corporate gatherings is what the public wants from him, in addition to being able to taste his great wines and purchase local products at great price points.
Short Winery Tour
Lisbon based guide Mary Goudie reports that many skilled travelers are not knowledgeable about wine, especially Portuguese wines and grapes. She finds that a short winery tour with tastings, a drive through the countryside to talk about topics like terroir and wine history, complemented by a meal at a restaurant carrying the wines of the vineyard makes for a well-paced, informative day for her guests. Claire Larsen, co-founder of the Algarve’s WineMine Club, believes that exposing members to Portuguese grape varieties, wine making techniques and cellar offerings is a critical educational process. Encouraging ex-pats to interact with wine makers and other industry players is important to help visitors feel comfortable and have an enjoyable experience.
For some, it will be about experiencing an organic wine growing vineyard, integrated into other local product offerings as well as opportunities to get out and explore the countryside. Herdade dos Lagos near Métola in Alentejo knows their Northern European visitors are keen to do more than simply taste their organic products.
Wine Tourism Burgeoning Worldwide
(Foto 3) – Quinta do Frances by Gwen McCauley
As wine tourism continues to burgeon worldwide, several components will need to be activated and made readily accessible to all: local hotels and event venues and festivals will need to offer wine tastings, wine and food pairings, and information nights. The many types of activities visitors can undertake in local winery settings need to be showcased, be it hiking, art viewing, cycling, swimming, water sliding, etc. More local restaurants will need to develop special relationships with area wineries, carry local wines and pro-actively pair them with special menus that highlight the wines. The local tourism Board will need to work with local vintners, hoteliers, restaurants and providers of family oriented fun to ensure that the full benefits of wine tourism are developed and exploited.
Experiences that matter
Portugal’s well known wine regions to the North may have a deep, rich history of welcoming the wine tourist, but Algarve is poised to create its own funky approach. People no longer see travel simply as a destination: they are looking for experiences that authentically express all that a location offers. Thanks to innovators like Karl Heinz Stock at Quinta dos Valles, who has a broad vision of what is possible for wine tourism in the Algarve, 2017 is positioned to spring the doors open wider than ever before. Add in the team at Herdade dos Lagos with their focus on organics, Quinta do Frances with its Swiss-like terroir, plus the many other small wineries that dot the coast as far east as Tavira and wine visitors have much to choose from.