Popularity of wine tourism grows
The popularity of wine tourism continues to grow and now generates some 2.5 billion euros in revenue, according to data released here during the wine and food tourism fair Biteg Forum 2008.
There are currently around five million practising wine tourists, also known as 'wine-nauts', in Italy and experts believe that the wine tourism movement is operating at only 20% of its potential and could easily double in the near future.
Among the factors helping the movement to expand are Italy's 140 'wine roads', specialised itineraries through wine-producing regions, as well as annual events like Open Cellars, which draws over a million tourists to vineyards in the spring.
Evidence of wine tourism's success is the fact that of the three million euros in turnover made by 82 of Italy's leading wine producers, 7.5% comes from direct sales at the vineyards themselves.
The 16th edition of Open Cellars takes place May 25.
Aside from offering an opportunity to see where and how wine is made and discover the difference of tasting it at its source, Open Cellars offers visitors a chance to learn about traditions and culture linked to winemaking 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 but then spread quickly to Italy's other 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 are considered the treat which gives the greatest satisfaction to visitors.
Other MTV initiatives include Calici di Stelle (Goblets of Stars), which brings thousands of people together to toast on the night of August 10, the Feast of Saint Lawrence, also known as the Night of the Shooting Stars.
In September MTV organises Benvenuta Vendemmia (Welcome Harvest) which offers wine tourists and enthusiasts a chance to get a first-hand view of what happens after the grapes are picked.
MTV's latest initiative is Novello in Cantina (New Wine in the Cellar) which takes place in November and promotes Italy's growing production of Novello, the Italian equivalent of its more famous French cousin Beaujolais Nouveau.