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19 July 2021

Donatella Cinelli Colombini (Women of Wine Association): hospitality in the wine cellar today needs creativity - tasting visits alone are no longer enough

“Be creative, don't all offer the same things. Tasting visits are no longer enough: being sustainable, organic or bio-dynamic are pre-requisites that visitors take for granted."
Donatella Cinelli Colombini, National President of the Women of Wine Association and one of the founders of the Wine Tourism Movement - a field where she boasts considerable expertise not the least as co-author of a book with Senator Dario Stefàno ("Wine Tourism in Italy. History, Regulations and Good Practices", 198 pages, Edizioni Edagricole") - believes that 2021 will be the 'restart' year.

In the absence of astounding results such as 14-15 million visits in the pre-Covid era, it is pointless to delude ourselves; but the new course will see a new kind of clientele visiting wine cellars, opening up unprecedented perspectives to promote Italian wine and wine tourism, an enjoyable and instructive corollary of ars bibendi (the art of fine drinking).

“We will see a prevalence of Italian tourism, with travel mostly on a local or perhaps even regional scale," Donatella Cinelli Colombini told the Vinitaly Press Office. "2021 will largely be characterized by short trips, with higher flows for wine cellars close to holiday resorts and cities of art."
Fewer international visitors to wine cellars in Italy will impact sales of bottles, "since international tourists almost always take home at least one or two bottles of wine".

The presumed setback for sales to international visitors, Cinelli Colombini - a wine producer in Trequanda and Montalcino, near Siena - added: "There will be increasing interest in so-called experiences, mainly involving guided tours with tastings, which are increasingly in demand throughout the world and not only in Italy, with turnover from entertainment also increasing."

This situation, as Cinelli Colombini pointed out, also involves another new aspect that emerged in the wake of the pandemic: the evolution of wine tourists. “They no longer respond to the so-called classic canons that producers identified before Covid," explained the creator of Cantine Aperte. "Today, wine tourists with an almost exclusive interest in wine are less common, while visitors also looking for entertainment have grown considerably. Women are also more numerous and the average age of visitors has fallen, in that wine tourism is now seen as entertainment, something to be enjoyed in leisure." Stays in green venues, in particular, are becoming increasingly popular, perhaps not the least in response to forced lockdowns which have obliged people to remain in cities.

New technologies help wine-makers and tourists to create a lasting bond that goes far beyond experience in the wine cellar as such. “Digital innovation helps customers move around, obtain information, to get to know the wine cellar even before going there and then book a visit," said Donatella Cinelli Colombini. Satellite technology guides visitor on their journey to their destination, bearing in mind more than half of the number of visits are booked when tourists are already 'on the road'. Especially since last year, follow-up after such visits has increased considerably, with newsletters achieving above-average response, especially for small wine cellars."

"This means," as Cinelli Colombini pointed out, "that hands-on experience of wine companies creates a stronger relationship between the cellar and tourists, since the latter are keen to receive news and continue to purchase products enjoyed at first hand in the place where they are made."

The factors driving the choice of wine cellars will not be limited to mere visits and now more than ever, as Donatella Cinelli Colombini is convinced, “the winners will be those who use convincing, informative keywords”. Consequently, there really is room for imagination, from winery tours with picnics in the vineyard, winery tour and trekking, winery tour and biking, and so on. “The important thing is to be creative and develop an offering that goes far beyond simple tasting visits."