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My View: Wink Lorch

Published:  18 January, 2007

According to recent reports, wine tourism in France is at last being taken seriously and regarded as one route for la France viticole to escape la crise viticole.

Most discussions are at a regional level, proposing initiatives to improve the infrastructure through better wine routes, brochures, maps, tasting facilities and education, and to create more restaurants and accommodation.

However, more vignerons need to make an effort to welcome visitors, providing attractive facilities for tasting, educational visits to the cellar and vineyards, and perhaps accommodation, meals and play areas for children. This is happening in some regions, but is not yet widespread.

The big question is: who pays for improving facilities and, perhaps most importantly, for the time of the hard-pressed vigneron, who must also work in the vineyards and winery, deal with paperwork and market his wine?

Very few vignerons charge for tasting, relying on the fact most visitors will feel obliged to buy a few bottles or even a boot-full. But with more wine tourists travelling by plane and rental car, this happens less often, as airport security restrictions mean wine cannot be carried in hand luggage.

Producers should be encouraged to charge for tastings, but they should also fully embrace wine tourism. In the end this will result in more enthused consumers prepared to pay more for wine at home.

Wink Lorch is a wine writer and recently launched

Vignerons rely on the fact most visitors will feel obliged to buy a few bottles.