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Plans for Bordeaux's global wine city unveiled at Wine Vision

Published:  29 November, 2013

Billed as the "biggest celebration of wine in the world" the plans for Cite de Civilisations du Vin to be built in Bordeaux were revealed to a global audience at last week's Wine Vision conference in London.

The scale and ambition of Cite de Civilisations is breathtaking with €63 million to be invested in the project. It has taken 15 years of planning to get to this stage and hopes to combine elements of tasting, gastronomy, a museum, sensory experiences and cultural and historical resources in one eight story, 10,000 sqm behemoth dedicated to the global 'civilisation of wine'.

Its curvaceous futuristic design is impressive enough, but it is the commercial goals of this brainchild of Bordeaux mayor Alain Juppé that, the backers hope, will make the biggest impact when it reaches completion in 2016.

The grande idée is that Cite de Civilisations du Vin will act both as a focal point for tourists and a hub from which they can radiate out to the surrounding vineyards and Chateaux.

"Traditionally Bordeaux hasn't sold wine directly to the public, so we had little infrastructure for tourists, but this is changing and tourism is changing faster still," said Sylvie Cazes, president of the project, at Wine Vision.

"At a conservative estimate we expect 425,000 visitors a year will come to Cite de Civilisations du Vin and this will generate €40 million in the local Bordeaux economy in both direct and indirect ways."

Cazes stressed the Cite is designed to be for and about every wine producing region, not just France or Bordeaux.

"We are inviting cooperation from the global wine trade and everyone can play a part," she said. "This should help the whole industry and, of course, hopefully Bordeaux."

In an intriguing inversion of the status quo, Bordeaux - lynchpin of the traditionally conservative French wine industry - aims to trump the rest of the wine world with an attraction that will educate visitors on the culture and taste of wines from around the globe. And, in doing so, it should deliver millions of wine interested consumers directly into the heart of Bordeaux.