Wine tourism in New Zealand on the up

New Zealand has much to offer tourists. From beautiful, endless countryside to visits to the Lord of the Rings set, there’s something for everyone. Ideal Wine Company review where every wine lover should be visiting this year.

Wine lovers are also well catered for in this area, as figures show that New Zealand is becoming ever more popular as a wine tourism destination.

Ideal Wine Company new zealand wine
If you’re a wine lover, you’ll want to visit New Zealand this year!

Wine lovers flock to NZ

In fact, the recent figures from trade body NZ Winegrowers shows that wine tourism has sharply increased with a quarter of all tourists visiting a vineyard or winery while in New Zealand.

The figures state that the 24 per cent of tourists from overseas that visit vineyards has leapt from 13 per cent just four years ago.

Tourism up in general

So far in 2017, New Zealand has welcome around 3.65 million visitors to its shores. This is an increase of 10 per cent on the same time in 2016, according to figures from the NZ government.

The trade body (NZ Winegrowers) has been quick to capitalise on the increase in tourism by launching a brand-new website. The site acts as a hub for information on wineries and vineyards for tourists to visit.

Marketing director Chris Yorke says: “Wine tourism provides an exciting opportunity for us to showcase our wines in the unique locations where they are grown and produced.”

New website launched

The new website contains information on more than 450 wineries and vineyards. Visitors can filter by regions and by four kinds of experience: vineyard tours, wine tastings, dining and staying at vineyards that offer accommodation.

CEO of Tourism NZ, Stephen England-Hall, puts the popularity of wine tourism down to the wide appeal of visiting sites at any time of year across different regions. He says: “Our research has found that wine visitors spend more, stay longer, and visit more regions than the average international holidaymaker.”

Auckland offers the most wine and vineyard experiences with 90 to choose from. Even the area with the least wine attractions in the country (Gisborne), there are still 14 to discover.

Beaujolais affected by adverse weather

The weather woes continue for many vineyards across France and Spain, which have been hit by unseasonal weather. Ideal Wine Company discuss the weather conditions hitting Beaujolais.

While the late spring frosts are finally history, unexpected weather conditions are still taking their toll. For example, some of the 2017 Beaujolais harvest looks likely to have been lost following a brutal hailstorm in mid-July.

The summer hailstorm hammered the Beaujolais region, leading to damaged crops and uncertainty for the vineyards. It’s something that will feel familiar to the vineyard owners, who suffered a similar fat in 2016. However, this year’s storms have caused more damage on a wider scale.

Ideal Wine Company damaged vineyards
Adverse weather has hit vineyards across Europe.

Beaujolais Crus worst affected

Situated up in the north, the Beaujolais Crus vineyard looks to have been one of the worst affected. The storm also hit Chiroubles, Morgon, Chenas, Fleurie, Moulin a Vent and the north of Régnié.

Fleurie is a picturesque village and was one of the worst hit, with the violence of the winds damaging not only the vineyards, but also many houses. The affect on the infrastructure throughout the villages and towns affected show the extent of the storm and the strength of the winds.

Rarely seen tornado

The president of InterBeaujolais, Dominique Piron, said: “It was a tornado. I have rarely seen this. The small hailstones and the wind have a sandblasting effect on the vines.”

The full extent of the damage is still being assessed, and it’s clear that many vineyards and people have been affected. Dominique added: “In our modern world, it is difficult to accept such a sudden event. But it is unfortunately the lot of those who work with nature.”

Run of bad weather

This year has seen a plethora of destructive weather conditions affecting vineyards across France, Spain and Italy.

Late frosts in May and early June, along with freak storms later on in the summer have led to many crops being affected. It is likely to affect both the price and the amount of wine available on shelves next year, although just how much remains to be seen.

Stay in Tuscany’s specially built ‘wine town’

Tuscany is a beautiful place for a holiday, particularly if you’re a wine aficionado. There’s something magical about the rolling Tuscan countryside, with culturally rich cities sitting in among ancient greenery. Ideal Wine Company discusses why this is a perfect getaway destination.

And, to create a holiday destination perfect for people who love both northern Italy and wine, a new wine ‘town’ has just opened in Bolgheri. Situated on the Tuscan coast, this ‘World Wine Town’ offers tastings, restaurants specialising in wine, self-catering apartments and even holograms of Italian winemakers.

The wine resort opened last month (June 2017) in the recently restored farm estate of Casone Ugolino. It’s taken 15 years to develop and cost €12 million, which came from banks and private investors.

Ideal Wine Company Tuscany wine town
Why should you visit Tuscany’s wine town this summer?

Museum central to wine town

A wine museum is situated just on the edge of Castagneto Carducci. This three-storey celebration of the region’s wine history boasts the holograms of Gaddo della Gherardesca, Niccolo Incisa della rocchetta and Piero Antinori, all presenting stories of their wine making family history.

The huge museum space was designed by Academy Award winner Dante Ferretti and promises to wow visitors. The museum costs just eight euros to get in, and of course this includes a wine tasting.

Plenty to taste and try

There are three restaurants in the resort, including a faithful reproduction of an Old Tuscan inn. For a real taste of the old world you can eat at Osteria Vinality, or go for Mercato del Borgo, which serves up very local food.

All of this is ideal for the wine lover’s perfect holiday. They can even stay in the self -apartments and use this wine town resort as the base for their Tuscan holiday – if they can bring themselves to leave its grounds that is!

The resort is planning to open a wine education centre in 2018, to catch the interest of the next generation of wine lovers.

Spanish Vineyards Recent Frost Damage

Following extensive coverage of the frost damage in Bordeaux and Champagne, it seems northern Spain is now counting the cost of the late wintery weather. Ideal Wine Company divulges into this.

Ideal Wine Company damaged vineyards
Severe weather has now hit Spain.

Severe frosts

Many vineyards in northern Spain have been decimated by severe springtime frosts with Bierzo, Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Galicia all reporting extensive damage to their vines. Representatives from two wineries in Spain were at the Continental Wines (importer from Hong Kong) annual tasting event and spoke about the damage their vineyards have suffered.

Bierzo’s Losada winery representative, Victor Quinson, said that the upper part of Rioja Alta was also affected. Frost damage was found at his vineyards in Bierzo, with around 40 per cent of the vines destroyed. He did say that vineyards at higher altitude were less affected, offering a small bit of good news. Happily, despite the inevitable cut in wine production this year, Quinson said that none of his prices will increase.

Other data from Bierzo’s Regulatory Board has disturbing news for the industry. Bierzo has formally been declared a disaster zone when it comes to its vineyards, with 70 to 80 per cent reporting extensive damage.

Multiple regions

These very late spring frosts have also affected vineyards in Galicia, which is found further to the west of Spain. It has been estimated that more than 70 per cent of Galicia’s vineyards have been affected by the severe weather, resulting in €72 million worth of damage.

Rocio Orbea de Arriba, a representative and sales manager for Valdesil in Galicia, said: “In April it was really hot and the vines started to grow. We had the buds and then we lost four hectares [in the frost] out of our 20 hectares in the area.”

Additional weather troubles

Adding to the weather-related disasters for the winery, hail storms have also further damaged their vineyards. She added: “This year it’s really tough. We will have to wait and see, maybe some of the vines can survive.”

Rioja Alvarez and Rioja Alta were particularly affected in the “worst region hit by frost in the past 20 years.”

As an example of the extreme temperatures experienced in the area, in Ribera Del Duero the mercury dipped to -5°C on 27 April 2017 for at least five hours. This spell of ultra-cold weather destroyed vines and crops across the area.

Research to Combat Drought in California

Global warming is changing approaches to agriculture and wine growing all around the world. And nowhere more so than in California, which has recently emerged from a devastating five year drought. Ideal Wine Company investigates into the matter.

While the drought is over in many areas, the urgent need to combat expected future droughts is mounting.

Ideal Wine Company california vineyard
Research is continuing to combat the drought seen in California.

Drip irrigation being tested

Wine growers and researchers are working hard to work out ways to grow crops using as little water as possible. One possible solution is subsurface drip irrigation, which places a tiny trickle of water specifically at the roots of the crop. By preventing evaporation, it ensures all the water is used where it’s needed.

So far, it’s being trialled across grain growing land in California in conjunction with the University of California and appears to be working.

Agriculture affected

Vineyards and farms are enjoying a bit of breathing space after the winter brought record rainfall, finally leading to full surface water for irrigation purposes. But scientists and the industry as a whole are under no illusion that a similar drought won’t happen again.

Spencer Cooper is California’s new senior manager of irrigation and water efficiency. He said: “We’re working right now to try to develop more precision irrigation systems and help growers irrigate on a smaller scale.”

It’s not only California’s wine industry that’s at stake. California boasts 80,500 farms, which provide almost three million jobs and irrigation is at the heart of its success. Around a third of California’s 25 million acres of working farmland is irrigated.

When will the next drought be?  
While research is ongoing, it’s possible there isn’t much time left before the next drought hits. There have been two extremely severe periods of drought over the last decade. Stanford University scientists have said that the drought is ‘very likely’ linked to global warming and they expect droughts will become more frequent, last longer and become more severe.

The last drought devastated the agricultural industry, costing more than $5.2 billion. Around 40,000 agricultural jobs were lost and 1 million acres had to be fallowed. Although groundwater pumping was employed on a massive scale, this isn’t sustainable long term.

Scientists, wine growers and the wider agricultural industry agree that lessons have been learned, and growers will be more prepared next time. Precise irrigation, where plants are given a small amount at the root seems to be the best way forward.