The concept of Wine Tourism is relatively recent and its definition is still developing. On Wikipédia, Wine Tourism is defined as "a segment of the tourism activity that is based on a travel motivated by appreciation of the flavour and aroma of wines and in the traditions and culture of the localities that produce this drink". Wine Tourism is an activity that combines all aspects inherent to the culture of wine tourism, promoting the knowledge of the stages of the productive process of wine and wine-growing region. It is recognized as an activity that is both cultural and tourist, representing an important tool for sales and a privileged point of contact between the consumer and the producer. The tourist consumer appreciates what is genuine and is avid of striking experiences in emblematic locations.
As I explained earlier, Wine Tourism in Portugal should be capitalized. Commercial agents of this activity must unite and develop a network of infrastructures enabling the welcoming of tourists from all over the world and conveying the culture of wines highlighting the stories that value them. The wine, the vineyard and the wine culture can assert themselves as a support the tourist demand, enhancing the attractiveness of the region and other proposals for tourist visitation.
As I'm working in the Alentejo region I will refer specifically to this region though I do admit that many others have a huge potential for growth in the Wine market.
The Alentejo is known to be a region of serene plains, with a rich artistic and cultural heritage and a welcoming population. With all these conditions, it would be ideal that producers of Alentejo wines constitute a supply network that would be beyond a simple visit to wineries and cellars, followed by wine tasting. The tourist activity where the wine culture is inserted is much more than that. Wine tourism invites to experience the local culture and tradition putting the importance of history of agricultural activity in the region into the context. It joins ocal - the gastronomy, hospitality in rural estates - patrimonial, cultural and wine-growing levels, providing wine lovers moments of discovery, pleasure and relaxation. The tasting rooms on patrimonial monuments or in historic centres, as already pointed out, can make a difference in the provision and enhancement of wines by adding local/regional culture to the direct contact with producers and the product.
There are good examples of producers who are beginning to explore the various Wine Tourism services, but is still insufficient for the potential of the region.
I had the privilege of meeting several producers and visit their wine cellars, tasting rooms, hotels, restaurants, and the image that I held are experiences that mark a consumer and favour the "loyalty" to a brand. Therefore I conclude that, to position the Portuguese wines in the world there is an urgent need to enhance Wine Tourism market. It will not be possible to all producers; however, and as I also said, the producers can do it by joining efforts for example in opening tasting rooms, picking up several target groups by providing more than one brand of wines.