The author was a guest at Port Wine Day 2016 in Oporto, Portugal, in Spetember 2016.Photo by Robert Stephen.

Wine Tourism Essex County


Stephen-CSW-Header(PORTO, PORTUGAL) – I will readily admit that the EU has taken very good care of me in the past couple of years.

Flying me and paying accommodation expenses to help me discover the fine edges of Port wine, I am totally unaware of any similar Canadian wine program. It is rare that I get invited to Niagara or Lake Erie North Shore on a similar junket. Any media exposure for Canadian wine seems relegated to ice-wine.

Portugal is another story.

For the past three years, and in 2013, for a week-long tour of the best Quintas, I have been invited to sample the wines and Ports of the Douro region. In many cases, it’s not me alone but with some 50 global journalists.

While the Canadian government expends energy legalizing marijuana, it’s a bit of a shame it is not promoting and subsidizing the benefits of Ontario wine.

I can’t keep this off my mind as I attend a series of talks at Port Wine Day on September 10.

I am listening intently to Maria João de Almeida, who has been a wine journalist since 1995.Maria makes the point that Portugal is a small country, yet very rich in wine production.

Enotourism (wine tasting at the source) is becoming a big segment of tourism. In order for enotourism to be successful people must be “received well”. There must be more than a canned tour. There must be a soul opened up to the tourists.

A memorable experience must be created for the consumer. A lasting impression must be made, invoking of family and tradition. The customer must be treated as family by the wine producers in order to make a connection.

A Portuguese perspective, but applicable to Lake Erie North Shore.

Avoid the canned tours. Get the winemaker and owners involved. Establish a connection, not an impersonally guided tour.