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Summer, the rediscovery of the beauty & good of Italy through vineyards and restaurants in wineries

Even in proximity tourism, wine tourists look for 360° experiences and gourmet addresses. The vision of the top wineries in Italy
Summer, the restart goes through vineyards and restaurants in wineries

Rediscovering all the good and beautiful things of Italy: if it is true that summer 2021 will be the season of recovery, the desire for proximity vacations will relaunch the numerous wine tourism territories of our country. According to the Observatory on the Economics of Tourism of the Chambers of Commerce, 80% of Italians aim to spend their next vacations within the national borders. The boom of the bookings of the last weeks, following the reopening, privileges stays under the sign of nature, art and beauty, but also of flavors, scents and recipes, after long months in which each of us has interfaced with the world only through computers, social networks and meetings on Zoom. New wine tourists are not limited to wine (which remains one of the central elements of the travel experience), but they want to broaden their horizons by discovering territories and their food and wine identities. Our answer to overtourism, to low cost international flights and to the crowds of big European cities, wine tourism adapts and offers experiences at 360 degrees, without forgetting safety: visits to wineries are thus flanked by fine resorts, spas, swimming pools, picnics in the vineyards, yoga, wellness, cooking classes and excursions by bike or on horseback. But above all, gourmet restaurants: more and more wineries are opening high-level addresses, many of them already starred or aspiring.
As entrepreneurs and managers of the most important companies in the sector tell WineNews, where wine production is increasingly in synergy with catering and hospitality. Opinions “author”, which testify to the trends told by analysis and research: the survey of the Centro Studi Turistici of Florence (carried out for Assoturismo/Confesercenti) provides for the summer of 2021 an estimated growth of +20.08% of the tourist market, thanks to the partial return of foreign travelers (although right now the alarm about quarantine for those arriving from the United Kingdom, struggling with an increase of contagions due to the Indian variant, ed). According to the indications, provided by over 2,000 entrepreneurs, in June-July-August, there will be 33.1 million arrivals in accommodation facilities in our country and over 140.1 million overnight stays. With the post-Covid tourism that privileges the appeal of our country, without of course forgetting the due guarantees and respect for the rules, which in the large spaces of wine estates are easier than elsewhere to follow.
In Sicily, the Tasca D’Almerita family offers high level hospitality in the various family estates, but it is in Tenuta Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia in Salina (www.capofaro.it) that one can experience a unique experience, with 27 rooms surrounded by vineyards or one of the suites in the 19th century lighthouse. The restaurant, led by chef Gabriele Camiolo, focuses on short km (70% of the ingredients come from a system of gardens) and on a tradition that mixes peasant knowledge and the tradition of monsù, the cooks of Sicilian aristocratic families. “Among our customers we are finding a great desire to restart - Alberto Tasca tells Winenews - we have already received a large number of reservations for the summer. At the moment we are working with all the necessary precautions, so we are not yet at full capacity, especially for cellar visits, but the demand is really high. At the moment the target is mainly Italians, although for the second part of the summer, until autumn, we have received many reservations from foreigners as well”.
Montalcino confirms itself in the hit list of the most desired wine tourism territories of Italy: “despite we reopened only 10 days ago - says Enrico Viglierchio, managing director of Castello Banfi (www.castellobanfiwineresort.it), whose restaurant La Sala dei Grappoli has been awarded a Michelin star this year, thanks to chef Domenico Francone - we are experiencing a boom of requests. At the moment we are talking mainly about Italian and European clients, while Americans are starting to opt for the months of August and September. Also the international tour operators are moving, it will surely be a season above expectations. Of course, we work with great attention to safety. The only sore point is the lack of staff, but after all this is a physiological period of adjustment, we are restarting a machine that has been at a standstill for a year and a half”.
Alessio Planeta, head of Planeta winery (www.planetaestate.it) which, with its wine resort in Menfi, offers a full immersion between wine and sea in Sicily, confirms: “in the last weeks we have witnessed a real escalation of requests and bookings. July and August are already almost full. There is a desire to travel and to restart, and wine tourism proves to be one of the strongest trends, because it combines the beauty of the territories with the safety of the wineries, where it is easy to apply the rules of distancing”. In the Foresteria’s restaurant, chef Angelo Pumilia offers a sensorial journey among the flavors of the region, accompanied by the most representative wines of the winery, including old vintages and Alessio's favorites from other producers.
Ornella Venica of Venica & Venica (www.venica.it), symbolic winery of Collio, in Friuli Venezia Giulia, which boasts a refined wine resort with 9 charming rooms, confirms the desire to start again: “we opened at the end of May - she explains - and we are already seeing a great demand, in particular from young people, who are very interested in our wines and in the production process. In the weekend many people ask to stay overnight: Italians are the majority at the moment, but we are starting to see Austrians as well. We are very careful in respecting all the rules and distances, even during the visits in the winery, and I notice this is appreciated by our customers”.
There is also optimism at Venissa (www.venissa.it), an evocative location that offers unique and exclusive experiences on the island of Mazzorbo, in Venice. The Michelin-starred restaurant is run by chefs Chiara Pavan and Francesco Brutto, who offer “environmental” cuisine, where the focus is not only on local traditions, but also on seasonality, recovery and waste reduction. Director Matteo Bisol says: “since May, despite the weather not helping us, we have sold out: there is a very strong feeling of restarting, June is proving to be very intense and we already have reservations for July and August. Many Italians, but we're starting to see foreigners as well. A trend that we are finding is that even the Venetians arrive and stay for a few days: there is a great desire to rediscover the territories near home, which until now had been neglected in favor of more distant destinations”.
Marilisa Allegrini presents the hospitality of her brand in the Valpolicella area with Villa della Torre (www.villadellatorre.it), where a Taverna has also been created, with the producer who is working with Fabio Groppi (a chef who has also had a Michelin star in the past) to expand the offer “while we will probably have to wait until 2022 for Americans to return to pre-Covid flows, we see that there is a resumption of Italian tourists, but also of foreigners, in particular from Switzerland, Germany and Scandinavian countries. Italians are showing a certain tendency to “carpe diem”: they decide at the last moment when to leave. Generally speaking, we must say wineries and wine territories are privileged destinations, as they allow people to stay outdoors and therefore guarantee a certain tranquility and safety”. Pierangelo Tommasi of Tommasi Family Estate, which offers an exclusive experience in Valpolicella with the wine hotel Villa Quaranta (www.villaquaranta.com), also confirms a positive impression: “in the last 2-3 weeks there has been a considerable increase in bookings, people want to move. Italians are for now the majority, but from July onwards the requests also come from foreigners”. Here, the Borgo Antico restaurant combines the creations of chef Emanuele Selvi with a wine list of over 130 labels, also awarded by “Wine Spectator”.
“Our facilities are already open, since a few weeks, with the highest attention, and we are already finding - Enrico Chiavacci, marketing director and catering manager of Marchesi Antinori (www.antinori.it) explains to Winenews - a turnout that is almost at the normal pre-Covid levels. Italians remain our main reference market, but in the Bolgheri and Chianti Classico estates we already welcome Swiss and German tourists. For Americans I foresee a return towards the end of summer”. Wine tourists who decide to eat in one of Antinori’s restaurants are spoilt for choice: from Rinuccio 1180, on the roof of the ultra-modern winery in San Casciano Val di Pesa, to Osteria del Tasso, in the heart of the historic Guado al Tasso estate, passing through the traditional Osteria in Passignano nel Chianti.
The spectacular estates of L’Albereta in Franciacorta and L’Andana with Casa Badiola in Tuscany, both owned by Terra Moretti, represent one of the benchmarks of made in Italy wine tourism. And if at L’Albereta you can choose between a gourmet experience at the Leonefelice Vista Lago restaurant or a light menu at the Benessere restaurant (with dishes designed by Dominique Chenot), Trattoria Enrico Bartolini at L’Andana won the Michelin in 2016, focusing on Tuscan tradition as well as a cellar with over 600 labels. And Martino De Rosa, at the head of the hospitaity sector of the Terra Moretti group, confirms the recovery trend: “we are definitely optimistic, our estates are working and we are receiving reservations for the coming months. There is no doubt that wine tourism is one of the preferred choices in this historical period, thanks to the wide open spaces that allow experiencing vacations in safety. Italian customers represent our main target, but we are also seeing tourists from the neighboring countries starting to move, in particular Germany, Austria, Belgium and France, that is all the ones who can arrive by car, which in this moment is the preferred means of transportation for obvious reasons. By the end of August/September we are also receiving reservations from American clients, and this is a decidedly encouraging sign”.
Finally, Giovanni Folonari, owner of Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari estates (www.tenutefolonari.com), which, in the luxury wine tourism sector, have made important investments in recent years: “we have recently reopened Borgo del Cabreo, in Chianti, and yet we are already full, besides receiving many bookings for the summer. In addition, we have just restored another farmhouse, which will be inaugurated in July, demonstrating that the luxury hospitality sector is an important asset for us. After all, in this period a holiday in the countryside is the ideal solution to enjoy isolation and relaxation. The clientele to date is mainly Italian, but we are finally beginning to see the very first Americans”.
Testimonials that tell of the desire to restart an Italy of wine and wine tourism, of the production of excellence combined with hospitality and catering of the highest level, which, by nature, has a vocation for dialogue with the world, starting again from its places and its territories to write the future that will come for the sector, after the pandemic.

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