IWINETC – excellent platform for business contacts and development


Drinks+ Communication Media Group has become an information partner of IWINETC after presentation of its new international project Wine Travel Awards (WTA). In its turn, IWINETC has become the Official Partner of the award as a sponsor of the prize fund, which will provide the winners of the 2021-2022 WTA with the opportunity to attend this leading wine tourism conference next year.

Veronika Busel, WTA Managing Partner, attended the event and shares with the readers of Drinks+, what happened at the event held in the first year after the lockdown.

Despite serious concerns about the possibility of holding the event offline – bearing in mind the last year’s October experience, when the conference was urgently “moved” to the virtual space instead of the planned event in Trieste (Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Italy) – the event did take place, and the 2021 slogan sounded like this: “Bouncing Back!”, which means “We are recovering!” or “We are returning to normal!”

For many guests who follow the diverse geolocations of IWINETC, this is a truly long-awaited event. It should be pointed out that in addition to admitting new players, since 2009 around IWINETC, a community was being formed during the next 13 years, and in fact, now it is a club of more than 700 wine tourism professionals from 45 countries, whose members do not miss a chance to meet each other face to face.

Exclusive wine trip

On October 25, the IWINETC team hosted a welcome reception for guests from all over the world – an exclusive one-day tour around the authentic Portuguese Ribeira,  with wine tasting in Calem cellars. The speakers and delegates were exploring the old cellars together and enjoying various styles of port wines.

After a busy day, the participants were invited to a private event held that evening in the cellars of one of the oldest wine houses in Portugal – Ferreira; it was accompanied by a light dinner and tasting of local wines from Algarve, Madeira, Alentejo, Douro, Vinho Verde, Dão. It should be emphasized that it was a real wine journey led by a renowned wine expert in Portugal. We should add that the event took place to the accompaniment of traditional Portuguese fado music.

Speeches by experts, bright events, and one-to-one business meetings

On October 26-27, during the two days of the conference, the participants had many opportunities to learn more about the world’s leading wine tourism destinations and their products, get access to professional and educational seminars, and make new connections with representatives of the wine tourism sector. The conferences and trade event were organized at the newly opened 5-star luxury hotel overlooking the Ribeiro – The Lodge Wine & Business Hotel.

During two busy days of the conference, 17 presentations and panel discussions were held.

The opening ceremony included welcoming speeches by Anthony Swift, Director of IWINETC, Ricardo Valente, Vice Chairman of the Porto and Northern Portugal Tourism Board, Filipe Silva, Member of the Portuguese Tourism Council, and José Guilherme Aguiar, Member of the Gaia City Council.

The Porto and North of Portugal Tourism Board opened the conference program with a plenary session consisting of two lectures: “Porto and North of Portugal as a wine tourism region” and “Porto and North Portugal wine routes”. Thereupon, wine tastings, including the wines from these regions, were held.

This was followed by inspiring presentations from industry experts such as Chris Torres, who presented the results of his research on wine tourism consumer trends that will be relevant in the coming years and how to use this knowledge to promote the companies’ own products and initiatives. … Carlos Brito, who spoke about the role of branding in wine tourism and territorial development, Felicity Carter (nota bene: one of the 12 judges of the Wine Travel Awards), who spoke about overcoming consequences of the pandemic for the food sector by positioning and finding one’s own uniqueness, Judith Lewis, who shared her ideas regarding rebuilding the food industry after the pandemic by resorting to digital technology, with an emphasis on SEO and unique content, Adrian Bridge, winner of the Wine Personality of the Year award, who examined “under a magnifying glass” the strategy of the 2020 largest European tourism project of 105 million euros – the World Of Wine project, Peter Syme, who analyzed the wine tourism industry in the post-Covid era and shared what digital changes we need to be aware of, how technology will change the society, what, in turn, will change the approach to wine tourism, and how to work with it long-term. Renowned experts: Andrea Kaiser, Roberta Garibaldi, and Federico Ceretto, during their speeches, emphasized the need for sustainable regional development and innovation. And we named only a few of the many forum speakers!

It is interesting that the speakers were representing the group of invited experts, but a separate competition was announced for public wine professionals, who are a little less renowned, but could participate in the forum in order to present their ideas.

One of them, whose report I found particularly interesting, was António Pé-Curto. His presentation focused on trends in wine tourism (“Four Key Areas of Experience in Wine Tourism”), and the findings were based on years of research work at the Iscte Business Research Unit in Lisbon.

After attending the presentations, the delegates witnessed the Rabelo boat regatta on the Douro River from Gran Cruz, Rozes, Sogrape, Sogevinus and Fladgate Partnership, which demonstrated the traditional way of transporting port wines. This colorful performance took place right in front of the IWINETC venue under the bright Portuguese sun.

Within the framework of the event, stands were also organized as mini-exhibitions, where it was possible to find wines and proposals for wine tourism from developing industry players, for example, such as Israel and Armenia. Similarly to previous  events of IWINETC, this year, a large B2B workshop was organized: it included half a day of one-to-one business meetings and a comprehensive business networking program. The format resembled the American speed dating films: the participants sent in advance their inquiries to the business representatives, which were of interest to them, via an online application, in order to negotiate during the subsequent offline workshop. During a short period of time, each participant had an opportunity to communicate with several dozen of potential partners, business representatives and more than 30 agencies specializing in wine and/or gastronomic tourism, which allowed both parties to establish promising business ties. An individualized system of meetings enabled the participants to share their experience, get to know each other, and replenish their catalogs.

Every evening, the IWINETC team organized networking events at the most luxurious restaurants in Porto such as World of Wine (WOW) and Vinum in the Grahams cellars, giving a breathtaking view of Porto at night.


Tour around the Portuguese wineries

 On October 28 and 29, trips to the wineries were organized – experts, journalists, international tour operators, and agents were invited on a two-day tour implying a lot of visits, around the four wine regions forming the Porto-North of Portugal Wine Route, in particular Douro and Porto, Vinho Verde, Tavora-Varosa and Traz-ush-Montish.

Among wineries and wine route sites, IWINETC members visited Quinto do Seixa, Quinta da Roeda, Vintage House, Sandeman, and Taylor’s.

In the morning on Saturday, October 30, the delegates were invited to the World of Wine (WOW) complex, a newly opened wine attraction worth over 105 million euros.

Porto and wine routes in north of Portugal

The choice of Porto as the venue for the 2021 event was not accidental – in 2020, a large-scale project was created here: the World of Wine, which was recognized as the largest investment in tourism in Europe in 2020, and already in 2021, Porto & North of Portugal Tourism Board launched a new route within the Visit Portugal project – the wine routes of Porto and the north of Portugal, connecting four regions: Douro, Vinhos Verdes, Távara-Varosa, and Trás-os-Montes.

Luís Pedro Martins, President of the Porto & North of Portugal Tourism Board proudly noted: “The quality events like IWINETC 2021 bring to the region exactly what we strive to achieve by comparing ourselves to other wine tourism destinations. Especially at a time when we are still facing the effects of the pandemic around the world. And that gives us the strength we need to prove internationally that the region has absolutely everything we need for a great experience, including the ability to provide the security that everyone is looking for. The wine and gastronomic tourism event is absolutely in line with our strategy for the wine routes that we have developed, and we decided to launch it exactly during IWINETC 2021: in fact, this is our first marketing event, a B2B event for this route. Therefore, it is with great pleasure and joy that we welcome each participant of this outstanding conference to Porto”.

Anthony Swift, Director of IWINETC, shared his emotions about the event: “Today, we see that the wine tourism industry is booming, and it is a great niche market. Many wine regions around the world are investing into wine tourism, thereby developing their territories. The future looks bright to me, and everyone should understand that wine tourism is an opportunity for business and entrepreneurial activities on a sustainable basis.

Each year, the main goal of IWINETC is to invite and direct the spotlight to the enogastronomic tourism professionals, so that they come together, share their ideas, study the best practices, and gain knowledge and inspiration for new achievements, establish contacts and business relationships. We are glad that this year, the event was attended by more than 140 industry professionals.

As a team, we are focused on creating and delivering the quality experience, because in the end, only one thing matters: that the participants leave happy and take away valuable tools and contacts that are useful for their careers and businesses.

I am very grateful to all our partners who helped us make this event so successful”.

Veronika Busel, Managing Partner of the Wine Travel Awards: “I am very pleased that such influential international players demonstrating the highest standards, will join the Wine Travel Awards, an initiative that was born in Ukraine, but continues to extend its presence globally.

Through IWINETC, which sponsored the WTA prize fund, we plan to provide the winners in 2022 with great opportunities for new experiences, learning and networking. I think this is the very place that can combine educational, business, and playing formats. Most importantly, IWINETC is an excellent platform for business contacts and development”.

Drinks+ Files

The International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC), organized by Wine Events Worldwide, is the most respected global event for the wine and gastronomic tourism industry. At the end of October 2021, IWINETC took place for the second time in the city of Porto (Portugal).

In addition to Portugal, over the years the event was held in Italy, Spain, France, Hungary, Georgia, and Croatia (the organizers also shared with Drinks + that they hope to hold an event in Ukraine in the future).

This year, the main partner and sponsor of IWINETC was the Porto & North of Portugal Tourism Board, which, right during the event, announced for the first time its new program of Portuguese Wine Routes. However, the event could not have taken place without the support of a number of international and influential wine companies, such as Sogrape Original Legacy Wines, Fladgate Partnership, Symington Family Estates, etc.