Food & Wine Tourism Forum


Thoughts on the summer solstice

After over a year of silence, I am starting the blog again from Food&Wine Tourism Forum in Grinzane Cavour on the summer solstice. The place is not random, and neither is the date. Like all “I begin again,” they are full of wishes and intentions, but best to remain reserved.

The sixth edition of the Forum offers the chance. In the think-tank in the heart of the Langhe, experts study the trends, starting from the available data of the various European and national research centers. The aim is to measure tourist flows and their impact on the host territories.

Let the thought fly!

From the very first lines in the opening, it is already clear that the bar is set high, and this time, too, no expense is spared. Making great wines is a vocation in different areas of the country; being a wine destination, on the other hand, is much more complex and only for some. There are many stakeholders with diverse interests, and organizing strategic and measurable planning, at the moment, is still an exception in a country where individualism often needs help to contain itself.

It cannot be a coincidence that one of the great oenological interpreters of the area declares, “It is the place where you make thought fly high.” Then, thinking about it, you remember that they chose the opposite side more than thirty years ago when food became FAST. As their logo, they chose a red snail, becoming the emblem of enjoyment and good taste, anticipating the idea of sustainability and inclusion in this thought.

On ambitious goals

And staying in the ambitious thoughts that anticipate trends, let us try to look back in time. Indeed, the people were ready, but who could have brought together a territory as large and fragmented as our peninsula up to the Alps, a hinge with Europe, if we could not have counted on the only institution ready at that time to lead the country that quickly became a European nation?

Like it or not, this is where to work out new trends. Where everything seems simple and still for the gaze that skims the 360-degree hills; instead, at Food & Wine Tourism Forum inside the Castle of Grinzane Cavour, it is all a ferment of ideas that become lucid syntheses for the many participants and swarming people who move quickly from one room to the next so as not to miss a single word of rich and forward-looking content.

The end (of the pandemic!) is a new beginning.

The totem pole with the 17 sustainability goals has already ended in the past for the rest of the world, overwhelmed first by the pandemic and then by the latest war in Europe, which is already too long. At the Forum, the totem pole stands in the center of the room to remind us that the goals are all still there, that they are still to achieve, and that it is up to each of us, every day, in our actions to take charge of those goals, that their achievement must be a compass, that anyone can never set aside. Meanwhile, the path is full of contingencies and obstacles, making the challenge even more significant.

More outlooks

The word of inspiration is perspective; your horizon changes depending on where you set your gaze. And therefore, “high thinking” is released: “We are talking about wine and food and the transversality of themes,” Magda Antonioli recapitulates, “but if the theme of the day were PNRR, we would say the same things,” recalling that she, along with other pioneers, introduced tourism in the winery 30 years ago and now, finally, the time has come for that project to leave the winery and spread to the surrounding territory.

But there is another disruptive element: we are no longer the same as pre-pandemic! If before the focus was on the health element, now the sensitivity becomes social (fortunately, it comes to say!), and the command is “share.” And thus, the formula to always keep in mind the value chain: company profit, demand satisfaction, care, and attention to the environment.

And something is thinking at our place

At Food & Wine Tourism Forum the experts present and practice innovation. The big star of the moment, artificial intelligence, could not be missing. Like it or not, it is increasingly present and will quickly become part of our lives. As in my case, being reluctant only delays an inevitable process. As in any revolution, we must reckon with the will have nefarious effects and all the benefits it will bring to our customs.

Will we be able to withstand the frustration in front of something that thinks and writes faster than we do and with far fewer mistakes? Giulia Eremita – a digital tourism expert – tries to explain this by starting from the pragmatism of the housewife and asking easy questions for complex problems, like how to prepare dinner for two with three items in the refrigerator. After all, domestic dinner is also everyday food and wine, or isn’t it?

Gastro inspirations beyond wine

Wine is pulling, but where do we stand with other foods? How do we interpret the opportunities offered by olive oil tourism? What about cheese tourism? Captivating and engaging opportunities are opening up, and an experiential proposal of mine becomes urgent; planning is essential in this, too.

Figures from Nomisma’s Wine Tourism Observatory show that we have significant shortages of trained staff to receive at wineries, and trained staff are increasingly reluctant to sacrifice their free time, especially on weekends, to welcome and entertain visitors.

That’s just one part; we must bridge a gap in excellent hospitality management training. With wine? No, with culture. It is easier to propose the narrative of the territory when we offer awareness of history and the consequences which determine the country’s fate.

That’s just one part; we must bridge a gap in excellent hospitality management training. With wine? No, with culture. It is easier to propose the narrative of the territory when we offer awareness of history and the consequences which determine the country’s fate.

It could have caught the TRAINING space for the Food & Wine Tourism Forum participants, a series of professionals provided instructions for using the most used Social Networks with tips and practical application examples.

Does Food & Wine Tourism Forum end here? 

No, it does not. Maria Elena Rossi of Enit and Bruno Bertero, Destination Langhe, Monferrato, and Roero try to sum up the day, telling what the “country system” is doing now.  Once again the extreme need to work out actual data common to all European countries merges again. Compare and share are the keys of new projects. Data do not lack at the moment. Still, the new available data no longer tell us where guests come from, how long they stay, and what they visit; they rather analyze their movements, the times they stop at a place rather than at an attraction, and how they live in an area.

These new elaborations become truly disruptive when designing a destination. Looking ahead to 2030 and beyond, we ask ourselves: what kind of destination do I want to be or become? What kind of guests do I wish to attract to my territory?/?p=8154

But there is one question that intrigues me even more: often in the day, it has emerged that guests of these regions are attentive, educated, sensitive, and demanding here. What seems to me, however, to be genuinely revolutionary is a new and profound sensibility that comes up and verges on self-criticism:

what kind of tourist do I want to be?

The questions above will help define the Langhe destination of the future. The answers include a prudent management of the existing, with even more excellent care. This positioning will necessarily select visitors to enable guests to enjoy their vacation time to the fullest while also maintaining respect for residents.

And it will also entail greater responsibility for the traveler in planning vacations and leisure time more general.

Happy end with the glass

Thoughts, words, enthusiasm, and plans did not include wine. I’ll catch up soon, although I mention it at the end of the blog to keep the thread of my participation. The hospitality at the Forum is sacred, and the lunch break always works: sober but missing everything, including selecting the most representative Piedmontese DOCs. I followed the innovative trend of the day to be tempted by a bubble of Asti docg Spumante Brut. The exuberant variety’s unmistakable aromas surprised me, expecially when I could not recognize the sweet style I knew since ever. But this exciting part leaves room for unpredictable, interesting pairings from seasonal salads to flans. In short, more than ever, “innovation” to test ourselves with the great Italian grape varieties in different interpretations.

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