I know you are aware that when I started the Craft Wine Association in September 2016, no one was talking about craft wine. In fact, when “Craft Wine” as used as a Google term, what would come up was cute crafts with wine corks, or how to make drinking glasses out of wine bottles. Even as late as a year ago, when we first started our social conversation about the importance of Craft Wine and introduced the concept of a certification for craft wine, that was still the case.
We have worked hard since then to open the conversation about what Craft Wine really is, associating it to the Farm-to-Table movement and talking not just about the built-in cultural relevance of word “Craft” (meaning the word on its own has a cultural meaning) but also the importance of “the winery next door”. What many don’t realize is that “wine country” is not a single location but rather wine country can be found within a hours drive of every major city in the US.
I know this message is resonating. We moved past our proof of concept to full operations in February 2018. We have certified twenty wineries and over two hundred wines since then, with about the same number currently in the queue. More significantly, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has extended an invitation to our CEO/Founder Carole Lawson to speak at the Global Conference on Wine Tourism September 6-7, held this year in the Republic of Moldova. Moldova represents the ideal host for the 3rd UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism as, aside from being home to the world’s largest wine cellar, the country has placed itself as a world-leading wine producer. Moldova boasts endless rows of vines and a strong sense of community and rich culture with unique music, dance, food, poetry, architecture and artisanal goods. In combination with the wine, this creates an authentic and unique experience for tourists from all over the world.
I think what we are seeing is a global shift in what “wine tourism” means, within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Global Conference on Wine Tourism seeks to explore issues related to sustainable rural development through tourism and, especially, engage in advancing the pivotal role wine tourism can play in fostering local development. A fancy way of simply wine country is no longer just Napa or Burgundy. The world is focusing on wine tourism to mean an extension of community, culture and new opportunities for local economies. How is this going to impact consumer demand or the largest winemakers? That remains to be seen, but it is going to be a fun ride.