Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Route Of All Wine

In Jerez last week, there was a gathering of the Spanish wine industry. The Asociación Española de Ciudades de Vino was holding its annual general assembly. Among those present was Isabel Borrego, who is Mallorcan and also the national secretary of state for tourism. She commented on the role that Spanish Wine Routes (Rutas del Vino de España) have made in creating a product "relevant to our tourism offer". The president of the association, Diego Ortega, reported that during 2013 there had been 1.7 million visitors to bodegas on these routes, an increase of 18% over the previous year. Sr. Ortega echoed the words of Sra. Borrego in pointing to the importance of wine tourism in diversifying the tourism offer and in eating away at the harmful effects of seasonality.

Prizes were handed out at the meeting. Sra. Borrego might have reflected on the fact that none were heading across the sea to Mallorca or the Balearics. She might also have a cast an eye down the list of members of the association. In certain regions of Spain, there are numerous members - different "routes", town halls, local government. In one region, the Balearics, there is only one member. It is the Balearics Tourism Agency. But how current is this? I checked the name of the contact. He is not listed on the regional government's website. Moreover, the link given was not for that website. It was for Inestur's. Inestur was scrapped amidst the corruption furore that consumed the tourism ministry during the last administration.

How is it that representation on an association which can boast a rise in tourism of almost 20% in a year appears to be non-existent in the Balearics? How is it indeed that there are no "wine routes" as such in Mallorca? Only last week, the Pollensa Wine Fair, with its more than thirty bodegas, revealed the island's wine trade to be in pretty decent shape. It showed that the trade was well dispersed across the island and so not just confined to its traditional heartland in Binissalem. This geographical spread suggests, or might suggest, that there could be a wine route.

But there is no need for there to be a suggestion. A wine route exists and it is presented in a highly informative and lavish brochure. It is a route for the "Denominació d'Origen Binissalem". It embraces Sencelles, Santa Maria del Camí, Santa Eugènia and Consell as well as of course Binissalem. These other centres are all covered by the Binissalem denomination. The governmental collaborators with this route and its brochure are two regional government ministries - the one for business, industry and energy, and the one for agriculture. One ministry, therefore, seems somewhat conspicuous by its absence.

Are we to conclude, therefore, that despite grand governmental words about breaking seasonality in Mallorca through a niche product such as wine there is more talk than walk - or route? Well, maybe we should conclude this, but regardless of official support, there are wine routes in Majorca, though why there is no hook-up with the association is a question that does perhaps need asking.

Nevertheless, there is, for example, the Mallorca Wine Express, a tourist train ride offered by Mallorca Wine Tours, a trip of around four hours duration that takes in wines in the areas around Santa Maria and Consell. There is also, lasting until 18 May, a special event entitled "WIne Days Mallorca". To give a flavour of what this entails, here is what has been scheduled for tomorrow: visits to markets in Santa Maria and Consell, to bodegas, to art exhibitions, to gastronomy offerings and, at 7pm in the evening, to a concert in Binissalem. It is all part of an initiative by bodegas in the towns which form the Binissalem denomination and is all kicked off by what is happening today in Binissalem the "Feria Wine Days".

"Nine days, nine experiences" is the slogan for the initiative, and it is one that goes further than providing experiences for visitors. There are also conferences taking place which address issues such as the future of viticulture on the island, a future that does include tourism.

Mallorca may not be represented on the association. Governmental support, especially from the tourism ministry may appear to be less than total, but perhaps the government isn't needed. The bodegas are doing it for themselves. They have a wine route, they have their "Wine Days". You should check out what's going on. Full information on

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