Spain’s Rioja region uses wineries to draw tourists

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– Architectural gems –

– Wine before all else –

“Wine tourism is very much appreciated” by Britons, Germans and Americans, he added.

“We export 150 million bottles to these markets each year. They want to know us, see where this bottle is born,” he added.

Today about 80 wineries in La Rioja open their doors to visitors, compared to just a handful a decade ago.

“This is a natural resource which we had. We had to turn it into a touristic product. This involved a huge change in thinking,” said Capellan.

This change has not always gone smoothly, said Ramon Estalella, the secretary general of the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Lodgings.

“We have sometimes built very beautiful hotels, charming, but too small for the investment to be profitable,” he said before recommending that wineries seek tourism experts for advice on how to move into the hospitality sector.

Lopez de Heredia of the Heredia Tondonia winery acknowledged there was a lack of experience.

“In our house we were trained as winegrowers, not as a tourism company. We are just starting,” she said.

While visitors to the winery are gaining importance, “they will never supplant the work of the vineyard,” she added.

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