Fortunately, we live in an area - Charlottesville, VA - that has a lot to offer tourists. Attractions, a top-ranking university, outdoor recreation, gorgeous scenic views and a rich history bring many visitors to the area, which helps bolster our local economy. Another popular tourist attraction (and gaining popularity by the minute) are our area's vineyards and wine trails. (Side note: Did you know Virginia has more wine trails than any state in the U.S.?) Recently, though, we've noticed a trend emerging: wine trails expanding to encompass breweries and distilleries helping Virginia tourism. Something for everyone, right?
A wine tour in Virginia used to mean visting vineyards and wineries located in beautiful settings with classy tasting rooms. Today, visitors are adding breweries, cideries and distilleries in diverse settings and locations - from urban warehouses to rural farms - to their list of destinations.
While the drinks themselves often are the reason for visiting, savvy beverage makers and marketers have gotten creative not only with their varietal offerings, but also with how they're attracting customers. Yoga at local breweries. Music festivals at local distilleries. Polo at wineries. 5k runs through the trails. Weddings everywhere! They're offering experiences and connecting with customers and communities outside of the tasting room. And, they're consistently giving people a reason to return.
The breweries, wineries and distilleries aren't the only ones benefitting from the increased tourism. Local transportation companies and restaurants, not to mention the bed & breakfasts and boutique hotels, have all jumped on the bandwagon, creating special group deals and web site pages specifically dedicated to these tours.
We're not sure who came up with the brilliant idea of using wineries, breweries and distilleries as a way to increase tourism, but cheers to them. It's working! And, we're buying!
See also: Craft-ing Your Message