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Alexandra Leroy Maçanita is in charge of FitaPreta's Wine Tourism Department. It is she who, together with her team, develops all the experiences related to visits to FitaPreta Winery and Paço do Morgado de Oliveira, a wine tourism project in the Alentejo.
Regarding our participation in the BTL - Lisbon Tourism Exchange 2022, we asked her some questions.
|1| Alexandra, can you explain to us the concept / philosophy behind FitaPreta's Wine Tourism?
The philosophy inherent to our wineries - FitaPreta (Alentejo wines), Maçanita (Douro wines) and AWC (Pico wines, Azores) - is to bring the customer to feel part of an experience and to our daily life. In other words, we really want the visitor who shares a moment of his life with us to be able to feel what happens in the cellars - more than a simple wine tasting, our idea is to share the work of the winemakers, the viticulture team and everything what happens daily within our space.
At FitaPreta Winery, in particular, the customer is welcomed by the wine tourism team but it’s possible to interact with the other teams at any moment - the space, in fact, was designed that way, so our walls are made of glass - and the idea is that this always happens.
We provide life moments through wine tastings, tastings of regional Alentejo gastronomy, enogastronomic experiences, etc. It is possible to have a picnic or lunch with us, have learning experiences, such as making a wine blend or an initiation to wine tasting.
Adega FitaPreta (Alentejo).
|2| António Maçanita wineries have stood out for their concern to bring quality wines to the consumer while seeking to interpret some of the local wine heritage. How does this impact FitaPreta's wine tourism?
I think that consumers are increasingly more informed about what cellars do and what wines represent in each region, so they are looking for something more complex than just a wine tasting.
Therefore, what we want in terms of wine tourism is to play the role of host: to represent our winery, and its philosophy, the work that is being developed by our Enology and Viticulture teams. In other words, our mission is to transmit the values of the cellars, managing to explain why we make wines this way, the reason for the recovery of disappeared grape varieties or for making wines without barrels - in order to show the potential of the grape varieties and their real aromas - what can a white wine fermented in wood carving be, what are varieties such as Tinta Carvalha or Alicante Branco (Alentejo varieties) or Terrantez do Pico (Azorean variety).
We want to tell the story of our wines and the region where they are found - whether in Alentejo, Douro or Azores - and that those who visit us leave our Cellars more informed and with a transversal perspective of what we do and also of the regional wine culture.
|3| Before the confinements, there was an increasing demand for experiences related to wine. Do you think this trend continues?
I would say that the experience acquired in the period before the first confinement (the start of Enotourism in the Alentejo took place a few months before Covid19) allowed us to continue the development of the work that was already being done, although adapted to the reality of the moment - , for example, some online wine tastings, and investment was made in an online store in which all teams participated.
We are lucky to have an excellent oenology team, which makes the work of wine tourism a lot easier, insofar as when the product is good, this is already half the way to providing good experiences.
|4| The last two years, because of the pandemic, have put many projects on stand-by. What's new for 2022?
For 2022, our idea is to consolidate the offer and do even better what we were doing before. We are lucky to have an excellent oenology team, which makes the work of wine tourism a lot easier, insofar as when the product is good, this is already half the way to providing good experiences.
One of our goals is to make experiences such as the Initiation to Wine Tasting more regular and to develop new programs, such as the Enologist for a Year. This experience will allow those who have this interest to develop a wine with us in a more consistent and continuous way. Soon we will also start António Maçanita Academy, which will take place three times a year and consists of very learning weekends and with a practical part of food and wine pairing.
In addition, 2022 is the year to publicize the improvements we have made in our various spaces, as the period of the pandemic was essentially used to make some upgrades - FitaPreta (Alentejo), Maçanita (Douro) and AWC (Pico, Azores).
In the case of the Azores Wine Company, it was during the pandemic that the accommodation was inaugurated, an incredible space next to the corrals (stone fences that protect the vineyards from the Atlantic winds and which are currently considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO). At FitaPreta, the pandemic also served for the requalification of spaces, which are increasingly beautiful. And at Maçanita Winery there were also some works to highlight the Wine Tourism project in the Douro and which now allow us to receive our customers in a very pleasant way in the outdoor spaces around the Winery and with a privileged view over the Douro River.
The pandemic has given us time to move forward with these projects that were already planned and now it is time to open them to the public.