International Recognition for UK Wine Tourism Website – www.WineCellarDoor.co.uk

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Wine Cellar Door (www.WineCellarDoor.co.uk) the online guide to visitor-friendly vineyards of the UK has been Highly Commended in the Best Promotional Body category of the Wine Tourism Awards 2015 run by Drinks International. The competition rewards producers, winemakers and generic bodies be they local, regional, national or international that attract visitors to their wineries and raise brand awareness.

“To receive international recognition for a website which is largely self-built, and in only its first year, is a huge thrill and also a motivation to keep growing and developing the site.” said Elisabeth Else who created Wine Cellar Door.

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Elisabeth pictured with her certificate at the Exceptional English Wine Company in Sussex

Selling wine from the ‘cellar door’ is the wine producer’s equivalent of offering produce for sale from the ‘farm gate’. Not only does buying in this way enable the visitor to engage with the story behind the wine and enjoy products with low food miles from their local community or holiday destination, it also has substantial benefits for growers and winemakers.

There are around 600 UK vineyards from the Scilly Isles to Yorkshire, of which many welcome visitors. These offer an enjoyable day out for wine buffs and also for those who simply enjoy the outdoors and are keen to learn about something new. In addition to cellar door tastings, many vineyards are now offering guided or self-guided tours, complemented by a cafe or shop promoting a variety of local produce.

www.WineCellarDoor.co.uk enables potential visitors to find a vineyard either from the interactive map or searching by relevant criteria such as location and opening arrangements, as well as facilities including restaurants, tours and even accommodation. There are also quick reference guides to award-winning producers and vineyards making a particular style of wine. Having identified vineyards of potential interest, the site visitor can read introductory information before being directed to the producer’s own website for more details.

While the formally constituted industry bodies do a great job of promoting the industry to the trade and the press, Elisabeth felt that there was a gap in the information available to consumers and especially tourists. She realised she had the skills to do something about it and started building www.WineCellarDoor.co.uk to complement other industry-provided resources.

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Sample Wine Cellar Door Home Page

“From the very beginning I knew I wanted the site to include all producers who welcome visitors, to have rich-imagery that gives a realistic impression of what a visitor is going to find and to enable potential visitors to search using meaningful criteria to find vineyards to visit.” explains Elisabeth.

Vineyards across the UK range from tiny agricultural concerns to substantial businesses; wine producers do not pay for their listing on www.WineCellarDoor.co.uk. By combining information to enable easy access to those vineyards that include accommodation or those that include venue hire for events such as weddings, wider marketing opportunities can also be supported.

Having created the site, Elisabeth was joined by colleague Ian Hardwick; they met while working at VisitBritain. Elisabeth’s experience in eCommerce and tourism technology, combined with Ian’s background as a geographer and extensive tourism experience, together with a shared love of wine, has been the foundation of the endeavour.

“Our shared experience of working on substantial tourism projects meant that we knew where the hard work would lie and has enabled us to take very few wrong turns along the way to building what is now a very powerful resource.” said Elisabeth.

Ian and Elisabeth visit as many vineyards as they can, both in order to try the wines and to see for themselves the facilities and atmosphere on offer. Ian is particularly interested in seeking out child-friendly places to visit with his family. “It’s great when you leave after a visit and the children ask excitedly “when can we go to another vineyard?” before you’ve even driven out of the gates” says Ian. “Vineyards with a children’s trail, a quiz, or animals are always popular, and a glass of grape juice goes down well” he added.

Initially the site had just under 100 cellar doors open to visitors; the number is now well on the way to 200. Not only are more producers opening their doors, but others are extending their opening arrangements; as each change comes to light or vineyard is visited, information is updated. Ian led the mapping functionality of the website and has lots more ideas for further development there, too. Even with the infrastructure in place, though, maintaining and developing the site requires a considerable amount of ongoing work and like-minded sponsors are actively being sought.

“Right now I would say the two most exciting developments on the site are the new tasting room at Bluebell Vineyard Estates and the possibility of making an appointment to visit Gusbourne Estate – both of these are dynamic producers making extremely high quality wines and the fact that they are opening their doors to the public confirms our approach.”

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New tasting room at Bluebell Vineyard Estates (picture © Bluebell Vineyard)

“English fine wine used to be considered a contradiction in terms and it’s true that the new award-winning quality is still a secret to many. Serving a glass of wine to a friend, it being well-received and then telling them that it’s English has caused many a surprise and quite some delight.” says Elisabeth. “Encouraging and engaging with vineyard visitors, telling the story behind the wine production and, most importantly, tasting and enjoying the end product are key to spreading the word that quality wines in England and Wales can compete head-on with offerings from Champagne and elsewhere.”

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For further information:

  1. Elisabeth Else can be contacted by email elisabeth.else@butisitrelevant.com or on 01252 781117.
  2. Elisabeth Else & Ian Hardwick blog as www.englishwinelovers.co.uk. Also on social media platforms: www.twitter.com/englishwinelove #ukcellardoor (www.twitter.com/hashtag/ukcellardoor), www.facebook.com/englishwinelovers, and www.pinterest.com/englishwinelove
  3. Wine Cellar Door is the first publication of English Wine Lovers.
  4. Elisabeth Else is a statistician and works as an independent business consultant, mainly project-managing eCommerce implementations for major brands such as Emma Bridgewater, Tate and Bonmarché. She also teaches Online Selling to wine producers and is engaged in a number of projects in the UK wine industry including development of a Wine Route for south east England with the SE Vineyards Association (SEVA) and advising several businesses on their selection of English and Welsh wines.
  5. Ian has a degree in geography and an inherent love of maps and ‘place’. He also has a post-graduate qualification in heritage interpretation – the science of explaining things to visitors. He has worked professionally in tourism for many years, including more than a decade at VisitBritain and VisitEngland. He now works for the leading supplier of online booking software to B&Bs, guest houses and independent hotels, including a number of the vineyards featured on Wine Cellar Door.
  6. The Wine Cellar Door website (www.WineCellarDoor.co.uk) is built on the Powa SaaS eCommerce platform.
  7. Read all about the Wine Tourism Awards 2015 in Drinks International Magazine.