The country is positioning itself as one of the world’s places chosen by the gay tourist. Wine, wineries and landscape are the most important attractions.
In 2010, of the five million tourists housed in Argentina, 17.8% belonged to the LGTB (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals) community. Buenos Aires, followed by Mendoza, are the most gay-friendly destinations.
As regards Mendoza, it is attractive due to the diversity of activities and well-qualified staff, being the most chosen options those related to wine tourism.
This reality is an opportunity very interesting, taking in mind that gay tourists are potential customers, since they do not have a family to maintain and their earnings are used for leisure, entertainment, pleasure, culture and education.
The Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CCGLAR) carried out a research to know this segment’s tastes and trends. One data revealed is that wine results to be their favorite drink.
Therefore, they spend more money in travelling. According to Pablo de Luca, president and founder of Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce of Argentina (CCGLAR), the daily average expenditure is USD 200 while in the case of heterosexuals is USD 120. Likewise, as regards gay tourists, their stay is longer (about 12 days), whereas heterosexuals stay an average period of 7 days. Moreover, the latter group travels approximately twice a year while gays travel 6 or 7 times a year.
Besides, another positive data is that the large percentage of Argentina’s gay wine tourism is represented by foreigners, mainly from Brazil, United States and Europe.
Due to this fact, there are not only travel agencies 100% devoted to gays, but also wineries offering special tours and alternatives for this public.
In this sense, from different wineries it was highlighted that all tour options are the same, but the difference lies in the manners and training of the staff who receive gay visitors. Basing on this, a place could be referred to as “gay friendly.”
An example of this is Trapiche winery which, according to Gastón Re, Tourism Manager, has started to receive gay tourists and offer them special alternatives. “Generally, this public is more cultured, has visited more places around the world and knows more about wine. For that reason, when gay tourists have visited the winery, they have been received by trained staff, and at that moment, we have offered them private tastings, including different wine lines without the traditional tour of the winery.”
Celina Bertoni, in charge of tourism at Renacer, explained that they do not offer a special tour for this public, but she added: “gay tourists are more sophisticated and perfectionist when they choose tourism services, so we have to take this fact in mind at the moment of receiving them at the winery.”
Finally, Clos de Chacras’s staff underlined that they have noticed differences, “gay tourists are well disposed to learn. They know more about wine and they are much more demanding”.
Pedro Parra is an authority on terroirs. This year, Decanter magazine regarded him as one of the 50 most influential figures in the wine world.
His presence in the “Power List 2011”, published by Decanter was not by chance. Only three Latin Americans have been included in the list, being one of them Nicolás Catena.
Pedro Parra has a vast experience and several degrees to talk, do research and advise on something that up to some years ago was an exclusive matter for French experts, “the terroir”. For that, he has become a worldwide reference.
In Argentina, Parra has been working on terroir for a long time. Firstly, he did it along with Matura Group. Nowadays, he provides advice for Chakana, Altos Las Hormigas, Finca Flichman, Familia Zuccardi, among others.
- What did you feel about your incorporation into Decanter’s list as one of the most influential men of the wine industry?
I felt so good; I think it was a recognition of many years of hard work on trying to understand the terroir to put a product with much more heart and soul on the market. I am so happy for it.
- Were you expecting this recognition?
Just a little, I knew that I had possibilities because I had been shortlisted in the “Power List 2009” together with other 8 people, but I was also aware that the chances of being selected were remote.
- How do you evaluate the terroir work in Argentina? Is work really being done on this subject?
I think it gradually improves. It requires time, as it is a mental process which is then translated into the land and finally into winemaking. I think, Argentina is doing it very well and I want to help that work to be more intense.
- Is there microzoning work carried out in Argentina?
Yes, of course there is. The problem does not lie in doing or not microzoning, but in what is under microzoning.
- Where should terroir work be deeper in Argentina?
I think some urgent items should be improved like the design of irrigation systems in each plot. A plot of land is a unit, square or rectangular, which usually has certain kinds of plants, clones, rootstocks, etc. So, this plot should have 2, 3 or more irrigation sectors, however, it generally has one. In other words, the whole plot is irrigated in the same way. Therefore, I think it is convenient, in the case of higher-quality wines, to have irrigation units in alluvial soils exceeding 10,000-kg productions. Obviously, this area will depend on plants/ha and yields. In the case of sensitive grape varieties such as Cabernet, Syrah and others, in my opinion, irrigation units over 1 ha are in opposition to quality concept.
Other point to improve is the search for terroirs on ancient slopes
Robert Parker’s ambassador for South American wines will be the great figure of the next International Wine Forum, in Mendoza, Argentina. In an interview with WineSur, he highlights the advantages and disadvantages of Argentine wines, as well as sustainability trends.
The “VII Foro Internacional Vitivinícola” (International Wine Forum) will take place on September 7 and 8, 2011. In this event, Jay Miller, in charge of rating Argentine wines in The Wine Advocate, Robert Parker’s publication, will be the main attraction of the event that gathers the most important professionals of the wine industry every year. In this article, he takes a look at the “Future of Malbec”, the topic he will develop in this event.
What is the future of Malbec in the United States market?
The future of Malbec in the US market remains excellent. Nothing lasts forever but until something else comes along to capture the public’s fancy, sales should roll right along.
Beside Malbec, which other grape variety has future in U.S.?
Torrontés has already established a niche. Mendoza Cabernet is first class; the only issue here is that many other regions produce Cabernet while Argentina essentially has a monopoly on quality Malbec.
Do you think Malbec’s value for money within some price ranges has fallen?
Patience will be required. The financial future is still in question so until the recession and its effects are clearly behind us, the sweet spot will remain in the $10-20 range
Do you believe Argentina can raise the prices of its wines?, Is consumer ready for this?
But, yes, eventually price increases will be possible (as long as quality remains high).
Have Argentine wines lost competitiveness?
Lost competitiveness? Not, at all. Nothing can compete with Malbec in that $10-20 range
In your opinion, which are the advantages and disadvantages of Argentine wines?
The principal advantage is Argentina’s price to quality ratio at all price points. The other advantage is that it is the only region on the planet where Malbec does so well. Disadvantages, none I can think of.
In relation with consumption, what are the trends?
Our per capita consumption remains relatively low but the promising thing is that younger people are discovering wine, far more so than when I was in my 20s.
Do women have buying power?
Women’s buying power is gradually increasing. In the States where wine sales are permitted in grocery stores/supermarkets, women do the majority of the buying.
What is your opinion about wines with lower alcohol levels?
A wine’s alcohol level is not important to me as long as the wine in question is in balance and provides pleasure.
And, Do you think wineries should pay more attention to sustainable viticulture? (lightweight bottles, carbon Footprint, etc)
Of course they should. The side benefit (along with a healthier planet) is better quality grapes because vignerons are more focused on their vineyards. Better grapes generally means better wine.