Madiran and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh: rethinking wine tourism

DECEMBER 11, 2020 – Terre de Vins

Above: Château de Crouseilles (photos ©F.Hermine)

The Madiran – Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh appellations are struggling after the cancellation of their open house which has been taking place in November for nearly twenty years. But they are not giving up and betting on a rebound of wine tourism in 2021.

“Orders are having a hard time taking off even with free shipping”, admits President Pascal Savoret. “But we are trying to increase the visibility of the domains by relaying information from our winemakers, especially in terms of pickup options or free deliveries. There are already more than fifteen of them present on the site (madiran-pacherenc.com) and those who participate can showcase their wines”. A handful of producers took advantage of the site at the beginning of 2020, many have joined in recent months or are the process of joining. This year’s boosted communication on the internet has proved effective with good results: Madiran has made a good comeback in terms of searches and hits and Pacherenc has made strong progress. This reflects the market, with Madirans holding their own in a struggling market for reds and Pacherenc progressing in a declining “sweet” context. The 19th Barrique d’Or auction took place virtually for the first time mid-November; it featured fifteen lots (the Barrique d’Or purchased by a Florida importer was a windfall for Anne and Fabrice Latapi who were participating in the event for the first time).

The appellation still intends to gain momentum on the web in 2021 with a change in community management that will be managed by a digital agency based in Pau, Zébrure, in collaboration with the Côtes-de-Gascogne and Saint-Mont appellations (website, Facebook, Instagram). Over the past year, communication has also been strengthened with a new slogan “Southwest Living” and a spiral logo, in a press release “to highlight Southwest Living and increase our notoriety”.

Reconquering local customers

“Although public tours have been cancelled, cellars will remain open in December,” insists Pascal Savoret. But we have to admit that people are not moving around much and there will be a decline in tourists who used to stop at our place to buy a few bottles on their way down from the ski resorts or spas”. The Hautes-Pyrénées Chamber of Agriculture has set up several farm drive-throughs for wine growers and cellars in Lourdes, Tarbes, Pau…where their wines can be sold” but that will not compensate the loss in sales from restaurants, [one out of every four bottles sold], and a general decline in consumption due to the pandemic at a time when families usually get together for a nice meal. It’s not surprising that wine shops in these big cities are running in slow motion”. Various events and tastings are being planned for next year in order to re-conquer the Toulouse market and other regional cities such as Pau and perhaps Biarritz. The appellation also partners with Southwest Wine Syndicate (IVSO) for major trade shows such as Wine Paris or tastings organized at wine shops and could even join forces with neighboring appellations like Irouléguy and Jurançon.

Notwithstanding in 2021, Madiran and Pacherenc will focus on wine tourism with a new reception room at its Maison des Vins. Work had been delayed due to the pandemic, but it should be operational by spring. A communications and wine tourism manager, currently being recruited, will be in charge of reorganizing the teams and generating new ideas “because in normal times, wine tourism represents 20% of our sales. Proof of this is the high attendance at the wineries this summer despite the cancellation of our wine festival and Jazz in Marciac”. The redevelopment of the Château de Crouseilles with its escape game, hiking trails and “sensory” paths has reinforced the attractiveness of the surroundings, as have the many events proposed by Alain Brumont (photo below), the Château de Viella… and we hope the forthcoming reopening of the Prieuré, a luxury hotel and gourmet restaurant located on the town square of Madiran .

Photo: La Tyre-A.Brumont©F.Hermine

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Jay Clifton - 柯杰

Jay Clifton was born a few years ago in Atlanta, Georgia and has been a naturalized French Citizen since 1995. A graduate of the University of Georgia with a double major in Political Science and French, he would later obtain a MBA in 2002 at the Ecole National des Ponts et Chaussées in Paris. Between 2005 and the end of 2010, Jay was deputy general manager for an international relocation services firm in Beijing, China, so he also speaks functional Mandarin Chinese. Upon returning to France, he decided to settle down in Southwest France. A life long lover, and consumer, of French wine, Jay started his transition to this noble sector with a one-year experience sponsored by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce and a winemaker located in the Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux appellation, followed by specialized coursework in wine management and marketing at the Toulouse Business School. More recently, Jay completed his oenological training with the two Wine and Spirits Education Trust certifications.

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