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The best thing about visiting a winery is seeing all the action as it happens: the grapes being picked in the vineyard, brought into the winery and then moving into the tanks where they start their incredible transformation into wine. Being among the hubbub of harvest is the most exciting moment of the year and gives you a profound understanding of how wine is made.

So what happens if you are visiting in January?

Winery Eva Vollmer in Mainz offers unique laid-back wine-lingerings along with splendid wines and new radical ideas. "Laid-back wine-lingering", Eva calls these events – and it's precisely for these innovative wine tourism concepts that she was awarded the Best of Wine Tourism Award of the Great Wine Capitals in 2017.

Chateau Marquis de Terme walked away with the top award for the Global Gold Best Of Wine Tourism in Bordeaux at the end of 2016. Their original 'Best Of' win was for Innovation in Wine Tourism. They have really embraced wine tourism since their renovation with the arrival of director Ludovic David in 2009. They have an open door policy with receptions rooms for groups and different tours including food and wine tastings for wine tourists.

Bodegas Ramón Bilbao, in Haro in the heart of Rioja Alta, came up with the right idea with the creation of the Oculus Virtual Reality Experience that earned the winery a 2017 ‘Best Of Wine Tourism’ award for Innovative Wine Tourism from the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.

Using goggles, Oculus takes the visitor on a virtual journey that follows the progress of a grape from its birth to a wine glass.  It reflects Ramón Bilbao’s commitment to technological innovation to explain the winemaking process in an original, enjoyable way that is attractive to today’s tech savvy consumer.

The wetlands and neighbouring Wine and Wetland Visitor Centre at Banrock Station have won many awards and this year they added to that list with success in the Innovative Wine Tourism Experience category in South Australia’s inaugural Best of Wine Tourism Awards.

The awards were held as part of Adelaide’s membership of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network. In November 2016 Banrock Station  competed in the international finals in Portugal in November against national winners from eight other countries and came away with an international ‘Best Of Wine Tourism award as well.

In the Napa Valley, art and wine go hand-in-hand. Art galleries and special installations at wineries and public spaces are prevalent throughout the valley. One of the most comprehensive outdoor sculpture gardens can be found at Auberge du Soleil, 2017 Best of winner for Arts & Culture.

The Douro Museum – a Territory Museum is the perfect gateway to discover the Douro Demarcated Region, declared a World Heritage by UNESCO as a evolving and living cultural landscape. In a multisensory approach, it creates connections throughout its territory reaching communities and projecting Douro's heritage well beyond its borders. Its creativeness and networking earned it the regional distinction of Best of Wine Tourism 2017 in the Art and Culture category.

It isn’t often that a winery wins the same award two years in a row, but when it comes to the case of Monteviejo and the Great Wine Capitals Arts and Culture Award, it couldn’t be more deserved.

Monteviejo has set the bar high for cultural activities at a winery as their Art and Culture Director Gabriela Nafissi tirelessly creates new projects with different local and national artists and collaborators.

"Wine is Art" is the motto of the Wilmshof, a small winery in Selzen, a wine village south of Mainz. It describes exactly what Katrin and Tobias Mohr won the Great Wine Capital Art and Culture Award 2017 for: A unique fusion of the art of wine making with the arts itself, celebrating a "new aesthetics" and an holistic approach, as the jury enthused. No wonder when the winemaker is an artist and his wife an interior designer. "This is our second vocation", Katrin Mohr says with a smile.

Château Siran dates from the 17th century ideally situated for wine tourism, just fifteen minutes from Bordeaux, on the famous Margaux gravel terroir. Surrounded by the great growths of the appellation, it takes its name from the 15th century Lord Guilhem de Siran. After renovation in 2013, the Château reopened its doors with wine tourism in mind.

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