Using storytelling or narrative as a communication technique is an effective tool to connect with a target audience on shared values. But a simple narrative is not enough, an evocation of emotions is needed. After all, is where the power exists. Through emotion we build trust, create closeness, hold attention and transport the listener to another world.
In the wine tourism industry, storytelling can provide the producer the chance to tell their story, the ability to sell the brand becomes possible, and last but not least, a special relationship with its visitors. In this case, the winery experience opens up greater possibilities to stimulate good feelings for the visitor. And coupled with a compelling narrative, the wine tour will be a physical and emotional journey. But let’s understand better the importance of storytelling when welcoming a wine lover.
Following a Narrative
The first step in order to start creating the storytelling experience is to evaluate the tour. Why? A fragmented route can cause many problems in terms of timing and flow. Normally, the winery routes consist of following the path of the winery, to the vineyards, ending in a wine tasting. But a route based on a strong narrative from the past to the present history of the estate, to its cellar, until the wine tasting, is much stronger and gains character.
In order to create a strong narrative, many estates have a tour script. This script is vital to the wine experience because it channels which information from the estate should be passed to the visitor. It is a powerful communication tool and should not be overlooked when designing a wine tour or experience. Although the wine tourism industry is interactive, the script is not intended to be recited or used in a theatrical performance. It can and must be adopted by the guide for the audience and their interests. Most of the scripts that are used to accompany the visit rely heavily on winemaking concepts and processes, so it is really important to create a unique script and story for the wine tour, that should not only discuss technical aspects – which normally don’t leave a memorable impression -, but engage the imagination and the emotions of the visitor.
A Real Story
Most of the estates located in the Douro Valley region have a tour script that is followed during the wine tour. For instance, Quinta do Vallado, one of the estates, has a fantastic tour script in which its heroin is the legendary Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira – by the way, the estate remains to this day in the hands of her descendants. Through this tour it is possible to learn more about her life and the remarkable innovations she introduced in the wine industry.
A memorable tour script draws the attention of the public and will leave a present and future impression.
It is necessary to find a real story from the estate archives that can be told to the visitor. All the following should be included: a compelling story; winemaking; relevant wine educational information; and the correct communication of the estate message.
It is particularly important to mention the technical wine terminology, figures, temperatures, weights, and other facts related solely to winemaking, but the names of the important family characters, as well as the owners in the estate history should not be forgotten.
An Emotional Journey
As the narrative is constructed, is important to deconstruct the character for emotional resonance. For instance, why is this character important to their story, how it is relatable (the underdog or the hero or both?), how it is relatable to female or male visitors, what are its strengths, weaknesses? How do those traits help move the story along? How does the character change over the course of the story? In addition, it is also necessary a secondary narrative, one that tells the modern history of the estate, the history of its new and present generation. All of this is necessary for the next stage of the estate stories, theme, characters, and events, which will help create a script that will fit all the stops during the tour.
Last, but not least, the tasting room, where the visitor can relax and taste wine, is also an important part of the narrative. With each wine tasted, the visitor learns about the challenges that the owners of the estate had to overcome. With the final wine that is served, the visitor comes full circle in their emotional journey. And so, the wine tells a story beyond the product itself and the estate brand is not just a brand but a story to remember and tell.
In conclusion, the use of storytelling during a wine tour not only enhances the visitor experience but also imprints into the consumer’s mind more than winemaking processes. Through the effective use of narrative structures, such as the hero’s journey or the underdog framework, and the literary elements to develop a good story, such as the use of theme, plot, climax, and relatable characters, allows the audience to transport themselves into the narrative and make them empathize with the characters.
Moreover, a story without developing a compelling narrative will end up as a dry exposition of facts. While hard facts may be interesting momentarily, they will not make an impact or leave a durable imprint on the consumer. After all, it is through emotional engagement that the tour and the estate will become memorable.
Text by Wine Tourism in Portugal
Find out more about this topic: The Art of Storytelling
Photos by Six Senses; Quinta da Pacheca; Quinta do Vallado