Vitour, the European vineyards of the UNESCO World Heritage
Created at the instigation of the Mission Val de Loire and Interloire, the join-trade organisation of Loire Valley Wines, the VITOUR network brings together seven European vineyards included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
These remarkable sites all share a common commitment: restoring, protecting and sharing their exceptional landscape and cultural identities. Behind the names of the most prestigious European wines lie regions whose inhabitants are committed to preserving specific knowledge and skills. This rich culture, accumulated patiently over the course of the centuries in certain parts of the European Union, now finds itself under threat: adaptation to the global economic environment brings with it forms of agricultural, tourist and urban development that are at odds with the exceptional nature of these areas.
How can the standardisation of tastes and development be avoided? How to combat competition from the New World? Reasserting the culural and landscape uniqueness of these vineyards is becoming essential to guarantee the long-term economic vitality required to maintain these exceptional landscapes.
The challenge is to design, together, new tools for the sustainable development of these regions, and it is a challenge that needs to be faced up to by involving both public-sector decision-makers and professionals in the wine and tourism sectors.
To meet these challenges, an international charter, the "Fontevraud Charter", is gradually uniting European vineyards around four key commitments and a benchmark international network, known as VITOUR.
The VITOUR project aims to create new standards for sustainable development in UNESCO World Heritage sites by combining landscape management and a development of innovative tourist offers.
- Identifying best practices and critical success factors,
- Involving decision-makers in implementing pilot projects,
- Disseminating the conclusions reached to all players involved in these regions, as well as to the international community of winegrowing regions.
The VITOUR network is made up of seven partners from six European Union Member States:
- Lead partner:
the cross-regional organisation, the Val de Loire Mission, in partnership with the
join-trade organisation of Loire Valley wines, Interloire, France
- the former Jurisdiction of the Saint-Emilion, France
- the World Heritage Association of Ferto-Neusiedler See, Austria
- the Douro and Porto Wines Institute, Portugal
- the Rheinland – Pfalz region, Germany
- the Cinque Terre National Park, Italy
- the World Heritage Association of Tokaj, Hungary
The network involves both representatives from the public authorities and professionals involved in the wine and tourism sectors.
The total budget for the project is €639,000, 60% of which is funded by the European Union as part of the INTERREG III C programme, with the remaining 40% funded by the partners.
Process and expected results
The project will run for 30 months, from July 2005 to December 2007.
Six VITOUR meetings, comprising interregional technical workshops for the partners, a steering committee meeting and a public session to feed back the progress of the project to a wider audience in the host site have been held or are planned, as follows:
- September 2005, Alto Douro, Portugal
- March 2006, Upper Middlerhine Valley, Germany
- June 2006, Val de Loire at the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud, France
- March 2007, Cinque Terre National Park, Italy
- June 2007, Saint-Emilion region, France
- October 2007, Tokaj, Hungary
The four main activities of the programme:
1/ Administrative and financial management of the project, provided by the Val de Loire Mission
2/ Development of common tools and strategic guidelines
- A platform for sharing information and exchanging ideas based on pooling the knowledge acquired and actions taken at each site (heritage, landscape, cultural and tourist resources, and good practices in terms of site management and promotion).
- An expertise on adapting each site to meet the international demand for wine tourism
- A network action plan based on a common charter for sustainable management of each site and the sites' commitments to pilot initiatives.
3/ Interregional seminars on landscape management and innovative tourist offers
- Four two-day workshops, each including a public session between representatives from local authorities and professionals involved in training and development, and field visits:
- 2 workshops on the sustainable management of vine landscapes
- 2 workshops on creating innovative tourist offers
4/ Dissemination of results
- Communications strategy
- Three meetings of the communications working group
- An expertise on communications
- Two INTERREG presentations to disseminate results at international wine fairs (March 2006: ProWein - Düsseldorf + June 2007: Vinexpo - Bordeaux), involving projects working on similar topics (INTERREG and other regional projects).
After this first Vitour project Vitour, a second project has been accepted by the European Union.
Vitour II project « VITOUR landscapes » starts in 2010.
Myriam LAIDET, Sustainable development Officer for Mission Val de Loire