Diana Isac, CEO of wine tour provider The Winerist, speaks to Laithwaite’s about bringing together wine lovers and experiences they’ll cherish forever.
Creating the Winerist was something which began on a wine trip with friends, which took us through six different wine regions including Paris, Champagne, Burgundy and Tuscany. A problem we were consistently faced with was knocking on locked doors to wineries. This wasn’t their fault – we simply didn’t know which were the best times to visit. When we did strike lucky, we had trouble booking last minute hotel rooms nearby that weren’t tacky and commercial, and finding the best local restaurants.
My business partner Tatiana and I were talking about how there simply does not exist an online marketplace where wineries, authentic hotels and great food come together simply and seamlessly. A curated content approach, with quality control at its heart, is what we set out to achieve. We were lucky enough to receive support from highly acclaimed wine, travel and financial industry experts. Last year, we won the Good Web Guide’s Travel Website of the Year award – in a sense, that felt like an acknowledgement of the progress made in the past six months. Nonetheless, that is just a stepping stone and we are always trying to improve our service and build upon our community. Plus, there is an award to be won in 2015!
Around 500 trusted regional experts work with us to populate the site with fantastic content. Reaching out to local bloggers within the regions themselves really helps authenticate our service. Also, it reinforces for us the real thirst that exists within the wine regions themselves for a service like ours. Both consumer and experience-provider benefit from the platform, which is a great feeling for us. The Winerist connects wine lovers with wine experiences and vice versa, which was always our goal. We have over 1,500 experiences to choose from and are always expanding the number of regions on offer – currently 85, including London, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona.
Tatiana and I are both native Moldovans, so we are incredibly passionate about introducing the country and all it has to offer to those who may not have even heard of it. Wine has always been a huge part of what Moldovans do, and a very large proportion of the population is involved in the winemaking process. Moldovan wines are exquisite and there are some excellent and ambitious wineries emerging at the moment, with more established wineries such as Purcari continuing to produce fantastic and surprising vintages. On my last trip to Moldova I visited both Purcari and Et Cetera. Whilst at the latter, I tasted the latest vintage, outside in the snow! There are priceless experiences available on wine holidays. Placinte, a local delicacy, was homemade and served to us at the family kitchen table at Etcetera, which rounded off an unforgettable trip.
If you’ve never taken a wine tour before, you have to start with Bordeaux. It is one of the best examples of well-organised, authentic yet off-the-beaten-path tours which will set you up as a wine tour lover for life. Wine tours have many benefits – they’re often bespoke; taken as part of a group, value for money is great; you don’t have to drive yourself anywhere! If you’re after a holiday that involves wine, food, history and adventure, look no further.
One thing I love about Laithwaite’s is that, although a well-know and well-established brand with huge reach, it still has a fun personality. Wine lovers young and old can enjoy and appreciate Laithwaite’s, which is a rarity among UK wine merchants. That’s why I felt it would be a perfect fit for The Winerist. We look forward to spreading the word about Moldova together, and working to bring wine lovers and great wine experiences together.