I caught up with Patrick Bernie, organiser of the European Gay Wine Weekend, to see if my palate was sophisticated enough to join the expedition.
What inspired you to create the EGWW?
Anthony, my co-organiser, and I had been invited to a wedding in California in September of 2017. We took a few days in wine country visiting vineyards. It was there that our idea for our wine business redevined wines and gay wine weekend began.
Anthony owns a vineyard in Bordeaux, but for me it was my first real experience of wine tours and I was blown away. I love a story, and just seeing the individuality of each wine maker and their passion, how they farm, produce, and sell wine was fascinating. We set up redevined wines as a result and then got to thinking how we could share that experience with others.
We’re both passionate about inclusivity, and have loved Gay Ski Week, so we decided to emulate a similar experience but with wine — tours, dinners with winemakers, châteaux visits, and social opportunities to meet others, and make new friends. We just wanted to offer something a little different for the LGBTQ community other than gay bars and clubs.
Why did you select Bordeaux as the destination for the first EGWW?
Bordeaux was a natural choice for us. Anthony has a vineyard there, Etalon Rouge, and has a huge network of people who we could work with. We’ve partnered with Bordeaux Village Blaye — the founder, Lara Sanan, is an expert in event organisation, so we knew in her we had a great facilitator of the whole weekend.
The town of Blaye, where the event is being held, is truly exceptional — an amazing UNESCO world heritage site with spectacular views across the river Gironde. Anyone who stays there is truly blown away. We’ve basically commandeered a gay street for the event, where the accommodation, wine bars, and restaurants are all within one block.
Is this a trip that’s just for guys?
This is an inclusive trip for all. It’s marketed at our LGBTQ network because that’s who we are. Everyone is welcome and will be treated with the utmost respect. We have lots of friends in Bordeaux who will be at plenty of events, so it’s going to be very diverse. It’s going to be a great weekend of socialising, networking, and wine.
How many people are you expecting to sign up for the EGWW?
This year is our first year, so we’ve targeted between 50–70 people. It’s a limited number, but this will make it very intimate. It’s harvest in Blaye at the time, so it’s an incredible opportunity to see the vineyards in full ripeness, see the wine being made, and taste directly from barrels. The winemakers are naturally very busy, so we needed to ensure their commitment would tie into our numbers.
How do you get to Bordeaux?
Bordeaux is an international airport, so it’s a great hub for flights from all major cities across Europe.
A hire car is the best solution for the 45 minute drive to Blaye, as the town has free parking. However, there are plenty of options — including public transport, and taxis. If you’re coming solo or in groups, we’ll do everything we can to coordinate flight times and hook you up with a travelling partner from the airport if that would be helpful. We can also arrange taxis for groups so that price burden is shared. Just email us on [email protected]
Would you have to know a lot about wine in order to enjoy this trip?
No, this is for everyone. It’s for the inexperienced right through to the wine guru. It’s an opportunity to see a wonderful part of Bordeaux, perhaps learn a little, or experience wines from Blaye and Bourg which are areas that aren’t as widely distributed in the UK but are hugely popular in France.
The great thing about wine is that it’s a constant educational experience for everyone. Blaye is one of the largest appellations in France, so just getting to experience some of the smaller producers of this region will be a great experience.
Will there be other EGWW events?
Our goal is to make this an annual experience. We have great connections in Bordeaux, but as we develop we’ll definitely look to expand our regions and offerings.
We want to hear your opinion
Which are the gay travel hot spots?
Need some inspiration for your travel plans?
We ran a survey of Mainly Male readers to ask gay men about their expeditions and adventures.
108 guys responded to our survey.
Here’s what they told us.
When you go on vacation, who do you generally travel with?
- By myself: 23%
- With a partner: 49%
- With friends: 14%
- With family: 11%
- I don’t travel: 3%
Which is your favourite type of vacation?
- Beach: 23%
- Somewhere warm: 15%
- Winter sports: 3%
- City-break: 12%
- Something active or outdoorsy: 9%
- Something cultural: 16%
- Something relaxing: 22%
“Some holidays that have been the best of times start with staying at a B&B and being able to go sky diving, canoeing, and a range of outdoor activities, then relaxing at night in a warm house and great dinner and bed.” — anonymous survey respondent
“Combination of someplace warm where we can explore and then have a few down days to relax on the beach.” — anonymous survey respondent
“Tend to do a mix — city to party, relax, somewhere warm, cultural, and active. Our trip this year is San Francisco to party, relax on boat travelling up the west coast, Napa, hike in the red wood forest, and Palm Springs.” — anonymous survey respondent
“Cruise!” — anonymous survey respondent
When you’re on vacation, are you interested in checking out gay bars, venues, or events?
- Yes: 62%
- No: 14%
- It depends who I’m with: 24%
When you’re on vacation, are you interested in staying in a gay-friendly hotel or accommodation?
- Yes: 58%
- No: 19%
- It depends who I’m with: 23%
Which destinations are at the top of your travel wish-list?
- Responses to this question weren’t particularly cut and dried, as people listed both countries and specific cities in their answers — in some cases respondents listed entire continents. We’ve manually reviewed the answers to draw together the common themes.
- Spain featured prominently on the wish-list of a lot of our respondents. When we include beach-side destinations such as Sitges, Ibiza, and Gran Canaria, 8% of respondents had Spain on their wish-list
- Italy polled strongly, with 4% of respondents reporting that Italy was on their wish-list. As did Australia, and Germany — both of these destinations also appeared on the travel wish-list of 4% of respondents.
- An additional 4% of respondents simply nominated Europe as being on their wish-list, which would translate to further interest in destinations such as Spain, Italy, and Germany.
- Iceland polled strongly — featuring on the travel wish-list of 3% of survey respondents.
- Other destinations that respondents had high on their wish-list included New York City, Greece, Mexico, London, South America, France, Chicago, Japan, New Zealand, and San Francisco.
- Key take-out: Australia, Iceland, and European destinations are at the top of mind for gay travellers. When it comes to the US, gay travellers tend to focus on the specific cities that they want to visit, such as New York City and San Francisco.
Which destination will you be going to for your next vacation?
- Looking at the specific destinations that respondents reported, the big winner was Paris — however it’s clear that this was influenced by the timing of the survey. Respondents were completing the survey just ahead of the Gay Games hosted by Paris.
- When we look at the results at a country level, somewhere in the United States was where a large proportion (21%) of respondents were spending their next vacation — most of this seemed to be fuelled by domestic travel. Australia (9%)is a popular destination for gay travellers, as is Spain (12%) and Italy (8%).
- Key take-out: Like all travel, there are seasonal factors that influence the choices of gay travellers — for example, the beach resorts of Spain are popular in Summer. What we’d perhaps underestimated is how event-driven travel is a big factor in the choices being made by gay men.
Where do you get your travel inspirations?
- Friends and family: 29%
- Personal research: 49%
- Travel articles or features: 19%
- Advertising: 3%
“A lot of it depends on price as well, I use Skyscanner and see what cheap flights are available so if there’s a cheap flight to be taken advantage of, then why not?” — anonymous survey respondent
“I also love to read about history, so that too give me ideas about travelling.” — anonymous survey respondent
- Gay travellers are influenced by seasonal and event-driven considerations when planning their vacation destinations. Although winter sports options seem to be fairly low on the priority list.
- European destinations are popular with gay travellers, as well as destinations such as Australia, Iceland, and North American cities such as San Francisco and New York City.
- We were surprised by the number of gay men who reported that they generally travel by themselves — 23% of respondents.
- Gay travellers are interested in staying in accommodation that demonstrates that it is gay-friendly.
- On vacation, gay travellers are interested in experiencing the local gay nightlife of bars, clubs, and venues.
- The most effective way to draw a gay traveller’s attention to a specific destination is to help them feel that it’s their idea. In sci-fi terms, it’s inception — supporting the initial ‘discovery’ with positive reinforcement from friends and family, travel articles, and advertising.
Every Tuesday we take a look at a destination or experience that you might want to consider adding to your travel wish-list. Here’s some of our recent Travel Tuesday features:
- The survey was conducted across a four-week period in July 2018.
- Respondents were recruited via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. No incentives were offered for respondents to complete the survey.
- We used Survey Monkey to collect the survey responses, and then analysed the results manually
- Comments from respondents were captured during the survey process.
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“I was now earning £12 per day…”
“I wasn’t about to crawl back into the closet…”
“I felt like I had turned a corner…”
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