Here at McCue, we’ve set an ambitious goal for the next 10 years: to be the national leader in public relations and social media for wine and food tourism. Why?

Aside from the personal passion that my team members and I have for travel, wine and food, we believe that wine and food tourism can change lives. Sound like hyperbole? It’s not.

Wine tourism is a game changer for the rural communities where vineyards thrive. It’s news to no one that limited job opportunities and unemployment are realities in most rural areas. Mining, timber and traditional farming have all shrunk, and even government and education jobs have dried up as young people migrate to urban areas. Wine tourism helps bring jobs, industry and income back to rural areas in a number of ways — all while helping to preserve the region’s rural, agricultural character and natural spaces.

Take South Africa as a case study. In driving tourism to the wine regions of Stellenbosch, Paarl, Klein Karoo and others, South Africa grew its GDP nearly $2 billion over four years. It has been reported that in 2015, the wine industry contributed $25 billion to the economy (including wine tourism) by means of agriculture, manufacturing, trade and hospitality, while generating close to 300,000 direct and indirect jobs, from farm labor to packaging, sales and wine tourism.

While the greatest impact may be felt in rural areas, wine tourism also positively impacts urban areas. For example, in Oakland, California, urban tasting rooms have helped convert a blighted warehouse district into a thriving hub for sipping, mingling and noshing. Similarly to their rural counterparts, urban “wine trails” create a spillover effect in adjacent service areas, driving demand for eateries, galleries, shops and restaurants.

So, does this mean McCue is giving up our work with beach towns, ski resorts, arts communities and historic hideaways? Nope. Our Travel Team is just as passionate about cultural, outdoors and luxury travel as we are about wine and food. But as an agency devoted to Places and Palate, wine and food tourism is where our specialties overlap. And that’s our sweet spot.

About the Author, Michelle McCue

Agency President, Michelle McCue, has raised a few eyebrows during her career. In late 2008, she decided the depths of a recession would be a great time to launch her own firm. When magazines started folding and newspapers started shrinking, she felt the time was right to double down on media relations. When social media was sneered at as a fad for kids, she treated bloggers, YouTubers and Facebookers to five-star media experiences previously reserved for elite, established journalists. When choosing to pursue either her passion for travel or her passion for wine, she decided to do both. And it all worked.

Today, she proudly leads McCue into a second decade of offering innovative solutions to PR and marketing challenges for wine, tourism and hospitality clients. Her original mission has now become the company’s mantra: To use creative, strategic on- and offline communications to inspire others to be as passionate as we are about the places and products we represent.

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