Faculty Publications


Motivations of wine travelers in rural Northeast Iowa

Document Type



Conceptual/theoretical, Consumer behaviour, Marketing strategy, Structural equation models, Survey research, Tourism development, USA, Wines

Journal/Book/Conference Title

International Journal of Wine Business Research





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Last Page



Purpose – The purpose of this exploratory consumer research study was to examine demographic and behavioral characteristics and motivations of wine travelers on the recently established Iowa Wine Trail in rural Northeast Iowa. An array of data on visitor lifestyles, interests, attitudes and values can provide more powerful and actionable research information than demographics alone. Equipped with an understanding of visitor motivations, wineries and vineyards can provide their customers the experience they want and expect, and not products and services they are assumed to desire. Design/methodology/approach – Data for this study were collected using a questionnaire-based survey administered at three participating wineries over the period of April-November 2005. Findings – The demographic profile of visitors on the Iowa Wine Trail falls within a common stereotype of a wine tourist: middle aged (36-55 years old), highly educated (college or postgraduate), in the moderate to high income bracket (higher than the median household income in Iowa), living in close proximity to the Iowa Wine Trail (mostly Iowa residents). The main motives for visiting the wineries were (in order by mean scores) “to taste wine”, “to enjoy the scenery”, “to have a good time with friends and family”, “to relax”, “to support local wine producers”, and “to taste locally produced foods”. This finding supports the statement that wine tourists are often drawn by the whole “local experience package”, and not only by the wine product itself. Research limitations/implications – Findings of this study provide demographic and behavioral characteristics and motivations of wine tourists in rural Northeast Iowa only and should not be generalized to other rural areas. Practical implications – The Iowa Wine Trail attracts typical wine customers, but also younger visitors and females. Rather high incidence of repeat visitors for a trail that is still in its infancy (52 percent), with the mean number of previous visits being 2.64. Importance of word of mouth and eMarketing: over 40 percent of visitors to the Iowa Wine Trail based their choice on word of mouth (to include prior recommendations, suggestions, or reputation), and almost a third of travelers indicated utilizing web sites for information seeking – a number that is higher when compared to other specialized markets in Iowa. The Iowa Wine Trail appeals both to stereotypical wine tourists and those visitors who are not primarily involved with the wine product but nonetheless still visit wineries. Power of rural ambience and appeal of the Iowa landscape: while wine tasting appeared to be the main motive of visiting the wineries, scenery and landscape of the Upper Mississippi River, along with the opportunity to enjoy time with friends and family and taste local foods, scored similarly high. Originality/value – While demographic characteristics of wine tourists have been explored, few studies focused on visitor motivations. In addition, most of wine tourism research has focused on established and functioning wine regions/appellations. Not much is known about the emerging wine culture in rural Midwestern states embracing opportunities of wine and tourism development, en route to diversification from traditional agriculture. © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Department of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

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