Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to consider how German wineries can successfully diversify into wine tourism, in an effort to support their primary business activity of producing and selling high quality wine. Design/methodology/approach Design/methodology/approach – A survey questionnaire was created, collected and analysed using the software programme SurveyMonkey Findings – Results indicate that the implementation of wine tourism by German vintners will be a significant challenge as the respondents report a lack of marketing and tourism management skill and knowledge; most are small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – which means they have little time or manpower available to devote to developing wine tourism; and there is a low level of reported co-operation amongst stakeholders. Research limitations/implications – The research could have taken place over a longer period of time, in order to present more reliable data and also it could have included a more representative sample from other sectors of the industry, such as co-operatives. The research is also limited in scope to Germany and further comparative studies could be carried out focusing on other wine tourism-related countries, such as New Zealand, France or Italy. Practical implications – Wine tourism is a crucial element of both the tourism industry as well as the sector of viniculture. Wine tourism marketing strategies fail to meet the expectations of either the vintners or the tourists. However, wine tourism is vitally important for vineyards as it helps to create brand loyalty and to establish customer relationships. Social implications – There is a strong need to create marketing strategies which strike a balance between developing and promoting wine tourism and the core activity of the vineyards, which is to produce and sell wine. Originality/value – The availability of literature in English on German wine tourism is scarce and this study is significant, especially because wine tourism in Germany is a relatively new phenomenon. The development of appropriate marketing strategies is therefore required to successfully improve wine tourism.