This study extends institutional theory as a lens through which to critically examine the perceived benefits and potential challenges of developing wine tourism. The study applies an international perspective, with 471 participating wineries predominantly located in Italy and Spain. Fundamentally, the promotion of the winery's wines, distantly followed by the potential to significantly increase wine sales emerge as the main benefits winery respondents perceive from wine tourism. However, realizing these outcomes is not assured because of barriers including airport security checks, anti-drink-drive laws and limited physical resources. The implications from the findings are discussed, and opportunities for future research identified. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.