2017 was an interesting year in many respects. Donald Trump had to walk the walk while Zuma was walking a tight rope. Planet earth had to endure hurricanes, floods and droughts. Gunmen and terrorists targeted public areas while others guilty of all kinds of misconduct tried to keep it out of the public eye. (Read the New York Times Most Read stories for 2017)
The drought in the Western Cape was of course topical and extreme water restrictions and talks on Day Zero are still the order of the day. I focused on the impact of the dry conditions on the 2017 harvest, advised on water-wise wine production and explained why a proper winter is important to the vine.
Moving from production to the product itself and what wine marketing looks like today. I shared my thoughts on crossing the cultural divide when it comes to selling wine in China – with reference to Starbucks’ success in selling coffee to a tea-drinking nation! I also motivated why China stays a market of choice for South African wine, considered the influence of flora on wine, how altitude affects wine and what it is that makes Franschhoek bubbly so special. I had a look at how we can intrigue rather than intimidate when it comes to our wine experiences. And on the topic of experience, how it has become the 5th P of Marketing but also how important it is for us to enjoy the experience and not to miss out while trying to share everything online.
That brings me to online. I am passionate about trends and technology and in 2017, everything happened online. We looked at this new context of marketing, how selling has become more science than skill demanding an informed and flexible online performance via apps and e-commerce. Online demands listening and not only broadcasting, is has become an opportunity for entrepreneurs, is renegotiating the position of the middleman, gives distribution a new face and in this digital world, we found that a fear of commoditisation is fuelling premiumisation. All the trend and technology talk culminated in my latest blog on artificial intelligence and the 4th revolution predicted for the next five to eight years.
In between trying to keep up with a changing world of marketing and sales and the exciting ways of wine, I had some time to travel. I was privileged to visit two very different countries, both underrated when it comes to tourism. In Portugal (Read: The flavour of Portugal) I was charmed by the beauty of the landscape and the flavour of both culture and cuisine, but it was their strategic approach to tourism that really made an impression. In Israel (Read: Israel, a taste for tourism), the diversity and potential of tourism despite the conflict and political instability gave me hope for tourism in South Africa. There is grounds for being positive – not only does Wine Tourism now have a strategy and direction, but with SA Tourism’s vision of bringing five million more visitors to South Africa in the next five years, we also have a dream.
2017 has set many challenges; let us see if we can make the dreams come true in 2018!