I love playing golf. I like the outdoors, the competitive sport environment and of course the people I meet on the course. I like how the game helps me to meet new people and stay connected to those I don’t see every day. It is all about who you know, right?
Connectiveness was also the topic of this week’s Adams & Adams Winelands Seminar. While I couldn’t attend, the energetic twitter feed as well as my passion for the topic itself, inspired me to share my thoughts.
We often say, “It is all about who you know”, but regularly with a negative ring to it. Almost like you are getting an undeserved advantage because of your connections. While this can definitely be the case in many instances, there is much more to that saying. Sometimes it is our connections who can help us turn opportunity into success. I am not talking about getting an unfair advantage through favours. It is about knowing your resources. We don’t always have all the knowledge and experience, but that is not an excuse. There are people and institutions with expertise and experience willing to help. You just need to be knowledgeable about your resources.
The South African wine industry is in a unique position when it comes to such resources – we have a wealth of information and experience available and we need to make the most of it. South Africa is in fact the world leader when it comes to traceability through our SAWIS wine certification system. Our wine tourism offering is unmatched with a recently launched wine tourism industry platform to guide and inform the industry. There are industry role players to support in the vineyard, in the cellar, in the market… When you have identified what it is that you want to sell and when you know how your selling point answers to consumer demand, then you can get into the technicalities of how and it is at this point where you are not alone, where you can tap into your connections.
South African wine has a strong diversity story, one that brings a unique point of difference. Quality perceptions with its accompanying price point challenge has been our Achilles heel, but it seems that things might be changing. While SAWIS shows a decline in export volumes, the decline is mostly in the lower price categories, with the higher categories actually showing growth! This brings us to a clear truth. Quality. Regardless of any other USP or answer to consumer trend, we can never compromise on quality. Not when it comes to our wine or its packaging, our communication – traditional or social – or our wine tourism offering. We need to ensure quality when it comes to everything involved in the South African wine industry.
We can ensure such quality by making the most of our resources and through staying connected. We can gain knowledge and experience and we can support each other to ensure a strong and competitive industry. In the end, SA Wine can make a bigger difference. To quote Bruce Jack as per a tweet by @WineLandSA: “Everything is connected. It’s about being kind, being brave and treating people with respect. The wine industry has a responsibility to lead the way.”
Perhaps a bit daunting, but then take some inspiration from the success story that is Berene Sauls of Tesselaarsdal Wines who despite her undeniable determination, energy and passion, still bears testimony to the importance of connections and those who helped her make her dreams come true. “Stay connected, keep the passion, don’t compromise quality.” (Tweet by @MareliRoux).