This week I attended the awards ceremony of the South African edition of the Great Wine Capitals of the World Best of Wine Tourism Awards. (Read more) I applaud the contribution these awards have made over the years to recognise and motivate excellence in all aspects of wine tourism, but what I really appreciated about the 2024 awards, was the focus on uniquely South African aspects.
According to the Great Wine Capitals website, their focus is to: “… share industry insights from the leading winery tourism regions around the globe and promote the most innovative wineries… The annual Best Of Wine Tourism awards are therefore all about recognising excellence: “a mark of genuine top quality, innovation, a range of services, or an experience that has met our aspirational requirements.” Other than the pursuit of excellence, the motivation is about raising standards across the international wine tourism offering.
We have been participating in the Best of Wine Tourism awards since the inclusion of Cape Town and the Cape Winelands in the Great Wine Capitals of the World. The categories such as Art and Culture, History and Heritage, Architecture and Landscape, Restaurant, Accommodation, Innovation, Service and Sustainability enabled wineries to showcase their innovation and hard work in another way than just being recognised for the quality of their wine. The Best of Wine Tourism acknowledgment we received, gave us the opportunity to introduce our offering to a wider audience. I also believe that the Best of Wine Tourism Awards helped South African wine tourism in general to showcase its excellence to both the local and international markets while motivating wine estates to continually improve their service, invest in their facilities and to be creative with the experiences they offer visitors.
At the ceremony announcing the 2024 winners, it was clear that the Best of Wine Tourism awards are realising their goal in South Africa. The standards are high and there are many serious competitors across all the categories – 81 wine estates entered the competition! The strong focus on sustainability impressed me. Not only sustainability as in responsible practices and nature conservation, but holistic sustainability. Of course, that means environmental responsibility and protecting our resources, but it also means having a sustainable business model to create new opportunities, supply continuous employment, and provide training and development.
Excellence is of the essence for a successful industry, but I also appreciate the Ambassador Awards, recognising what I believe is essential for the future success of wine tourism in the Cape Winelands. The Diversity Award, the Conservation Pioneer Award and the Authentic South African Experience Award celebrate “ongoing transformation, innovative sustainable practices, and authentic experiences in the South African wine tourism sector.” (Read more)
Despite extensive damage due to recent flooding, our continuing challenges like loadshedding and the fact that local buying power is under significant pressure, South African wine tourism with its innovative approach and variety of offerings – from five star and fine dining to picnics and backpacking – continues to offer an authentic and delightful way to experience the beautiful Cape Winelands and makes a very important contribution to the economy of small wine communities.