On 9 May this year, the Great Wine Capitals of the World will be hosting a Best of Wine Tourism event at La Motte Wine Estate in the Franschhoek Valley. While the 2013 winners of this prestigious international competition will be awarded on the day, the event will also see the influential international wine writer Robert Joseph discuss wine tourism and the opportunity of having an offering at the cellar door that will turn visitors and customers into ambassadors – not only for a specific wine or estate, but also for the industry and the country.
Thinking about this made me realise that Wine Tourism in South Africa has to be a group effort. Of course all wineries do not have the same focus or strengths, but that does not mean that they cannot have an exceptional offering for visitors – whether it is a personal wine tasting around a kitchen table or a conducted tour through a state of the art facility.
In fact, having a diverse offering benefits the whole industry and visitors can find something to their liking whether they are adventurous and enjoy horse-back riding or are more culturally inclined and enjoy spending their time browsing an art gallery.
And even though horse-back riding and art galleries might not have anything to do with wine, in South Africa we have managed to incorporate a variety of elements into our Wine Tourism offering. Brands have developed their passions and associations and are sharing these with their visitors.
Celebrated food and wine writer, Fiona Beckett had the following to say after visiting the Cape Winelands in April: “South African wine farms have astutely realised – as not all wine producing countries have – that wine should be just part of the visitor experience. That you can build a much broader audience for your brand by creating an experience around food, art and gardens, not just by offering them a tasting. That way you reach the uncommitted not just the converted.”
And while the focus is on stimulating wine sales, it is also on creating a wider avenue of income that will not only benefit the specific company but the community as a whole. The Winelands can definitely contribute some positive energy to their communities. The culture of food and wine has an infectious energy and it offers many different job prospects for a variety of skill sets and training levels.
Wine Tourism offers the opportunity of education and training in a field much wider than the production of wine. This results in more jobs, better salaries and a sense of self-worth for workers and will also enhance the tourism experience.
Positive publicity around the wine tourism offering will eventually lead to an increase in tourism figures – something that is good for the specific estate, the Winelands, the bigger Cape Town area and for South African tourism in general. The part wine tourism plays in contributing to the economy and supporting development cannot be underestimated.
In November last year, my blog Wine Tourism – Entertain, Educate and Employ, was inspired by Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk saying “The wine industry is actually about tourism.”
Wine Tourism might be a buzzword, but it has a very important role. It is responsible for enthusing tourists about South Africa, it is responsible for uplifting communities, it is responsible for contributing to the economy and in the Winelands with its beautiful scenery and focus on food and wine, wine tourism is responsible for bringing some joy to both its visitors and personnel. Not many industries can say that.