Vergelegen wine estate in Somerset West has scooped two wins in the prestigious 2022 Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Awards – for its landscape and architecture, and sustainable wine tourism experiences.

The awards, now in their 23rd year, celebrate innovation and excellence in wine tourism in the eleven greatest wine regions of the world. They recognise the commitment of leading wine estates, and provide travellers with a great reference list of outstanding estates to visit.

The winners were announced at a ceremony in Hermanus on Tuesday, 12 October.

“We’re absolutely delighted with these accolades, as the past 18 months have been extremely tough for all of us in the wine and hospitality industries,” said Vergelegen MD Wayne Coetzer. “The awards recognise the hard work, resourcefulness and dedication of our staff. As more people prepare to travel again, we hope this recognition will encourage locals and tourists to put Vergelegen on their must-visit lists.”

Catherine Leparmentier Dayot, MD Great Wine Capitals Global Network, said: “The quality of the wine tourism offer in the Western Cape wine regions is a credit to the tourism industry as a whole in South Africa.

“I would also like to congratulate the winners for their sustainable practices, an example for the whole world while the wine industry, all over the globe, is working hard to implement solutions to mitigate their impact on the environment.”

Landscape and architecture

Founded in 1700, Vergelegen was named a Provincial Heritage Site in 2019, which formally recognised it as a treasure trove of history, culture, architecture and horticulture. This declaration protects its historic core, which includes a beautifully restored homestead and complementary buildings, surrounded by 18 extensive gardens, with some of the oldest recorded trees in the country.

The Octagonal Garden is the original horticultural area, with herbaceous borders, colourful annuals and the David Austin rose garden. The Reflection Garden has mainly white blooms and two formal ponds, while the East Garden incorporates a maze of non-fruit bearing vines, an agapanthus collection of 14000 plants, and an oak arboretum.

Numerous winter-blooming camellia trees comprise South Africa’s first and only International Camellia Garden of Excellence, while the Fynbos Garden at the wine cellar offers 360˚ views of the mountains and valleys.

Sustainability

Vergelegen was the first South African Biodiversity and Wine Initiative Champion in 2005, having made remarkable progress with its large-scale alien vegetation clearing programme. This was completed in 2018, resulting in 1900 hectares declared a private nature reserve.

Visitors can learn more about this sustainability journey on Vergelegen’s guided environmental tour, viewing bontebok, indigenous Nguni cattle, swathes of fynbos and, if they’re lucky, eland.

The estate is completely self-reliant for all its water needs, with the vegetable garden supplying the restaurants, and providing donations to local community kitchens. Meat and fish are supplied by independent producers noted for locally- sourced, ethically- raised meat and fish.

Visit Vergelegen: Monday-Sunday 08:30-17h00 (last entry 16h00). Entrance R10/adults, R5/pensioners and scholars. Find out more on www.vergelegen.co.za.

To book environmental, heritage and garden, vineyard and cellar tours, contact the Wine Tasting Centre at 021 847 2122. Find out more about Vergelegen experiences at https://vergelegen.co.za/experiences/

Note to editors

The Great Wine Capitals awards judging process entailed an in-depth reviewing process, with applications reviewed and scored based on standard criteria. Seven expert judges and three Wine Tourism Ambassador Award judges conducted anonymous visits to the wineries within each of their assigned categories. The judges then attended a final adjudication review, where each expert judge presented their findings, and a winner was selected for each category.

See a video on the winners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnlB05GATBg

Captions (Pics supplied by Vergelegen Wine Estate)

1 – Winners in the2022 Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Awards. Vergelegen MD Wayne Coetzer second from right, front row.

2 – The gracious Vergelegen homestead, viewed from the Octagonal Garden.

3 – Architecture, gardens and landscape make Vergelegen a prime destination.

4 – A swing bridge spans the clear water of the Lourens River on the estate.

5 – Visitors can view rare bontebok on the environmental tour.

6 – A herd of indigenous Nguni cattle at home on the estate.

7 – Tranquillity in Vergelegen’s established gardens.