South Africa's wine tourism

Wine tourism award puts spotlight on local industry

South Africa's wine tourism industry
South Africa's wine tourism industry

La Motte Wine Estate’s leading role in wine tourism in South Africa and the high standards of wine tourism in the country were once again placed in the spotlight by the announcement of the winners of the South African leg of the internationally respected Great Wine Capitals of the World (GWC) Best of Wine Tourism Awards last week. The GWC is a network of the top wine producing regions in the world who share international best practice in wine tourism. South Africa is one of 10 top wine regions in the world judged annually by the GWC for its wine tourism offering.

Trophies were handed to the South African winners at the awards event held at La Motte Wine Estate in Franschhoek on Thursday last week. The GWC was represented by André Morgenthal, marketing manager of Wines of South Africa (WOSA) who said that South Africa compared well with other top wine regions in the world and each category winner in this year’s competition made South Africa proud.

The ceremony was attended by several local wine and wine tourism experts, as well as foreign diplomats and other dignitaries. Robert Joseph, a top international wine tourism expert was the keynote speaker and provided perspective on how well South Africa compared in terms of best practice with the rest of the world. Joseph was of the opinion that South African wine tourism compared well with more established markets, and for a long time did a much better job of wine tourism than even France.

Joseph said he has seen the South African wine tourism industry making great strides in the past decade but that there was a lot that could still be learnt by the wider wine industry about offering great wine tourism to their guests.

“I’ve been coming to South Africa since the late 80s and I have seen a complete revolution in the SA industry. I am dazzled by the quality of the wine, the people, the food, architecture and accommodation. South Africa is genuinely one of the most exciting wine tourism countries in the world. I would like to add my congratulations, as La Motte is already doing many of the things I have been talking about for many years (in terms of wine tourism best practice),” Joseph said.

Joseph believes wine tourism should be an inclusive form of entertainment and that the industry makes a mistake when it thinks of wine tourism as only wine tasting and buying. Wine tourism could learn from golf tourism which offers a whole package and experience.

Joseph also encouraged the industry to not only target the wine drinker as a client, but also his/her group and especially the non-drinking members of a group, such as the “designated driver”, people who don’t like wine, their children and even their animals. Here entertainment and the facilities on offer play an important role, not only wine tasting. “Make it a great place to visit, also for non-drinkers,” added Joseph.

Joseph considers it important for local players in wine tourism to embrace technology, especially social media and cell phone friendly media. There are exciting ways to use Instagram, photos, QR codes, video, mobi and web, as well as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to better communicate with wine lovers. It is especially important to immediately respond to their questions and complaints and to invite them to visit the wine estate.

It should not be difficult for wine farms to assist a visitor who wants to buy a bottle of wine for an overseas friend. The visitor should be able to buy the bottle of wine from the tasting room, while the cellar, with the assistance of a distributor delivers the bottle of wine to the friend internationally, instead of shipping an individual bottle of wine at an enormous cost.

Joseph also believes the industry should learn to create a community, with neighbouring farms and with other neighbours like restaurants, museums and tourist attractions, instead of trying to capture visitors. A more altruistic attitude will uplift the tourism sector as a whole. “Make friends with your local hotel concierge – bribe him with a bottle of wine if need be – since he can direct visitors to you and you can direct visitors to him.”

If the South African wine industry as a whole can learn to deliver world class service and build long term relationships with their visitors – and make them wine ambassadors of South African wine tourism – the industry can only grow. And this is good news for job creation and the economy as a whole. South Africa can only benefit from a developing wine tourism industry.

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