Best of Wine Tourism Awards focus on local strengths

The Cape Winelands are well positioned to capture an increasing share of tourism's annual contribution of close on R160 bn to the GDP, according to André Morgenthal, a member of the local chapter of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network, which is calling for entries for the Best of Wine Tourism Awards, now in their seventh year.
It is estimated that local wine tourism generates around R6,75 bn annually in revenue thanks to domestic as well as foreign tourists, who come predominantly from Europe but increasingly from other parts of the world. "It is encouraging to see the growing numbers of wine tourists from North America, Asia, Australasia and our own African continent," Morgenthal said.

"The diversity of tourists can perhaps be linked to the fact that wine producers have extended their spectrum of experiences to cater to a far broader demographic in terms of age, cultural background and income. This is certainly reflected in the steady increase in the number and variety of entries for the Best of Wine Tourism Awards each year from virtually every one of the country's wine-producing regions. This bodes well for the continued good health of the sector and its international competitiveness."

The reputation of the local wine tourism industry, its focus on eco-sustainability, Morgenthal said, the world-class sophistication of the offerings provided by wineries and allied industries, the growing international interest in the country's gastronomic excellence and media exposure for South Africa and in particular about the appeal of the Cape Winelands, were all helping to sustain the sector.

Cape Winelands Municipality Mayor Clarence Johnson said: "Word-of-mouth recommendations are playing an ever-increasing role in building the profile of our wine tourism. But we must not sit back and wait for the 2010 FIFA World Cup to start. We need to be prepared now. At the same time, while we are looking forward to its positive impact, we also need to look even longer-term at the potential for return visits or referrals from those who will visit in the immediate future."

The Best of Wine Tourism Awards includes categories for dining; accommodation; architecture, parks and gardens; arts and culture; innovative wine tourism experiences; wine tourism services including conferencing and sustainable wine tourism practices.

Morgenthal said several eminent judges had confirmed they would be serving on this year's panel, including architects David Jack and Alex Robertson; food critic and writer, Lannice Snyman; wine tourism specialist Margi Biggs; CEO of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative, Inge Kotzé; and former director of the Isiko SA National Gallery, Marilyn Martin.

Entry forms can be downloaded from the www.greatwinecapitals.com website. (Best of Wine Tourism - Cape Town)
Entries must be submitted to the Best of Wine Tourism secretariat, Helene Oosthuizen helene@wosa.co.za or to WOSA's offices in Helderberg Road, Stellenbosch by no later than Friday, June 12 at 12h00.

The category winners will be announced in November, along with the overall winner at the annual general meeting of the Great Wine Capitals, which celebrates its first decade, in Bordeaux in November, when the Cape Town chapter meets with its counterparts from Bilbao-Rioja (Spain), Bordeaux (France), Florence (Italy), Mainz (Germany), Mendoza (Argentina), Porto (Portugal) and San Francisco-Napa (United States).

Vergelegen has twice won the overall award, said Morgenthal. Waterford Estate and Nederburg Wines are also previous winners.