Best of Wine Tourism Awards opens on a new wave of optimism

Tuesday, 24 May, 2011
Wines of South Africa (WOSA)
New Government backing for South African wine tourism, Cape Town's selection as the top city in the Travellers' Choice Destination by the world's largest travel site, TripAdvisor, and the inclusion of three Cape restaurants on the 2011 S. Pellegrino World's 100 Best Restaurants list were all great news for local wineries, said industry spokesperson André Morgenthal.
Announcing the opening of the new Best of Wine Tourism Awards made by the Great Wine Capitals global network, he said there was a new mood of optimism among local wineries. “Producers are enormously encouraged that wine tourism has just been identified by national Government as a big plus in the country’s competitive advantage over many other long-haul destinations. At the same time, key players in the Cape’s tourism industry, together with the office of the Western Cape Premier and the provincial department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, are collaborating on a joint strategy to maximise tourism opportunities.

“These initiatives are taking place as global tourism is on the increase and the middle class in developing economies is rapidly expanding. In Africa alone, according to figures released this month (May) by the World Economic Forum, the continent’s middle class now numbers around 300 million people. We have also learned that emerging countries are becoming more popular travel destinations than their developed counterparts.

“This is a good time for tourism and South African wineries are ideally placed to take advantage of these developments, coupled as they are with some very positive publicity for Cape Town and Cape Winelands restaurants over the last few weeks.”

He urged local wineries to enter the Best of Wine Tourism Awards both to benchmark themselves against international best practice and to generate wider awareness of their offerings.

In addition to Cape Town/Cape Winelands, the other members of the global network are Bilbao-Rioja (Spain), Bordeaux (France), Florence (Italy), Mainz (Germany), Mendoza (Argentina), Porto (Portugal), San Francisco-Napa (United States) and Christchurch (New Zealand).

“Winning the awards and joining the company of some of the most iconic wine establishments throughout the world has proved a major boost for many of the past winners. There is also the additional benefit to the overall South African winner each year, which is entitled to nominate a member of staff to visit a wine-producing country within the network.”

The most recent winner, Steenberg Vineyards, sent Zelda Petrus (44), a former cleaner at the winery who now has responsibility for its high-profile front-of-house cellar door sales, to California in March this year to learn more about wine sales and marketing in the famous Napa Valley. “Such an opportunity would scarcely have been possible if it were not for the Best of Wine Tourism Awards. Ms Petrus met with some of the leading names in wine tourism and was able to share her experiences with her colleagues.”

Anetha Homan, Steenberg’s sales and marketing manager said the renewed attention and additional exposure resulting from the win had been “astonishing”. She said that when the news became known, just before the start of the summer season, cellar sales had flourished, despite the ongoing recession. Winning, she added, had also been an affirming experience for staff, who had “added new pride to their service”.

Morgenthal said a group of highly respected specialists in their fields would be judging across the awards’ seven categories that included accommodation, architecture and landscapes, art and culture, innovative wine tourism experiences, sustainable wine tourism practices, winery restaurants and wine tourism services.

“Once the category shortlists have been confirmed, the organisers will once again arrange for wine and travel bloggers to visit the wineries concerned. They arrive unannounced so they don’t receive any special treatment but generally, it has proved to be very beneficial in raising publicity for participants amongst a very influential group of opinion-formers.”

The closing date for entries is Monday, June 20, 2011.
The category finalists will be announced in the spring and the overall winner will be identified at a gala event in Mainz in November, at which representatives from the international wine tourism industry will be present.

In addition to Steenberg Vineyards, other former South African winners of the Best of Wine Tourism Awards have included Vergelegen (three times), Nederburg, Waterford and Rust & Vrede.

Please click here to download an entry form and here for the rules and regulations. Details about the awards themselves can be obtained from the Great Wine Capitals website at

Entries must be submitted to the Best of Wine Tourism secretariat, Belinda Lamprecht at or by contacting her on (021) 418-2302 to arrange delivery.