5 Reasons to Embark on a Wine Tour

Monday, 16 September, 2013
Lisa Knott
When it comes to the magnificent world of wines, few places can compare to the glorious Western Cape of South Africa.
Expansive vineyards stretch across fields of sun-dappled fruits harvested for creating the most sumptuous of drinks to wash down a meal or serve as refreshment after a day beneath the blazing sun. These vineyards become a venue for a vast multitude of events to delight the wine connoisseur from all corners of the globe, offering a memorable experience which is sure to leave tasters thirsting for more. But you don’t have to be a professional to enjoy a crisp glass of zinfandel; more and more places are becoming accessible for wine lovers from all walks of life, and the reasons for embarking on a wine tour are becoming ever more appealing in a world where travel and tourism is becoming increasingly eco-friendly and innovative.

1) A Complete Education in Tasting and Creating

Oenophiles and beginners alike can easily relate to reason number one for taking a trip to the vineyards – to experience the making of a masterpiece wine itself. Wine tourism is one of the most popular forms of culinary tourism, drawing in large numbers of both local and international travellers each year. From the harvesting of fruits to their artful selection process, to mixing, fermentation, testing, bottling, and distribution, each vineyard has their own unique methods and practices which give their product its signature taste. While top trade secrets will seldom be disclosed, vineyard tours offer a rare and revealing glimpse into some of the eccentricities which makes a certain wine “tick” and is a fascinating creative process. The wealth of knowledge imparted can be put into use on a personal level as well, such as knowing what primary conditions are ideal for harvesting, which ingredients can be added to either subdue or enhance a flavour, and how to add an aesthetic appeal to the wine itself, such as which food to serve it with and what time to serve it. Which brings us to reason number two.

2) Culinary Delights
Some wines are meant to be consumed alone, others with a fine alfredo pasta or fish, others with red meat, and a treasure trove of delectable cheeses. There is a reason that the finest academies and institutions of the world – particularly art and literary events – offer wine and cheese as their refreshments of choice. Wine-tasting festivals, individual tours, and dinners themed around a selected="true"="true"="true"="true" wine are magnificent ways to discover some of the world’s most delectable dishes. So whether it’s smoked duck and pinotage or prawn risotto with chenin blanc, there are some truly mouth-watering pairings which are sure to appeal to all three senses of sight, taste, and smell. And because dinners are often communal gatherings, it also offers a diverse and welcoming experience of cultural customs and people, bringing us to reason three.

3) The Rainbow State – Culture, Business, Friendship
With 11 official languages and numerous other tongues, South Africa is a mosaic of eclectic cultural wonders, and what better way to experience the heart of a people than by food and wine? Wine festivals not only attract multitudes of people from various backgrounds, but are infinitely connected to the arts, meaning that sculptures, paintings, and performing ensembles become part of the package as well. Nothing could be closer to home, nor a better setting for meeting new people and networking, as well as forging lifelong friendships. As well, it is a great way to promote reason number four – supporting local economies with eco-conscious practices.

4) Ecotourism and the Landscape
The soaring heights of the iconic table mountain, lush valleys of fynbos and rugged coastal seascapes beneath endless skies make for a breathtaking journey. Some of the most awe-inspiring fauna and flora in the world are right here in the Rainbow State to marvel in and be inspired by, and definitely come with the territory of wine-making. As well, it is a remarkable opportunity to bring increasing recognition to local cellars, a major boost for the industry as well as extremely beneficial for promoting sustainable tourism.

South Africa’s spectacular terrain leaves a variety of choices for themed travel, including its picturesque coastlines and tranquil seaside villages which have become ports of call for many. Wine cruises especially have experienced a boom in popularity in various parts of the world as well as South Africa since becoming more available to new audiences who do not require any expertise in wine-tasting in order to enjoy the journey, while maintaining a high calibre for connoisseurs. It is part of a growing trend of themed tours which feature a cultural or culinary aspect making more out of travel than just holiday time, but turning it into a fulfilling and memorable experience which differs from the convention style of cruising, part of a valuable aspect of tourism which is seeking new ways to experience the landscape and promote awareness of culture, economy, and ecosystem. And best of all, nothing could be better than lounging on deck with a fine glass of pinotage with the backdrop of mountain and shore.

5) The Grand Prize Itself: Vino
The fifth and ultimate reason for journeying to wine country: a gloriously delicious glass of sauvignon blanc, chardonnay or whichever your palate desires. There are more than 40 basic wine varieties and several others in South Africa alone, proving plentiful fruit for thought. And once finding that perfect balance of wet and dry, sweet and crisp, you will be set for a lifetime. It’s worth the journey!