Vergelegen in virtual clean sweep is SA's winner of Global Award

Friday, 8 November, 2013
Vergelegen has emerged as the undisputed South African winner of the prestigious Great Wine Capitals (GWC) Best of Wine Tourism Awards, excelling in nearly all categories in the international contest. The results were announced yesterday (November 7) at a gala presentation in California's Napa Valley, attended by wine tourism leaders from across the world.
Not only did the famous Helderberg winery win both the Arts and Culture and the Restaurant categories, but it came second in another four categories as well: Architecture and Landscapes, Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences, Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices and Wine Tourism Service.

The only category it didn't enter was Accommodation, as it doesn't offer this facility to visitors.

"We have never had a winner before who has made such a clean sweep," said Alderman Cornelius de Bruyn, mayor of the Cape Winelands District Municipality that together with the city of Cape Town comprises one of the 10 members of the GWC.

This is the third time Vergelegen has been judged the South African Best of Wine Tourism winner. The last time was in 2009.

The GWC is a network of the world’s leading wine-producing countries that shares international best practice to advance standards in wine tourism across the world. In addition to Cape Town-Cape Winelands, its members are Mainz-Rheinhessen (Germany), Bilbao-Rioja (Spain), Bordeaux (France), Florence (Italy), Porto (Portugal), San Francisco-Napa (United States), Mendoza (Argentina), Christchurch-South Island (New Zealand) and newest member, Valparaiso-Casablanca (Chile).  

As an international GWC winner, Vergelegen joins the ranks of the best of best in global wine tourism. They are Spain's Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco in Rioja, a museum and winery complex, celebrated for its Enoturismo y  Experiencias that offers a wide range of exhibitions, courses and other innovative experiences; France's Château de Rouillac that dates back to the 19th century when it belonged to the famous Baron Haussmann who introduced many urban planning reforms to Paris under Napoleon III; New Zealand's Brancott Estate Heritage Centre at Brancott Vineyard, the site of the original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc plantings; Italy's Castello di Gabbiano, with its medieval castle that dates back to the 16th century; Germany's Weingut Eppelmann Stadecken-Goslar recognised for its innovative use of QR codes in communicating with hikers; Chile's Bodega Ruca Malen at the foot of the Andes and celebrated for its restaurant; Portugal's The Yeatman, a luxury wine hotel with an award-winning wine cellar, and Michelin star restaurant acclaimed for its modern interpretation of traditional Portugal cuisine; and California's famous The Hess Collection Winery in the Mount Veeder area, renowned for its extensive private collection of international modern and contemporary paintings and sculpture.

Cape Town mayor, Alderman Patricia de Lille said Vergelegen was a proud example of Cape tourism excellence. "The competition is an important benchmark and demonstrates that our offerings are of an absolutely world-class quality. We have the added advantage of being located in a wine-growing area of unrivalled beauty."

Alderman De Bruyn said Cape wine tourism was well placed to benefit from the growth in local tourism.  "Tourist arrivals in emerging economies are expected to surpass those in advanced economies such as Europe and North America, as early as 2015. The projected growth rate of tourist arrivals in emerging economy destinations is expected to double that forecast for advanced economy destinations. This presents us with an exciting opportunity, particularly given the importance of tourism to economies in Africa.”

In South Africa, last year, international tourist arrivals rose year-on-year by 10,2% - more than two and a half times the global average of 4%.

A newcomer to the competition, Babylonstoren of Paarl, came second amongst the South African contenders, winning both the Accommodation and the Architecture and Landscapes categories and taking third position in the Restaurant category.

Other South African category winners were Spice Route, another first-time winner, taking the top score in the Innovative Tourism Experiences; La Motte, that was last year's South African winner (Sustainable Tourism Practices) and Delaire Graff (Wine Tourism Service).

Dating back to 1685, Vergelegen is renowned for the preservation of its historic buildings and its elegant gardens. The estate is highly rated by wine connoisseurs and was ranked the equivalent of First Growth status by leading UK wine critic Tim Atkin MW (Master of Wine) in his report on South African wine issued earlier this year.

Vergelegen's winning restaurant, Camphors, is named after the ancient camphor trees on the farm that are said to be over 300 years old. The winery's signature eatery, it was recently revamped with celebrated PJ Vadas appointed as the executive chef.

This year’s judges included wine tourism specialist Margi Biggs; international tourism consultant Rick Taylor of the Business Tourism Company, a former CEO of Cape Metropolitan Tourism and currently a board member of Tourism Business Council of South Africa; lifestyle and wine journalist Joanne Gibson; Joan Isham, the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) extension officer; Marilyn Martin, art historian, curator and writer; architect Alex Robertson; JP Rossouw, food critic and author of the annual Rossouw’s Restaurants guide; and landscaper Johan van Papendorp.

The full list of South African category winners:

1    Babylonstoren
2    Asara
3    Grande Provence
1    Babylonstoren
2    Vergelegen
3    La Motte
1    Vergelegen
2    La Motte
3    Delaire Graff
1    Spice Route
2    Vergelegen
3    La Motte
1    La Motte
2    Vergelegen
3    Waterkloof
1    Vergelegen - Camphors
2    Rust en Vrede
3    Babel - Babylonstoren
1    Delaire Graff
2    Vergelegen
3    Waterkloof