Cape Wine 2004 underscores SA’s reputation as world-class wine country

Wednesday, 7 April, 2004
Thelma Harris, WOSA
The biggest contingent of foreign buyers came from the UK

Cape Wine 2004, South Africa’s biggest ever wine trade exhibition that covered 5 000 sq meters and showcased 4 000 wines over four days to more than 1 200 people with a specialist interest in wine, ended on a high note, says Wines of South Africa (WOSA) CEO, Su Birch.

‘The 2004 vintage of the bi-ennial exhibition, the third held since 2000, has been the most successful, representing virtually all the country’s exporters. It has provided an outstanding opportunity to show international trade and media the scope and depth of our industry. And right here in the Cape. It’s important to remember we are not only selling wine on the international market but also its provenance. For international wine buyers and journalists to experience the Cape firsthand gives far greater substance to their exposure,’ said Birch.

‘The weather really played along’, said Jacques Roux, marketing director of Graham Beck Wines. ‘Everyone had a good time and we have certainly succeeded in selling the Cape as a destination.’

Delegates were also treated by individual producers to boat trips, beach parties, helicopter rides to wineries and sumptuous dinners in many of the Cape winelands’ historic manor houses.

Don Gallow, general manager of international operations for South Africa’s biggest wine producer Distell, said the majority of the company’s key agents worldwide attended the event. ‘Their feedback was very positive in terms of our wines and the South African category as a whole. We certainly expect to be doing more business as a result of the show.’

For winemaker Peter Finlayson of Bouchard-Finlayson in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley near Hermanus, Cape Wine 2004 provided an excellent opportunity to network among influential members of the international wine trade.

Birch says many of the major wineries reported doing ‘serious business’, while industry commentator Michael Fridjhon, who chaired one of the exhibition seminars, said: ‘The general feeling is that this has been a world-class show, well managed and successful in delivering the right audience to the industry. At this stage of South Africa’s development as a wine producer in the global context, we need to bring trade buyers and opinion formers to the country to expose them to the wines here, where they are made.’

In his seminar on the South African wine industry, Fridjhon urged local producers to focus on expressing the origin of their wines, selling a taste of place. He also stressed that South Africa was not doomed to follow the Australian model, where big brand uniformity was beginning to limit growth.

According to Birch, the biggest contingent of foreign buyers came from the UK, numbering 130. This was expected, since Britain is the biggest export destination for the country’s wines. ‘But we had significant numbers from other major markets like the US, Germany and The Netherlands, which in each case amounted to close on 100 delegates. And also large groups from countries like Canada and Sweden.’

Foreign delegates numbered over 1 000, with visitors coming not only from well-established export wine markets, but also from emergent markets like India, Singapore, Korea, Hungary, the Ukraine, the Czech Republic and even countries like Cyprus and Angola, with 20 countries represented all in all.

The last two days of the show, which ended on April 2, were open to the South African trade and public. This is the first time they have been included in the exhibition, which was targeted principally at the export market.

In addition to the exhibition, held at the Cape Town Convention Centre, WOSA also hosted an evening of local food and wine at The Castle of Good Hope. Entitled Celebrating Cape Cuisine and featuring 20 of the region’s top chefs, it drew the majority of delegates. One of these, Guido Francque of Belgium, a sommelier, wine educator, writer and well-known supporter of South African wine, says it was the best food and wine pairing event he has attended anywhere in the world. Echoing this view was Ole Troelse, a Danish publisher who has published many books on food and wine. He said it was unique to have so many world-class chefs cooking for a single event.

Delegates also attended a charity wine auction that raised over R40 000 in aid of Dopstop and the Makukhanye Gospel Choir of Nkquebela in Robertson.

Last year, despite an increasing oversupply of wine from major producers such as California and Australia, South Africa exported 235 million litres of wine, an increase of 10% on 2002.

Issued by: DKC (De Kock Communications) for Wine of South Africa 
Contact: Su Birch, CEO, WOSA
Tel: +27 (0) 21 883-3860

Contact: Tessa de Kock
Tel: +27 (0) 21 422-2690