La Motte Wine Estate’s leading role in wine tourism in South Africa and the high standards of wine tourism in the country were once again placed in the spotlight by the announcement of the winners of the South African leg of the internationally respected Great Wine Capitals of the World (GWC) Best of Wine Tourism Awards last week. The GWC is a network of the top wine producing regions in the world who share international best practice in wine tourism. South Africa is one of 10 top wine regions in the world judged annually by the GWC for its wine tourism offering.
Minister Gerrit van Rensburg and Alderman Neels de Bruyn with Hein and Hanneli Koegelenberg of La Motte
Trophies were handed to the South African winners at the awards event held at La Motte Wine Estate in Franschhoek on Thursday last week. The GWC was represented by André Morgenthal, marketing manager of Wines of South Africa (WOSA) who said that South Africa compared well with other top wine regions in the world and each category winner in this year’s competition made South Africa proud.
The ceremony was attended by several local wine and wine tourism experts, as well as foreign diplomats and other dignitaries. The occasion was also addressed by the Western Cape MEC of Agriculture and Rural Development Gerrit van Rensburg and Executive Mayor of the Cape Winelands District Municipality Alderman Cornelius de Bruyn.
Robert Joseph, a top international wine tourism expert, was the keynote speaker and provided perspective on how well South Africa compared in terms of best practice with the rest of the world. Joseph was of the opinion that South African wine tourism compared well with more established markets, and for a long time did a much better job of wine tourism than even France.
La Motte CEO Hein Koegelenberg, CEO of Franschhoek Tourism, Jenny Prinsloo and Mr Robert Joseph
Robert Joseph is a wine writer (his blog is thewinethinker.com) and as author of international wine guides he has travelled to wine regions all over the world. He also consults to the wine tourism industries in various countries about offering world-class wine tourism experiences.
Joseph said La Motte Wine Estate, overall winner of the Best of Wine Tourism Awards and winner in the Sustainable Wine Tourism category, was already getting a lot of things right in terms of what is considered international best practice in wine tourism.
Joseph said he has seen the South African wine tourism industry making great strides in the past decade, but that there was a lot that could still be learnt by the wider wine industry about offering great wine tourism to their guests.
“I’ve been coming to South Africa since the late 80s and I have seen a complete revolution in the SA industry. I am dazzled by the quality of the wine, the people, the food, architecture and accommodation. South Africa is genuinely one of the most exciting wine tourism countries in the world. I would like to add my congratulations, as La Motte is already doing many of the things I have been talking about for many years (in terms of wine tourism best practice),” Joseph said.
Joseph believes wine tourism should be an inclusive form of entertainment and that the industry makes a mistake when it thinks of wine tourism as only wine tasting and buying. Wine tourism could learn from golf tourism which offers a whole package and experience.
Joseph also believes wine estates should learn to charge for their offering. “If you charge, say R20 for a tasting, you think about the value you are offering. When an experience is free the visitor is always aware that he is taking up your time and time is money.”
Joseph said the Napa Valley in the USA was good at creating the perception of good value. There, for instance, two-for-one coupon specials are offered for wine tastings. It is a different approach and it works.”
Wine estates also have to consider selling branded memorabilia to visitors. “La Motte is smart to sell soaps and hand lotions, made from their own essential oils, since it’s displayed in your bathroom for 365 days, whereas wine is often stored in a wine cellar most of the time,” Joseph said.
Joseph also encouraged the industry to not only target the wine drinker as a client, but also his/her group and especially the non-drinking members of a group, such as the “designated driver”, people who don’t like wine, their children and even their animals. Here entertainment and the facilities on offer play an important role, not only wine tasting. “Make it a great place to visit, also for non-drinkers,” added Joseph.
It will become increasingly important over the next decade to accommodate non-drinkers, he believes, because of the prospect that blood-alcohol limits for drivers will be reduced to zero.
Joseph considers it important for local players in wine tourism to embrace technology, especially social media and cell phone friendly media. There are exciting ways to use Instagram, photos, QR codes, video, mobi and web, as well as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to better communicate with wine lovers. It is especially important to immediately respond to their questions and complaints and to invite them to visit the wine estate.
It should not be difficult for wine farms to assist a visitor who wants to buy a bottle of wine for an overseas friend. The visitor should be able to buy the bottle of wine from the tasting room, while the cellar, with the assistance of a distributor delivers the bottle of wine to the friend internationally, instead of shipping an individual bottle of wine at an enormous cost.
Joseph also believes the industry should learn to create a community, with neighbouring farms and with other neighbours like restaurants, museums and tourist attractions, instead of trying to capture visitors. A more altruistic attitude will uplift the tourism sector as a whole. “Make friends with your local hotel concierge – bribe him with a bottle of wine if need be – since he can direct visitors to you and you can direct visitors to him.”
If the South African wine industry as a whole can learn to deliver world-class service and build long-term relationships with their visitors – and make them wine ambassadors of South African wine tourism – the industry can only grow. And this is good news for job creation and the economy as a whole. South Africa can only benefit from a developing wine tourism industry.
Winners and first and second runners-up in each category were:
1 Grand Dédale
2 Grande Provence
3 Mont Rochelle
ARCHITECTURE AND LANDSCAPES
3 Grande Provence
ARTS & CULTURE
1 Grande Provence
2 La Motte
INNOVATIVE WINE TOURISM EXPERIENCES
SUSTAINABLE WINE TOURISM PRACTICES
1 La Motte
WINE TOURISM RESTAURANTS
1 Tokara Restaurant
3 Rust en Vrede
WINE TOURISM SERVICES
2 La Motte