South Africa’s wine tourism has been rated the best-developed in the world by International Wine Review, one of the world’s most influential opinion formers on wine.
Wine tourism is growing fast worldwide and plays an especially important role in South Africa. The country’s reputation for making high-quality wine is centuries old, but the world had largely forgotten it by the time apartheid ended some two decades ago. But since then the industry has rapidly modernised and South African winemakers have reacquainted themselves with the rest of the wine-loving world — and vice versa.
Today, the best of South African wine is up there with the rest.
During their review, the publication’s editor Don Winkler and publisher Mike Potashnik visited the winelands in December 2011 to evaluate the country’s top premium and ultra-premium wines, and at the same time evaluated its wine tourism.
"While the country is located far from most foreign wine lovers, it offers huge rewards to those who visit its wine country," they wrote in their latest report. "Most wineries have excellent tasting facilities and many have superb restaurants with spectacular mountain vineyard views."
Andre Morgenthal, spokesperson for the Cape Town and Cape Winelands chapter of the Great Wine Capitals (GWC), is excited over the revelation.
"That is high praise indeed, coming as it does on the back of the US Weather Channel recently placing the Cape winelands second after Andalucia in Spain on its annual list of the World’s Top Ten Wine Trails," he said.
The attractions of the wine industry are seen as a major factor in the growth of Cape Town's tourism industry.
"Wine tourism is a vital product offering as it helps improve the country’s competitiveness against destinations like Brazil, Australia, Kenya and Thailand," said tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.
It is estimated that wine tourism now generates annual income in excess of R5-billion (US$590-million) while also being a major job creator. The total wine exports from South Africa stood at 350 564 774 litres in 2011, with Europe as its biggest buyer overall.
Van Schalkwyk said the wine tourism sector in South Africa will always have strong roots from which to grow even further in the international market.
"I believe wine tourism can contribute in a significant way and we look forward to continued constructive engagement with the industry," he said.
Published courtesy of MediaClubSouthAfrica.