Vergelegen Camphors interior Whale Cottage PortfolioWhile Vergelegen may have been disappointed in not scoring a 5 star wine at the Platter’s South African Wines 2014 on Friday evening, the wine estate must have been in seventh heaven to have done so well at the Great Wine Capitals Global Network Best of Wine Tourism Awards for South Africa, for which the winners were announced on Thursday at a gala dinner in the Napa Valley.  Vergelegen won in the Arts and Culture as well as in the Restaurant categories, and performed well in four further categories.  The award-winning performance makes Vergelegen the South African Best of Wine Tourism winner for the third time, having last won in 2009.

In addition to winning two categories outright, Vergelegen came second in four out of a total of seven categories:  Architecture and Landscapes, Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences, Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices, and Wine Tourism Service.  It is Camphors at Vergelegen, one of two restaurants on the wine estate (with Stables at Vergelegen Bistro, a more casual daytime restaurant), that is recognised in the Restaurant award.  The seventh category (Accommodation) was not entered, as this service is not offered.

Vergelegen joins nine other winelands region winners this year:

*   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

*   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

*   Brancott Estate Heritage Centre at Brancott Vineyard in New Zealand, the site of the original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc plantings

*  Castello di Gabbiano in Italy, with its medieval castle that dates back to the 16th century

*   Weingut Eppelmann Stadecken-Goslar in Germany, recognised for its innovative use of QR codes in communicating with hikers

*   Bodega Ruca Malen at the foot of the Andes in Chile, and celebrated for its restaurant

*   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

*   The Hess Collection Winery in the Mount Veeder area in California (and sister winery to local Glen Carlou), renowned for its extensive private collection of international modern and contemporary paintings and sculpture.

Cape Winelands District Mayor Alderman Cornelius Bruyn said: ‘We have never had a winner before who has made such a clean sweep‘.   Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille added: ‘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‘.

The South African category winners of the Awards were announced as well:

*   Accommodation:   Babylonstoren

*   Architecture and Landscapes:   Babylonstoren

*   Innovative Tourism Experiences:   Spice Route

*   Sustainable Tourism Practices:   La Motte

*   Wine Tourism Services:   Delaire Graff

*   Wine Tourism Restaurant:   Camphors at Vergelegen (followed by Rust en Vrede in second place, an Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant Finalist with Camphors at Vergelegen too)

*   Art & Culture:   Vergelegen

The full list of South African category winners is the following:

ACCOMMODATION
1 Babylonstoren
2 Asara
3 Grande Provence
ARCHITECTURE AND LANDSCAPES
1 Babylonstoren
2 Vergelegen
3 La Motte
ART & CULTURE
1 Vergelegen
2 La Motte
3 Delaire Graff
INNOVATIVE WINE TOURISM EXPERIENCES
1 Spice Route
2 Vergelegen
3 La Motte
SUSTAINABLE WINE TOURISM PRACTICES
1 La Motte
2 Vergelegen
3 Waterkloof
WINE TOURISM RESTAURANTS
1 Vergelegen – Camphors
2 Rust en Vrede
3 Babel – Babylonstoren
WINE TOURISM SERVICE
1 Delaire Graff
2 Vergelegen
3 Waterkloof

 

The Great Wine Capitals Global Network is a network of ten leading wine-producing countries that share international best practice to advance standards in wine tourism across the world. Cape Town-Cape Winelands is joined by Mainz-Rheinhessen (Germany), Bilbao-Rioja (Spain), Bordeaux (France), Florence (Italy), Porto (Portugal), San Francisco-Napa (United States), Mendoza (Argentina), Christchurch-South Island (New Zealand), Valparaiso-Casablanca (Chile).

Judges for the South African categories were wine tourism specialist Margi Biggs, international tourism consultant Rick Taylor, wine journalist Joanne Gibson,  Joan Isham of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI), art historian Marilyn Martin, architect Alex Robertson, food writer JP Rossouw, and landscaper Johan van Papendorp.

Wine tourism is an important and growing tourism segment, and it is exciting that South African wine estates have done so well this year. Somerset West is receiving recognition as a wine region for the first time, not only with Vergelegen’s performance in the Great Wine Capitals Global Network Best of Wine Tourism Awards, but also in having two of its restaurants nominated in the Eat Out Top 20 Restaurants shortlist, of which the TopVergelegen PJ Vadas Whale Cotatge Portfolio 10 restaurants will be announced this evening. Camphors at Vergelegen is a finalist, with Chef PJ Vadas (right) having opened the newly renovated and decorated restaurant a year ago, having moved across from The Roundhouse, where he had taken the restaurant to Top 10.  The Restaurant at Waterkloof, with Chef Gregory Czarnecki at the helm, is the second finalist restaurant in Somerset West.  Given the accolade that Camphors at Vergelegen has received as the best Winelands restaurant, chances are good that it will do well at the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards this evening.

POSTSCRIPT 10/11:  Camphors at Vergelegen achieved 8th place in the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards this evening.  He said that it has been a good year: moving restaurant, moving house, getting married, expecting a baby, being named Best Winelands Restaurant, and now making the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant list.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage