The Sweet Service Award goes to the Lisbon train service, for its amazing train to Porto, and for the discount I received when making the booking at the Lisbon station, Initially the ticket seller told me that the second class tickets were sold out, and that I would have to buy a first class ticket at €85 for the three hour trip. He understood my question about a pensioner price, asked to see my passport, and lo and behold, I was given a second class ticket at €22! I mistakenly sat in the first class section initially, and the seats in both classes were almost identical, with footrests, and WiFi! South African trains have a long way to go! Continue reading →
The Sweet Service Award goes to El Corte Inglis department store in Porto, which has a fabulous free collection service at key tourist points and hotels in Porto. I made use of it to get to the store from the Se Cathedral, and to be dropped off back at my hotel. The second driver was a tour guide, pointing out key tourist attractions to me. On arrival at the store, I was told about the VIP promotion for foreigners, receiving 10% off on their purchases, which credit can be redeemed in certain departments. Whilst my shopping experience with the MAC cosmetic assistant was far from satisfactory, the Cosmetics Manager made up for it by assisting me with the payment of my purchase of their lipstick, given that the line that I like is to be discontinued. I was also invited to the restaurant, to enjoy a free Pasteis de Nata, and a glass of Port or a cup of coffee, graciously substituted for a lovely Tetley’s Tea when I requested it. And I could use the 10% credit to buy a fruit knife for my Camino journey. Continue reading →
Today is the first day of a three-month adventure on three continents, and including five countries. Not only is it a personal journey, but it also completes my SwitchBitch Book 3 which I stated writing two months ago, and gives me the opportunity to visit and review restaurants I eat at on my Blog. Continue reading →
At the conclusion of The Business of Wine & Food Tourism Conference held at Spier over the past two days, the seven South African winners of the 2016 Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Awards were announced. Continue reading →
Chef Michael Deg of Delaire Graff Restaurant must be a happy man, with the news that the restaurant has been named the Best Winelands Restaurant in our country, in the 2016 Great Wine Capitals Global Network Best of Wine Tourism Awards!
The news must be even more joyous for Chef Michael, given that he was excluded from the Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant Continue reading →
South Africa’s wine industry was praised for ‘amongst the most exciting wine countries in the world’ last week by top UK wine writer Robert Joseph, who also praised it for ‘the complete revolution in wine and wine tourism’ in the past 25 years, says the media release of Great Wine Capitals Global Network. The organisation hosted an awards lunch at La Motte, to celebrate the South African winners in the annual Great Wine Capitals Wine Tourism Awards, with Joseph as the guest speaker.
Despite praising the progress made in the R5 billion South African wine tourism industry, with about 300 local wine estates according to Business Report, Joseph said that wine tourism should be developed more aggressively around the world. ‘There is a common misconception that wine tourism is about tasting and buying wine. It is not. It is about entertainment and building profitable relationships. Wine tourism needs to attract more visitors, get them to spend money, get them to become regular visitors and encourage them to become ambassadors. It is also about learning from your visitors and addressing their needs‘, he told the wine industry representatives. He shared that 9% of the American wine purchases for home drinking is bought at the cellar door.
Joseph urged wine estates to not offer free cellar-door tastings. ‘If you charge, you have to think about what you are giving them and you have to give them fair value. Charging means your visitor knows where he or she stands. Paying implies a clear-cut and transactional relationship. When you don’t charge, the parameters are not clear and often the interaction between producer and visitor can feel more like a bad blind date. It’s far better to subsequently give a complimentary offering and to be thanked than to be expected to give something for nothing at the outset’, he said.
Addressing customer feedback, Joseph urged wine estates to pay close attention to what visitors were saying about them, by monitoring tourism feedback sites and responding to both praise and criticism, to develop relationships with their wine customers. He urged wine estates to pay attention to the search engine optimisation of their websites, to ensure that they are mobile-friendly, and that the labels and tasting rooms have QR codes to allow customers to seek further information about the wines.
He also urged a focus on designated drivers, given the stricter drink-drive legislation in most countries. More should be done to make designated drivers feel welcome, he encouraged. ‘The same goes for any non-wine drinkers who are part of a group, and also children. They also need to be entertained. Offer more than just wine. Offer activities that will also appeal to those not drinking wine. If you don’t provide food, allow people to use your facilities so they can barbeque or picnic at your venue. Let them bring their pets.‘
He recommended that wine buying by international tourists should be made simpler and cheaper. ‘Instead of shipping from your winery, arrange for distributors in the home countries of your visitors to deliver to them directly. This model is being used by some producers in Europe and is working successfully’.
At the Great Wine Capitals Global Network event, La Motte was announced the 2013 South African Best of Wine Tourism Awards winner, the second year running, and was a Global winner in the Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices category this year. Although announced six months ago already, the awards per category were presented to the winners at the event last week:
* Creation: Innovative Wine Tourism Experience
* Grand Dedale Country House at Doolhof: Accommodation
* Grand Provence: Art and Culture
* Tokara: Wine Tourism Restaurant
* Waterkloof: Wine Tourism Services, and Architecture and Landscapes.
Cape Town/Winelands, Mainz-Rheinhessen in Germany, Bilbao-Rioja in Spain, Bordeaux in France, Florence in Italy, Mendoza in Argentina, Porto in Portugal, San Francisco/Napa Valley in the USA, Christchurch in New Zealand and Valparaiso/Casablanca in Chile are members of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.
Joseph is editor at large of ‘Meininger’s Wine Business International ‘ and author of the ‘Wine Travel Guide to the World’. He is also the founder of the UK-based International Wine Challenge and of multiple Wine Challenges throughout Asia and eastern Europe. Joseph’s thejosephreport.com is one of the most respected and controversial international wine industry blogs.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Spier is the wine estate that attracts the largest number of visitors of the 588 wine estates in the country, says Su Birch, CEO of Wines of South Africa (WOSA). The estate offers theatrical and musical productions, as well as eco-experiences in interacting with cheetahs and eagles. It has 62 000 hotel guests and 40 000 conference delegates visiting every year, in addition to the day visitors.
Wine tourism is a fast growing and possibly the largest segment of the South African tourism industry, and is worth R 6.75 billion, says Andre Morgenthal, also of WOSA, reports Business Report. Wine tourists are from Europe in the main.
Growth has been particularly evident since Cape Town joined the Great Wine Capitals of the World network. The bio-diversity of the winelands, the increasing number of excellent restaurants opening on wine estates, and the marketing focus on wines have created the growth in wine tourism.
The Great Wine Capitals of the World network is looking for nominations for its Best of Tourism Awards to select the best wine estates in respect of dining, accommodation, architecture, parks and gardens, arts and culture, innovative wine tourism experiences, and wine tourism services. Participants from Cape Town, Bordeaux, Bilbao-Rioja, Mendoza, Mainz, Florence, Porto and San Francisco-Napa will compete for the awards. More details are available on www.greatwinecapitals.com.
The Winelands is currently hosting representatives of the major wine tourism centers of the world. Co-hosted by the City of Cape Town and the Cape Winelands Municipality, the AGM of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network started on Sunday, reports BizCommunity.com.
Visiting members of the Global Network come from Bilbao, Bordeaux, Florence, Mainz, Mendoza, Porto, and San Fransisco-Napa, and will discuss the promotion of international wine tourism, as well as greater economic, academic and cultural links amongst each other.
The South African wine tourism industry is worth close to R 7 billion. Its future growth in terms of jobs, skills and turnover will be discussed. South Africa’s leadership in sustainable wine production has been recognised by the Global Network, and is on the agenda. “South Africa is a world leader in eco-sensitive wine production. Our Integrated Production of Wine is regarded as the most progressive production integrity programme of its kind and is one of only two in the world to be independently audited. Our system of production integrity is linked to the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative that seeks to conserve indigenous habitat in the Winelands. Both programmes serve as important models in sustainability for other wine-producing countries” says Clarence Johnson, Mayor of the Cape Winelands District Municipality and Vice President of the Global Network. Field trips will include Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Wellington and Paarl.
The AGM will end off with a gala dinner at Vergelegen, the winner in 2006 and 2007 in the Art and Culture category of the Best of Wine Awards of the Global Network.