Tag Archives: wine estates

Taste of Cape Town dishes up a feast of Cape restaurants and chefs!

The sixth Taste of Cape Town, to be held at the Green Point Cricket Club from today until Sunday, promises to be a feast of food and beverages, prepared by some of the Cape’s leading chefs, and offered for tasting by top wine estates and beverage houses.

A pop-up restaurant will feature some of our region’s best chefs, hosted by a different chef each day:

*   Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, representing The Pot Luck Club, offering Miso-glazed short rib with kimchi, pork belly with XO and red cabbage slaw, and Thai-style prawns with Tom Yum butter on Friday.

*   Chef Bruce Robertson, past owner of award-winning The Showroom, and now running The Boathouse from his home in Scarborough, will dish up snot vis (photograph) and sea cucumber, ‘Viss ‘n Tjips’, and Lucky Star pie on Saturday.

*   Chef Scot Kirton of La Colombe will offer Lemon verbena cured trout, ostrich tataki, and rose and coconut pannacotta on Thursday.

*   Chef Tanja Kruger of Makaron Restaurant, and member of the SA Culinary team, will serve Nigiri sustainable fish, smoked lamb belly, and a rum, caramel and banana dessert on Sunday.

Eleven restaurant stands will offer food to taste, in exchange for crowns (R5 per crown, and dish prices range from 4 – 8 crowns each, as a means of payment:

*   Azure Restaurant at the Twelve Apostles hotel, with Chef Henrico Grobbelaar at the helm, serving duck liver cream, Chalmar beef fillet, and Bea Tollman’s rice pudding

*   96 Winery Road in Stellenbosch, led by Chef Natasha Wray, serving crispy pork belly strips, line fish Nobu style, and parmesan and chorizo risotto

*   De Grendel Restaurant, which opened a year ago, with Chef Ian Bergh, serving duck and risotto, braised beef, and quail.

*   Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms-Delta, with Chef Shaun Schoeman, offering Tiger prwan and calamari breyani, Karoo ‘lamsoutribbetjie‘, and venison wild rosemary pie

*   Signal Restaurant at the Cape Grace, with Chef Malika van Reenen, serving prawn salad, beef short rib, and pear dessert

*   Savour at 15 on Orange, headed by Chef Sanel Esterhuyse, offering Norwegian salmon and avocado tartare (photograph), quail curry, and seared scallops

*   Jewel of India, now located in Bo-Kaap, with Chef Dayanand Shankar Poojary, serving Chicken Tikka, Paneer Makhani, and Madras fish curry

*   Beefcakes Burger Bar, based in Green Point, with Chef Wonderful Ndhlovu offering poppers, gourmet ostrich burge, and chocolate brownie.

*   Dash Restaurant at the Queen Victoria Hotel in the V&A Waterfront, with Chef Craig Paterson, serving fish rillettes, braised lamb breast, and ‘Go Bananas’ dessert

*   The Brasserie (sister restaurant to Societi Bistro) with Chef Stefan Marais, offering West Coast mussels, Brasserie Scotch egg, and French onion soup

*   Il Leone Mastrantonio with Chef Daniel Toledo, serving Linguine ai Gamberetti (prawns), flash-fried calamari, and coffee-flavoured panacotta.

Top chefs will do demonstrations in the Pick ‘n Pay Chef’s Theatre, while the Pick ‘n Pay Wine and Canapé Experience will teach Festival goers how to pair wines and canapés. Lindt’s Master Chocolatiers will demonstrate making Lindor truffles and pralines and chocolate sculpturing, with their Excellence and Creation ranges available for sale.   A special focus on Thai foods will be offered via cooking demonstrations by Thai chefs, organised by the Royal Thai Embassy.  A Food Market will not only offer artisanal foods for sale, but also beverages such as the new award-winning Bains Cape Mountain whisky from Wellington, the best single grain whisky in the world, as well as Fairtrade wines.

The Taste of Cape Town is one of 18 Taste festivals hosted around the world.  Taste of Durban will be held in July and Taste of Joburg in September.  Taste of Cape Town is environmentally friendly, with Interwaste recycling at the festival, and biodegradable eating utensils and bowls made by Green Home Products will be used.

POSTSCRIPT 12/4: Parking is in short supply, and traffic cops are all around the venue, to frighten anyone off parking anywhere else except inside the Cape Town Stadium, at a reasonable charge of R20.  The evening was wonderful, mild weather wise, lots of attendees but it never felt crowded.  The pop-up restaurant (Pot Luck Club this evening, but without Luke Dale-Roberts, as advertised on the program) had the longest queue, so one should go there first.  Tweeting is difficult, almost impossible from the festival, given the network overload.  Signal Restaurant of the Cape Grace hotel was the ‘best dressed’ restaurant, in giving one a feel of its real counterpart.  It is difficult to present one’s dishes under such trying conditions, and there can be little talk of ‘plating’ on a small recycled plate, but the best looking dish was Savour’s Norwegian salmon and avocado tartare with parmesan galette, Ikura caviar, soy-lime broth (this detracted from the dish) and micro-herbs (right).  The best tasting dish was the Twelve Apostles’ Azure starter of Duck liver cream, pickled red apple, and lentil leek mignonette (left).  I enjoyed sitting at the tables spread around the grounds, just chatting about the dishes and the restaurants they came from.  There are a lot of Capetonians interested in our Cape Town restaurants.  I heard a lot of Afrikaans spoken, and the PR representative Errieda du Toit told me that Afrikaans media had covered the festival for the first time. Lindt impressed with its shop and demonstration area, the making of pralines and Lindor being demonstrated. One should go here at the beginning or end, as it became very full.

Taste of Cape Town, 11 and 12 April 18h30 – 22h30, 13 April 13h00 – 17h00 and 18h30 – 22h30, 14 April 12h00 – 17h00,  www.tasteofcapetown.com Twitter: @Taste  Taste Fest app available for free for Apple, Blackberry, and Android devices.  R80 entrance and tasting glass, R180 includes R100 tasting crowns.

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

Food and wine PR companies: few professionals, many mediocre!

Yesterday I met up with a fellow writer at the Franschhoek Summer Wine festival, and we had an interesting discussion about PR companies, and how professional or mediocre they can be. Unfortunately there are many mediocre PR companies, and few truly professional ones.  Smart Communications & Events, the PR agency of the festival, was a prime example of mediocrity, with no presence at the event nor providing a media pack.

The discussion arose when the writer shared his pet peeves about PR companies, being particularly sensitive about not having been invited to a wine-related function earlier this week, yet he was sent a media release after the dinner, which highlighted that top Tweeters and Bloggers had attended the prestigious dinner at The Greenhouse, he obviously not being one, in the opinion of the PR company, he felt!  I shared a similar incident when I was not invited to the launch of a winter menu of Reuben’s in Cape Town, obviously seeing all the Tweets about it, and then received the media release whilst the lunch was on the go!  Media invitation lists are a sensitive issue, and an invitation exclusion can be held against a PR company and/or its client’s brand, especially as we were reminded by one PR company recently that it is not the communications representative but often the client that decides on the final attendance list. This can make things awkward for the PR agency, especially when they represent a number of clients in the food and wine industry.

While we were on a roll, we shared the following peeves about PR agencies:

*   not saying thank you for coverage received – a ‘thank you’ is a rare treat and much appreciated

*   being chased for coverage – attending a function is no guarantee that any writer will write about it, although one does feel obliged to write.  Most events attended are covered on Facebook and Twitter by the writers.  Many PR agencies charge their clients for the number of Tweets achieved for an event, and hence the use of the hash tag to track this easily, it was explained to me.

*   being asked to list an event on one’s ‘Events page of the blog’, even though our blog does not have such a page!

*   being asked to send a link to the PR agency when the blogpost has been written and posted, an absolute no-no!  Not all PR agencies follow one on Twitter, and are rarely ‘Likers’ on Facebook, so they don’t pick up the coverage their clients’ brands achieve on these Social Media forums.

*   being sent media releases with large format photographs in the body of the media release, and on a colour background, make it impossible to print.  The information is what counts, even though the ‘packaging’ of it does look impressive.

*   being sent media releases regularly about clients’ wine and restaurant brands, yet never having been invited to the restaurants or sent a bottle of wine to try before using the media release!  Such media releases have a very low chance of receiving coverage on a blog, and even on Facebook and Twitter.

*  functions that are too long and start too early in the day, especially day-time ones, given that most writers have paying job commitments which must take first priority, especially in summer.

*   not being introduced to fellow attendees, as not all writers know each other, the media mix changing for every function.  Name tags are rarely seen.

*   functions being held far out of Cape Town, where most writers live and work.  Many wine writers will insist on accommodation for evening functions, or a transport service, which covers the issues of drinking/driving and the cost of petrol, and usually leads to great camaraderie on board.

*   functions/launches being too similar – one takes one’s hat off to PR agencies that can find a new angle for their clients’ brands, and always search for new venues to host their clients’ functions.

When a media release was requested of the Franschhoek Summer Wines event yesterday afternoon, Franschhoek Wine Valley CEO Jenny Prinsloo contacted her PR company, and they promised to send a release.  It was the same two paragraph e-mail we had been sent to attend the function.  The PR company head said she wanted to wait for the attendance figures before she issued a media release, a total waste of effort, as most writers would write almost immediately or not at all.   The ‘release’ only contained the names of 12 of the 28 wineries participating in the festival.  Each winery only offered one white wine, Rosé, or MCC for tasting, yet there was no information provided about each of the 28 wines, and what makes them unique. With a few exceptions, it seemed as if the B Team had been sent to man the ‘stands’, which was just a wine barrel per winery.  Very few of the winery representatives offered information proactively, being pourers of wine rather than sharers of information.   Only Morena had a booklet of information one could take from its stand, always stylish with its owner Nick Davies hands-on and in attendance.  There was no information provided about the specialist tastings that formed part of the festival.

Leopard’s Leap was an ideal venue and the perfect weather helped the event greatly. Additional parking was opened up, and golf carts drove one to the entrance.  It’s a pity that a (outsourced security company) boom operator is persistently rude when one arrives at Leopard’s Leap.  The invited media guests had to buy their own food (the wine tasting was on the house), something one would rarely experience if one is the guest of an event – the petrol alone for the journey from Cape Town and back would have cost around R375.  The invitation’s description of the ‘mouth-watering deli-style food from the Harvest Table‘ was completely misleading, as they had changed their menu for the event, being chicken and a few leaves (R60), salmon quiche with a good helping of salad at R45, and a vegetarian wrap (R30), not representative of the fantastic food that The Rotisserie at Leopard’s Leap usually serves.  Even though we wanted to pay for an ice cream when ordering our food, payment was not taken, and consequently the ice cream had run out at 16h00, an hour before the close of the event!

The Franschhoek Summer Wine Festival was organised for the second time, by professional event organiser Darielle Robertson of DnA Events.  Franschhoek can do much better than it did yesterday to attract attendance, given its excellent track record in hosting the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, Bastille Day festival, and Franschhoek Uncorked.  It is unfortunate that the festival clashed with the Cape Town Carnival yesterday, the Spar Ladies Race this morning, and the start of the ABSA Cape Epic today, which would have kept many wine tasters from Franschhoek.  From Twitter and spending time at the festival it appeared that the media attendance was extremely low (only three we picked up), which means that it will take longer to establish the event in years to come.  We Tweeted twice only from the festival, the food and most of the stands not being attractive enough to photograph and Tweet. As a brand Franschhoek and its excellent wine estates and good restaurants are far too special and unique to be represented by a mediocre PR company!

POSTSCRIPT 8/4: Epic Communications, organisers of the publicity for the RE•CM Top Ten Year Old Wines dinner at the Greenhouse last month, sent this e-mail today: The RE:CM 10 Year Old Wine Awards 2013 winners were announced at a gala dinner held in Cape Town on 14 March 2013 where valued clients and judges were treated to a three-course dinner at the award winning Greenhouse Restaurant by acclaimed chef, Peter Tempelhoff, who specially designed courses to pair with each 2013 RE:CM 10 Year Old Wine Award winner.  Please see attached social images, as well as images of the dishes served on the evening and the handover of the awards.  I have also pasted below captions for the images and a press release with further information.  Would this be of interest for your blog?’ Our bogpost about the event was posted on 18 March!

POSTSCRIPT 7/5: It appears that we were removed from Smart Communications & Events media list after posting this blogpost.  We have just been added back to the list again, after sending a request to the Franschhoek Wine Valley CEO!

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

The ‘weakest link’ breaks restaurant reputations!

In eating at restaurants frequently, one can see which restaurants work and which don’t.  It is not the food that is usually the problem, but the ‘weakest link’ that can prevent a restaurant from making the top grade, such a shame when the front of house team can destroy the good work of the kitchen team.  Where the two are in harmony, it shows, and these are the ones one returns to and recommends. These are our experiences of some ‘weakest links’ we see regularly:

*   The telephone answering service is one of the biggest problems, either the phone not being answered at all, and going through to an answering machine, or just ringing.  Restaurants closing on Mondays are not good at having an answering service, preferably ‘live’, on such days.  Others have only two lines, and when these are both occupied, the call goes to an answering machine, which calls can take up to six hours in our experience to be returned!  Should one be lucky enough to have someone answer the phone, the restaurant person is usually a very weak link, either jumping into Afrikaans without also speaking English (in the Winelands), or speaking in a poor quality English (a cleaner, a waiter, etc – we have had them all).  When I have to start spelling my name it is a poor reflection of the quality of the restaurant.

*  The confirmation call on the day of booking is done for two reasons, it comes across – the restaurant suffers from no shows, or is fully booked and is looking for a table for a new booking.  No shows are a shocking form of bad manners, but a reputable loyal client should not have to be burdened with this procedure, as it questions one’s honesty and ethics.  Even worse is when a guest house is called to confirm a guest booking which the guest made directly with the restaurant, because the restaurant does not want to call the guest on his/her international mobile number!  Restaurants are unhappy when we tell them that we cannot confirm such bookings.

*   Restaurants on wine estates usually have booms, and these are operated by outsourced security companies.  They are poorly trained in customer interaction, they do not welcome the clients to the wine estate, and their English usually is poor.  They are the first point of contact of the restaurant experience, and a very BIG weak link in many instances.  As they work shifts, the quality of the interaction varies, depending on who is on duty.

*   Restaurants are a breed on their own, and those that close one or more days per week, especially in a city like Cape Town, should not complain about poor business.  It is hard for guest houses owners to book restaurants for their guests in Franschhoek, for example, when very few of the better ones are open for dinner on a Sunday evening, or open at all on a Monday, even if a public holiday falls on a Monday.  My recent ‘best’ blond reply to enquiring to a restaurant’s offering for New Year’s Eve was when I was offered the 1st or 2nd of January instead, the (blond) restaurant manageress not stating that they are closed on Mondays and therefore will not be open on that evening!

*   We all have our favourite restaurants we enjoy going to and these are the ones we recommend to our guests.  A fair proportion of restaurant bookings come from guest houses.  It is very easy to set up a guest house address book and notify them if a restaurant is closed for a function, so that one does not recommend it to guests. This past weekend Franschhoek became ‘Weddinghoek’, and it was almost impossible to find a restaurant that was operating on a wine farm on Saturday, as many had been booked out.  One of my favourites was booked up 24 hours in advance for the set up, and had its gates wide open, inviting one to enter through its signage outside, which they did not remove!  Restaurants could Tweet if they are closed for private functions, but that is not a foolproof method of communication.

*   Restaurant staff who turn guests away, especially when recommended by a guest house, because it is an hour before their closing time, should not be operating. One can always offer the guest a glass of wine, a coffee, or a light tapas meal.  Surely the kitchen cleaning should happen after 17h00, and not while the restaurant is still open!  Usually it is the waiters who are at fault, wanting to go home as quickly as possible!

*   Stretching from the right across the guest in laying a fork on the table on the left, or the other way round for a knife, is the biggest service issue we see amongst restaurant staff, a sign of lack of training. Poor English pronunciation is another irritation, when one cannot understand the waiter.  The waiter is not only an order taker and a plate carrier – he/she is the ambassador and relationship builder in most restaurants, making the difference in one coming back again or not.  Restaurant Managers should be doing a lot of relationship building too, and not do the job of the waiters in bringing out the food.

*   Restaurants without a staff dress code seem blind as to what their staff are wearing – we have seen restaurant managers and hostesses in low cut dresses, in knickerbockers, and clothing in colours that do not match the restaurant interior, or the traditional black and white, one not knowing what position the staff member holds in the restaurant.  Visible piercings, rings, studs, tattoos, and in-grown earlobe discs are off-putting!

*   Most chefs do not venture out of their kitchens, which means that they never receive compliments or even feedback first hand.  The more top notch the restaurant is, the more the chef’s visit to the table is a bonus.  Chef Reuben Riffel used to be excellent at this, but rarely is in his restaurants, and if he is, he escapes out through the back entrance. Only Chef Ryan Shell at Haute Cabriere and Chef PJ Vadas at Camphors at Vergelegen do this as a matter of course.  Being invited to see Chef PJ’s kitchen was an absolute highlight!

*   Typing errors on menus, especially of French terms, is an obvious no no, as is getting wine brands wrong on the winelist!  Most waiters are not able to pronounce the French terms, nor do they know what they mean.

*   Restaurants unable to graciously accept feedback of poor food and/or service, or who sit in other restaurants while they have clients in their own restaurant and then complain about their evening being spoilt due to the feedback, without consideration of the poor evening the client experienced at their restaurant, as well as managers who have no authority to deal with a guest complaint then and there, should not be in business!  Banning guests due to not being able to accept feedback, such as at Le Quartier Français, the Caviar Group (Beluga and Sevruga), and the ex-Caveau group (Sotano) is an absolute no-no!

*   Removing one’s plate when one has not finished eating, especially if one is Tweeting and eating, is a sign of poor training.  The cutlery lying at an angle to the right of a plate which still has food on it is not an invitation to remove the plate.

*   Asking for the bill is NOT a request to clear the table!  Increasingly one has to wait for the bill, and then for the credit card machine to be brought to the table, as the table is cleared first.

Restaurants one enjoys going to know one’s preferences, make a plan if one arrives without a booking, ask if one is having ‘The Usual’, check at numerous stages of the meal if everything is to one’s satisfaction, connect one to other clients one may have wanted to meet, and show their appreciation for business and referrals received.  A joy to experience is the hands-on owners and GMs, even if they are not in their restaurants,  whom one can sms or call if a problem arises, and react immediately and fix the problem. Chefs and managers requesting feedback from their customers proactively, and acting upon it, win the first prize!

POSTSCRIPT 19/12: Just to add the absolute weakest link of all, which I was reminded of at Casparus yesterday, the second time running, and that is the Tip question – how much should the waiter add!

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

‘Season of Sauvignon’ Festival showcase of Durbanville Wine Valley!

This weekend the Durbanville Wine Valley celebrates the arrival of Spring, and its fresh and crisp Sauvignon Blancs, produced on eleven wine estates on the Durbanville Wine Route, with the ‘Season of Sauvignon’ Festival. Each wine estate is offering tastings of its wines, as well as food, and many are offering live music, other entertainment, and activities too.

The Durbanville wine region, with a valley of rolling vineyards, benefits from a cool climate terroir, and has been celebrating its Sauvignon Blanc festival for eight years.  The ‘Season of Sauvignon’ Festival has been designed to encourage wine lovers to visit as many of the Durbanville wine estates as possible, although all the Durbanville wines will be available to taste at each of the wine estates on the Route via the ‘Ward in a box’.

Each Durbanville wine estate has organised its own entertainment and food offering for the ‘Season of Sauvignon’ Festival, has different opening hours this weekend, and has different entrance/tasting fees:

*   Altydgedacht: Vineyard tours with viticulturist and owner John Parker, live music, slow food.  R20 tasting fee. Open 10h00 – 16h00 Saturday and Sunday.  Tel (021) 975-7815

*   Bloemendal:   This wine estate has the second oldest Bush Vine in South Africa. They will be offering picnics. Their new Cap Classique will be launched this weekend.  Savvy On-Tap Lounge.  Presentations in the Wine Theatre.  Open 11h00 – 21h00 on Saturday and 11h00 – 17h00 on Sunday.  R40 tasting fee.  Tel (021) 976-2682

*   D’Aria: A ‘Cirque de Sauvignon‘ will offer a carnival atmosphere with ‘jokes and giggles‘, there will be a Cocktail Bar, food stalls, and one can dance to live music. 11h00 – 20h00 Saturday, 11h00 – 18h00 Sunday.  R 20 entrance fee.  Tel (021) 801-6772.

*   De Grendel: Meet the farm animals, learn how to make mozzarella, sow and grow, learn to bake bread, food pairing with Sauvignon Blanc, Chocolate World, and Family Olympics. 10h00 – ‘sundown’ Saturday and Sunday.  No tasting charge.  Tel (021) 558-6280.

*   Diemersdal: Live music, entertainment, food stalls, tasting of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Rosé 2012. 11h00 – 18h00 Saturday and Sunday. R60 tasting fee.  Tel (021) 976-3361

*   Durbanville Hills:  Oyster and sushi bar, foot-long boerewors rolls, cheese platters, picnics, free tutored tastings by Cape Wine Academy.  Rugby match between Springboks and All Blacks screened in Barrel Cellar from 17h00.  10h00 – 20h00 Saturday, 10h00 – 17h00 Sunday. No tasting charge. Tel (021) 558-1300

*   Groot Phesantekraal: Live music, Wine tasting. 11h00 – 16h00 Saturday and Sunday.  R50 tasting charge.  Tel (021) 976-2114

*   Hillcrest: American Rock music on Saturday, and New Orleans Blues on Sunday.  Food stalls, gourmet burgers, hot dogs, olives, cheese platters. 11h00 -17h00 Saturday and Sunday.  R40 tasting charge.  Tel (021) 976-1110.

*   Klein Roosboom: Catering by Café Rugby, pancakes, cheese platters, live music.  11h00 – 17h00 Saturday, 11h00 – 16h00 Sunday.   Tasting charge R50.  Tel 082 784 5102.

*   Meerendal: Farmer’s Market, live entertainment, and free tutored tastings by Cellar Master Liza Goodwin and Marketing Manager Bennie Howard, all on Saturday.  West Coast Braai Buffet with crayfish, mussels and snoek on Sunday, 9h00 – 17h00 Saturday and Sunday. No entrance fee.  Tel (021) 975-1655.

*   Nitida:   Live music at Cassia restaurant 11h00 – 16h00 Saturday and Sunday.  Live jazz and picnic baskets at Tables at Nitida restaurant 9h00 – 17h00 Saturday and Sunday. No tasting fee.  Tel (021) 975-9357/976-0640.

DISCLOSURE: We received a bottle of Altydgedacht Sauvignon Blanc 2012 with our media pack.

POSTSCRIPT 6/10: My visit to the Durbanville Wine Route started at Meerendal, lying outside Durbanville, in the countryside.  They had a Farmer’s Market in a hall on the farm, with homemade chicken pies and melktert, biltong and droë wors, cheeses, charcuterie, breads, olives, and vegetables. The Deli had a selection of good looking tarts and sweet treats.

At Diemersdal I met the Louw family, the owners of the farm, even the 7th generation Louw who is about one year old. The farm was first registered in 1698, and the first Louw forbear took over the farm in 1855. Current owner Tienie Louw came to chat, and struck us as a humble wine producer yet proudly shared the success of his wines at the China International Wine Awards, at which the MM Louw, Private Collection Pinotage and Matthys won Double Gold, and the latter wine winning the Wine of the Show, out of 3500 – 4000 wines judged.  They are also eagerly awaiting the results of the China Decanter Awards on 24 October. Tienie shared that the success in the Eastern market is having a family business, reflecting the passion for its business, and being a ‘friend of a friend’. Tienie’s son Thys told us that his father would only give him eight rows to grow his own grapes and make wine from them initially, and it turned out to be an award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, which he branded Eight Rows.  He is now in charge of the whole farm! Diemersdal also lies outside Durbanville, and despite more than 1000 visitors tasting the food of Ocean Basket, Piroschka, Bacini’s, and more to the music of a live band, we were truly out in the countryside. A new Restaurant is about to open, with Chef Nic van Wyk at the helm, previously of Terroir, and we tasted a most unusual Brandade, a Portuguese salted dried fishcake made from smoked snoek and hake, with poached milk and mash, olive oil, cumin, lemon zest and parsley, with a crispy coating.  Errieda du Toit, PR Consultant to the Durbanville Wine Route, a gracious hostess today, shared that Durbanville has developed a signature dish served by many restaurants in the area, consisting of a sosatie with a cooked curry sauce, served with pearl barley in a risotto style, and pumpkin pickle.  Errieda showed me the sweet tiny jam storage building, Tienie’s grandmother having been a keen jam maker.

‘Season of Sauvignon’  Festival, 6 – 7 October. Tel 083 310 1228.  www.durbanvillewine.co.za Twitter: @DurbanvilleWine

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

Franschhoek Uncorked toasts long-awaited Spring!

After one of the wettest winters in a long time, Franschhoek is ready to welcome Spring with its ‘Franschhoek Uncorked‘ festival on 1 and 2 September, and has laid on a wine and food tasting feast in its honour. Nineteen wine estates are inviting wine lovers to meet their winemakers and taste their wines on their estates, at a cost of R100 for the weekend pass, covering both days.

Each participating wine estate will offer its wines for a free tasting (some have ‘bespoke‘ tastings too, at a fee). Each estate has some form of musical entertainment, and they all serve food to buy.  The wine estates participating, and their programme for the two days, are as follows:

*   Allée Bleue: live entertainment, fresh herbs of the estate to buy, new vintage Brut Rosé, and enjoy a meal at the Bistro

*   Anthonij Rupert Wines:  Taste Protea and Terra del Capo wines for free, or attend a ‘bespoke‘ tasting of Anthonij Rupert wines at R50.  Half price entrance to Motor Museum, at R30.

*   Boekenhoutskloof:  Taste new release Chocolate Block 2011, enjoy the band, and taste Reuben’s BBQ

*   Dieu Donné : cheese platters and spit braai offered, live music

*   Franschhoek Cellar: jazz band, free tasting of wines, cheeses, chocolates, and olives. Cheese lunch at R100 for two.

*   Grande Provence: free tasting; buy 11 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Shiraz and get one free; taste the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, and Chardonnay 2011; tapas; Marimba band; art exhibition ‘Walk this earth alone‘; five-course degustation menu on 1 September paired with Grande Provence and New Zealand Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, at R495.

*   Haute Cabrière: Ratafia ball throwing competition, wine tasting, restaurant offers a la carte menu

*   Holden Manz: ShenFM performs, Chef Cheyne’s menu, taste wines

*   La Bri: offers cheese platters, olives, homemade bread and chocolates to buy, five year vertical wine tasting R100, chocolate and wine pairing R50.

*   La Chataigne: 2012 vintage, guitarist, boules, ‘Swedish street food’

*   La Vigne: wine tasting, art exhibition by Lötter de Jager, Pasta Fresca, outdoor chess.

*   Leopard’s Leap: free tasting, and introducing two cocktails: Chardonnay Margarita and Shiraz Cocktail

*   Lynx: tapas, Spanish guitarist, taste new Lynx Viognier 2012

*   Maison: taste Chenin Blanc 2011, Shiraz 2010, and new Blanc de Noir 2012, jazz band, slow roast pork belly with pickles, ciabatta and mustard (R85)

*   Noble Hill: taste first Rosé, gourmet taco, live music.

* Plaisir de Merle: sweet and savoury pancakes, live entertainment

*   Rickety Bridge: Reggae band, eat pork belly fingers, rib eye, mini burgers, tempura hake goujond

*   Solms-Delta: Kaapse music, Kaapse food, Kaapse wines!

*   Vrede & Lust: decor for sale, baguettes and mussels, Lindt chocolate.

Franschhoek Uncorked, 1 – 2 September, 11h00 – 17h00.  R100 weekend pass. www.webtickets.co.za

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

Mayor Patricia de Lille: Cultural Tourism could counter Seasonality, but must embrace more Cape cultures!

Once a year Cape Town Routes Unlimited and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism host a Tourism Destination Conference, inviting a broad spectrum of tourism players across the Western Cape to be recharged and stimulated, after a long and busy summer season.  The theme on Tuesday was ‘Cultural Tourism: Bringing the past, present and future together’, and it was Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille who pleaded for an expansion of this type of tourism, to embrace a broader spectrum of cultures in the Cape.  The current contribution of Tourism to the provincial GDP of 10 % can grow to 15% by 2015, Western Cape provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde predicted.

A short media conference generated more valuable information than many of the morning Conference speakers, who indulged badly in over-running their time allocation, over-powering the audience with slide information, and having technical presentation issues.  There were no themes to address in the media conference, and attendees could ask questions, allowing more relevant tourism issues to be discussed with Minister Winde, Mayor de Lille, Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs & Sport Dr Ivan Meyer, new Chairman of Cape Town Routes Unlimited Deon Cloete from ACSA, and Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfellan.  Interesting was the news that Peter Bacon was not available to continue as Chairman of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, moving to Mauritius. One had high hopes of Mr Bacon, coming from the hospitality industry, but he made little visible progress for the organisation.  From next week Cape Town Routes Unlimited will move in with Wesgro, and both bodies will evaluate how they can market Cape Town as a tourism and an investment destination, without duplication of marketing monies. The joint collaboration will enable operational costs to be reduced, to allow more funds to be available for marketing. The Western Cape Tourism Act and the Wesgro Act will be rewritten, to allow the amalgamation of the two bodies. A Transitional steering committee has been formed, and an Annual Performance Plan has been prepared for the next year, defining the expected deliverables.

Cultural Tourism will become a focus to counter Seasonality in the Western Cape, we were told, with more events and conferences planned in the winter months.  But Minister Winde was quick to remind us that solutions to Seasonality do not lie with his department, but with the private sector, in creating the events and conferences. The provincial Tourism authority can support and help market them.  It is clear that too few such events are held in winter.  Mr Cloete said that Seasonality has been addressed, in that the peaks and off-peaks have grown, and that airlines are extending their length of season of flying to Cape Town. Minister Winde also encouraged the tourism industry to use the ‘Green Season’ to recharge one’s batteries, to train staff, to pay attention to maintenance issues, and to take annual leave at this time of the year, and not over the Festive Season, when Cape Town and the province are at their busiest, a commendable call.

Mayor de Lille spoke passionately about Cultural Tourism, saying that ‘Cape Town has a rich tapestry of culture’, but she called on the Cape Town tourism industry to become more comprehensive in reflecting all past and current cultures through routes, i.e. a Malay Route, Slave Route, San/Khoi Route, and also going back further than 360 years in talking about the history of Cape Town. She added: “The future we are trying to craft as a leading city of Africa and the developing world is tied to where we have come from.  Our future starts from our past and, as is fitting for our great society, the building blocks from which we make our city tomorrow are strong and varied…. we share our heritage with those who want to build the future together with us”.

Minister Winde also said that we should show more pride in our culture and resources, and used the example of a harvest festival in Dijon, celebrated in most towns in France, but rarely seen locally.  The Minister had clearly been to the Oesfees at Solms-Delta last weekend, raving about how the farming staff and local community celebrate the end of the harvest with local music and food.  He also highlighted Robben Island, the West Coast Fossil Park, and other cultural treasurers, raising the question of how such treasures could be ‘commercialised’, to make them accessible to visitors and be marketed to them.  He said that ‘we must own each other’s history to become one nation‘.  The Minister had an interesting plan for the Robben Island ferries not running on bad weather days, in that tourists would be shown an Imax film in The Pavilion Conference Centre in the V&A Waterfront.  Dr Meyer spoke about a new slogan R2D2 (Redress, Reconciliation, Diversity, and Delivery) in Cultural Tourism being expanded, ‘to heal our nation’, we were told.  The change in street names in Cape Town is another form of Cultural Tourism.

Minister Winde was asked about cruise tourism, and a cruise liner terminal in the Cape Town port.  Given the seasonality in cruise tourism, a new terminal building would have to be a multi-use one, to make it financially viable. He said this would not happen in the near future, and someone would have to claim ownership in creating such a building.  The Minister said that he is continuing with discussions at a provincial and national level.

Quinton Coetzee was the star speaker of the day, with his well-spoken and entertaining presentation about the San people, drawing parallels between their community and how we run companies.  One always has high expectations of Dr Nikolaus Eberl, who has been closely involved in the German and South African World Cups, but talking about the Berlin polar bear Knut for a second year had no Cultural Tourism learning points. New SA Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima paid his first official visit to Cape Town since his appointment, and his presentation was embarrassing, in taking twice as long as the time he had been allocated, the slides were over-full with information, and the speaker had not done any technical tests before his presentation.  He spoke about the Domestic Tourism Strategy, being ‘collaborative and not the exclusive domain of any body’, he said.  Statistics presented showed that domestic tourism showed no growth between 2007 and 2010.  The potential target market of 18+ year olds earning an income of R3000 per month is 8,2 million. Fourteen segments were identified, and reduced down to five priorities.  The largest segment of these was named ‘New Horizon Families’, a potential market of 1,8 million, about 35 years old, ‘Black, Coloured and Indian’, earning R5000 – R10000 per month, and spending R10000 on a ten-day trip for a family of 2 adults and 2 children. They stay in 3-star Bed & Breakfasts or self-catering accommodation, and go on holiday every 2 – 3 years. They are attracted by airline specials, and enjoy heritage-related activities and educational trips.  The goal of travel is to educate their children, to spend quality time together as a family, and is a reward for their hard work.  The Domestic Tourism strategy should persuade 2,6 million locals to visit other regions in their country, with a pay-off line “See your world as the world sees it”!  Provincial meetings are held, to prevent duplication of marketing activities, Mr Nzima said.  He seemed to evade a question as to the size of the Domestic Tourism marketing budget, but did confirm a ring-fenced R50 million allocation to market to Africa this year, and R84 million for each of the two years thereafter, setting up SA Tourism offices in Angola and Nigeria as a start.

Minister Winde has been encouraged to move this annual conference to the ‘Green Season’, so that more can attend in general, and attend for a larger part of the day, given that tourism businesses cannot spare their management for a full day before the end of the season.  The food of The Pavilion in the V&A Waterfront could be vastly improved, and perhaps wine estates and top restaurants could be invited to present their products to the industry at the Conference next year.   Not one speaker kept to the allocated half an hour, and therefore the Conference ran very badly over time, and many presentations became boring as a result. Cape Town Routes Unlimited will have to be far harsher in its time management of the Conference, and should introduce more variety of speakers, not repeating the same speakers every year. The organisation should not shy away from controversy, in allowing important industry issues to be debated in open forums through questions and discussions.  Successful industry case studies in surviving the recession etc. could be of greater value than a presentation of the marketing of (now deceased) Knut the Berlin polar bear!

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

Wine Tourism Handbook 2012: Enjoying wine at the source!

At the Bouchard Finlayson tasting at the Twelve Apostles Hotel last week ‘Wine Tourism Handbook’ publisher Monika Elias gave me a copy of her 2012 edition.  It is a very handy guide to the wine estates of the Western Cape in particular, but also in the Northern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal.  It is ideal for tourists wishing to get a quick overview of our wine routes and regions, and for staff working in the hospitality industry.

‘The Wine Tourism Handbook‘ introduces the topic by painting a picture of the 350 year history of South African wine, as well as the making of the first wines in the world up to 10000 years ago!  It tells the story of South African wine-making by Jan van Riebeeck, in February 1659 for the first time, the establishment of the KWV in 1918, the creation of Pinotage in 1941, and the launch of the first wine route, in Stellenbosch, in 1971. From these early beginnings South Africa has become the 7th largest wine producer in the world.  It addresses equitable issues of winemaking via Fairtrade, which promotes ‘greater equity for small producers in the international trading arena. The ethos of their work is that trading partnerships should be based on transparency, respect and a sustainable and ethical system of production and purchase’.   The growing trend to sustainability led to the development of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative, with land of wine farms set aside for conservation, eradicating alien vegetation, and protecting endangered species such as the Cape Leopard, Geometric tortoise, the Cape Leopard toad, and the Riverine Rabbit.

A chapter is dedicated to winemaking, starting with viticulture, and describing the white and red wine making processes.  The value of the label, in communicating the region and farm from which the wine comes, the alcohol content, the vintage, the variety, the origin of the grapes is explained.  Details about the origin, cultivar and vintage are certified by a seal from the Wine and Spirit Board.  Just more than half of vines planted are for white wine production, and Chenin Blanc is the single largest varietal, at 20% of planting. The methods used to make Fortified wines, Rosés, and sparkling wines are also described.  A ‘South African Bubbly Route’ lists 69 producers of MCC sparkling wine. The best way to store wine is shared, and companies through which one can order South African wines in other countries are listed.

Brandy production is addressed separately to wine production, and the types of brandy, and tasting it, is covered.  Two Brandy Routes are described – the R62 Brandy Route, and the one including Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, Wellington, and Elgin. Twenty brandy producers are listed.

Most of the book is dedicated to the wine routes of the Western Cape, categorised as Central Region, Inland, East Coast, and West Coast. The Central Region consists of Cape Town wine production in Constantia and Durbanville, and also in Franschhoek, Paarl, Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch Berg, Bottelary Hills, Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Stellenbosch Valley, Tulbagh and Wellington.  Advice is provided on getting around on the wine routes, and drinking and driving is strongly  advised against. Tour guides specialising in wine are recommended.  A Top 10 ‘Things to do’ list is presented, which includes lunch at Jordan wine estae, Staying in a tented camp at Clara Anna Fontein Game Reserve, seeing a show and eating at Die Boer Theatre Restaurant, viewing the Hess Collection at the Glen Carlou art gallery, tasting Jorgensen Distillery’s ‘artisanal drinks’, visiting the first biodynamic farm Bloublommetjieskloof, making wine at Stellenrust, enjoying a braai at Midddelvlei, and going on a game drive at Villiera Wildlife Sanctuary.

Highlights of the Constantia Region include Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia, Buitenverwachting, Eagle’s Nest, Constantia Glen, Constantia Uitsig, Steenberg, and Cape Point Vineyards, and the restaurants La Colombe, Bistro Sixteen82, and Buitenverwachting.  Some top Durbanville wine estates include De Grendel, Durbanville Hills, Meerendal, and Nitida.  The Franschhoek wine route includes Allée Bleue, Boekenhoutskloof, Boschendal, Cape Chamonix, Colmant Cap Classique & Champagne, Morena, Graham Beck, Grande Provence, Haute Cabrière, Holden Manz, La Motte, Rickety Bridge, Solms-Delta, Stony Brook and Vrede en Lust. Restaurants on this Route include Pierneef à La Motte, Fyndraai, Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant, and Babel.  The Paarl wine route includes Babylonstoren, Backsberg, Fairview, Glen Carlou, KWV Wine Emporium, Laborie, Landskroon, Nederburg, Noble Hill Wines, Perdeberg Winery, Scali, Veenwouden, Val de Vie,  and Vondeling.

Stellenbosch is the oldest and largest wine region, and has a number oif wine routes. Some of the best known estates on these routes include Waterford, Blaauwklippen, De Trafford, Flagstone, Kleine Zalze, Neil Ellis, Stark-Condé, Beyerskloof, Hartenberg, Hazendal, Villiera, Delaire Graff, De Meye, Bartinney, Kanonkop, Mont Destin, Rustenberg, Slaley, Thelema, Tokara, Uitkyk, Warwick, Alto, Dombeya/Haskell, Graceland, Ken Forrester, Longridge, Rust en Vrede, Vergelegen, Waterkloof, De Toren, Dalla Cia, Jordan, Meerlust, Spier, and Vilafonté. Recommended restaurants are the Postcard Café, Terroir, Delaire Graff, Towerbosch, Overture, and Jordan Restaurant by George Jardine.

The Inland region consists of the Breedekloof, Klein Karoo (Boplaas is one of the best known), Swartland, Robertson (dominated by Graham Beck, but also with Zandvliet, De Wetshof, and Van Loveren being better known) and Worcester wine routes.  The Swartland wine route is growing in stature, and very fine wines are being made in this region, including Mullineux, Sadie, AA Badenhorst, and Allesverloren.

Agulhas and Elim (Jean Daneel and Raka are best known), Bot River (Beaumont is best known), Elgin (a wine route with increasing recognition for Almenkerk, Paul Cluver, Shannon, and Iona), and Walker Bay are the wine routes classified under East Coast in the book.  The new Hermanus Wine Route has excellent wineries, including Creation, Hermanuspietersfontein, Ataraxia, Bouchard Finlayson, and Hamilton Russell.

The West Coast region consists of the Darling (Cloof is best known) and Olifants River (Cederberg and Stellar better known) wine routes.  The Garden Route is not well-known as a wine region, and Bramon makes an organic sparkling wine in Plettenberg Bay.  In KwaZulu-Natal Abingdon and Meander wines are made.

Twenty-seven wine-related festivals are also listed, with dates for the year ahead.

The Wine Tourism Handbook is a wealth of wine information, and should ideally be given to all tourists arriving in Cape Town, as compulsory reading about the excellent and extensive wine range on its doorstep.

Wine Tourism Handbook 2012: Enjoying Wine at the Source, World Focus Media, Tel 083 631 3393 www.winetourismhandbook.co.za

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

Franschhoek Champagne Festival Sweet Service and Spill Blog Sour Service Awards

The Sweet Service Award goes to the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, which took place in Franschhoek last weekend, with 37 sparkling wine and eight champagne producers serving their brands, in addition to food sold by a number of Franschhoek restaurants, despite the incredible heat on Sunday in particular.  A good time was had by all, lots of bubbly was tasted, and good sales done.  There was not one word of criticism to be heard about it, and adherence to the black and white dress code by the majority of the exhibitors and by Festival goers added to the stature of the Festival.  The weekend attracted good business to Franschhoek accommodation establishments, restaurants, wine estates, and shops.

The Sour Service Award goes to Spill Blog, and is nominated by Darren from Hout Bay: “Interesting stuff, I went to see what the Societi Brassiere was like in Tokai, we know how much your Irish mate loves these guys and raves on at them. I posted some comments on her website a couple of days ago, some praise but really criticising the service and would you believe it she has not posted it on the site.  Another case of complete blatant subjectivity, no wonder she gets so few comments on her site, is she that easily bought.  Maybe this could be a good case for sour award this week”. The Comment was written three days ago, and praised its welcome and good food, but he was very critical of the Societi Bistro service failure (‘.. a little fawlty towers’…).

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

Wine estates feel economic pinch:”worst year” since 1970!

The Weekend Argus this past weekend screamed in its front page story:”Cape Wine farms fight to survive”, telling the sad story of how hard wine farms have been hit by the state of the economy, the poor exchange rate, and the rising costs in running the businesses. The article quotes Jan Booysen of Winetech in saying that it is the worst year in the ’40 years since I’ve been in the industry‘.

Reflective of the impact of the tough economic times is that more than 100 wine farms are for sale in the Stellenbosch region alone, with price tags ranging from R4 – R200 million, reportedly with few buyers. Prestigious and long-established wine farms such as Simonsig, Kanonkop, and Delheim are reported to be in a ‘serious predicament‘, according to VinPro, an organisation representing 4000 wine producers.  Added to the average loss of R6000 per hectare, wine exports have dropped by 25 % this year alone, but also every year in the past four years, this year being the largest drop. The strong Rand and the economic crunch in Germany and the UK have led to lower prices achieved for South African wines overseas.  Domestic wine sales have increased by 3 %, but this is not enough to counter the export losses.

At a Vinpro meeting last week Francois Malan of Simonsig expressed the concern about the potential impact of Walmart’s take-over of Massmart, and the potential dumping of cheap overseas wines onto the local market.  A survey has shown that wine farmers have made R36000 income per hectare this year, but the costs run at an average of R37000 per hectare.  To stay in business, the wine farms need to generate an income of R50000 per hectare.  Farms smaller than 60 hectares appear to be in greatest trouble.

POSTSCRIPT 15/11: The Weekend Argus published two reactions to its original article of a week prior. VinPro Executive Director Jos le Roux sent a Letter to the Editor, denying that Delheim, Simonsig and Kanonkop were named at a meeting as wine estates that were in trouble.  He did however acknowledge that many wine farmers are under ‘severe financial pressure’. An article reported on a request of a government subsidy for ‘primary wine producers‘, due to the financial crisis, and specifically the cost of housing farm workers, suggests Francois Malan, one of the Simonsig owners.  The report states that the wine industry provides 275000 jobs and generates R15 billion per annum to the Western Cape economy.

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

Cape Town Tourism: should it defend ‘apartheid’ Cape Town?

I am not politically-inclined, do not belong to a political party, nor do I vote.  I am concerned however when I see the word ‘apartheid’ dragged into tourism communication, either to Cape Town’s ‘benefit’ (e.g. the bid for Cape Town as World Design Capital 2014) or detriment.  I was surprised to see an article on Cape Town Tourism’s website, defending a particularly nasty article in The Observer (a Sunday UK paper with about 1,2 million readers), with a photograph taken from The Promenade in Camps Bay, about Desmond Tutu’s birthday (Desmond Tutu’s dreams for Cape Town fade as informal apartheid grips the city’).

The Observer writer David Smith focused on Archbishop Tutu’s birthday last Friday, celebrated in St George’s Cathedral, the ‘fortress of resistance to racial apartheid‘, as his opening shot!  The article is a lengthy tome of attack against Cape Town, for being the ‘cancer of injustice, racial segregation and bitter division’, for its contrast of ‘opera houses’ (sic), ‘literary festivals’ (sic), ‘internet entrepreneurs’, ‘luxury mansions’, and ‘prosperous California-style wine estates’. It states that ‘millions (sic) of tourists’ arriving in the city will see the ‘other’ Cape Town, with shacks, violence, poverty, and ‘non-white’, resulting in a Cape Town that ‘remains an apartheid city in all but name’, contrary to what Tutu stands for, speaks the article on his behalf. The rest of the article justifies this statement, going back to Jan van Riebeeck as the real architect of segregation.  President Zuma is quoted as having said earlier this year that Cape Town is a “‘racist’ place with an ‘extremely apartheid system (sic)’.  The DA is labelled as ‘a front for the wealthy white elite’.  Andrew Boraine of the Cape Town Partnership has the closing word, quoting Tutu: ‘winning freedom is one thing – using it is twice as hard’. Heavy stuff indeed, and not for the faint-hearted to defend, especially not appropriate for the city’s tourism body to climb into the boxing ring for in our opinion, given only four incidental references to tourism:

*   Staff make up beds in 5-star hotel beds, and then come home to sleep on the floor

*   Staff cook the best meals for guests, and then live off a slice of bread

* ‘ Cape Town is largely for the benefit and entertainment of tourists’

*   Cape Town is the world’s top tourist destination

Had I been the guardian of the city of Cape Town, I would have:

*  Got Archbishop Tutu to speak for himself, and respond, in the unique and direct way only he can (he is not interviewed, and no quotes from him are mentioned, and neither is the Dalai Lama’s cancelled visit

*  Got our feisty Premier Helen Zille and Mayor Patricia de Lille to write the response, the latter’s appointment being an excellent counter to the article in itself.

*   pointed out that the hospitality industry has a Minimum Wage, currently R 2323 per month

*   countered that Cape Town has a population of 4 – 5 million residents that love living here, irrespective of their skin colour

*   corrected the information, in that there is only one opera house, and that one literary festival has taken place for the first time last month

*   highlighted that it is the tourists who have visited Cape Town and seen the reality of the haves and have-nots in our city, as one would see in every city in the world, even in London, and who have voted to give Cape Town the top tourism accolades.

*   highlighted the hospitality sector GM’s, sommeliers, restaurant managers, and other management staff, who have reached their professional positions, despite their past.

*  corrected the tourism arrival figure quoted

Instead, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, mistakenly referring to the article being in The Guardian, wrote awkwardly about ‘the juxtaposition between Cape Town’s poor and wealthy communities’,and that the legacy of apartheid ‘is a disjointed physical landscape and economic society..‘, digging a terrible hole for herself and our city as she goes on to write that for many of Cape Town’s residents it is ‘not yet a great place to live’!  None of this has anything to do with tourism at all, and she is the wrong person to challenge a leading UK newspaper, and very clearly out of her depth in defending a past political system.   She writes that Cape Town will be ‘reimaging’ as a ‘more livable space for all‘.  She quotes the city’s World Design Capital 2014 bid, in ‘shedding light on sustainable design’. Mrs Helmbold does get to tourism in her reply, highlighting the size of the industry and its employment of 300000 staff (no source supplied). She writes that the City of Cape Town, with the tourism industry, has embraced ‘Responsible Tourism’, in that tourism ‘creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit’.  She concludes that ‘tourism is the lifeline to livelihood”.

I wrote to Mrs Helmbold yesterday, asking her why she had responded, and if she had sent her reply to the newspaper. This was her response:“Cape Town Tourism, as industry association and destination marketing agency for Cape Town, will respond from time to time as appropriate on issues that could affect our industry and/or destination brand. It is important to illustrate the positive role and contribution of tourism to Cape Town’s economy and the commitment from tourism to contribute to making Cape Town a more livable city through embracing responsible tourism principles and practices. We have submitted our response directly to the Guardian (sic) and posted a copy on our industry website where we can direct industry queries about the article. The Guardian has not yet published our response”.

One hopes that Cape Town Tourism’s response is not published in The Observer, and that the tourism body will invite the journalist to Cape Town, to personally showcase the great opportunities in tourism being afforded to all its citizens.

POSTSCRIPT 15/10: We have received the following feedback from Lisa Harlow from the UK: Well I am a Times / Sunday Times reader and still agree with Nick! I wouldn’t worry too much about this report – quite typical of the Guardian and Observer. But more importantly was the fairly recent good coverage of South Africa in the Saturday Telegraph. However, recession still goes on in the UK, and this is more of a hurdle to overcome for tourism. Lets see how successful BA are with their extra Cape Town flights for the summer season…”

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