Despite a hugely challenging year for the wine industry due to the drought, CapeWine 2018 is an impressive showcase of optimism, friendliness, and proudly South Africaness, running at the Cape Town International Convention Centre until tomorrow. I attended yesterday, with my Parisian friend Aurelié Jullien, and we were both impressed with the magnitude and professionalism of the exhibition, held every three years, and attended by the local and international wine trade. Continue reading →
I have made a decision to stop supporting and attending WineMag events after having been called to a meeting with Christian Eedes, editor of WineMag, and his business partner Jax Lahoud. I was badly disrespected by fellow-writer Eedes, and I will not stand for bullying of any kind. Continue reading →
At a meeting with the liquor industry in Malmesbury yesterday, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde pleaded for the liquor trade as well as consumers to be responsible in their consumption as well as sales of alcohol.
Being a two-edged sword, the wine industry represents a R30 billion Continue reading →
* Singapore Airlines is offering a one-day $1 Singapore Stopover Holiday package or a one-day Holiday Pass to South African passengers of the airline, traveling to other destinations, to celebrate that country’s 50th anniversary, offered for travel until 15 June. Fares have also been decreased until 30 November, at R8900 for flights to Australia and Asia. (received via media release from Epic Communications)
* Tweets will be searchable on Google shortly, in terms of a deal between the search company and Twitter, the latter company providing Tweet data directly to Google in future.
* It is a shame that a Canadian article on unusual wines, which includes DeMorgenzon DMZ Chardonnay 2013 as the only South African wine, must refer to the ‘burnt rubber tire’ (sic) Continue reading →
City Press reported over the weekend that SAA sommelier and Global Food and Beverage Manager, Bongi Sodladla, was feted with bribes and incentives to offer wine purchase contracts to those wineries which greased her palms. Had Bribery Bongi not been going through a divorce, and had her still-current husband Wonga Sodladla not been so generous with information sent to SAA last month about his wife’s misdemeanours, SAA, the wine industry, and the South African public would never have known what was going on behind the scenes of SAA’s wine buying!
Slowly a number of changes are being introduced to the publishing and marketing of ‘Platter’s South African Wines’ since JP Rossouw took over as Publisher of the wine guide about six months ago. Not all the changes may be to the liking of the wine estates, users, and advertisers of the Guide.
For the first time Platter’s has advertised! Yesterday I saw an advertisement for Platter’s in the Sunday Times Food Weekly supplement, advertising the Guide, with its newish parent Diners Club benefiting from it too. The advertisement bears the headline ‘Platter’s Wine Guide discovers the perfect pairing’, being a self-aggrandizing accolade to the marriage between Platter’s and Diners Club! The copy reads: ‘Platter’s Wine Guide, South Africa’s original and most authoritative guide to who’s who and what’s what in the Winelands, has the perfect partner in Diners Club, the world’s original and most prestigious charge card. Platter’s has always been the go-to-guide to discovering, rating, pairing and sharing South African wines. Now there’s a quick and easy way to also enjoy Platter’s on your mobile device or desktop. Filled with the latest wine news, festival alerts, hot picks and competitions, Platter’s has become an even more valuable guide. Whether you are shopping for wine, wanting to learn more, or need help planning a trip to cellars, Platter’s will enhance your journey. No App required. Simply go to www.wineonaplatter.com to subscribe’. The pay-off line is corny and meaningless: ‘When your thirst for knowledge coincides with the means to enjoy it, you BELONG‘! One would hope that Rossouw was not the copywriter of this nonsensical ad, given his past copywriting career! More likely is that the advertisement comes from the Marketing department of Diners Club, the give-away being that it contains the Facebook page address and Twitter handle of Diners Club, but not of Platter’s, a bizarre omission! Continue reading →
South Africa’s wine industry has a great fan in American wine economist Mike Veseth, who has visited our country twice in the past two years. In his latest article, the third about his trip earlier this year, he praises the wine industry for dealing with the ‘bottlenecks‘ it faces in selling its wines in the USA. According to him, the design of the South African flag can be seen to reflect a bottleneck too!
Veseth visited in 2012, as the guest of Nederburg, addressing the Auction as guest speaker. He observed the wine industry then and compared it with his observations of his visit this year. He writes that it can be easier to make good wines than it is to sell and market them, and this applies to selling in the USA in particular. He noted the increased confidence of our winemakers, and their ‘concrete plans‘ to tackle the marketing challenges, comparing his last two visits. His observations of our wine industry over two visits are as follows:
1. The leadership of the Winelands in Wine Tourism globally, a fantastic accolade. Continue reading →
* Chef Heston Blumenthal has temporarily closed his Michelin 2 star Dinner restaurant in London due to an outbreak of the norovirus, which affected 24 patrons and 21 staff. It follows the closure of his The Fat Duck restaurant five years ago for the same reason!
* Despite making a close to R1 billion loss in the latest financial year, SAA has bid to take a share in Senegal Airlines, which is facing bankruptcy!
* Facebook is celebrating its 10th anniversary today, and is a lucrative communication platform for tourism. The official Australia page has attracted 5,5 million ‘Likers’, while Love Great Britain has 2 million ‘Likers’.
* Wines of South Africa (WOSA) is celebrating the 2oth anniversary of our country’s democracy by means of a series of videos showcasing how the political transformation has touched people in the wine industry. A new video will be released on the WOSA website weekly, for a six week period. ‘From fifth-generation labourer to co-owner of a major farming venture, from refugee to nurseryman, from scholarship student to renowned winemaker and role model, from drug-addled gangster to farrier, each of the intimate stories in WOSA’s The Democracy Series movingly charts a journey of progress‘, states the media release. Each video ends with a quotation by the late Nelson Mandela. (received via media release from De Kock Communications)
* Bubbly Isabella Niehaus is celebrating the two year anniversary of the Palms Market at the PalmsDecor & Lifestyle Centre with a ‘Spectacular Cook-Out with Spekko Rice‘ on Saturday 15 February. Six top foodies will have their cooking challenge (the dishes have to include Hermanuspietersfontein wine and 1 Continue reading →
* Babylonstoren is expanding its offering of fruit and vegetables, by now growing various varieties of mushrooms in its Mushroom Cellar.
* Eurostar is to introduce a London – Amsterdam route from 2016, a four hour journey.
* Xolani Mancotywa, Sommelier at the Saxon Hotel, has reached the Finals of the international 2013 Best Young Sommelier, having won the South African title. He is competing against eleven other such country winners in Washington on 18 October. The competition is sponsored by the Chaîne de Rôtisseurs, a global gastronomic society.
* An innovative way of attracting business into the city in the evening is First Thursdays, the 20 or so city centre art galleries staying open until 21h00 (some even later) on the first Thursday of each month, 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