Huge thanks to Andre Morgenthal of Wines of South Africa, one of the initiators of The Best of Wine Tourism Tours, for the invitation to join tour operators, bloggers and media representatives on one of the tours. Also to Belinda Lamprecht, Cape Town co-ordinator for the Great Wine Capitals in Cape Town who capably pulled everything together.

The Great Wine Capitals Global Network is a network of nine major global cities in both the Southern and Northern hemispheres which share a key economic and cultural asset: their internationally renowned wine regions. One of the cornerstones of the Networks’ mission is the development of wine tourism across the Network. To promote wine tourism and reward excellence the Network established an international tourism awards program in which wineries can be judged in different categories. These are: Accommodation; Wine Tourism Restaurants; Architects and Landscapes; Art and Culture; Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences; Wine Tourism Services and Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices.

The motivation to offer the Best of Wine Tours (or farm trips) to Best of Wine Tourism Awards entrants was twofold: firstly, to reach a different audience as opposed to traditional media in order to create awareness of the Best of Wine Tourism Awards and Great Wine Capitals.

Secondly, to alert wineries to the existence of this initiative, and to the value and promotional opportunities it offers, not only through possibly winning a category, but also the extended exposure via social media. These WOSA tours are unique to South Africa in the Network context and were met with applause by Cape Town’s counterparts at the CWCGN AGM last year.

Lynne and The Green Cab

Lynne and The Green Cab

The Green Cab Company was the tour transporter, an eco-innovation company which provides South Africa’s first cost-effective, aggressively green transport solution. They do this by utilising Liquified Petroleum Gas and BioDiesel.

Waterkloof Restaurant

Waterkloof Restaurant

Our first visit was to Waterkloof Wines, where the restaurant, tasting lounge and cellar are perched dizzily on the slopes of the Schaapenberg overlooking False Bay. The quality of wines here set an impossibly high standard to copy and were loved by each of us in the tour group. This farm has so much going for it not the least the fact that farming operations are bio-dynamic. I can’t wait to return to Waterkloof.

Panoramic views from Waterkloof restaurant

Panoramic views from Waterkloof restaurant

Hard at work - Jan Langenhoven, Di Procter, Kitty Snyman, Glenda van Blerk and Carla van der Merwe

Hard at work - Jan Langenhoven, Di Procter, Kitty Snyman, Glenda van Blerk and Carla van der Merwe

Vergelegen Estate, Somerset West, welcomed us next in the form of wine host, Arnoux who outshone the other wine presenters of the day by far. He was passionate, engaging, knowledgeable and never in a rush to go and pour wine at the next table. Quite the opposite. He remained our host for our whole visit. Vergelegen offers innovative wine experiences and the “Camellia Inspired Tasting” was presented to us where four wines were thoughtfully paired with four Camellia blossoms. Vergelegen Estate has much to offer the visitor apart from award-winning wines. Things like garden tours, restaurants, picnics, barrel tastings, environmental walks and full moon vineyard walks.

Vergelegen Camellia Tasting

Vergelegen Camellia Tasting

National Monument Camphor Trees

National Monument Camphor Trees

Our next wine tasting was at Rust en Vrede, Stellenbosch. What stands out about their wines is that they must have huge appeal for the wine collector who is purchasing wines to lay them down as they clearly need much time in the bottle to reach their full potential. Our wine presenter certainly knew her lines but seemed to lack interest and personal charisma.

Rust en Vrede

Rust en Vrede

When I learned that tour lunch stop would be at Spier’s new organic food restaurant Eight, I was curious and excited. Our group was not disappointed – each dish ordered was delicious and of the highest quality plus Spier Private Collection Chenin Blanc was loved by all. Sitting close to the Eerste River in the beautiful Winter sunshine was such a treat. To get a feel for the light, airy feel of the setting, visit Eight’s Facebook page here. Spier offers many different attractions for visitors of all ages and backgrounds and deserves a place in the GWCGN hall of fame.

Eight at Spier

Eight at Spier

The open kitchen at Eight

The open kitchen at Eight

Gershwin serving our table

Gershwin serving our table

The “dessert” stop was at The House of J C Le Roux for a sparkling wine, marshmallow and meringue pairing featuring five sparkling wines. Certainly innovative in their approach, the tasting room setting and products will be popular with trendy, Generation Y wine lovers.

The House of J C Le Roux

The House of J C Le Roux

Sparkling wine, marshmallow and meringue tasting

Sparkling wine, marshmallow and meringue tasting

Finally let me introduce my travel companions:

Kitty Snyman of Rufaro Travel. Twitter @kitty_rufaro

Carla Van Der Merwe of Wine.co.za. Twitter  @carla_wino

Di Procter, writer of Wineblog-diana. Twitter @DiProc

Jan Langenhoven, writer of Tappets On The Run. Twitter @JanTappets

 

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