La Motte of Franschhoek has been voted the South African winner of the Great Wine Capitals (GWC) Best Of Wine Tourism Awards for 2012. The announcement was made today (October 27) in Mainz, Germany at a gala dinner attended by leading wine tourism practitioners from around the world.
The event was hosted by the GWC, a network of the world’s leading wine-producing countries that shares international best practice in the name of advancing standards in wine tourism across the world.
La Motte, with a history dating back over three centuries, was declared the winner in the Arts and Culture category for its impressive art museum that houses the Rupert family’s extensive collection of artworks by 20th century South African master Pierneef and other artists. However, what clinched the overall win for the winery was its consistently high performance across other categories it had also entered.
As the Best of Wine Tourism title holder for 2012, La Motte joins such iconic names in wine, such as Spain’s Bodegas Campo Viejo of Rioja, acclaimed for its wine and architecture; the famous 13th century Château d´Agassac of Bordeaux in France; the 900 year-old Dievole of Florence, Italy; Vinothek Bingen am Rhein in Germany that serves as a special visitor centre at the gateway to the Middle Rhine Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; Quinta do Portal, representing four estates in the Douro, Portugal; the lofty Bodega Atamisque, 1 300 metres above sea level at the entrance to the Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina; luxury resort, Meadowood of California’s Napa Valley, which boasts a three-star Michelin restaurant; and specialty boutique guides, Appellation Central Wine Tours of Christchurch, New Zealand.
GWC’s members, in addition to Cape Town-Cape Winelands, include Mainz-Rheinhessen (Germany), Bilbao-Rioja (Spain), Bordeaux (France), Florence (Italy), Mendoza (Argentina), Porto (Portugal), San Francisco-Napa (United States) and New Zealand’s Christchurch.
Coming a very close second in South Africa was Biodiversity & Wine (BWI) champion Waterkloof of Stellenbosch that won in the Architecture and Landscapes category but also scored highly across a number of other categories.
Other regional winners were Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa, situated on Helshoogte Pass near Stellenbosch, for offering the best accommodation for the second consecutive year; Waverley Hills, between Tulbagh and Wolseley (Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices, also for the second consecutive year); Tokara of Stellenbosch (Wine Tourism Restaurant) Solms-Delta of Franschhoek (Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences) and Waterford Estate in Stellenbosch (Wine Tourism Services). Waterford is a previous Wine Tourism Services winner.
Last year’s South African winner was Steenberg Vineyards. Steenberg chose former cleaner, Zelda Petrus, who is now responsible for front-of house cellar door sales, to fly to California to learn more about wine sales and marketing in the famous Napa Valley. She was hosted by Trinchero Family Vineyards and the San Francisco/Napa Valley chapter.
Speaking on behalf of the Cape Town and Cape Winelands chapter of GWC, André Morgenthal, who is also communications manager for Wines of South Africa (WOSA) confirmed that both the number and quality of this year’s entries had been higher than last year’s. This was despite the protracted downturn, which could have left producers feeling apathetic. “We are heartened by the growing support for the competition and the confidence and optimism this reflects amongst local wineries about what they have to offer visitors and wine lovers.
“There is an increasing recognition that wine tourism is a powerful tool in deepening the relationships established with consumers and not only on a face-to-face basis. It adds value, greater meaning and continuity to their engagement with wine lovers, particularly via social media channels.
“Wine lovers thirst for information that tells them what makes each winery unique. It helps them plan their visits and share their experiences with others. They want to understand what sets one producer apart from the next, not only in terms of their wines but also the ethos and lifestyle that lies behind each winery.”
Morgenthal said a recent online analysis conducted by Acceleration Media, showed that South Africa enjoyed a positive online reputation among international internet users. Many of the conversations focused on the country as a tourist destination.
This year’s judges included wine tourism specialist Margi Biggs; lifestyle and wine journalist Joanne Gibson; Joan Isham, the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI) extension officer; Marilyn Martin, former head of the SA National Art Gallery; architect Alex Robertson; food, wine and lifestyle journalist Myrna Robins; JP Rossouw, food critic and author of the annual Rossouw’s Restaurants guide, and landscaper Johan van Papendorp.
Winners and first and second runners-up in each category were:
2 Grande Provence
3 Steenberg Hotel
ARCHITECTURE AND LANDSCAPES
2 La Motte
ART & CULTURE
1 La Motte
3 Solms Delta
INNOVATIVE WINE TOURISM EXPERIENCES
1 Solms Delta
3 La Motte
SUSTAINABLE WINE TOURISM PRACTICES
1 Waverley Hills
2 La Motte
WINE TOURISM RESTAURANTS
1 Tokara Restaurant
2 Rust en Vrede
WINE TOURISM SERVICES
2 Steenberg Vineyards
3 Grande Provence