South African wine industry – universally marketable
11 September 2015
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Welcome back to another edition of Old Mutual Live. It’s time to chat some more wine, I’m Brad Brown. It’s good to have you on board and an absolute pleasure to welcome another returning guest onto the podcast today, Andre Morgenthal. Andre, welcome back, nice to catch up.
You’re the communications manager of Wines of South Africa, Cape Wine at the Cape Town International Convention Centre has concluded and a huge success as I’m sure you guys would agree. But that’s obviously a lot of hard work putting something like that together but the hard work actually starts now and that’s sort of getting everyone to come back.
Andre Morgenthal: That’s right, Brad, ja, thank you very much for having me on again. It was a fantastic event and we’re quite exhausted but relieved it’s over and as you say, with wine tourism playing a big role, you know we’ve seen now again how we turn people into ambassadors.
We could have this show and actually we do, we spend a lot of time overseas doing wine tastings and attending big shows like London Wine, trade fairs and wine shows in Asia but there’s nothing like bringing a person into South Africa for them to meet the winemakers here. Eat the foods, smell the air, go onto the wineries and as I mentioned the wine tourism angle just sells it out rightly and immediately.
BB: Andre, what are some of the challenges we face as not necessarily just a wine industry but particularly in wine tourism here in South Africa that are problems that might not be exclusive to South Africa that other countries might be battling with and some that might be exclusive to here.
The challenges of wine tourism
AM: Well, I think the one challenge is that we’re quite far away from some key export markets which we would like to see more people coming out of like America. Europe is fairly close but then Asia is far so that, the long haul is always an issue.
We’re all aware about the visa regulations that’s been hampering inbound tourism which is very sad for us but I think what plays in our favour is the beauty of our wine which once again when we listen to our vintners and I think in general, people concur that it is the most beautiful wine land region in the world.
Through my visits, being a member of the great wine capital network, I’ve been to most wine capital regions of the world and I’ve seen some beautiful places, I mean Tuscany, Bordeaux, Australia but South Africa is just so unique because we’ve got the ocean that’s close by.
The beautiful vineyard landscape and mountains and then the diversity. If you drive from Stellenbosch to Franschhoek, it’s two different regions and then out towards Robertson, up the West Coast or down the Garden Route, it just changes all the time so that makes it so interesting for people.
BB: You talk about the diversity, I meant there’s diversity in wine regions but there’s also diversity in the country that yes, it’s a long way to come but people aren’t just coming for the wine I mean Africa and South Africa’s a big destination for wildlife. There aren’t too many places where you can taste some really good wines and get to relax on some fabulous wine estates but within an hour you can practically see the Big 5 as well.
BB: That’s correct. I think that makes us unique as well because there’s so much within one country and the wine tourism doesn’t stop within the winelands or at the winery or at the game lodges there’s huge wine tourism being practiced where our wines are showcased in that environment.
BB: Andre, what do you see the wine producers and wine estates doing well as far as wine tourism goes here in South Africa?
A very well-organised wine industry
AM: We’re very well-organised. We have challenges in terms of signage but if you compare other countries our signage is very well-organised, our maps, accessibility, the friendliness of our people. Our people are very well-trained. We have excellent wines and also again, the diversity, so that makes it special.
BB: From an international perspective people must ask you where’s the best places to go. I’m going to ask you this from a South African perspective. Because obviously whether it’s an international tourist or a South African tourist, it could be someone coming from Johannesburg, coming from Durban to the Cape Winleands. Where would you say, if you’ve got a week to spend in the Western Cape and you want to check out some amazing winelands and estates, what’s the sort of itinerary you should look at?
AM: Well, politically I’m not in a position to highlight individual brands or regions because we represent the whole industry but the easy answer would be to go to the Great Wine Capitals website and look at the best of wine tourism awards. We run that every year and then there’s categories like architecture and landscapes, winery and restaurants, winery accommodations, sustainability, service, amongst others and I think there you’ll get a great idea of some of the best wineries in our region.
We are conscious of keeping the industry sustainable
BB: Brilliant, I will pop the link to that website in the show notes to this edition of Old Mutual Live. Andre, you touched on something there as well, sustainability and it’s on various fronts. Is that something that the South African Wine Industry’s grappling with at the moment to make sure that this industry is sustainable long-term?
AM: We definitely, I wouldn’t say, not grappling, we’re actually making huge progress and I’m confident that the South African Wine Industry is world leaders in sustainability. In terms of our environmental responsibility, we’ve also got social responsibility in that throws back in terms of our history of course. We had to change, we had to look into our ethical production of wine, so yes, there’s various initiatives on all levels that’s got to do with the environment and people and all of this information is on our website.
We keep a record of all of the initiatives and what we do on our website and it’s lead by Sustainable Wines South Africa which is the newest education seal launched a few years ago. The old seal guaranteed the consumer free think, the vintage wine of origin cultivar. What we did as an industry is, we built into that environmentally friendly practices in the vineyard and in the cellar plus some biodiversity guidelines and that in itself is also a first in the world. There’s no other region in the world or wine region country that’s got such a seal.
BB: Fantastic, Andre. I’ll pop the link to that as well, that website on the show notes to this episode of Old Mutual Live too. Thank you so much for joining us once again. We much appreciate it and we love what you’re doing for the South African Wine Industry and we look forward to catching up again soon. Thanks for your time today.
AM: Brad, you’re very welcome. Thanks very much.