SA’s Wine & Food Tourism Conference honours top performers

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First row from left to right, Salomé Geldenhuys (Creation Wines), Abigail Bisogno (Spice Route Destination), Suné Strydom (Spice Route Destination), Jean-Pierre Rossouw (chair of the Wine & Food Tourism Awards judging panel), Vida Basson (Delaire Graff Estate), Lisa Ker (Die Tuishuise & Victoria Manor) Second row from left to right, Ruben Saul (Fryer’s Cove), Jan van Zyl (Fryer’s Cove), Margi Biggs (convenor of the Wine & Food Tourism Conference and Awards), Roger Boonzaaier (Leeu Collection), Conrad Meyer (Leeu Collection), Mareli Roux (La Motte), Chris Thomson (Waterford Estate) and Sasha van Zyl (Grootbos Private Nature Reserve).

Nine of South Africa’s top wine and food tourism providers were named honourees in the inaugural Wine & Food Tourism Conference Awards at the close of this year’s Wine and Food Tourism Conference near Stellenbosch on 18 September. They were presented with their trophies by Blacky Komani, chairperson of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA).

Drawn from Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, the Overberg, the West Coast and the Karoo to include a mix of well-established favourites and hidden gems, they were chosen for having created outstanding and positively memorable tourism experiences that were an inspiration to others in the industry.

Exceptionally strong contenders

According to tourism doyenne Margi Biggs, who convened the judging panel of wine, hospitality and marketing specialists, the nine honourees were selected from exceptionally strong contenders across the spectrum – from those offering wine tastings and wine and food pairings to fully fledged restaurants and accommodation.  The panel was chaired by Jean-Pierre Rossouw, publisher of Rossouw’s Restaurants and the Platter’s South African Wine Guide.

Said Biggs: “We were delighted by the calibre of entries in this, the first year of our awards. We hope they serve to provide a benchmark to which the growing number of participants in the industry can aspire to and, in this way encourage the numerous businesses in this tourism sector to better their efforts.”

Boosting food tourism confidence

She explained that the awards had been established to help boost wine and food tourism confidence and advance service standards and training. Tourism is one of this country’s highest labour-absorbing sectors.

“They support the Tourism Business Council of SA’s strategy to double the number of international tourists by 2030 and so create around 2 million jobs directly and indirectly. Wine and food tourism, especially, has the potential to contribute to this goal.”

Competition categories

The panel honoured the best of three contenders in each of three categories:

  • Service excellence that goes to the very heart of the experience at a person-to-person level.
  • The authentic South African experience that focuses on uniquely South African people, places and moments.
  • Innovation that boosts experiences, excites and delights guests, while allowing them new offerings.

“That the group of nine included both veterans and newbies is very encouraging. It reflects the ability of our well-established tourism providers to refresh, renew and remain relevant, while at the same time showing that there are newer players capable of competing to the highest standards.”

The honourees

Service Excellence

  • Waterford Estate, Stellenbosch
  • Delaire Graff Estate, Stellenbosch
  • Leeu Collection, Franschhoek

The Authentic South African Experience

  • Grootbos Nature Reserve, Gansbaai, Overberg
  • La Motte, Franschhoek
  • Die Tuishuise & Victoria Manor, Cradock, Karoo

Innovation

  • Creation Wines, Hemel en Aarde, Overberg
  • Fryer’s Cove, Doringbaai, West Coast
  • Spice Route Destination, Paarl – Press release, Wine & Food Tourism Awards