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Cup runneth over for wine industry in Western Cape

Published Nov 11, 2010

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The Western Cape wine industry is playing an important role in attracting foreign tourists and investment, according to Brand South Africa, the organisation set up by the International Marketing Council eight years ago to project a positive image of the country.

Our top wines are becoming increasingly successful overseas and our wine estates are attracting growing numbers of holiday visitors.

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According to Francis van Wyk, the director of advisory services at PricewaterhouseCoopers, primary wine producers who grow the grapes contribute about R12.2 billion a year, or 7.3 percent, to the Western Cape’s economic activity.

Van Wyk said yesterday that in spite of the gloomy worldwide economic situation, about 70 percent of South Africa’s wine cellars had maintained or improved their financial position this year.

He said their success was partly due to making use of business intelligence systems that enabled them to make decisions on volumes and prices, “ensuring a quick reactive response to market changes. The ability of wine cellars to realise good prices directly affects the financial position of the primary producers.”

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Admitting that about 17 percent of cellars had serious financial problems and cash flow deficits this year, Van Wyk anticipated that “amalgamation will take place in the medium term, resulting in cellars being able to focus on top performing brands and appoint the best marketing talent”.

Brand SA is making use of the growing success of South Africa’s best wines in overseas competitions. It hosted a lunch for 200 wine critics and other industry roleplayers from 21 countries at the annual World Wine Symposium in Italy this week, where six of South Africa’s best wines were served.

A spokesperson said it was intended to “showcase South African wines on the same stage as some from other, more respected, regions and raise perceptions in the minds of the industry elite. We also intended to showcase South Africa as a tourism and investment destination.”

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Meanwhile, the Steenberg wine estate in Constantia won two awards, for its wine and its tourism facilities, at the annual Best of Wine Tourism Awards held by Great Wine Capitals of the World in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week.

Cape Town is one of nine members of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network, a body formed to co-operate and exchange data in the wine and tourism industries. The others are Christchurch, Spain’s Bilbao-Rioja, Bordeaux in France, Florence in Italy, Mainz in Germany, Mendoza in Argentina, Porto in Portugal and San Francisco in the US.

Steenberg won the global award for wine tourism for its restaurant, accommodation and variety of services and the national award for its architecture and gardens. - Audrey D-Angelo

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