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Cheers to wine travel - it’s luxury on a budget

File image: Help the once thriving industry get back on its feet by supporting wine tourism.

File image: Help the once thriving industry get back on its feet by supporting wine tourism.

Published Mar 3, 2021

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Wine travel is synonymous with opulence, whether it’s a day out with friends or a weekend away with your partner at a swanky wine estate.

This form of travel has been relatively successful pre-Covid-19, luring travellers to wine spots dotted across the country.

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When the pandemic hit over a year ago, the industry took a massive knock, with many establishments unable to keep their doors open and staff left without jobs.

With the recent easing of alcohol restrictions, South African wine establishments need to ensure that it focusses on all types of travellers, including those on a budget, to help rebuild a once-thriving industry.

Despite wine travel offering extravagant experiences in pristine locations, experts say it is budget-friendly.

Travel agent Modipadi Phoku calls it 'luxury on a budget'.

“Inflation of goods and services has left many South Africans with very little to no disposable income.

“Wine tourism offers quite a classy, elegant and educational experience, which is exceptionally friendly to the pocket.

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“It is luxury on a budget.

“Let's not forget that South Africa boasts amazing wineries, with Stellenbosch and Franschhoek being among the top regions in the world to experience and enjoy wines.

“The beauty of wine tourism is that it's the perfect way to diffuse mass tourism.

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“To protect ourselves and others, we still need to avoid large gatherings, and wineries may be the answer,” she said.

Communications and PR manager at Cape Town Tourism Briony Brookes said the industry strives to appeal to every kind of traveller.

“Wine estates across Cape Town are offering bespoke experiences to those who wish for something a bit different from the norm while continuing to develop world-class wine that guests can take home or enjoy at the destination.

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“The limits put on wine lovers and oenophiles over the last few months has only increased the demand for good wine.

“The Cape Town wine industry, while still struggling with the effects of lockdown, is more appreciated than ever before.

“We are very much aware of how important our local wine industry is and we are constantly looking for more and more ways to promote wine tourism in our region,” she said.

Safety

Elmarie Rabe, general manager for Stellenbosch Wine Routes, said wine tourism is ideal for travellers who want to explore their surroundings in “safe travel bubbles”.

She said Stellenbosch, the first sub-Saharan destination to attain the WTTC safety stamp, is considered a top wine tourism destination in the world.

“We realised very early that trust and safety are new currencies. We immediately started developing health and safety protocols based on the guidelines of the WTTC and TBCSA.

“My suggestion for the industry is to build authentic experiences, from high-end experiences to family-friendly to intimate offerings. Pair this with open spaces, spectacular views and mountain vistas, and you have a winning combination,” she said.

Dawn Smith, the chairperson for the restaurant segment of FEDHASA Cape, said travellers needed to be offered safe, curated tours.

“Safety needs to be forefront without it detracting from the experience.

“The hospitality wine tourism industry needs to adapt to both local and international visitor requirements and cultures while remaining true to our heritage,” she said.

Wine experiences

Travellers are spoilt for choice when it comes to wine experiences in South Africa.

Many establishments have been at the forefront of innovation, creating insightful experiences that are cost-effective and informative.

Rabe said travellers should add a vineyard safari to their bucket list.

She said the tour allows them to see and understand the wine culture while enjoying a few wine tasting stops along the way.

Other unique wine offerings include wine tour on an e-bike, wine pairings with chocolate, fudge, biltong and cupcakes or wine-pairing meals.

Smith suggests travellers try the Hop On Hop Off wine experience by travelling to three estates, including Groot Constantia, Eagles Nest and Beau Constantia.

She also recommends cellar tours and the Franschhoek Tram.

Smith said daycations were a hit for wine travellers.

“Daycations to wine estates seem to be the thing. People also want to get out of the city.

“In the Western Cape, areas such as Darling, Robertson, Tulbagh makes for a fabulous day out,” she said.

Brookes recommended a wine-paired dinner at one of Cape Town's top restaurants, a weekend picnic with wine and popcorn and wine pairings.

“You are spoilt for choice when it comes to wine experiences in Cape Town.

“But if the choices are too overwhelming, start with a simple wine tasting at a tasting room and see what they offer from there,” she said.

Related Topics:

Budget Travel

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