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22 January 2014

Stellenbosch to expand its wine tourism footprint

A new initiative aims to position Stellenbosch as one of the world’s top wine tourism regions and the leading wine tourism destination in Africa.

Annareth Bolton and Ken Forrester Annareth Bolton and Ken Forrester

The potential of wine tourism in South Africa is significant, but a far greater and more aligned effort needs to be made locally and internationally to promote wine tourism. – Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, founder of Destinate

Stellenbosch Wine Routes (a coordinated network of Stellenbosch wineries), together with Stellenbosch 360, is launching a dynamic wine tourism marketing initiative – the Stellenbosch Wine Experience, which will see closer partnerships between the wine and tourism industries in the Stellenbosch area.

Ken Forrester, chairperson of Stellenbosch Wine Routes, says although Stellenbosch has a well-established tourism and wine legacy – being the oldest wine route in South Africa – there is a great need for a closer partnership between the wine and tourism industries, supported by a dynamic marketing programme and campaign.

The initiative is being spearheaded by Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, former CEO of Cape Town Tourism and founder of Destinate, a specialised destination and marketing agency launched in 2013.

'The potential of wine tourism in South Africa is significant, but a far greater and more aligned effort needs to be made locally and internationally to promote wine tourism. This will hold great benefit for both the tourism and wine sectors, and add to South Africa’s overall appeal as a destination,' she says.

The campaign kicks off on 24 January 2014 at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival with the launch of StellenBlog, an interactive wine tourism-focused mini-website and blog. The Stellenbosch region and participating marketing partners will then be represented at ITB Berlin in March 2014 for the international launch of the Stellenbosch Wine Experience. It will also be promoted at INDABA 2014.

The campaign will include a wine tourism blogger initiative between April and September 2014, involving top international and national travel, lifestyle and food bloggers.

Another aim is to grow domestic tourism and improve visitor numbers to Stellenbosch over the winter period. In this regard, the campaign will be targeting domestic travellers, families and wine lovers – particularly those from Gauteng – with an appealing events calendar and wine tourism packages.

Annareth Bolton, CEO of Stellenbosch Wine Routes, says more and more visitors to wineries want to engage in wine tourism activities at or near the site where the wine is produced.

'Visitors typically learn the history the winery, see how the wine is made, and then taste the wines – often complemented by a fine meal in one of our award-winning restaurants. Increasingly, wineries are also offering accommodation, meeting facilities and a variety of activities,' she says.

Stellenbosch Wine Routes now boasts 152 members, offering a wide variety of unique attractions and leisure activities.