South Africans are spoilt for choice when it comes to local wine; there are more than 550 wine farms to visit! So whether you’re a Merlot, Cabernet or Chenin fan, our local wine-makers have got you covered. But beyond the cellar door there’s so much more to wine than you’d imagine. Best summed-up as wine tourism, it is the rapidly growing economy of travelling to experience wine in all its glory.
Rounding up some of South Africa’s most innovative wine tourism experiences is the annual Klink Awards which is supported by the Western Cape’s official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency Wesgro. Now in its fourth year, it curates a list of the region’s top wine tourism experiences which you, the public, are then invited to vote for, making it the only consumer-driven awards of its kind in the country. Here’s a snapshot of Klink’s top wine tourism trends for 2015:
- Run, hike and bike
Fit is in. And where better to work up a sweat than in a world-class vineyard? Offering tracks and trails suitable for runners, hikers and mountain bikers, wine estates are increasingly opening up their vineyards and inviting the active in to either enjoy at their own leisure or as part of an organised race. Take Waterford for instance. A nominee in Klink’s Tracks n Trails category, it launched its guided hikes a year ago. Paired with a choice of wine and baguettes, guests follow Chris Faure and Brandon Engelbrecht through the vines to learn more about sustainable farming practices. With no time limit, fitness of any level can enjoy this activity.
- Pair like a pro
Matching good food and wine isn’t new yet some wineries are getting creative with theirs and adding a sweet twist to the experience. Delheim for instance has complemented cupcakes with their fine wines. Baked in the estate’s kitchen and designed by the chef, wine maker and marketing team, guests are treated to both savoury and sweet styles, served with a different wine per cake. While there are seven different pairings to try, its Pinotage Rose and Rooibos cupcake is its all-time favourite. Grape juice is available as an alternative to wine too so children and teetotallers won’t miss out.
- Go green
Sustainability is on many peoples’ agendas these days and so too is there an increase in wines that are produced with limited impact to the earth. One such pioneer is Backsberg. One of only three wine-makers in the world to gain carbon neutral status by repossessing its carbon emissions. But it doesn’t stop there; Backsberg is the real eco deal and recycles all of its old barrels to make custom furniture like tables or bar counters. It also plants plenty of trees on its property and is heavily invested in the local community with respect to educating and enriching the community. Nominated in Klink’s Tread Gently category, this wine is not only an award-winner, it’s also an environmental warrior.
- Off the wall
Each year Klink sees its nominees’ launching unusual and wacky things for its visitors to do when they visit their vines. A newbie in this years’ Wild Card category is Mont Destin. Offering a one-of-a-kind red wine bath, this nominee has created a romantic experience for its guests that is based on a true story. Owners Ernest and Samantha Bürgin have been married for years, and in 2006, Ernest didn’t know what to buy Samantha for her birthday. Knowing she loved wine, he thought an alfresco bath filled with a good Shiraz would be a heavenly experience. And so the wine bath was borne. Part of Mont Destin’s private chalet for two on its estate, guests can both bathe and drink a red of their choice, soothing both their bodies – wine is said to have therapeutic properties that de-stress and rejuvenate the skin – as well as their minds. Bliss.
- Of grapes and grains
The days of just having a tasting room are over; even wine pairings are becoming an everyday experience! Klink’s new category On the Hop awards the newest trend in wine: craft beer. As wine-makers are experts at creating complex vintages or cultivars from grapes, it’s not surprising that some apply these principles to producing high-quality beers too. Take Remhoogte’s Wild Beast Brewery for instance. Its microbrewery’s signature beers pair well with different foods and is why they offer a selection of delicious pizzas on-site to enjoy with their beverages. There’s also a herd of Wildebeest grazing around the tasting room which visitors can view too.
But this is just the beginning! You can expect to see many more unusual wine pairings in coming years. In other popular wine tourism regions like California’s Napa Valley wine and wildlife, murder mystery tours where visitors pick up different clues at wineries as well as hot-air ballooning while wine-tasting are fast gaining momentum. Wine tourism has also taken to the seas with on-board tastings and gourmet lunches or dinners served aboard a yacht. There are even wine cruises to the Galapagos Islands and South America. Or what about wine and opera escorted tours at world-famous venues? The options are endless…
To vote for this year’s Klink Award’s 77 nominees, visit www.klinkawards.co.za or post on @KlinkAwards using the #klinkawards or on www.facebook.com/klinkawards. 18 of Klink’s most trending nominees will be announced as the 2015 winners on 19th November.