Somerset West - The Vergelegen wine estate has emerged as the South African winner of the Great Wine Capitals (GWC) Best of Wine Tourism Awards, excelling in nearly all categories in the international contest.
The results were announced on Thursday at a gala presentation in California's Napa Valley, attended by wine tourism leaders from across the world.
Not only did Vergelegen win both the arts and culture and the restaurant categories, but it came second in another four categories as well: architecture and landscapes, innovative wine tourism experiences, sustainable wine tourism practices and wine tourism service.
The only category it didn't enter was accommodation, as it doesn't offer this facility to visitors.
"We have never had a winner before who has made such a clean sweep," said Cornelius de Bruyn, mayor of the Cape Winelands District Municipality, that together with the city of Cape Town comprises one of the 10 members of the GWC.
This is the third time Vergelegen has been judged the South African Best of Wine Tourism winner. The last time was in 2009.
The GWC is a network of the world’s leading wine-producing countries that shares international best practice to advance standards in wine tourism across the world.
In addition to Cape Town-Cape Winelands, its members are Mainz-Rheinhessen (Germany), Bilbao-Rioja (Spain), Bordeaux (France), Florence (Italy), Porto (Portugal), San Francisco-Napa (United States), Mendoza (Argentina), Christchurch-South Island (New Zealand) and newest member, Valparaiso-Casablanca (Chile).
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said Vergelegen was a proud example of Cape tourism excellence.
"The competition is an important benchmark and demonstrates that our offerings are of an absolutely world-class quality. We have the added advantage of being located in a wine-growing area of unrivalled beauty," she said.
De Bruyn said Cape wine tourism was well placed to benefit from the growth in local tourism.
"Tourist arrivals in emerging economies are expected to surpass those in advanced economies such as Europe and North America, as early as 2015," he said.
"The projected growth rate of tourist arrivals in emerging economy destinations is expected to double that forecast for advanced economy destinations. This presents us with an exciting opportunity, particularly given the importance of tourism to economies in Africa.”
In 2012 international tourist arrivals in SA rose year-on-year by 10.2% - more than two and a half times the global average of 4%.
A newcomer to the competition, Babylonstoren of Paarl, came second amongst the South African contenders, winning both the accommodation and the architecture and landscapes categories and taking third position in the restaurant category.
Other South African category winners were Spice Route, another first-time winner, taking the top score in the innovative tourism experiences, La Motte, that was last year's South African winner (sustainable tourism practices) and Delaire Graff (wine tourism service).
Dating back to 1685, Vergelegen is renowned for the preservation of its historic buildings and its elegant gardens.
The full list of South African category winners:
3 Grande Provence
Architecture and landscapes
3 La Motte
Art and culture
2 La Motte
3 Delaire Graff
Innovative wine tourism experiences
1 Spice Route
3 La Motte
Sustainable wine tourism practices
1 La Motte
Wine tourism restaurants
1 Vergelegen - Camphors
2 Rust en Vrede
3 Babel - Babylonstoren
Wine tourism service
1 Delaire Graff
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