Weekend of Wine Part 1: Great Wine Capitals

Last Saturday I took part in a bloggers tour of some farms that have entered into the Best of Wine Tourism Contest run by Great Wine Capitals (GWC) . The tour was organised by WOSA and its purpose was for us to be better informed about the contest, and to communicate this to our readers so there can hopefully be more public participation in the future.

great wine

So what is GWC? Let me quote from their website:

“It is the only . . . network to encompass the so-called ‘Old’ and ‘New’ worlds of wine, and exists to encourage travel, education and business exchange between the internationally-renowned centres of Bilbao | Rioja, Bordeaux, Cape Town, Christchurch | South Island, Firenze, Mainz | Rheinhessen, Mendoza, Porto, and San Francisco-Napa Valley.”

They basically promote the wine regions around these cities and the farms within them. I find that the promotion is aimed at international travellers rather than locals. So if I was planning a trip to Rioja, I would check their website and find out about wine places to visit there and other things to to in Bilbao.

Chatting to a friend about GWC he raised a good point that it is a little strange that Cape Town is South Africa’s city when Stellenbosch (sorry Paarl) is, I guess, the centre of the SA wine industry. But then again, grapes were first planted in Cape Town, we have Table Mountain, Robben Island, the Waterfront, and me. So one can understand why Cape Town was chosen, as GWC is about more than just wine.

Now the places that are in this network (and those that win the competition) do not appear to be the most boutique. I worry that the more commercial and better funded operations will always be higher achievers in the competition than the smaller guys. Again, this is about tourism and not just the wine, which is pretty much the only reason I visit the farms. The design, art galleries, petting zoos, fountains and sustainable-green-uplifting-development-bio-diversity projects are really just side-shows for me.

So that is CWG: a tourism network of cities that have strong connections to wine. Great. Now CWG runs Best of Wine Tourism each year looking for the best wine tourist venues in seven categories which are: Accommodation, Architecture, Art & Culture, Innovative Wine Tourism Practices, Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences, Wine Tourism Restaurants, and Wine Tourism Services. Each city works out winners for each category then they all meet up to decide on overall winners. See last years winners here.

Sheesh that was a little boring, sorry. I am not a fan of competitions so it’s very hard to get excited about them. I worry a little about the overall winners  being judged by people who have not actually visited them (I have been told the local winners are all visited by the judges) and rather voted through by the strength of presentations. But on the whole I see nothing wrong with this Best of Wine Tourism thing. If we can get more people to visit our winelands that’s great.

So what do a bunch of bloggers have to do with all this? Well WOSA wants more public participation in the judging process. We were not judges this year, let me repeat that WE WERE NOT JUDGES, so don’t get in a hissy fit when you read we did not visit all the farms entered. We were just the first step towards a more inclusive judging process, and to get the word out that this competition even exists.

OK so that was all just to set the scene, a tad mundane, but I had to explain what it was all about. The next post is all about our trip; the highs, the lows, the chipped teeth, a driver with a death wish and a tasting assistant who deserves a dunce hat.