Not dissimilar to France, the wine appellations of South African wineries can appear complex and daunting, especially to wine tourists – which is why the designation of a new region for Cape Town has been hailed as ground breaking.
The country’s so-called ‘Wine of Origin’ (WO) classification has been in place since 1973 and decrees that all wines listing a WO must be entirely composed from grapes grown from within that region. The system divided regions into four categories – the largest and most generic being Geographical Units (eg. the Western Cape), which incorporate smaller Regions (eg. The Cape South Coast). And, under these are clustered Districts (eg. Walker Bay) and within them are even smaller Wards (eg. Elgin).
The new Cape Town WO, which was established in June 2017, hopes to make sense of this confusing system while appealing to international consumers by bringing four wards together under an instantly recognisable banner. Thirty South African wineries covering 6,800 hectares across the existing wards of Constantia, Durbanville, Philadelphia and Hout Bay that are within touching distance of Cape Town will now fall under this latest classification.Previously these four wards fell under two separate districts, so the hope is that their congregation will raise their profile in international markets and for the visitors who flock to South Africa in the name of enotourism.
"As a destination, Cape Town has long been a firm favourite among international travellers and has a strong reputation for not only its beauty, but also its flavours, be it wine and food and, of course, its people,” said Siobhan Thompson, CEO of Wines of South Africa (WOSA) to the Drinks Business.
Many leading South African wineries have come together and will now appear under the Cape Town WO. ‘The collaboration between the various wards and wineries in coming together to form the new wine district is a huge step forward for the South African wine industry,’ said Rico Basson, CEO of South African wine producers’ organisation Vinpro. ‘It is an example of innovative co-operation in harnessing producers to market their respective regions under one name, the name Cape Town being much-needed for South African wine to present itself as a global player. As a wine region, Cape Town now encapsulates a wonderful set of dynamics in terms of heritage, culture and modern wine styles. South Africa is already well-known for our wine tourism offering and this new development will add to integrating our strategy of innovative marketing,’ he added.
Marketing of the Cape Town WO is scheduled to start later in the year – with an emphasis on wine tourism opportunities that should see the new appellation draw even larger amounts of visitors to South African wineries.
While none of the local South Africa wineries have objected the creation of the Cape Town WO, some wine makers will not be using the name, including the Klein Constantia. ‘Our view is that Constantia carries more weight than Cape Town,’ Hans Astrom, partner and managing director of Klein Constantia explained to Wine Spectator. ‘We're one of the most historical farms in South Africa. It doesn't make sense for us,’ he added. Nonetheless, many South Africa wineries in lesser known areas are likely to benefit from the new labelling classification – which also allows blends across the various wine regions.
‘As a destination, Cape Town has long been a firm favourite among international travellers and has a strong reputation for not only its beauty, but also its flavours, be it wine and food and, of course, its people,” said Siobhan Thompson, CEO of Wines of South Africa (WOSA) to the Drinks Business.
‘This new appellation will not only hold positive rewards for the region, but also for South African wine as a whole, as it will surely draw instant recognition due to the popularity Cape Town enjoys abroad.’
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