Last week I met with Andre Morgenthal, Communications Manager of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), in the Hemel-en-Aarde Village centre, appropriately at the start of the Hermanus Wine Route, as we were struggling to co-ordinate our diaries. Andre wanted to share information about Vindaba 2012, a showcase for the wine tourism industry, which is planned to run alongside WOSA’s Cape Wine 2012, from 25 – 27 September at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Cape Wine is a bi-annual trade show which attracts international wine trade professionals and is one of WOSA’s key marketing events, in that the company brings about 160 journalists and sommeliers to Cape Town, and prepares individual itineraries for them, to not only showcase the wines inside the exhibition and workshops inside the convention centre, but also the wine estates in and surrounding Cape Town.  Cape Wine is the largest wine showcase in the country, but was not held last year due the soccer World Cup. It adds value for WOSA producers, in connecting them and their wines to the international media, trade professionals, and sommeliers.  Not only do they meet at the exhibition and seminars, but producers also host dinner parties for hand-picked invited guests to present their wines.

Vindaba forms part of Cape Wine 2012, but will be a stand-alone self-funded event, which will not be funded by WOSA.  It is planned as a wine tourism forum, a neglected part of the tourism industry, Andre told me, with ‘tour operators and leisure media’ targeted. Ten years ago a Wine Tourism Forum was created, and a strategy was written by Cape Town Routes Unlimited, but with their loss of Marketing staff this is no longer pursued.  Andre sits on the Wine Routes Forum, a bi-monthly get-together of the twelve wine routes (including the Brandy Route) in the country, and it is here that they discuss issues relating to wine tourism.   A wine route map for all twelve wine routes is being updated, with a website, and will be available next year.  Vindaba will showcase Wine Tourism products and services, much like the annual Tourism Indaba in Durban.   Not only will it attract the Cape Wine 2012 delegates, but on 27 September, being World Tourism Day, they will open Vindaba to the public, so that the locals can interact with a showcase of the wine tourism industry in its proximity.  Discount vouchers will be made available for wine tourism products and services, for locals to experience them first hand on the weekend following Vindaba.  Social environmental responsibility projects will also be showcased, such as the Pebbles Project.

Stands for Cape Wine 2012 and Vindaba will be made from recycled board, a first for environmentally responsible exhibitions, thereby off-setting the carbon footprint of all the flights to South Africa for the event.

I wondered how WOSA and its small staff (Su Birch is the CEO) copes in marketing the wide diversity of South African wines around the world.  WOSA has offices in Canada, the USA, Germany, Sweden, Russia, the Netherlands, and in the UK, and works with the South African embassies in China and India, to promote South African wines.

Cape Wine 2012: www.capewine2012.co.za WOSA: Tel (021) 883-3860.  Vindaba:  www.vindaba.com.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage