Wine Tourists Now More Representative of South African Society

Shop at Simonsig Wine Estate

The demographic profile of the South African wine tourist is changing, with a noticeable increase in black wine lovers flocking to enjoy the offerings of the winelands. According to Denzel Swarts (featured image), tasting room manager at Simonsig Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, it is becoming apparent that more and more South Africans are viewing a winelands experience as one of the country’s leading tourist offerings.

“Over the past season the tasting rooms at Simonsig and in the rest of the Cape Winelands experienced their busiest season to date as people from all parts of the country flocked to the Cape,” he says. “And while the local wine industry has always been committed to promoting wine to black people, it is now apparent that the wine tourism experience is attracting people from all South Africa’s racial groups.”

According to Swarts many people from upcountry, especially the Gauteng region, become introduced to leading South African wine brands which they become attached to. “After they have studied the wines and grape varieties, their next wish is to physically visit the winelands to track down the place where their favourite wine is made.

“The growth in wine tourism South Africa is currently experiencing can only increase further as more people from outside the traditional wine consumer base visit the address of their favourite wines to forge a closer relationship with the brand.”

In the latest macro-economic study done on the South African wine industry it was found that of the R36bn the industry contributes to the country’s GDP, wine tourism is responsible for 17%.

“This development is very exciting because if there is one thing that a visit to a wine farm does it is to build a loyal customer,” says Swarts. “Once the wine lover sees there is a world beyond sipping his or her favourite wine in a Sandton restaurant, a spark is generated, creating a wine customer for life. We are seeing this happening at Simonsig where black clients especially visit to seek out the stories and the people behind our top-end brands, such as the Tiara Bordeaux blend and the Merindol Shiraz.

“We have a long way to go in getting a more representative profile among our base of tourists, but as black visitors increase, so too does a whole new market for South African wines.”